8 Bit Philosophy: Who Was Machiavelli? (The Prince)

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I'm all for discussions on the merits or flaws of a point of view/philosophy. However these personal attacks and carefully worded snipes are not discussion material, and it shows a lack of maturity.

If you want people to take your views and posts seriously, ya'll may want to be more civil. No matter how clever you word a personal attack or a snipe, it still comes off as snarky and immature.

OT: That being said, some of you have tossed out some great points, but the murky nature of The Prince is central to the real debate. If I look at the history of Machiavelli and the content of The Prince, I can see it is a 180 degree turn from his professed views. It has been said that he may have written it to get favor from the current ruling classes that did not like him or his critical views on monarchy and the idea of rule by birthright rather than merit.
Begging the expert opinions aside for a moment, I'm going to say that Machiavelli was an intelligent man, and I could see him masking a criticism in the form of a satire. Satire is a great criticism, and if he wrote it in such a way that he fooled the people he wanted to fool, it may have worked in his favor. However because of the differences in time, culture and even language, our views are forever colored by modern perceptions. So we may never actually know if he was serious or writing satirical criticisms, and if the latter was true, was he slipping it past the ruling class? Passing it off as a serious work when it was a massive joke?
The way people argue over this idea, it makes me think that we'll never actually know. Experts never agree and we can't just dig him up and ask him.

leviadragon99:
Well considering that the father of this philosophy lived out the rest of his days in exile, doesn't seem like that strategy panned out too well for him, or it's a tacit admission that he himself was unable to live by his words.

Hell, we've seen in the real world that that kind of attitude leads to pretty poisonous outcomes, with any benefit to the country or the populace thereof debatable at best, often running directly counter to their long-term interests by shortsighted tactics that burn too many bridges.

Right - and that's why the powerful have put their power into institutions, not individuals. You can't argue against a corporation - the face of a sociopathic bank cannot be met by a human being.

Institutions can achieve profit at any cost without there being anyone accountable.

"It's just policy" (and we have to follow policy to maximize shareholder value) - "So, you see, there's nothing we can do..."

Institutions provide cover for the powerful from the otherwise dangerous responses of injured parties.

Mullahgrrl:

Dynast Brass:

PhantomEcho:

You really do have a way with manipulating and bastardizing information, don't you Dynast?SNIP

If you can't control yourself, don't bother to reply, thanks.

Wow, and then you go and do the exact thing again.

No, I'm just like most people, and I stop reading when someone starts insulting. Want to be heard? Be civil.

Dynast Brass:

Mullahgrrl:

Dynast Brass:

If you can't control yourself, don't bother to reply, thanks.

Wow, and then you go and do the exact thing again.

No, I'm just like most people, and I stop reading when someone starts insulting. Want to be heard? Be civil.

Well, that makes you look like a complete dickhead who can't handle being wrong.

Mullahgrrl:

Dynast Brass:

Mullahgrrl:

Wow, and then you go and do the exact thing again.

No, I'm just like most people, and I stop reading when someone starts insulting. Want to be heard? Be civil.

Well, that makes you look like a complete dickhead who can't handle being wrong.

Want to be heard? Be civil.

Machiavelli did not advocate ruthlessness in an unscrupulous way, nor did he claim that the ends justify the means or that dictatorship is inherently good. These are all misinterpretations due to, as mentioned in earlier comments in this thread, the absence of historical context.
At the time of writing, Italy did not even exist as a political entity. It was barely a glimmer of an idea based on common cultural, linguistic and geographic attributes in an otherwise splintered political landscape on a territory of a former ostrogoth kingdom. This patchwork of small political entities had a tendency to cause "internal" conflict in what would become Italy. It also provided little or no resistance to the many threats like the westwards expanding Ottoman empire, the Holy Roman empire under Maximilian I of Habsburg, the Spanish Habsburgs, France and plenty more.

Machiavelli saw it as vital that Italy would manage a union of it's own to "...defend her from the barbarians". The most logical choice of ruler for this union would be the Medici family as they had the money, influence and name to rise to the ocasion as well as having ruled in the past with success and peace as a result. The Prince was meant to inspire and guide the Medici family to take control of Italy and make it into a fully fledged power in it's own right, an analysis of political realism with a specific goal in mind. It was not meant as a greater justification of power-politics and ruthlessness in leadership, nor is it a critique thereof. It is more like a call to arms to the Medici family as well as those who could support them to finish the internal conflict in the face of common enemies. If you look at other writings by Machiavelli (and there are plenty!) it is more than obvious that he is in fact a republican with a passion for justice, rule of law and ethical conduct. The Prince should therefore not be seen as a book for all to read and follow but as a highly personal appeal in a last ditch effort to save Italy from the ravages of war. I read it as a historical curiosity, firmly bound to it's context. I don't think anyone should read it as a how-to of effective leadership, nor do I find the idea that it is a veiled critique of authoritarian rule likely.

The failure of Machiavelli to incite an Italian unification is seen best in the emergence of the Italian Wars during wich pretty much every great power in Europe of the time tried to get a piece of the rich Italian lands.

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