Instead of the more traditional target audience of a hereditary prince, it concentrates on the possibility of a "new prince". To retain power, the hereditary prince must carefully balance the interests of a variety of institutions to which the people are accustomed. By contrast, a new prince has the more difficult task in ruling: He must first stabilise his newfound power in order to build an enduring political structure. Machiavelli suggests that the social benefits of stability and security can be achieved in the face of moral corruption.
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Despite popular perception, Machiavelli, whose name has often been used as a synonym for political ASSHATery, was not arguing that its 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.
Should such murdered and subjugated populations thank the princes for their unwaivering morality? Allowing other considerations to affect such judgements will only provide an advantage to third parties who will exploit it. 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. Machiavelli 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. 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 i.
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.
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. 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 opposite. The 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. 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. Something the famous rulers of history have always known…and 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 all…People 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.
Gee, thanks Niccolo. Oh…and 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. I admire his work, but the man comes across as quite a scummy, conniving douche. You know, like a modern politician.
When the Medici family returned to power in , Machiavelli was dismissed and briefly jailed. He then wrote The Prince, a handbook for politicians on the use of ruthless, self-serving cunning, inspiring the term "Machiavellian" and establishing Machiavelli as the "father of modern political theory. He died on June 21, , in Florence, Italy. The work has been regarded as a handbook for politicians on the use of ruthless, self-serving cunning, and inspired the term "Machiavellian. One excerpt from the book reads: "Since love and fear can hardly exist together, if we must choose between them, it is far safer to be feared than loved. After his involvement in an unsuccessful attempt to organize a Florentine militia against the return of the Medici family to power in became known, Machiavelli was tortured, jailed and banished from an active role in political life. He died in the city on June 21,
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