Tuesday, 16 June 2009
Thoughts on The Prince
Insofar as Machiavelli's perceptive little essay is based on a realistic appreciation of forms of political practice, independent of received wisdom and theological precepts, it is perhaps the most brilliant expressions of Renaissance thought.
There was nothing new in The Prince: it had all happened before; the cynical and brutal manipulation of power was part of European history. What was new was Machiavelli's honesty, his willingness to see through hypocrisy and false conceits; to describe politics as it was practiced rather than as some abstract Aristotelian or Platonic model.
If properly read it is acutely funny, one of the wittiest satires ever written about politics; a satire on the unruly and selfish behaviour of leaders, kings and princes of all kinds. Or, if not that, it is offered as a kind of mirror, showing an image of power, and the misuse of power, from which all those with any sense of morality should recoil! Or he produced the book because this is what he knew that people like Lorenzo de Medici would want to hear, a justification of themselves. However it is read it is a little work of great value. So says The Princess!