Statesman

Article

May 29, 2022

A statesman or statesman, as defined by Houaiss, is a person versed in the principles or art of government, actively involved in conducting the affairs of a government and shaping its policy; or even a person who exercises political leadership with wisdom and without partisan limitations.

Concepts

For Aristotle, what the statesman most wants to produce is a certain moral character in his fellow citizens, particularly a disposition towards virtue and the practice of virtuous actions. In Thomas Aquinas, Christian virtues and values ​​are inseparable from political practice, buon government and the figure of the rex justus. The ruler's worldview includes happiness in God, good and virtuous men, Christian self-denial (as distinguished from republican self-denial), honest friendship, unity, peace, and social communion. The pious and virtuous ruler inspires equally pious and virtuous subjects, by whom he is loved. Nature is taken as a model for the government of men and the ruler has the ordering role analogous to that of God. In Machiavelli, the conduct of the State is considered an art, and the statesman, an authentic artist. For Machiavelli, as for Quentin Skinner and Merleau-Ponty, the statesman is adaptable to circumstances, harmonizing his own behavior to the demands of the times. His virtù is moral flexibility, the willingness to do whatever is necessary to achieve and perpetuate civic glory and greatness-whether good or bad deeds are involved-infecting citizens with that same disposition. The statesman is seen as a simulator and manipulator of public opinion ("the action accuses but the result excuses"), in a society uncritical and influenced by appearances, made up of individuals exclusively interested in their own well-being. But corruption is seen as a loss of virtù by the citizens as a whole. In the essay Mirabeau o el politico, Ortega y Gasset classifies rulers as statesmen, scrupulous and cowardly. The statesman must have what he calls "magnanimous virtues" and not "pusillanimous ones." Honoré Gabriel Riqueti de Mirabeau is taken as the archetype of the political, but Ortega warns that an archetype (what is) cannot be confused with an ideal (what should be). This is because the confusion between archetype and ideal would lead one to think that the politician, in addition to being a good statesman, must be virtuous, which, according to the author, would be a mistake. Nor, according to Ortega, should a politician and an intellectual be confused. A politician is one who takes care of himself; intellectual one who cares. Either one comes into the world to do politics or to elaborate definitions, but not both, because politics is clear in what it does, in what it achieves, but it is contradictory in its definition. It often happens that the statesman is misunderstood because he is concerned with the long term and makes unpopular decisions in the short term, while most politicians are concerned with the immediate results of their actions. So it is said that: Already, a biographer of Alexander Hamilton, says that the statesman practices the policy of the hive, while the "politicians" practice another policy - the policy of the bee. In the first, everything is subordinated to the collective interest. In the second, everything is subordinated to individual interest. The individual with a creative mission (the magnanimous) is radically different from the individual without any mission (the cowardly). Conventional virtues (honesty, truthfulness, scruples) are not typical of the politician, who is often prone to certain vices - impudence, hypocrisy, venality. Therefore, says Ortega, the great politician should not be measured by the scale of the usual virtues, since greatness is inevitably accompanied by its own baseness. Mirabeau is venal, a liar, cynical, unscrupulous, but that doesn't stop him from being, according to Ortega, one of the great politicians in history - because of his political vision,