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The Latin legend reads: Originality[ edit ] Engraved portrait of Machiavelli, from the Peace Palace Library's Il Principe, published in Commentators have taken very different approaches to Machiavelli and not always agreed. Major discussion has tended to be about two issues: Some commentators have described him as inconsistent, and perhaps as not even putting a high priority in consistency. Some have argued that his conclusions are best understood as a product of his times, experiences and education.
Others, such as Leo Strauss and Harvey Mansfield, have argued strongly that there is a very strong and deliberate consistency and distinctness, even arguing that this extends to all of Machiavelli's works including his comedies and letters.
Others have argued that Machiavelli is only a particularly interesting example of trends which were happening around him. In any case Machiavelli presented himself at various times as someone reminding Italians of the old virtues of the Romans and Greeks, and other times as someone promoting a completely new approach to politics.
Their relative importance is however a subject of on-going discussion. It is possible to summarize some of the main influences emphasized by different commentators. The Mirror of Princes genre. Gilbert summarized the similarities between The Prince and the genre it obviously imitates, the so-called " Mirror of Princes " style. This was a classically influenced genre, with models at least as far back as Xenophon and Isocrates. While Gilbert emphasized the similarities, however, he agreed with all other commentators that Machiavelli was particularly novel in the way he used this genre, even when compared to his contemporaries such as Baldassare Castiglione and Erasmus.
One of the major innovations Gilbert noted was that Machiavelli focused upon the "deliberate purpose of dealing with a new ruler who will need to establish himself in defiance of custom". Normally, these types of works were addressed only to hereditary princes.
Xenophon is also an exception in this regard. Commentators such as Quentin Skinner and J. Pocockin the so-called "Cambridge School" of interpretation, have been able to show that some of the republican themes in Machiavelli's political works, particularly the Discourses on Livycan be found in medieval Italian literature which was influenced by classical authors such as Sallust. Xenophonauthor of the Cyropedia 3. Xenophon, Plato and Aristotle.
The Socratic school of classical political philosophy, especially Aristotlehad become a major influence upon European political thinking in the late Middle Ages.
Niccolò Machiavelli - Wikipedia
It existed both in the Catholicised form presented by Thomas Aquinasand in the more controversial " Averroist " form of authors like Marsilius of Padua. Machiavelli was critical of Catholic political thinking and may have been influenced by Averroism.
But he cites Plato and Aristotle very infrequently and apparently did not approve of them. Leo Strauss argued that the strong influence of Xenophona student of Socrates more known as an historian, rhetorician and soldier, was a major source of Socratic ideas for Machiavelli, sometimes not in line with Aristotle.
While interest in Plato was increasing in Florence during Machiavelli's lifetime, Machiavelli does not show particular interest in him, but was indirectly influenced by his readings of authors such as PolybiusPlutarch and Cicero. The major difference between Machiavelli and the Socratics, according to Strauss, is Machiavelli's materialism, and therefore his rejection of both a teleological view of nature and of the view that philosophy is higher than politics.
With their teleological understanding of things, Socratics argued that desirable things tend to happen by nature, as if nature desired them, but Machiavelli claimed that such things happen by blind chance or human action. Strauss argued that Machiavelli may have seen himself as influenced by some ideas from classical materialists such as DemocritusEpicurus and Lucretius.
Strauss however sees this also as a sign of major innovation in Machiavelli, because classical materialists did not share the Socratic regard for political life, while Machiavelli clearly did. Some scholars note the similarity between Machiavelli and the Greek historian Thucydidessince both emphasized power politics.
Yet Thucydides never calls in question the intrinsic superiority of nobility to baseness, a superiority that shines forth particularly when the noble is destroyed by the base.
Therefore Thucydides' History arouses in the reader a sadness which is never aroused by Machiavelli's books. In Machiavelli we find comedies, parodies, and satires but nothing reminding of tragedy. One half of humanity remains outside of his thought. There is no tragedy in Machiavelli because he has no sense of the sacredness of "the common. Empiricism and realism versus idealism[ edit ] Machiavelli is sometimes seen as the prototype of a modern empirical scientist, building generalizations from experience and historical facts, and emphasizing the uselessness of theorizing with the imagination.
He undertook to describe simply what rulers actually did and thus anticipated what was later called the scientific spirit in which questions of good and bad are ignored, and the observer attempts to discover only what really happens.
Nevertheless, he advocated intensive study of the past, particularly regarding the founding of a city, which he felt was a key to understanding its later development. For example, Machiavelli denies that living virtuously necessarily leads to happiness. And Machiavelli viewed misery as one of the vices that enables a prince to rule. But since the two rarely come together, anyone compelled to choose will find greater security in being feared than in being loved.
A related and more controversial proposal often made is that he described how to do things in politics in a way which seemed neutral concerning who used the advice—tyrants or good rulers.
The Prince made the word "Machiavellian" a byword for deceit, despotism, and political manipulation. Even if Machiavelli was not himself evil, Leo Strauss declared himself inclined toward the traditional view that Machiavelli was self-consciously a "teacher of evil," since he counsels the princes to avoid the values of justice, mercy, temperance, wisdom, and love of their people in preference to the use of cruelty, violence, fear, and deception.
In his opinion, Christianity, along with the teleological Aristotelianism that the church had come to accept, allowed practical decisions to be guided too much by imaginary ideals and encouraged people to lazily leave events up to providence or, as he would put it, chance, luck or fortune. While Christianity sees modesty as a virtue and pride as sinful, Machiavelli took a more classical position, seeing ambition, spiritedness, and the pursuit of glory as good and natural things, and part of the virtue and prudence that good princes should have.
Famously, Machiavelli argued that virtue and prudence can help a man control more of his future, in the place of allowing fortune to do so. Najemy has argued that this same approach can be found in Machiavelli's approach to love and desire, as seen in his comedies and correspondence. Najemy shows how Machiavelli's friend Vettori argued against Machiavelli and cited a more traditional understanding of fortune.
On the other hand, humanism in Machiavelli's time meant that classical pre-Christian ideas about virtue and prudence, including the possibility of trying to control one's future, were not unique to him. But humanists did not go so far as to promote the extra glory of deliberately aiming to establish a new state, in defiance of traditions and laws.
While Machiavelli's approach had classical precedents, it has been argued that it did more than just bring back old ideas and that Machiavelli was not a typical humanist. Strauss argues that the way Machiavelli combines classical ideas is new.
While Xenophon and Plato also described realistic politics and were closer to Machiavelli than Aristotle was, they, like Aristotle, also saw Philosophy as something higher than politics. Machiavelli was apparently a materialist who objected to explanations involving formal and final causationor teleology.
Machiavelli's promotion of ambition among leaders while denying any higher standard meant that he encouraged risk-taking, and innovation, most famously the founding of new modes and orders.
His advice to princes was therefore certainly not limited to discussing how to maintain a state. It has been argued that Machiavelli's promotion of innovation led directly to the argument for progress as an aim of politics and civilisation.
But while a belief that humanity can control its own future, control nature, and "progress" has been long lasting, Machiavelli's followers, starting with his own friend Guicciardini, have tended to prefer peaceful progress through economic development, and not warlike progress.
As Harvey Mansfieldp. Strauss concludes his Thoughts on Machiavelli by proposing that this promotion of progress leads directly to the modern arms race. Strauss argued that the unavoidable nature of such arms races, which have existed before modern times and led to the collapse of peaceful civilisations, provides us with both an explanation of what is most truly dangerous in Machiavelli's innovations, but also the way in which the aims of his apparently immoral innovation can be understood.
Religion[ edit ] Machiavelli explains repeatedly that he saw religion as man-made, and that the value of religion lies in its contribution to social order and the rules of morality must be dispensed with if security requires it. In The Prince, the Discourses, and in the Life of Castruccio Castracanihe describes "prophets", as he calls them, like MosesRomulusCyrus the Greatand Theseus he treated pagan and Christian patriarchs in the same way as the greatest of new princes, the glorious and brutal founders of the most novel innovations in politics, and men whom Machiavelli assures us have always used a large amount of armed force and murder against their own people.
He estimated that these sects last from 1, to 3, years each time, which, as pointed out by Leo Strauss, would mean that Christianity became due to start finishing about years after Machiavelli. For Machiavelli, a truly great prince can never be conventionally religious himself, but he should make his people religious if he can. According to Strausspp. You need to win elections and be also recognized by outsiders. These outsiders might be less picky in the Caucasus or Africa, but you have to look like a good democrat in the Balkans.
My dear prince, this does not mean you have to be one. There are still a few ways to do well.
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First, see elections as a way to get stronger. Offer voters a bit of money, or forgive them their outstanding electricity bills, there are many ways in which you can get votes for little. Sometimes consider offering a bit of money for people not to vote you know that they would just cast their ballots for your opponents.
It also help to taint the opposition as being suspicious, sexually deviant, disloyal to the state, and generally dubious. Control the media, make sure you have many voices, which all say the same and have your junk-yard dog The media is what matters to retain power domestically.
Many newspapers and TV stations are probably owned either by some Western media company who value profit margins over standards or a shady local businessman about whom you can certainly dig up some unpaid tax bills. Journalists can sometimes be a bit pesky, and the best way to make sure that they are behaving well, is to threaten them a little bit, not in public, but pressure a few.
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Most will be happy to censor themselves. Talk about the EU and wanting to join it, but make it hot and cold You might not really care or understand the EU and this is fine, but wanting to join the EU is a must. Thus, want the EU, but throw in a dose of ambiguity. Thus, throw some doubt on the project. Talk about fighting corruption and reforms.9 Modern Dating Rules ALL Women Must Follow
Talk and talk and jail a few. Who is in favour of corruption? Thus, there is no safer topic to campaign on and talk about all the time. It is good to position yourself as a fearless fighter against corruption and presenting anybody corrupt as being against your rule, thus throwing a shadow of corruption over your opposition.
Of course, it is hard to stay in power without tolerating some corruption. Make sure that you have occasional successes, some arrests, trials.
Keep in mind that arrests are more important than sentences.
Ten rules by a 21st-century Machiavelli for the Balkan Prince - LSE Research Online
Also get a few of your own guys. It makes you seem more serious. Reports about modest lifestyle help, and declarations of assets can be taken with some degree of creative freedom. Solve problems with your neighbours to get praise and create a few to be popular The EU and outsiders like you to get on with your neighbours, so it is worth finding time to visit them, not only because they might have better sea town resorts: Now, new or old problems with neighbours are very useful at home.
They distract from other issues, give you an opportunity for some rallying around the flag. Nothing is better for boosting your popularity than some neighbour bashing. Thus, striking a balance between pleasing outsiders and feeding domestic sentiment is crucial here. Flirting with others will make the EU a bit jealous and pay more attention to you.
Plus, you can present yourself as being your own man.