good & superior goods

Dave Long dl@silcom.com
Fri, 21 Dec 2001 10:20:16 -0800


According to Berlin, Machiavelli did not
say "be evil"; he said "one can choose to
either be good, or be power-seeking, but
not both at the same time". [0,1]

A potential corollary is then that those
who already have power can afford to be
good. In theory [2], this should not be 
uncommon: people who have enough milk,
unless they are Howard Hughes, buy tea
instead of more milk; in practice it is
only all too common that those with some
power feel the need to acquire more.

Why is this the case?

-Dave

[0] Does this dichotomy echo distinctions
between the brahmin and ksatriya, or the
oratores and the bellatores?

[1] To put it in Fido terms: a good person
will neither be excessively annoying, nor
be excessively annoyed.  A power-seeking
person, however, will be both excessively
annoying and annoyed, each to be used in
turn as it proves advantageous.

For the Bill & Ted parallel, see:
<http://www.xent.com/oct00/0039.html>

For the interoperability parallel, good
nodes should be strict in what they send
(not annoying) and liberal in what they
accept (not being annoyed).  I suppose
power-seeking nodes "embrace and extend"
a protocol, changing what they send and
accept whenever it proves advantageous.

[2] This theory goes back at least to
Leviticus.  How old is that book? Any
earlier attestations?