Reading through Machiavelli’s “Discourses on Livy”, I came across a section entitled “HOW A STATE IS RUINED BECAUSE OF WOMEN”.
Mystified, I read the historical anecdote that was then recounted – which was, in short, that in a city once, an heiress whose father was dead was ‘asked for’ by two men, one upper-class, one lower-class, and being ‘under the protection’ of both her guardians and her mother, the former supported the latter and the latter the former, and in order to solve this dispute…the city united into two opposed groups, each of whom then called in allies from neighouring cities, producing a ruinous war.
Now I was mystified, for one thing, by the fact that not one person considered asking the heiress in question who she would rather marry. But my mystifaction was only increased by the conclusion that was drawn: “it is seen that Women have been the cause of many ruinations, and have done great damage to those who govern a City, and have caused many divisions in them.”
This seemed bizarre because, well, the story seemed to describe one man and another man having a fight, large groups of other men joining in, and then enlisting the support of more men.
So the cause of the problem seemed pretty clearly to have been men. It’s rather like titling a section “how the native Americans are warlike and always fighting each other” and then recount the story of the Spanish Civil War. Mystifactory.
And then I realised – this is just the same meachanism as what I discussed in my last post! Some people’s actions are just natural – for men to murder each other, for capitalists to seek their own advantage. Thus the people involved are not responsible when they act in this way. It’s just a natural force – after all, “If you take out uncovered meat and place it outside on the street, or in the garden or in the park, or in the backyard without a cover, and the cats come and eat it … whose fault is it, the cats or the uncovered meat? The uncovered meat is the problem.”