Machiavelli is often criticized for being a teacher of evil. The argument is that Machiavelli destroys ethical principles and argues that the ends justify the means.
In other words, do what you must and don’t worry about who you crush in the process. If you want to succeed in life you have to be willing to get your hands dirty.Do
you agree with this criticism of Machiavelli? Why or why not? What evidence in THE PRINCE goes against this criticism?
#2 What aspects of Machiavelli’s thought are most relevant to the contemporary workplace? Please provide reasons and examples to back up your claim.
Use Required Sources only:
pp.68-131 (Chapters XIV-XXVI) of The Prince: http://www.constitution.org/mac/prince.pdf
NO COVER PAGE
Answer the following:
#1 Machiavelli is often criticized for being a teacher of evil. The argument is that Machiavelli destroys ethical principles and argues that the ends justify the
means. In other words, do what you must and don’t worry about who you crush in the process. If you want to succeed in life you have to be willing to get your hands
Do you agree with this criticism of Machiavelli? Why or why not? What evidence in THE PRINCE goes against this criticism?
#2 What aspects of Machiavelli’s thought are most relevant to the contemporary workplace? Please provide reasons and examples to back up your claim.
Use Required Sources only:
pp.68-131 (Chapters XIV-XXVI) of The Prince: http://www.constitution.org/mac/prince.pdf
Please read the lectures and answer the questions. Your response should demonstrate that you are
reading/viewing the course textbook, and reflecting upon all of these, through relevant responses that are not solely opinions or anecdotes. Responses should
consistently draw on specific information from required source material only, and using multiple specific, accurate, and relevant examples. Responses should be well
organized, with no run-on paragraphs or stream of
consciousness writing. Use full sentences with proper grammar and almost no spelling or punctuation mistakes. The tone should reflect formal writing (e.g., no
abbreviations better suited to informal text).
Lecture 1: Machiavelli, High Priest of Power Politics or Tormented Moralist?
As you may recall from last week’s lecture, Machiavelli wanted to write something that
was useful to the new prince, something that offered rules for conduct in a chaotic
political world. Should the new leader strive to be loved or feared? Should the new
leader be generous or stingy? Who should the new leader ask to be his advisors? What
role do the people play in a political order? Should the leader embrace Christian
morality? Should the leader deceive others, keep his promises, do away with enemies?
These are some of the questions Machiavelli answers in his masterpiece, the Prince.
The answers Machiavelli provided to these questions shocked his readers. The ruler
should be feared (not loved), stingy, and he or she should disregard Christian morality in
conduct but verbally use Christianity as a mask for ruthless actions. He must know how
to act quickly and decisively. Mercenaries were to be avoided because they were
disloyal. The leader must know how to both keep and break promises, how to lie, cheat,
and kill but also how to appear to be benevolent. After all, people believe what they see
and have a hard time knowing exactly what is real.
The status of the people in this text, however, is special and limits the actions of the ruler.
Yes, the ruler must know how to be tough but he or she must also strive to avoid the
hatred and contempt of the people. If the people hate you, you are doomed. If you think
living in a fortress will save you from the hatred of the people, you are mistaken;
fortresses can easily be your prison, or simply be burned down or bombed.
Why does Machiavelli matter? Machiavelli provides us with some useful advice on how
to be a leader/ruler. In my view, the need to avoid the hatred of the others is one of his
most important principles. For this reason, it would be a mistake to view Machiavelli as
a thinker who is fixated only on power. It would also be a mistake to see him a
tormented moralist. Rather, Machiavelli is a thinker who created a political ethic, one
freed from the straitjacket of Christian morality but one that also reminded rulers that
“everything was not permitted” in the realm of politics. Your punishment for crossing
this line was your political life, not the death of your soul. For Machiavelli, your political
life was more important than anything else.
Lecture 2: Machiavelli The Prince
>> Dear Mr. President, I am deeply honored to have been asked for my advice as you assume the awesome burdens of your new office. I can offer several rules of thumb
which I believe time and experience have proven sound. Act boldly in the beginning. The public has a short attention span that will make them forget the
accomplishments of your predecessor and impress them with your vigor. Make your first priority the protection of your power. Without it you are useless. Appear
steadfast but be flexible. Remember, some of God’s greatest gifts are broken campaign promises. [Music]
>> A playful paraphrase of words written in the year 1513 by a cashiered civil servant in Florence, Italy. What he actually wrote became one of the most hotly debated,
deeply disturbing and important books of western civilization. To some it was a veritable guide book for tyrants and totalitarians. Mussolini loved it. Marxists
recognized a fellow revolutionary. To others, it paved the way for ethnic and religious toleration, individual rights and modern democracies. But fairly or unfairly it
has caused his name, Machiavelli, to ring through the centuries as a synonym for evil. [Music]
>> I compare fortunes to one of those violent rivers which, when they are enraged, flood the plains, tear down trees and buildings. Everyone flees before them.
Everybody yields to their impetus. There is no possibility of resistance. Yet although such is their nature, one may still take precautions when they are flowing
quietly, building dams and dikes to control them and flood time. So it is with fortune.
>> Rivers are not to be trusted. Neither are men. But both can often be controlled given intelligence and power and the willingness to get your hands dirty.
>> DR. KISSINGER: Machiavelli is the first political thinker of the Christian era who systematically analyzed the requirements of power and survival.
>> The Prince is a book about power, political power at a time of city states or principalities, ruled by men called princes. It amounts to 26 short chapters of
analysis and opinion that range from the classification of government, to advice on selecting staff. It was written to shock and reeducate its reader, and it still
manages to do so, to challenge the political pieties of its day and explain to princes and prince want to be’s how the game is really played. It tells the prince that
before anything else, he must know how to fight. He must learn to be ruthless and cruel, to lie, break his word and be ready to violate both morals and religious
principles when needed, though it also stresses the need to appear compassionate, moral, and devote. Some say Machiavelli invented modern politics. And when we read
The Prince, we can see today’s headlines.
>> MS. GRAY: I think in many ways it is a great book because it is a mirror for Machiavelli’s own time and because it does continue to disturb, provoke and make us
think anew and see in what way it does relate to our own time, and we keep asking questions of it.
>> It was Machiavelli who said get real in Italian, of course. [Italian]
>> Many have dreamed up republics and principalities which have never in truth existed. The gap between how one should live and how one does live is so wide that the
man who neglects what is actually done for what should be done is on the way to self destruction.
>> Machiavelli’s focus on what is actually done is in tune with his time. Copernicus is studying the heaven, and Leonardo is dissecting cadavers, both trying to learn
how God actually did it, to learn not from theory but direct observation.
>> MS. GRAY: Just as Leonardo was interested in anatomizing the world of nature, so Machiavelli in a sense was interested in anatomizing the world of politics and the
world of history.
>> But dissections and autopsies are never pretty. One of the uglier discoveries attributed to Machiavelli is the idea that the end justifies the means. Now he didn’t
put it quite that way.
>> In the actions of all men and especially of princes where there is no court of appeal, one judges by the result.
>> MR. MASTERS: Machiavelli is very clear that the end is what counts. He says this in a number of places, and it seems to us a very tough argument.
>> DR. KISSINGER: There are some situations in which the more survival is threatened, the narrower the margin of choice becomes unless you say you would rather have a
society destroyed than to pursue marginal means.
>> What would you do to prevent this from happening to your people? What would you not do? Would you lie, violate treaties, assassinate people? Just where would you
draw the line? Anywhere? On the other hand, if you were winning a war and your enemy is all but finished, how far would you go to minimize your own casualties?
Machiavelli was acquainted with the moral ambiguities of power. He was a realist.
>> MR. HART: Machiavelli pursued what some scholars have called amoral realism. First of all, what he was trying to do is create something that didn’t exist up to that
point. The nation state. In this case Italy.
>> MR. HARIMAN: But what we need to ask ourselves is whether we really are in desperate straits, whether we really are up against the hard laws of necessity that
Machiavelli is describing. I think much of the time we assume we are and are not.
>> Like politicians today, Machiavelli justifies harsh or deceitful means as necessary to the common good, but his focus is on the presence or absence of power. What
is it? How do you get it? How do you keep it? Good questions in any age but stark and immediate in Machiavelli’s.
>> When I came to this interview, I left my home in Vermont as an isolated individual, drove a car to Boston, took an airplane to New York, came to this interview
without people around me. I was safe.
>> In the middle ages human beings were not able to move from one place to another without having other people around them to protect them. [Music]
>> Florence. Fabulous window in the past. Down these same streets walked the monks, soldiers and merchant princes of Machiavelli’s time, as well as artists whose names
and work are today as famous as his. We are now in the age of Michelangelo, Leonardo, Columbus and Copernicus, of England’s Henry VIII, and of Germany, Martin Luther
and the plot for reformation. It is a turbulent time of conflict and contradiction. New ideas and new technologies are rocking Europe like a great earthquake. The
medieval system is collapsing and the idea that man is master of his fate is just beginning to take root. It is the renaissance, the April of western civilization. And
the concept of government as a purely human invention is one of its flowers. But April is a cruel month. Giuliano de Medici, murdered in the great cathedral by a rival
family, de Pazzi. It was a plot blessed by the sitting pope to overthrow the de facto rule of the Medici in Florence. Such were the times. Politics was a family
matter. Medici retribution was swift and brutal. Several conspirators, including an arch bishop, were slaughtered where they were caught, and their bodies hung from
the windows of city hall, the last one sketched as it hung by Leonardo da Vinci. Religion too seemed often a kind of family affair. Princes of the church had
concubines. Popes had children. Lucrezia and Cesare Borgia, brother and sister and lovers, also had wealth and power thanks to their sire, Pope Alexander VI, who gives
the term godfather a whole other meaning. Italy was an anarchy and city states, popes and other princes in constantly shifting alliances, murders in the cathedral, and
orgies in the Vatican where the debris of a crumbing medieval order. This was the world of Machiavelli time. The separation of politics and religion was to become for
him a major theme. Getting religion out of politics was an idea with legs. Its mirror image would appear in America whose founding fathers were trying to get politics
out of religion. They would write it into their Constitution as the separation of church and state. I have not seen the end of controversies ignited by that idea, and
it does have a dark side.
>> That separation, between ethics and politics, the belief that the good prince is not necessarily the good man, that appearance matters more than reality, that
deception can be practiced, that it is better to be feared than loved. All those famous conclusions of the prince are ones that have eternally struck people as the
most difficult and indeed painful question about politics, and they don’t want to confront it. They don’t want to believe that people thought those things.
>> Was the man who did think those things a Christian? A pagan? An atheist?
>> Machiavelli was a Sunday Christian. He did not dispute the essential dogmas of the Catholic faith. He simply put them to one side when he came to think and talk
about politics at all.
>> Machiavelli’s prince seems to have a lot of moral leeway. The price for that is fairly steep. He must love his country more than his soul. He must be prepared to go
to hell for it.
>> To kill a man is still to kill a man, and a prince has to be ready to do it. He has to be ready to go to hell. Being in charge, being a ruler, being a prince is
intrinsically a tragic job and without redemption and without justification.
>> Machiavelli found it possible to live with contradictory views and therefore not to see himself as he came very quickly to be seen as anti Christian or anything of
>> Some think I should teach men the way to heaven, but I would rather teach them the way to hell so they will know how to go around it.
>> The Medici were exiled in 1494 when Charles VIII of France rode unopposed into Florence on his way to other conquests. Niccolo Machiavelli was 27. The city, long a
republic in name, became again a republic in fact. Its first leader was a fiery puritanical but very popular monk named Savonarola who denounced the corruption of the
church and was responsible for two of history’s more notable bonfires. On one, Savonarola burned books and artworks. On the other, the church burned Savonarola. The
spot is marked today in front of city hall where a few weeks later Niccolo went to work for the republican government of Piero Soderini.
>> Machiavelli worked for the committee that was in charge of defense and foreign affairs. He took care of the needs of the military, and he went on special missions
to foreign courts.
>> And then he was all throughout Italy. He met many rulers, and naturally among them is Cesare Borgia.
>> Borgia is a legend in his own time of ruthlessness and depravity. In one instance Borgia invites his enemies to peace talks and has them all killed.
>> That was the main impression that he got from Borgia, his cold blood and his capacity of using violence, let’s say, well [Italian], for a very lucid political goal.
Not just a display of power, but in a very functional way. [Italian]
>> When he returned from these missions, a doting but impatient staff confronts him with a mountain of domestic details and problems, but Niccolo has weightier things
on his mind. He is a visionary. An Italian patriot convinced that only a single forceful leader can unify Italy, and he knows that independence will require a citizen
>> Machiavelli believed that the mercenary armies that characterized the military system of renaissance Italy, and indeed of much of Europe, were a terrible mistake,
that the Romans had used civic militias, that every state should use its own citizens, that only in this way could you get the commitment and efos of civilians to
express themselves in the defense of the state and that that would have very good results in terms of the internal laws, institutions and efos of the state as well.
>> Machiavelli sells the idea, and in a war with neighboring Pisa, his citizen soldiers perform moderately well. But in 1512 they meet hardened Spanish troops at a
town named Prada. The Spanish mercenaries panicked Machiavelli’s militia and a ghastly slaughter follows. In the wake of this route, the Medici return to end the
Soderini republic, and with it Machiavelli’s political career. In Niccolo’s view, the fickle Soderini could have squashed the Medici return had he been sufficiently
ruthless. Leadership requires more than plans and policies.
>> In order to maintain his state, a prince is often forced to act in defiance of good faith, of charity, of kindness, of religion. He should not deviate from what is
good if that is possible, but he should know how to do evil if that is necessary.
>> The notion that necessity could justify behavior which was not otherwise virtuous or moral was actually accepted by almost all of the ancient thinkers. Lincoln’s
critics in his day thought he was a dictator, thought he was a tyrant, thought he was undemocratic, thought in spite of all the folksy backwoods charm, that he was an
ego maniac and was operating unconstitutionally much of the time. In the case, for example, the suspension of habeas corpus, he probably was. And this is perhaps a
great example of Machiavellian leadership in a democracy.
>> There is a physics of politics, and sooner or later every leader discovers for himself the laws of relativity and uncertainty, also known as the law of unintended
>> Taking everything into account, he will find that some of the things that appear to be virtuous will, if he practices them, ruin him. And some of the things that
appear to be vices will bring him security and prosperity. [Italian]
>> The reinstalled Medici have discovered a plot to overthrow them, and they have a list of people the plotters hope to recruit. The seventh name on the list is
Niccolo Machiavelli. The plotters never got to Machiavelli. It doesn’t matter. He’s a suspect and the Medici don’t need much excuse to throw him into prison. [Music]
>> It is a prayer chanted by priests for those about to die. This chanting is for the list maker. Prison here has two functions: Execution and interrogation.
Interrogation means torture, quite legal and quite ingenious. [indiscernible] Niccolo, is the strappado, hands tied behind the back, hoisted by the wrists and dropped
part way. If the drop is far enough, it will tear the shoulders out of their sockets. Niccolo’s drop is obviously less severe, but it is torture, and he learns well
the uses of pain.
>> The bond of love is one that men break when it is to their advantage to do so, but fear is strengthened by a thread of punishment which never abandons you.
>> For Niccolo, the experience of the past few months has not been conducive to a romantic view of life, but it has been instructive. In the spring of 1513 Giovanni de
Medici becomes pope leader of the 10th, and Machiavelli is released in a general amnesty but with restrictions. He is restricted to the region around Florence, barred
from the city hall, banned from politics. He moves to the family’s property a few miles out of the city. There he is free in his own kind of hell, an addict cut off
from his source. Only someone who’s been there can know the pain. Gary Hart was the prince presumptive of the democratic party before fortune and his own indiscretion
cut him off.
>> In many ways hell is possessing a talent which one cannot use, and this was Machiavelli’s hell, and a profound one for him because he understood how talented he was
and how visionary he was, and I think it must have been desperately hard for him, as it would be for example for a politician today who had both the talent, and here’s
the crucial element, a monolithic dependence on the addiction of participation. Speaking only for myself, I tried desperately and with some success not to become so
dependent on politics or on the adrenaline of participation that I couldn’t do without it.
>> In a letter to a friend, Niccolo describes the narrow confines of his current life, supervising work on his property and killing time with the locals in the local
inn. With these I sink into vulgarity for the whole day, playing cards, and these games bring on a thousand disputes with countless insults, and usually we are
fighting over a penny. So involved in these trifles, I keep my brain from growing moldy.
>> The personal Machiavelli seems entirely human. He is compassionate, witty and profane, even sometimes obscene. He is married, but he is attracted to other women and
they to him.
>> Machiavelli was a great guy. He was friendly, affable, loyal to his friends. He loved to go out drinking. He loved women. He loved good conversation. Just an
ordinary nice guy.
>> Well, ordinary may not be the best word, but certainly Machiavelli seems anything but Machiavellian. He is personable. He is also a very talented guy.
>> He wrote the best, the best comedy of our literature [Italian] in 1518, and okay, there’s a comedy with a bitter and even somber tone, but it’s a lively play.
>> On the coming of evening I return to my house and enter my study, and at the door I take off the day’s clothing covered with mud and dust and put on garments regal
and courtly and reclothe appropriately. I enter the ancient courts of ancient men where I’m received by them with affection. I feed on that food which is mine and
which I was born for.
>> Niccolo begins to work on what he calls The Discourses on the first ten books of Titus Livy. It is a book of commentaries on the work of that Roman historian and
makes a strong case for a republican form of government.
>> Then all of a sudden he decides to try to get back into government himself and writes in furious time, in three months time, The Prince. He interrupts the writing
of The Discourse to take off time to write The Prince because he’s anxious to get back into politics and into government life.
>> There are two Machiavellies here, one writing a book on the republican form of government and the other almost simultaneously writing advice for tyrants.
>> I look at Machiavelli’s Prince as a work on statesmanship and The Discourse is a statement of desirable objectives. So I don’t find the two incompatible with each
>> Politics was his consuming interest, and if he could have made the world the way he wanted it to be, he would have preferred a republic. But he could live with both
republics and with principalities, and his point was that you begin from where you are and that you judge any form of government by its outcome rather than simply by
>> All the states, all the dominions under whose authority men have lived in the past and live now are either republics or principalities.
>> So begins the most famous job application in history. It joins Niccolo’s passion for a united Italy with the fact of Medici rules. It urges the reigning Medici to
take on a new role, as nation founder. Niccolo offers a blueprint for a new kind of leader. So who is this ideal prince? What are his qualities? Roughly that
combination of strength of character, intelligence, courage, skill, and luck, which astronauts call the right stuff, plus a touch of ruthlessness.
>> Machiavelli stressed two sets of attributes with The Prince. One was very colorful. He used the image of the fox and the lion. Prince must have the ability of the
fox to find the snare and the courage of the lion to drive off the wolves.
>> There are certain particular moments which he calls the founding or refounding of a regime. You will need a leader with exceptional intelligence, with the
intelligence of a Lincoln, the intelligence of a Washington, with the intelligence of a Bonaparte.
>> Machiavelli’s breakthrough is that he gives us the persona, the personality of the political realist. He gives us the inner discipline of the strategist, and this
is a discipline that involves a great deal of self control such that one cannot revel in conquests. One cannot strike out impulsively. One has to be constantly
scrutinizing one’s own motives. One must constantly attend to others carefully, even civilly, less you give away your own hand and while you’re trying to discern their
own missteps or their own deceptions. And so what we get is someone who’s not quite a Christian knight but is nonetheless often very well behaved.
>> He also gives us the political actor. The Prince may or may not keep his word, may or may not be humane, devout, a man’s man, a family man, depending on the
circumstances, but he must appear to be all of those things.
>> Men in general judge by their eyes rather than by their hands because everyone is in a position to watch. Few are in a position to come in close touch with you.
Everyone sees what you appear to be. Few experience what you really are.
>> And so there is a larger sense in which The Prince is playing a roll, which is to appear to be the things he knows he must not necessarily be and to appear to act
on principle, when what he’s acting on is calculation or what the modern world would refer to as long term strategy because in a certain way Machiavellian invented the
very notion of a long term strategy.
>> Stay focused. Talk about things that will matter to people, you know. It’s the economy, stupid, okay?
>> So as we always say, speed kills, and we will die in this debate if we’re not there first with our answer.
>> But perhaps most important, Machiavelli’s prince is a political artist.
>> He sees the prince as somebody who takes matter as though it were marble and imposes a form on it as though that person were a sculptor.
>> Formed out of stone, order out of chaos, civilization from savagery. Michelangelo and Machiavelli’s prince have much in common. Trouble is, raw material for the
prince is human flesh and blood. For that, the prince must learn how and when to be cruel, and he must have studied war.
>> The main foundations of every state are good laws and good arms, and because you cannot have good laws without good arms, and where there are good arms, good laws
inevitably follow, I shall not discuss laws but give my attention to arms.
>> The sentence is one of the most marvelous puddles in all of Machiavelli. You need good arms. Good arms are the arms of a citizen army. Not a mercenary army. How do
you get the citizens to serve in the army? They have to think that the society meets their own private self interest. So you need to have a republic in order to have a
citizen army. You need to have good laws to have a republic.
>> You are bound to meet misfortune if you are unarmed because, among other reasons, people despise you, and this is one of the infamies a prince should be on his
guard against. There is simply no comparison between a man who is armed and one who is not.
>> Well, he’s right on the money there. Machiavelli, I think, is most useful in my judgment when you’re thinking about international relations rather than the
government within a state or a city. International relations are different from internal matters. For one reason because there is no law between nations. In reality
you really do have a jungle out there, and that’s different from states where you do have a law which has legitimacy and which monopolizes force in the hands of the
government. The world out there isn’t like that, and we in the world today in the west, in the United States, we hate that idea. It makes us very unhappy and very
uncomfortable, and we refuse to believe it much of the time. So this is where Machiavelli is most valuable in reminding us of those gross realities which haven’t
changed. You have got to have that power.
>> No government should ever imagine that it can always adopt a safe course. This is the way things are. Whenever one tries to escape one danger, one runs into
another. Prudence consists of being able to assess the nature of a particular threat and accepting the lesser evil.
>> Making careful judgments, that’s prudence, as Machiavelli says, and that’s what we hire our government for.
>> So in the end Machiavelli also says that you shouldn’t be overcautious. You shouldn’t be too prudent in that sense. You’re going to have to take action.
>> It’s easy to think of a very immediate example as in the case of Bosnia where Bush, whom I think had the best chance of dealing with the problem and settling it.
Had from the beginning and willing to look at the reality which is that we are not free to allow that sort of violence, that sort of what’s the word? The breaking of
international order, to happen in the middle of Europe, and I think we had a lot more leverage on our NATO allies, Europe, than we were for whatever reason we were
willing to exercise, and there was probably a failure of leadership on our part.
>> There’s no law of nature that says the United States has to be involved in every crisis. At the time they made the final decision, we probably had no alternative,
but on the road to the final decision we certainly did not apply Machiavelli’s maxims. We never asked ourselves what is our objective here. What is our interest here.
What are the means available? What is the best thing that can happen. What is the worst thing that can happen.
>> Has an American president ever applied that kind of analysis before committing the nation to some foreign involvement?
>> I think Roosevelt did it in his own mind before him [indiscernible] Roosevelt. Nixon had a great capacity for that.
>> Henry Kissinger has been called the American Machiavelli by admirers as well as critics. That would make Richard Nixon his prince. Especially talented and foreign
policy often brilliant and decision but secretive and suspicious. Richard could have profited from Niccolo’s advice on at least one score.
>> A prince must watch that he does not become afraid of his own shadow. His behavior must be tempered by humanity and prudence so that excessive distrust does not
make him unbearable.
>> For more than a century Americans enjoyed the advantage of isolation amid rich, natural resources. They were the exception among nations, immune from Europe’s
Machiavellian environment, the politics of survival, with that immunity gone now.
>> We cannot afford the pure American exceptional approach indefinitely. It doesn’t mean that every end justifies every means, but it means that the purity that we
have tended to [indiscernible] with some of our academics and some of our leaders have insisted on will be much more difficult.
>> We destabilized government. We tried to assassinate foreign leaders. We did some things, I think, again particularly in singling out the Nixon administration that
were a violation of our principles, our ideals. I think we’re suffering for that today.
>> In the first 100 days we will bring to the
>> Machiavelli’s real expertise seems to be foreign policy. Some of his advice on domestic fares also has resonance, at least for modern day conservatives.
>> A man should not be afraid of improving his possessions unless they be taken away from him or another deterred by high taxes from starting a new business. But above
all, a prince must avoid taking the property of others because men soon forget the death of their father than the loss of their inheritance.
>> On the other hand, his ideal prince does bear a resemblance to Lenin. Kill the old prince and his family, create new titles and powers, and give them to new men. He
should make the poor rich and the rich poor, as David did when he became king. Machiavelli’s advice seems so often to cut two or more ways. It is little wonder there
is a score of differing interpretations of the prince. Take for instance the bit about fear and love.
>> It is far better to be feared than loved if you cannot be both, but you must avoid being hated. Fear is useful. Hatred is counterproductive.
>> Most corporate executives would agree with that. Strict adherence to Christian virtue is just out of place.
>> And so the question he raises is part of the distinction that he brings to the modern study of politics. The answer he gives is also particularly distinctive. It’s
an answer that ruthlessly discriminates between politics and everything else, that asserts the autonomy of the political in the manner of which all other human values
can be reduced to the struggle for power and the provision or maintenance of order.
>> A copy of The Prince is finally presented to de Medici who gave no indication he ever read it. It would never be published in Machiavelli’s lifetime. And when he
died, he went to hell.
>> The demonization of Machiavelli began very shortly after Machiavelli’s death, and that came at a time when the crisis of the contesting religions was really kicking
into full gear into the 1530s and ’40s, and both sides saw a demon in Machiavelli.
>> Poor Niccolo. Not only is he now a demon, but the Medici plague him even in hell. His ideas are said to have inspired the massacre of 50,000 French protestants in
1572 while Catherine de Medici was queen of Franch, and protestant England makes Niccolo its prime villain.
>> There is the idea that everything that is based in Italian and southern and Catholic is somehow Machiavellian.
>> It is at that time, the time of Marlo and Shakespeare, that this association with evilness becomes apparent. They talk about Yago as being Machiavellian. They talk
about Richard III as being Machiavellian.
>> Then there’s the kind of rehabilitation that takes place in the era of classical republicanism including, including some of the classical republicans of England,
when people began to look at Machiavelli the republican.
>> The state of Machiavelli’s soul is a good deal less important to us than the nature of his legacy, the uses to which his ideas have been put.
>> The 20th century is seen among the one hand as a precursor of autocratic or even totalitarian views of government, and on the other is a good republican and a fine
social scientist who helps us to understand how things work.
>> Washington, Napoleon, Churchill, Lenin, intellectual children of the same father of Machiavelli. Now history can’t tell us where Niccolo’s soul ended up, but we do
know that he believed in keeping up appearances and that his mortal remains are put in the cathedral of Santa Croce, among other honored florentine. We also know that
his influence is far from dead. Machiavelli and The Prince seem very much in vogue today. For instance, a columnist for U.S. News & World Report used them to critique
a president, and that same president quoted them to the Washington Post to support his policies.
>> It must be considered that there is nothing more difficult to carry out, no more doubt of success, nor dangerous to handle than to initiate a new order of things.
For the reformer has enemies in all those who profit from the old order, and only lukewarm defenders in those
>> So Machiavelli freelances now as a White House adviser. There’s more than metaphor here. If Machiavelli invented politics as we know them, politics as we know them
have given us back some latter day Machiavellies. Advisers, strategists, political realists, maybe not above a dirty trick or two, but only in the name of good, clean
winning. And if Machiavelli seems to work for two very different systems, so can these guys. Niccolo is doing well today. While his former estate turns out a fine
canti wine in his name, he has joined in the ranks of big name corporate advisers, and he has interests in a couple of games on the market which more or less use his
precepts. One of them gets the history of it wrong, and it has a golden rule that might have come from the prince if Machiavelli had thought of it. Maybe all this is
Niccolo’s purgatory. Judgment of his legacy is still in dispute, and even his staunchest defenders will admit he had some, well, flaws. He sometimes got the history
>> He raided history, I think, to produce the examples as he understood them to make the points that he wanted rather than seeking to first discover what really
happened. He was an let’s put it this way. He was not a producer of history. He was a consumer.
>> I think that his assessment of human nature is one where anyone would agree that human nature is imperfect, but for Machiavelli it is more than imperfect. It is
never guided by a good motive, and that I think is in fact less realistic.
>> Like many realists, he thought that reality was self evident, and in fact reality is the hardest thing to assess.
>> Machiavelli lived when new ideas and technologies were changing forever the realities of power and the notions of government. So do we. And his advice to analyze
carefully the requirements for success without losing the courage to act seems painfully relevant today.
>> The other thing that it’s left is that he leaves us to understand that once you have to put that analogy into some idea, which he did in the Discourses where he
described his idea of republican government, and I think The Prince must be in conjunction with the Discourses because there are two sides of what was to him the same
coin, and that was an important insight.
>> There are certain books which are sufficiently complicated that they have a message for different people in different times because somehow they have touched at an
aspect of fundamental human experience. Plato’s Republic is one example of that, social contract or lock. Machiavelli’s Prince is a book like that. It deals with an
aspect of human life in a very profound way, the central aspect being the role of leaders and why leaders are necessary in any complicated human community.
>> Gary Hart has written a book which he says Machiavelli might have written had he been an idealist. Hart sees important similarities between Niccolo’s time and ours.
>> I believe that we are living on the hinge of history, on the cusp of history, and it happens no more frequently than every 100 years, sometimes every 500 years, and
we are so in the middle of this, symbolically new century, new millennium, really new economic age information versus industry or machines, and a new order in the
world to replace the old cold war order. And what is important is that this country find a new prince, find a patriot who can help us define what the next era is.
>> Some readers of The Prince smell brimstone in its pages. Others find it more like ammonia, repugnant but profoundly clarifying. In truth much of what Machiavelli
wrote merely described how things actually were done in his time.
>> The second sense in which I think Machiavelli is to be disagreed with is in the fundamental conclusion that he reached about the possibility, divorcing, political
matters from ethical considerations. I don’t think it can be done in fact. It’s quite apart from whether it ought to be done.
>> But few with any experience today would deny that much of what he wrote seems merely the common sense of politics.
>> There’s another sense in which we say Machiavelli is giving us the common sense of politics, and we ought to be more suspicious of this usage. There all we’re
saying is that what he says is common sense because we’re already imitating him.
>> So Mr. President, having describe how things really work in this perilous world, let me close with a few additional words of caution. Choose the most brilliant
advisers. Tell them to speak to you candidly and then be wary of their advice. When decision time comes, keep your own counsel and never ever forget that you are in
show business, that leadership is nine tenths acting a role. Never step out of it in public. Don’t, for God sake, carry your own bags. Welcome to the top of the heap
and lots of luck. Your humble and admiring servant. Niccolo Machiavelli. P.S., don’t look to heaven for your reward.
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