In politics, what it seems is not and the versions outweigh the facts. In the electoral contest, candidates are trained, made up, to adjust the political discourse to the electorate’s expectations. Anything goes in the battle of perception. Caution is needed: the shine may not be 18 gold.
The media show is not quite a masked ball, a festival of lies, but it is a space where appearance is worth more than the essence of the contestants.
However, it doesn’t hurt to align concepts, principles and even virtuous advice on the conquest and maintenance of power.
To unite wisdom and power in the same head is the Platonic ideal. The famous, misunderstood and maligned Machiavelli (1469-1527) warned: “The Prince must take advice, but when he himself and not others, he deems it convenient […] Hence it follows that good advice is born of the wisdom of the Prince, and not that wisdom is born of good advice”.
In the Political Testament, the notable illuminist Maurício de Nassau (1604-1679) bequeathed us a very current precept: “Your Lordships must refrain from levying new taxes, since taxes generate indispositions in the people”.
Cardinal Mazzarino (1602-1661), Prime Minister of France, successor of Cardinal Richelieu, in 1643, wrote in the Breviary of Politicians 15 axioms, among them, “The center is worth more than the extremes” and five rules: “1. Simulate. 2. Conceals. 3. Trust no one. 4. Speak well of everyone. 5. Predict before acting”.
Despite the historical time, the reflections remain valid. In this sense, nothing is fairer than mentioning very current excerpts from the two letters of the statesman Pedro II to his daughter Isabel, regent, from March 1876 to September 1877, on account of the Emperor’s trip to the USA, Canada and Europe.
Here are the “advices”: “Without generalized education there will never be good elections […] It goes without saying that roads are the most important material improvement […] See if the existing works don’t stop, even if they can’t all go quickly, as the Treasury’s resources allow […] The judiciary has been provoking a lot of complaints. Very scrupulous in the first choice […] All important business must not be settled, without first being examined, in a conference of ministers, and then in despatch with the emperor. […] I disapprove of the expense made on behalf of the ministry with the press […] Attacks on the Emperor should not be considered personal, but merely partisan management or outbursts.”
In Brazil, the election moves between a distressing present and a “museum of great news”.
Gustavo Krause was Minister of Finance