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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/12421/who-was-niccolo-machiavelli/

Who Was Niccolò Machiavelli?

April 8, 2010 by

Machiavelli was reviled throughout Europe during the 16th century and on into the next two centuries. He was considered to be a conscious preacher of evil, a diabolic figure who had unleashed the demons in the world of politics. FULL ARTICLE By Murray N. Rothbard

{ 9 comments }

newson April 8, 2010 at 9:38 am

the mp3 link doesn’t work.

Eric April 8, 2010 at 12:44 pm

go here http://media.mises.org/mp3/audioarticles/

then choose 4208_Rothbard.mp3

P T Bull April 8, 2010 at 1:33 pm

I don’t see machievelli as so much of a thought leader as a journalist. Much like malthus, he is excorciated for stating unpleasant truths in uncharacterically candid terms. Disagreeing with Rothbard is surprising and unusual for me, but I think it takes an extremely naive reading of history to claim that machiavelli’s prince made despots any more despotic than they were before.

And I also observe the ruthless methods by which the christian church of that era gained and wielded power–while purportedly informed by the christian principles Rothbard claims machivelli freed despots from.

Sean A April 8, 2010 at 7:55 pm

I would argue that there are 2 Western political philosophers that stand out for the side of statism: Machievelli and Hobbes. Combine the two together and we get a glimpse of the modern state in action: preemptive war, secrecy, and centralized power. If we can admit that Prince was a very influential book, then your claim seems to be that it didn’t really matter in terms of political policy but only represented what was already going on. TO that i fully agree; the same is true with Hobbes, who simply came out with a new philosophy attempting to justify absolute monarchs, or, more precisely, absolute state’s. These two books were important, not simply for their influence on policy, but because they gave the increasingly skeptical public a philosophy to justify the State’s power over them. And as we know, no State can survive for any prolonged period without the ideology of the people, accepting the rule of the State.

Gil April 8, 2010 at 8:55 pm

I disagree. I believe Hobbes’ theory of the social theory is merely the stating the obvious: the weak gave up their freedoms to serve the strong in return for their protection in a violent world. On the other hand, saying Machiavelli was somehow more evil than other rulers because he believe doing whatever it takes to succeed is bunk because it’s obvious people having been doing whatever it takes to win throughout history.

P T Bull April 11, 2010 at 7:14 pm

I appreciate your thinking in this matter, but I respond that 1) Rulers of states in mach’s day took and held power without the need to resort to The Prince, and I imagine most of the subjects were illiterate anyway. And 2) That due to moral outrage that has always been directed at mach, I don’t see how his book could have been influential on behalf of the state–it seems to be used as an argument against despotic rule.

I see the precepts of The Prince to be like the workings of economics–its how things really work, but people don’t like to accept that and try to pretend the forces at work are more principled or compassionate.

How many presidents go to church in the public eye today just as The Prince recommended–isn’t it instructive that so much of the book has transcended the centuries, the enlightenment, and stated forms of government?

Mushindo April 9, 2010 at 2:56 pm

Machiavelli , like almost any other politician you’d care to name, was an odious little toad.

Telpeurion April 9, 2010 at 5:23 pm

There have been strong cases made in regards to The Prince being a work of satire, and not meant as something serious. Of course, you know when you have a good satire when some people actually agree with the subjects (Dr. Strangelove, anyone?).

newson April 9, 2010 at 8:00 pm

machiavelli had been tortured quite cruelly in jail several years prior to “the prince” and was hoping to have his talent recognized by lorenzo de’ medici, and to win some administrative posting. i can’t imagine a satire fitting in with this scenario.

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