Eton Kill-the-Serfs Quiz
13 year old students who were asked to justify massacring protestors to maintain civil order as part of a exam at Eton, were merely being asked hypothetically, Eton College headmaster Tony Little insisted this week, after the Huffington Post highlighted the topic.
The question, which was asked by the elite school in a scholarship examination in 2011, asked students to imagine they were the Prime Minister and had been forced to call out the army to quell a populist revolt, killing 25 protestors. Candidates were ordered to’explain why employing the Army against violent protesters was the only option available and one which was both necessary and moral.”
Headmaster Little explained the test was about seeing whether candidates were able to ‘put themselves in other people’s shoes’.
“The question starts with that well-known section from Machiavelli’s The Prince about whether it is better to be feared than loved as a ruler, and then asks candidates to imagine a situation where law and order is breaking down, oil crisis, troops on the streets have killed protestors,” he added. (Huffington Post)
Skipping through The Prince, the correct response appears to have been something along the lines of ‘yes, we killed them, so what?’
“Since it is difficult for a ruler to be both feared and loved, it is much safer to be feared than loved, if one of the two must be lacking,” Machiavelli advises in Chapter 17 of the 16th century political guru’s seminal morality guide.
“For this can generally be said of men: that they are ungrateful, fickle, liars and deceivers, avoiders of danger, greedy for profit; and as long as you serve their welfare, they are entirely yours, offering you their blood, possessions, life and children…when the occasion to do so is not in sight; but when you are faced with it, they turn against you.”
http://bit.ly/gqpgyT (Yale press: What you can learn from Machiavelli?)
http://www.constitution.org/mac/prince06.htm (‘it ought to be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things. Because the innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under the old conditions, and lukewarm defenders in those who may do well under the new . . .’)
http://www.constitution.org/mac/prince.pdf (The Prince in full)
The Guardian on the making of the Eton Video (and the students in it): ”Eton’s normally rather po-faced and serious,” said our man in the know. “I don’t recognise that liberal attitude to filming. And they weren’t rebels in the video, they were prefects – I know this because they were walking over special grass reserved especially for prefects.”
Jonty Skrufff: https://twitter.com/djjontyskrufff