A Balancing of Forces

Machiavelli is not so naïve as to imagine that the law can support itself.

The law is founded upon force, but the force in turn will destroy the law unless it also is bridled; but force can be bridled only by opposing force. Sociologically, therefore, the foundation of liberty is a balancing of forces, what Machiavelli calls a “mixed” government.

Since Machiavelli is neither a propagandist nor an apologist, since he is not the demagogue of any party or sect or group, he knows and says how hypocritical are the calls for a “unity” that is a mask for the suppression of all opposition, how fatally lying or wrong are all beliefs that liberty is the peculiar attribute of any single individual or group-prince or democrat, nobles or people or "multitude.”

Political freedom is the resultant of unresolved conflicts among various sections of the élite […] Only out of the continuing clash of opposing groups can liberty flow […] Freedom, in the world as it is, is thus the product of conflict and difference, not of unity and harmony.

The existence of these conflicts is in turn correlated with the interplay of diverse social forces that preserve at least a considerable degree of independence. The future of liberty will, therefore, depend upon the extent to which, whether by necessary accident or conscious design, society is kept from freezing.

In these terms we see again the danger of "idealism," utopianism, and demagogy. 

The idealists, utopians, and demagogues always tell us that justice and the good society will be achieved by the absolute triumph of their doctrine and their side. The facts show us that the absolute triumph of any side and any doctrine whatsoever can only mean tyranny.

[James Burnham]
The Machiavellians: Defenders of Freedom, p. 63, 100, 230

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