Oct 12 2010

The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli

There has been a movement in recent times among historians and political scientists to rehabilitate Machiavelli’s reputation. After reading this book, I cannot agree with these scholars. Machiavelli’s recipe for statesmanship is inhuman and diabolical. He clearly sees power as an end in itself and not as something to be used to serve the public good. His treatise is entirely concerned with the interests of the the ruler and not with the interests of the ruled. This, in my opinion, is the wrong place to start in developing a political philosophy. Yet I have to say that this was a fascinating book, and it merely codifies what was probably already known and accepted among the rulers of Machiavelli’s time. The book is dedicated to Lorenzo di Medici, but Machiavelli’s hero was not Lorenzo but Cesare Borgia, who successfully used the methods prescribed by Machiavelli to rise to power and then came to a bad end when other rulers successfully used the same methods against him.

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