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TelevisionWeek's new blog by World Poker Tour boss Steven Lipscomb marks this publication's second blog by a member of the television industry. As the founder of WPT, Steve often is credited with starting the televised poker boom. He's also known to say a controversial thing or two.

Just as Rich Goldfarb, senior VP of sales for National Geographic Channel, offered candid insight into the upfront advertising selling period, Steve plans to pull no punches in discussing the people, practices and pitfalls of the television business.

And remember: TVWeek.com encourages you to respond to what you read here. So feel free to post comments on Steve's blog.

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Lessons Learned

November 7, 2006 3:58 PM

I remember reading Machiavelli’s "The Prince" in college and being appalled by the cynical premise (and conclusion) of the book. I’m sure the years have blurred the message in my mind, but, if memory serves, the basic message to the young prince about leading his country was that it is better to rule by fear than by love—because love can change on a given day—fear will not. We have been living in a world of fear for quite a while in this country—some justified, some not. Today, many people will vote Democratic because of the war. But, I can’t help wondering if we are just tired of being told to be afraid. It is very hard to live that way.

People in war-torn countries often find a way to feel normalcy in their lives (even if that seems crazy from the outside). I suppose Machiavelli understood this issue as he included admonitions to be a just leader (and particularly not to mess with a citizen’s home or mate—because those are the kinds of things that make people rise up and overthrow governments with reckless abandon).

On the love vs. fear equation, I wonder how much we could have gotten done with the three hundred eighty billion dollars (and counting) we have spent on the Iraq war. How far could we have gotten in the quest to gain energy independence in forms cleaner than the fossil fuels that the scientific community tells us are dangerously altering our climate? Or, how much could we have helped countries and people who need our help?

Instead, we have chosen to be afraid—and to use force. And, in doing so, whether you believe in the cause or not, you have to be aware that we have destroyed an awful lot of homes, mates and loved ones. The impact of those actions will be felt for generations.

The optimist in me continues to hold out hope that Machiavelli, the fatalist, will be proven wrong by someone (perhaps a woman?) who dares to rule with compassion in today’s complicated world.

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Comments (7)

David Apostolico:

Having studied Machiavelli's Prince in great detail and having recently published a book on his teachings (Machiavellian Poker Strategy), I read your journal entry with great interest. The cynicism of The Prince is balanced with a fair degree of pragmatism. I think you hit the nail on the head when you reference the destruction to the people of Iraq. Machiavelli preached that if you take care of the people, they will overlook a lot of things and will support their leaders. Believing that we would be welcomed as liberators was a huge miscalculation. The chaos that ensued and continues did nothing to endear the people to a new regime. Getting rid of the old regime (no matter how barbaric) is not enough. You have to do something to give the people hope and comfort and a better life.

I don't think Machiavelli would have approved of how we went into Iraq. I think he was more of a realist than a fatalist and, in any event, believed greatly in being adequately prepared (both in troop strength and in knowing what would satisfy the people). While he definitely advocated "that it is better to be feared than loved" as you point out, he did not completely discount love and he recognized that you can endear the people to you by giving them what they want. Unfortunately, as you say, no matter what your political view, the sad fact remains that there will be a lasting impact from the destruction of "an awful lot of homes, mates and loved ones"

Peter Bell:

While we can be philisophical from either side of the fence, the net is, we're there and went in without any apparent political considerations prior to the engagement. I remember looking out of our hotel room in Belgrade Yugoslavia in 1961 as Tito swept by in a motorcade... Mom murmuring that "He is the glue... when that man goes, chaos will follow" and so it did. Do we ever learn from history?

But, shifting gears, and while I do enjoy the stimulation of these blogs, Steven, what is the best way to reach you and or, can you contact me via the email address I've included in the blog form? In a nutshell, I have a client w/ 230 offices nationwide overseeing weekly activity into 10,000+ sports bars for a total of 800,000+ annual on-premise
nights in 200 major markets w/ a reach to some 20 million patrons. That's the retail extension... I think you're the candidate for the television overlay property.

My sincere apologies to those of you whose intellectual veracity has been disrupted w/ my business inquiry and or any violation of the sanctity of Blog Politik. G'night all! Peace.

Steve Lipscomb:

Easy to find me. My number is 323 330-9900.

s

Steve Lipscomb:

David,

How fantasitic is it to have somewhere (anywhere) to bat about a little Machiavelli. I received a holiday card from one of the great men of our day a few years ago that simply wished for "a world at peace". I rather like that.

Regards,

Steve

David Apostolico:

Steve,

I'm always eager to participate in philosophical /practical application discussions and I'm grateful that you discuss great issues and provide a forum in this blog. I actually met you at the 2005 Borgata Open kick off party and you were a very gracious host. As a part time poker player, I have great respect for the pioneering efforts of the WPT.

Best,

David

Steve Lipscomb:

Thank you so much, David. We have a great team and great partners. IT has been a great ride . . .

Look forward to seeing you at that final table soon . . .

s

Anthony Harris:

I appreciate the previous comments. Let me add, the following: One of the essential points of The Prince was to provide clear definition of what creates nationalism. Machiavelli complained the the Italian City-States were hopelessly divided...that is, until they were invaded by a foreign power. Hence, it was astonishing the no one in the administration or press, predicted or realized that nationalism wouldn't be created by the invasion of Iraq. Finally, with regards to the 100,000 contractors, 48% of those have a military function, Machavilli would have screamed in disgust and called them mercenaries (those motivated soley by monetary gain and/or working for a foreign government.) The Prince is warned that you can't get mercenaries to leave once invited.

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