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Reading 'the Prince'




The Prince is a relatively short text that wouldn't take more than an hour or two to read for most. Most of it is what I would perceive to be common knowledge (but it has a couple of interesting points I'll dive into momentarily). It's far more interesting reading up on those who were influenced by the text itself. From royalty across Europe, to the US founding fathers to the Italian-American mob bosses.


Essentially the text describes what someone in power should do in order to ensure they stay in power. In a nutshell, he advocates that a ruler maintains a positive and moral appearance but does immoral and negative things when the need arises. The ruler should keep his people happy, but fearful and those in powerful positions under the ruler should be appeased with both money and power so they shouldn't seek to overthrow you but at the same time they should be in a position to fear severe consequences from either the ruler or the people should they ever cross the ruler. The ruler should pick his friends carefully, never ally himself with a stronger party and when it comes to war rely on his own people rather than his allies or mercenaries.


One interesting point he brings up was the fact that a ruler should arm his people. Essentially he befriends the nation as a whole and can only make friends with such a decision. On the other hand, disarming the people will definitely create enemies and will not create friends. This is an interesting point to consider because Machiavelli's tactics are all about manipulation. You give people token gestures of goodwill to ensure loyalty and to distract them from or remove their need to revolt. Any kind of barbaric or controlling behavior, so long as it's limited and sprinkled occasionally will be forgiven if the above is followed.


I see a correlation with the US and its gun policies. It ultimately bothers me not what Americans do regarding their gun policy but it's interesting to note how Americans are blind the the US government's sleight of hand tactics to remove their other rights. This is mainly because the government keeps them distracted with their attention focused on other issues and ultimately, the US wants its citizens armed as it keeps them loyal and keeps them under its thumb. Exactly what it wants.


Anyways, after reading this text I came across this excert from a letter that Machiavelli wrote and found it resonated with me. Many of us work in jobs not necessarily tied to our interests and find ourselves doing what we cherish only in our quiet time at home and perhaps not all that often either mind you. So, I leave you with this quote:


Machiavelli having been kicked out from his prestigious position, tortured and then exiled to a farm had this to say about his life at that moment:

When evening comes, I go back home, and go to my study. On the threshold, I take off my work clothes, covered in mud and filth, and I put on the clothes an ambassador would wear. Decently dressed, I enter the ancient courts of rulers who have long since died. There, I am warmly welcomed, and I feed on the only food I find nourishing and was born to savor. I am not ashamed to talk to them and ask them to explain their actions and they, out of kindness, answer me. Four hours go by without my feeling any anxiety. I forget every worry. I am no longer afraid of poverty or frightened of death. I live entirely through them.


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