But perhaps we should go even one step further and consider that credibility and legitimacy or the lack thereof has a cause behind it and that the lack of credibility and legitimacy is the effect of a broader and deeper cause. That cause, arguably, is stinginess. The Islamic tradition, for instance, argues that stinginess is the single character defect which prompts all other character defects. Thus, if we are to consider the loss of credibility and legitimacy and how it is the main dilemma and problem facing our system today, we must consider its cause or its source.
Moreover, we can comprehend and understand how stinginess is the main problem when we look at what some of the greatest philosophers of war have said in relation to this character issue of stinginess. Right now, the balance of power dispute between East and West amounts to a state of war, and we tend to underestimate or downplay the role which a character defect like stinginess can play in a war. All amounts to complexity and subtlety, and if we are to narrow the main source of our hindrances and obstacles when it comes to the balance of power dispute and war down to stinginess, then that itself is a complex and subtle way of making sense of our dilemma and our situation.
Westerners tend to downplay or overlook the fact that the key to winning the war is by winning hearts and minds. And you will not win over hearts and minds if you are stingy. As Sun Tzu said, the only way one can have the advantage over the enemy or adversary in a state of war is through knowledge of the other side and knowledge of the world and of reality in general, and this knowledge is derived from winning over hearts and minds and converting people to one’s side and that this can only be done with “the utmost liberality.”
As Machiavelli stated in “The Art of War” which was addressed to a European prince, people “shine” because of their “nobility, wealth, genius, and liberality” and there are few if not none who can match the standards of liberality which are required to “shine” in a complex and dynamic situation defined by a balance of power dispute and war such as the one we find ourselves in today.
And as Carl Von Clausewitz noted, there are four “elements” which make up “the climate of war” such as the one we find ourselves in today, namely, danger, exertion, uncertainty, and chance. And in order to overcome or adjust to the climate of war and its various elements, it takes a “heroic nature” based on “energy, firmness, staunchness, emotional balance, and strength of character” which are underpinned by an intellect and a sense of courage and the ability to assume chance and risk that can emerge only if one were to overcome their stinginess. Constipated think-tankers in Washington and the status quo will not cut it.
Thus, a “heroic nature” is a magnet not only for victory in a balance of power dispute and war, but in turn, a “heroic nature” is a magnet for “good fortune” as Machiavelli argued. But what is it that embodies or signifies “good fortune”? In short, love and support from women as well as the acquisition of some degree of affluence and wealth after one assumes chance, danger, and risk. Machiavelli said: “It is better to be audacious than cautious, because fortune is a woman, and if you wish to keep her under it is necessary to beat and ill-use her; and it is seen that she allows herself to be mastered by the adventurous rather than by those who go to work more coldly.”
Hence, greatness and victory are very much intertwined with the courage to assume danger and risk, and one cannot assume danger and risk if one is stingy. To end, we must remind ourselves of what Nietzsche said: “The real man wants two different things: danger and play. Therefore he wants woman, as the most dangerous plaything.” Arguably, almost all credit goes to women for our navigation through complex situations such as ones which are defined and shaped by balance of power disputes and war, for as Nietzsche said: “Convictions are more dangerous enemies of truth than lies. Courageous, untroubled, mocking and violent – that is what Wisdom wants us to be. Wisdom is a woman, and loves only a warrior.” Thus, the only thing which should be feared is wisdom and thus woman, for as Nietzsche said: “Let man fear woman when she loves; then she makes any sacrifice, and everything else seems without value to her.”