Vice and Virtue: Men of History, Great Crooks for the Greater Good

Vice and Virtue: Men of History, Great Crooks for the Greater Good

Vice and Virtue: Men of History, Great Crooks for the Greater Good

Vice and Virtue: Men of History, Great Crooks for the Greater Good

Synopsis

Many are they who, in the course of history, have placed their own passions before the public interest. But what has been the result? From the courtesans of Versailles to the back halls of Chirac government, from Danton - revealed to have been a paid agent for England - to the shady bankers of Mitterand's era, from the buddies of Mazarin to the builders of the Panama Canal, Paul Lombard unearths the secrets of the corridors of power. He reveals the vanity and the corruption, but also the grandeur and panache that characterize the great. This cavalcade over many centuries can be read as a subversive tract on how to lead. The Party of Virtue is the Party of Hypocrisy. . . With humor and goodwill, Lombard shows that it is not men that are evil, but reality that is cruel. Furthermore, these great bandits accomplished great dreams; and this master of the Bar asks they be acquitted. And he wins his point. Fundamentally, the only ones who don't give anything to the corrupt are the romance-writers - and that is just as well. They are the only ones left! Lombard proposes, "First we had the separation of the Church and State. Now, we need to separate politics and money."

Excerpt

Should I start my irreverent chronicle all the way back at the time of the Flood? Let’s just digress for a moment in Greece and Rome which, in addition to great benefits, bequeathed to us many dubious practices. “A great many politicians do not deserve really the name, for the politician chooses fine actions for their own sake, but many adopt this kind of life only out of ambition and to grow rich,” wrote Aristotle. He went on to decry a certain number of evils from which we still suffer. “Most men are more avid for material goods than for honors … One need not fear being short of money when one is absolute master of the State.” Less naive than Plato and Xenophon (who portrayed Sparta as the paragon of all virtues), the philosopher asserts that Alcibiades went over to the enemy; Demosthenes gave in to Arpolos’ gold, and Aristogiton sold himself to the highest bidder. Athens was the first to implement a “clean hands” operation, requiring politicians to justify their public expenses before a court of 500 citizens whose sentence could be confirmed or annulled by the judges of the demes or the thesmothetes.

These democratic jurisdictions, predecessors to our audit agencies, were perverted by sycophants, professional court witnesses who threatened to denounce the rich if they resisted their underhanded requests. “They launch libelous charges against the wealthy in order to . . .

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