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Machiavelli needs to be looked at as he really was Hence Can Machiavelli who makes the following observations be Machiavellian as we understand the disparaging term? 1 So it is that to know the nature of a people one need be a Prince to know the nature of a Prince one need to be of the people 2 If a Prince is not given to vices that make him hated it is unsusal for his subjects to show their affection for him 3 Opportunity made Moses Cyrus Romulus Theseus and others their virtue domi nated the opportunity making their homelands noble and happy Armed prophets win the disarmed lose 4 Without faith and religion man achieves power but not glory 5 Prominent citizens want to command and oppress the populace only wants to be free of oppression 6 A Prince needs a friendly populace otherwise in diversity there is no hope 7 A Prince who rules as a man of valor avoids disasters 8 Nations based on mercenary forces will never be solid or secure 9 Mercenaries are dangerous because of their cowardice 10 There are two ways to fight one with laws the other with force The first is rightly man’s way the second the way of beasts


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    That single statement boys and girls is the crux at the heart of the matter resting at the bottom line of Niccolo Machiavelli’s world changing classic on the defining use of realpolitik in governance and foreign policy Despite popular perception Machiavelli whose name has often been used as a synonym for political ASSHATery was not arguing that it’s better to be immoral cruel and evil than to be moral just and good Rather Machiavelli was demonstrating through reasoned analysis based on numerous historical examples that the most effective way to govern a population is through decision making based on the current situation without muddying up the waters with considerations of morality Holy snickerdoodles that's amoral Uhyes by definition it is However Machiavelli in his famous use of end justifying means supports the rightness of his position by citing numerous examples of “princes” who in acting all just and proper like” in relation to their neighbors and subjects led their people right into the waiting arms of bondage and slaughter at the hands of those who were less vituous in their thinking Should such murdered and subjugated populations thank the princes for their unwaivering morality? Machiavelli says HELLS NO He argues that the Prince’s 1 priority is to safeguard his holdings and maintain stability within his borders Allowing other considerations to affect such judgements will only provide an advantage to third parties who will exploit it In the end Machiavelli argues fewer lives will be lost and less suffering incurred by the Prince who can govern EFFECTIVELY Not necessarily warm and fuzzy Sesame Street thinking but there is some serious power to the reasoning I wish we lived in a world in which that was not the case I wish Machiavelli’s insights were not needed and that we lived in a world where loftier morals could carry the day However until we do Machiavelli’s words provide much ringing truth and thought food PLOT SYNOPSIS I don’t want to sound like a book report so let me just summarize briefly how the book is laid outMachiavelli wrote The Prince for Lorenzo de Medici whose family ruled Florence at the time as basically a job application He wanted to get in good with the de Medici family secure a place at their court The book while jumping around a bit can be divided into 3 or 4 sections the last really being a summarizing “call to arms” to the Italian people that they need a wise prince to lead them back to the greatness of the Roman Empire Discounting the rah rah speech at the end the other 3 sections deal with 1 the kinds of principalities and how they are acquired 2 the proper organization of the military and the best kind of solider to comprise it and 3 the internal make up of a princes court ie associates and subordinates Section 1 is interesting and fun to read but basically worthless for anything other than historical perspective Machiavelli discusses territories won be conquest inheritance or luck and talks about the various characteristics of each While not exactly awe inspiring in its perception the narrative itself is interesting and Machiavelli’s “voice” is engaging Section 2 can be summarized as follows Mercenaries well and truly SUCK and should not be used under any circumstances because their suckage will end up squandering your resources and giving squat in return Therefore the wise Prince keeps a standing army sufficient to protect the country’s interests Section 3 is the real meat of the work and contains the bulk of the advice that garnered Niccolo his much deserved reputation for suggesting the propriety of abandoning morality in governance He speaks of the need of the Prince to be able to deceive and act against the five virtues of the righteous man when necessary for the betterment of his state and his people Therefore it is unnecessary for a prince to have all the good qualities I have enumerated but it is very necessary to appear to have them And I shall dare to say this also that to have them and always to observe them is injurious and that to appear to have them is useful to appear merciful faithful humane religious upright and to be so but with a mind so framed that should you require not to be so you may be able and know how to change to the oppositeThe promise given was a necessity of the past the word broken is a necessity of the present Machiavelli discusses numerous examples of sovereigns who either benefitted from following such advice or conversely who suffered calamity for adhering to a sense of virtue THOUGHTS Ground breaking and brilliantly insightful especially for its time So much of what Machiavelli says is now an ingrained part of political thinking that it comes across as DUH when you read it However it was Niccolo who first put forth these concepts that have become the dogma and foundation of modern political thought He put the “real” in realpolitk I don’t think the contribution he made to political theory can be overstated It was The Prince that called out the distinction between what men “say” and what they “do” He did not invent political immorality but he did recognize it as an effective and at time crucial aspect of rule Something the famous rulers of history have always knownand practiced In addition I was surprised at how much fun the book was to read Machiavelli includes dozens and dozens of brief vignettes about world history in supporting his ideas and does a great job keeping the reader engaged with colorful descriptions of past events The book is also chalk full of wonderful quotes that just jumped out at me as I was reading Here are a few that I thought were intriguing The new ruler must determine all the injuries that he will need to inflict He must inflict them once and for allPeople should either be caressed or crushed If you do them minor damage they will get their revenge but if you cripple them there is nothing they can do If you need to injure someone do it in such a way that you do not have to fear their vengeance” In addition to post revolutionary purges and new government administrations the above has also become a truism for business and is why corporations do “massive layoffs” rather than a series of smaller scale terminations Gee thanks Niccolo “My view is that it is desirable to be both loved and feared but it is difficult to achieve both and if one of them has to be lacking it is much safer to be feared than loved” Ahjust like the Godfather Ohand lest the above not make it clear for all his amazing contributions to world history we should not lose sight of the fact that Machiavelli for all his astuteness was a bit of an asshole While his work is engaging and wonderful reading and I give him full marks for “calling it like it is” he is still not the kind of guy you want educating your children or providing life lessons I admire his work but the man comes across as quite a scummy conniving doucheYou know like a modern politician 50 Stars HIGHEST POSSIBLE RECOMMENDATION