The Machiavellian Drones

Machiavelli said that ends justify the means. His philosophy referenced princes that are feared rulers that are willing to do violent and dangerous things to secure both peace and power. The Machiavellian prince also appears to be a fantasy whenever it is mentioned in academic dispute. However, is it possible that Machiavellianism not only exists in this modern day and age, but it can also be attributed to the United States of America? Obviously, the USA is a democracy. The people have power in the government to elect representatives who we put our power and trust in. That part of our constitution is fair, however, once you dive into the conflict of foreign affairs, it becomes a much harrier issue.

Replace the Machiavellian prince with the United States of America’s foreign policy officials. Consider the violent things that the prince is wiling to do to secure power the use of Drones, unarmed vehicles of war. Finally, imagine the power and peace that is being secured as stopping terrorists in the Middle East, particularly ISIS. Now, I am not saying that the USA stopping ISIS is bad, in fact, it is right that we are putting in effort to stop a frightful terrorist threat to the country and world, but there is a bit of Machiavellianism in the way that it is carried out. Drones aren’t perfect. They have someone controlling a plane, one that hovers around villages and neighborhoods, terrorizing innocent civilians, miles and miles away, using a video feed that drone operators have admitted to not being clear enough to distinguish civilians from terrorist targets.

Not only that, but the amount of civilian casualties isn’t truthful either. Every male casualty of a drone strike, whether it is a common man living in his house, or a terrorist planning his next attack, is considered a militant. A man carrying a shovel could be shot down, mistaken to be someone carrying a rifle, and that man would still be another hash mark on the long list of “militants” killed by drone strike. Now, once again, it is crucial that ISIS should be stopped, but having the mentality of drones being acceptable, and their mistakes justifying the means of casualties of war is not right. It is making the USA seem like the Machiavellian prince, which ideas we do not incorporate in our government. We should stop using drones in the capacity that we are using them, and instead, use them only when absolutely necessary, because the ends do not justify the means when civilians are killed.


The Individual Athlete

They say there is no “I” in “Team.” While there are in fact sports where competing parties consist of merely one person, such as Tennis or Ice Skating, seldom will you find competitive sports that do not involve a team. Recently, I attended both a University of Michigan field hockey game, and a University of Michigan swim meet. Now, while one of these is very obviously a team sport, the other one appears to be a sport of the individual, such as tennis or figure skating. In field hockey, you have 11 girls on the field all at once, competing with the same goal in mind, and working together as a well-oiled machine to achieve a goal with unity. The scoreboard has no individual names, as the only name reading on the board is “Michigan” and “Maryland.”

However, on the other side there is swimming. The meet that I saw was a tri-meet between the University of Michigan, Indiana University, and University of Texas. The scoreboard, as all swim meets do, shows individual times for each different swimmer for each different heat of each different race. Instead of the unifying name “Michigan” on the scoreboard, I saw names like Paul Powers and Aaron Whitaker, whose affiliation could only be identified by their swimsuits. It didn’t appear that the swim team had the same unifying aspect that the field hockey team did, but in the end, just like any government, the team only does as well as its average citizen does, and on the swim team, each swimmer accumulates points to ultimately achieve victory.

Both of these teams can be seen as an analogy for the different types of government, Conservatism as Burke imagines it, and Liberalism as John Stuart Mill imagines it. On the field hockey team, you have an analogy for a conservative government. There is an established set of laws by the people (players) who follow these rules to better the government (team). If you think of the laws as the strategies that the team uses while playing in an effort to win, then it abides by the law of conservatism.

The swim team, however, is Liberalism, which Mill describes as being very individual. The individual (athlete) can do whatever he wants as long as it does not harm others or the integrity of the government, while the government acts as an overseer, not a ruler. So in swimming, as long as you are not sabotaging your team in your individual races, you have a lot of liberty to swim your races however you want. The name Michigan acts as an overseeing identifier as well, as opposed to an immediate label in swimming, so the swim team abides by the laws of liberalism. In the end, these two teams can be seen as different analogies for types of governments by the way they operate.

John Locke, the Real Mockingjay

would you believe me if i told you these two were basically the same person?

President Snow is a horrible dictator and its up to Katniss Everdeen to restore political equality, however, this is a fictitious situation. However, put aside the actual dystopian thriller parts of the hunger games and analyze Panem as a government, and you have a start contrast to John Locke’s social contract about governments. First off, for those who don’t know, Panem is a totalitarian government run by one major city that oversees 12 districts that get lower and lower in ranking by number. The plot of the Hunger Games, and most specifically, Mockingjay, involves the (SPOILER ALERT) overpowering of the central government by the common people. This scenario isn’t that outrageous. There are numerous totalitarian dictatorships in the world, and these big governments are a pretty scary situation.

Now, take John Locke and his social contract. “Nothing can make any man [subjects of commonwealth], but his actually entering into it by positive engagement, and express promise and compact. This is that, which I think, concerning the beginning of political societies, and that consent which makes any one a member of any” (Locke) Basically, John Locke’s social contract is stating that governments only have power when the people give the government faith and power. Everyone has the ability to be fearful and alone in the world, or governments have the ability to exist, although merely at an illegitimate level, but it is only when people truly believe in their government that a government is able to take control. Locke then also considers the government to go on to oversee its people as an unbiased judge who is fair and kind.

Basically, that is a stark contrast to what Panem is. In terms of Locke’s social contract saying that the people are the ones who give the government power, Panem instead has a government who rules with a cast-iron fist, and is not afraid to use its “Peacekeepers” to kill anyone who opposes them. In terms of the government being an unbiased judge that oversees its people, the Panem capitol dictates everything about every sub-district it has, once again, ruling with a cast-iron fist that is a little hard to call forgiving. Plus, the capitol is notorious for its propaganda and media manipulation, so as far as the unbiased judge goes, Panem’s capitol doesn’t do the best job. John Locke had a pretty good idea of what a social contract for a government should be, and it shows how bad a government can be to the health of its people and its society when an entire government goes one hundred percent against a good description of government power.

Life, Liberty, and the Law of Nature

The original American laws

The United States Bill of Rights was established in the year 1791, and immediately established the legal ramifications for our country. On the contrary, Thomas Hobbes’ The Levithian was published in 1651 in England. Could it be the case that the earlier set of laws is a more applicable for a modern country? The Bill of Rights is a very specific set of laws, specifically for a country in the year 1791. As a result, it is debatable that the bill of rights is a little dated. For one, the right to bear arms as a law has been a huge topic of debate between liberals and conservatives, and has especially has been under fire after tragedies such as the Columbine massacre and The Sandy Hook massacre. Another example of a dated law is the outlawing of quartering soldiers. While at one point, yes, this was an issue that many Americans faced while being occupied by the Royal English military, but at this modern day and age, it isn’t an issue that most, or any Americas have to deal with for that matter. While the Bill of Rights is a great set of laws for revolutionary age America, it necessitates a modern adaption.

Thomas Hobbes

Now, I am not saying that I am an advocate for revamping American laws, but I am saying that in some alternate universe, Thomas Hobbes’ “Law of Nature” would work as a good legal set of guidelines for a modern country. Not perfectly, mind you, but it’s a possibility. For example, the second law of nature is the mandate to seek peace. While for international conflict, this might not be the best course of action in terms of negotiating with hostile and wild foreign countries; it is a good guideline for a population to standby. The third law is that we need to follow up on the contracts that we make, which is basically the foundation of regional laws. The fourth is that we need to show gratitude towards those who stand by the contracts that they make. In other words, these laws are the general foundations for a government’s legal policies, not for specific conflicts, but for a more general management of crime. The second law alone could very well be a policy that any country could reasonably have, mainly due to its generic outlawing of crimes such as murder. While it may not be a perfect set of rules, it is very arguable that Hobbes’ “Laws of Nature” could very well be the makings for a modern countries general policies.

“You play ball like a girl!”

The integration of sports is a messy business. While there are indisputably supporters of allowing sports to have heterogeneous competitors, varying in age, gender, and physical ability, there are also those who feel the need to rationalize the concept. As we learned from rock climbers, rules can in fact change, however, it is quite difficult to get everyone on board with the same idea that leagues can allow for teams that feature different genders, and it turns into a very heated topic of debate. As we learned in the article about Caster Semenya, people reacted aggressively when rumors surfaced regarding her gender. Semenya’s case is one situation where people were unaccepting about the concept of heterogeneous competition; however, there have been successful gender integration in sports before, such as in the case of Ila Borders.

Although Ila’s sports career may not be the most memorable in terms of her statistical achievement in sports, Ila is far more memorable for her contribution to the world of professional sports as a whole. Ila Borders was the first female professional pitcher in a men’s professional baseball league, and boy oh boy did she have a hard time getting there. She started a young age, and from the beginning she suffered through discrimination as a female baseball player. However she eventually rose past the initial discrimination, some of which came from her very own teammates, and had a decent career as a lefty pitcher on the Duluth-Superior Dukes. While it may not have been the MLB, Borders was able to contribute greatly to the success of the team for her duration of her time there, before transferring teams. The inspiring thing, however, is that she was able to grab the support of the Dukes’ fans as well. She was not just a pitcher, she was a pitcher that people liked, one that people wanted to cheer on, one that was at the same level of other men.

However, Ila Borders is a rare case of integration in sports, and not one that is memorable enough to inspire a revolution that would eliminate gender borders. Such as we have learned in the case of Caster Semenya, gender and sports are things that require polarization. Having integrated sports teams would be a wonderful thing that I truly hope to see one day, but it is unlikely that America will see a bunch of Ila Borders that will collectively break down the homogeneous male representation in modern sports.

Empathizing with the Player

If Giammati argues that the spectator feels the same thing that the athlete that he is watching feels, then Michigan football players are feeling a whole lot of pain right now. “The spectator invests his surrogate out there with all his carefree hopes, his aspirations for freedoms, his yearning for transmutation of business into leisure, war into peace, effort into grace. To take the acts of physical toil, lifting, throwing, bending, jumping, pushing, grasping, stretching, running, hoisting, the constantly repeated acts that for millennia meant work, and to bound them in time or by rules or boundaries in a green enclosure surrounded by amphitheater or at least a gallery (thus combining garden in city, a place removed from care, but in this real world) is to replicate the arena of human kinds highest aspiration” (Giamatti, 22). Michigan has the amphitheater, in fact, the largest amphitheater in North America. Fans of the football program have the players, and they are willing to follow them to the end. What Michigan football doesn’t have is the success. All these fans are being disappointed time and time again, when they should be feeling the same feelings of success and accomplishment that Giamatti so intricately describes.

Shane Morris getting rocked

The attached GIF is that of Shane Morris getting rocked by a hit that should have ejected the Minnesota player from the game. After said hit, Shane Morris wobbled around, needing the support of a linebacker to stand up, and showed very obvious signs of a concussion. The entire stadium watched as Shane was then put back into the game, less than two minutes after coming off. Shane Morris is the player that Michigan fans are investing their surrogate into Shane Morris and the rest of the Maize and Blue, so that’s why it hurts so much watching Michigan football fail. Seeing Shane Morris nearly get killed in the sacred paradise that is sport is not only watching a kid getting hurt, but it is watching our kid getting hurt. It is watching the team that we identify with getting hurt. It is watching the program that we ourselves invest our surrogate for a religious experience getting hurt, and that is why Brady Hoke and Dave Brandon need to be fired.

Michigan football isn’t just a football program, it is our surrogate, it is a community that millions of fans can be a part of and invest something into. Bo said what a great thing it was to be part of the team, but right now, being part of the team hurts. Giamatti’s idea that the spectator puts himself into the player proves why Michigan is so upset about the football program. It isn’t the team that’s losing, it is us, and that doesn’t feel very good at all.