The Prince - Nicolo Machiavelli

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    [TD="class: alt1, bgcolor: #F8F7F4"][​IMG] The Prince - Nicolo Machiavelli
    [HR][/HR]The Prince - by Nicolo Machiavelli

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    [TD="class: alt2, bgcolor: #F4F2ED"]Book Review, © Copyright 1998, Jim Loy
    This is a very, very interesting book.
    In the early 16th century, Machiavelli found himself without a job. He had been a bureaucrat, an advisor to politicians and rulers. In order to get a new job, he wrote The Prince, and dedicated it to Lorenzo the Magnificent, one of the Medicis. Instead, it guaranteed that he would never be employed again. Even though politicians and rulers may have followed Machiavelli's advice, none could afford to admit it, even today. The Prince shows the good, the bad, and the ugly of politics. And some of it is very ugly, Machiavellian in fact. Let me paraphrase some of his advice, from the 26 short chapters:
    1. Various kinds of principalities - A short introduction to what follows.
    2. Hereditary principalities - These are easier to maintain or regain.
    3. Mixed principalities - This is a territory occupied by an outside prince. The prince's friends, who helped him to gain power, will soon be added to the list of his many enemies, and the territory may be lost. Losing it a second time is less likely, as there are now people to punish. We find that a new ruler is likely to succeed in a land accustomed to rulers, if the old line of rulers is destroyed. Also, if there is a great difference in language, laws, and customs, between the conquered and the conquerors, then the new ruler will have great difficulties. He says that men must be either treated well or destroyed, as they can get revenge for lesser injuries. Machiavelli recommends establishing colonies. Defend weaker neighbors, and weaken stronger ones. A person who causes another to become powerful is ruined.
    4. Why the kingdom of Darius, conquered by Alexander, did not rebel... after his (Alexander's) death - Darius had no secondary princes to rise up and rebel.
    5. The way to govern territory which lived under their own laws - There are three ways to hold such a territory, ruin them, reside there in person, or let them live under their own laws, ruled by those who are friendly to you.
    6. New principalities which are acquired by one's own arms and ability - A person of great ability may have difficulty conquering a land, but can retain it much more easily.
    7. New principalities which are acquired by the arms of others, or by fortune - These people have great difficulty retaining power.
    8. Those who have attained a principality by wickedness - Machiavelli reluctantly observes that villainy (mass murder, actually) works well in order to gain power, if the wickedness does not continue.
    9. Civic principality - This prince was given the job by the citizens (easy to please) or the aristocracy (difficult to please).
    10. How the strength of all principalities should be measured - A strong prince gains security with a strong army. A weak prince gains some security by fortifying his town, in preparation for a siege.
    11. Ecclesiastical principalities - The prince is maintained by the church. He has no need to defend his principality.
    12. The different kinds of militia, and mercenary soldiers - Mercenaries are useless and dangerous. Having your own army is recommended.
    13. Auxiliary, mixed, and one's own troops - Asking a powerful neighbor to come and defend you with troops (called auxiliaries) is as useless as using mercenaries.
    14. That which concerns a prince - A prince should think of, and study, nothing but war and its rules and discipline.
    15. Things for which princes are praised or blamed - A prince cannot avoid all blame. He must avoid the scandal of vices that may cause him to lose power. Machiavelli elaborates in the following chapters.
    16. Liberality and miserliness - A prince should be miserly with his own, or his subjects' wealth, and liberal with others' wealth.
    17. Cruelty and clemency, and whether it is better to be loved or feared - A prince shouldn't mind charges of cruelty for the purpose of keeping his subjects united. In fact, excessive mercy can lead to bloodshed and ruin. It is all right for a prince to be feared, but not to be hated (See chapter 19).
    18. The way in which princes should keep faith - When fighting by law (the way of men) fails, then one must fight by force (the way of beasts). The beasts that should be imitated are the lion and the fox. A prince should not keep faith when doing so is against his interest. A prince should seemto have the qualities of mercy, faith, humanity, sincerity, and religion.
    19. A prince should avoid being despised and hated - A prince becomes hated by taking the property and women of his subjects. He becomes despised by appearing changeable, frivolous, effeminate, timid, and irresolute. He should show grandeur, spirit, gravity, and fortitude. Conspiracies generally fail. Hatred comes as often by good works as by evil (See chapter 17).
    20. Fortresses and other things - Do not disarm your own state. Disarm a new state, when you already have an old one. Machiavelli does not recommend encouraging factions in order to keep a principality weak. Former enemies, given a place in the government, can be the most loyal. Fortresses are not safe, in general. The best fortress is the love of the people.
    21. How a prince should gain a reputation - A prince should do great works and give proof of his power. He should be a true friend or a true enemy, and not remain neutral. A prince should appreciate, and reward, merit.
    22. The secretaries of princes - A prince should choose secretaries who are capable and faithful. He should let them know that they cannot stand alone.
    23. Flatterers should be avoided - A prince should choose a few wise men, and let them know that they can speak the truth, and then he should make his own decisions.
    24. Why the princes of Italy have lost their states - He describes a few of the mistakes of these princes.
    25. Fortune, and how it can be opposed - Fortune controls half of our actions, we control the other half. If a prince relies entirely on fortune, he is lost when it changes.
    26. Exhortation to liberate Italy from the barbarians - Machiavelli hopes to help kick foreign rulers out of Italy.
    Some of the above makes me nod in agreement. Some of it makes me shake my head in disgust. But we see the disgusting stuff, every day in the news. Our leaders are students of Machiavelli.
    I do like Machiavelli's inspirational idea: "If a prince relies entirely on fortune, he is lost when it changes." That is my translation of the quote, by the way.[/TD]


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