American Demagogues: Twentieth Century

American Demagogues: Twentieth Century

American Demagogues: Twentieth Century

American Demagogues: Twentieth Century

Excerpt

The most widely known treatise on an unsavory political leader is Niccolò Machiavelli's The Prince. Machiavelli based his work, written in the early sixteenth century, on his observations of prevailing intrigue and his study of royal potentates of former ages; he intended his work to serve as a possible guide for any prince who would free the petty Italian city-states from the foreign yoke and unify those lands into a sovereign nation. The Prince, literary production of an observing Florentine, has remained for more than four centuries the classic analysis of the low ethical methods whereby fiercely ambitious men achieve and hold political power.

That sinister approach to public place and power, known as "Machiavellianism," which denies obligations to God and moral ethics, and encourages deceit and duplicity toward fellowmen, has not yet been eliminated either in the totalitarian states or the free nations. Since the royal despots of Machiavelli's day, new types of unworthy leaders have appeared -- in the authoritarian lands, sadistic dictators; in democracies, power-drunk demagogues.

This book is concerned with the public careers of selected American demagogues of the present century -- those "masters of the masses" who, in their aspirations for political place and power, pandered to the passions and prejudices, rather than the reason, of the populace, and performed all manner of crowd-captivating tricks, only to betray the people. In a future fraught with complex social, economic, and diplomatic dilemmas, future demagogues will probably find more untapped areas of ignorance, prejudice, bigotry, and emotionalism to exploit. With television and other new means of mass communication, their voices and their faces may invade any home in the United States -- and many abroad. Such professional "men of the people" accordingly present a per-

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