Two influential people were born this week in history. (Actually, a lot of influential people were born this week in history, but I’d like to focus your attention on these two men for the moment.)
Machiavellian principles of governing view immorality, dishonesty, deceit, and even murder, if they will achieve the ruler’s desired ends, as legitimate. That is, the end justifies the means. These characteristics, which many people would call vices if they were practiced by the private individual, Machiavelli considered normal politics. In their application, they make up what has been called realpolitick, and they sound very much like American politics today.
Machiavelli also believed that religion was a useful tool for political rulers. An unbeliever himself, considering religion as merely a man-made device, he nonetheless recognized that rulers could use religion to control people and their emotions and actions, thereby ensuring social order as the ruler wanted it.
Marx believed that religion was “the opiate of the people.” Viewed negatively, that statement could mean that religion was used by the evil capitalists to keep the masses dull and passive, promising the people “pie in the sky by and by” while taking advantage of them and keeping them downtrodden and impoverished. On the other hand, the statement could interpret religion as a tool of Marxists to create in the people an addiction that demanded relief and satiation, which the socialists and communists could exploit by promising fulfillment and thereby gain the support of the masses to gain power for themselves. Of course, they could never deliver on all of their promises because Communism is a morally and financially bankrupting philosophy.
This two-faced attitude toward religion—Machiavellian and Marxist—continues today. Liberal political candidates deride conservative candidates’ addressing religious groups as shameless pandering and a violation of the so-called separation of church and state. Yet they think nothing of blatantly promoting their own socialist agenda in black churches or Muslim mosques to gain those groups’ votes. They are willfully ignorant of their hypocrisy.
Similarly, conservative candidates who give no thought to their own exercise of personal religious convictions any other time, suddenly begin using religious vocabulary, and addressing subjects of religion and morality, when campaign season rolls around. Their hypocrisy shows through just as clearly as that of their opponents.
Why do the candidates behave so hypocritically with no apparent shame? They are merely practicing the principles they learned from the malignant M&Ms born in May—Machiavelli and Marx.