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Manliness and Morality

The transgressions of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

Jun 6, 2011, Vol. 16, No. 36 • By HARVEY MANSFIELD
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(6) Morality wants to be sovereign over all other considerations, but it doesn’t deserve to be. Morality when sovereign makes moralism, an ugly posture that breeds fanaticism. 

So, whether it’s because I have studied Machiavelli or am now a grand--father wise in the world I couldn’t say, but I can think of scenarios in which Dominique Strauss-Kahn might be excused (still assuming he is guilty). Many French now think that he has been the victim of a plot, which seems far-fetched and against the evidence. But suppose he were; could that plot not be justified if it removed a very bad man from a situation in which he could do much harm? And, on the contrary, supposing he were a very good man essential to the good of his country, could not another plot have been mounted to cover up his unfortunate moral failing? Working out these possibilities will keep you from feeling too much moral indignation. Not too much of it, but not too little, either.

Harvey Mansfield, recipient of a 2011 Bradley Prize, is professor of government at Harvard University and senior fellow at the Hoover Institution.

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