The Prince in the 21st Century Nick Hughes April 29, 2021
Niccolo Machiavelli dedicated The Prince to Lorenzo De Medici a man he thought could have the chance to save 14th and early 15th Century Italy from the messed up state it was in.
Machiavelli was kind of sucking up to Lorenzo because he wanted to gain Lorenzo's favor but putting that to one side The Prince was a book aimed at giving the Medici a guide and some guard rails on how he could become suzerain of all Italy. Machiavelli was genuinely disgusted and fed up and mourning what he saw as the crappy state that Italy had fallen into. The Italy of Machiavelli's time was a mess. It was rich and cultured but also riven by internal bickering between the rival City-States and minor princelings, it was overrun by foreigners who treated its people like shit, it could not defend itself and was humiliated and humbled by its inadequacies Machiavelli's position was, Yes this place is a mess but because it is a mess it would be amenable to and it is ready to support a new ruler a Prince who could save Italy and its peoples, bring them up from the depths and return them to the Glory of their Imperial Roman past which Machiavelli thought all Italians yearned for.
Machiavelli poured his decades of experience and knowledge into The Prince hoping that by using the advice contained in the book Lorenzo could become this new leader who could navigate the shoals of the current environment and unite all Italy as its leader and Ruler Because Machiavelli cut to the chase with brutal honesty about the reality of power, and about how politics is played he caused a lot of offense. People want to hear about how the Prince should rule wisely, mercifully, and in peace. Machiavelli was not against this approach to politics but what he said was "Get real Beavis". Politics is a competition for power and people who play that game and who enter that arena face the reality that sometimes a Prince will have to kill and lie and betray people. There is one great passage in the Prince where Machiavelli talks about how it would be great to keep all your promises but since you live in a world where people break their word a Prince to rule effectively has to know how to break his promise too.
Machiavelli's advice and commentary are ageless in another passage he states that a Prince should refrain from the property or the Women of his subjects. In modern terms, this would read do not take your Citizens money or offend their sense of honor.
Why does Machiavelli say this? Well, one reason Machiavelli states this is a bad idea is that a man would sooner forgive the death of a father than the loss of a patrimony ( that is that person's property and money).
Let's put a modern spin on this so we can see just how spot-on Machiavelli was.
President George Bush lied his country into a war against Iraq that destroyed Iraq as a coherent State. The war ended up empowering the US's greatest enemy in the region Iran, it resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands maybe millions of people in Iraq and Syria, not to mention the death and injury of thousands of US Servicemen and Servicewomen. It failed in the stated aim of establishing a stable pro-US regime in the Middle East and in fact, it achieved the exact opposite. To speak frankly it was a 150% pure royal fuck up in terms of results. However, the war did not produce a huge backlash for years until it became a self-evident disaster. But did you notice Bush never even proposed raising taxes to pay for the war? If in 2003,2004 or even 2005 Bush had said we need to raise everyone's taxes to pay for the war do you think support for the war would have remained as strong? The answer is of course a big "Not quite sure". Maybe the business leaders, politicians, and Citizens in the US would have remained stead-fast in their support but let us just say Bush never had the confidence to put it to the vote, did he?
So to summarize the Prince is an in-your-face guide about how to operate in the World of Power. This is a world as it is, with all its moral ambiguity and uncertainty, etc. It was an analysis of all that was wrong with Machiavelli's home country and a guide to a powerful new Prince on how one person with the right understanding, skill knowledge determination, and character (Virtu as Machiavelli would have put it ) could reclaim the country, and save its citizens and restore its honor
For a long time I have thought what would a modern version of The Prince look like? If you could move Machiavelli into the 21 century and plonk him down say in the UK, the US, or a modern-day Western Nation I wonder what he would have to say about the state of events in that country?
What advice and insight would Machiavelli give to some new Modern Prince, say a newbie politician, influencer, or up-and-coming member of the Elite?
What would Machiavelli say about how to achieve and retain power in the modern world, and how to fix the ills and divisions separating that country and its citizens?
I don’t have the brains or the time to recreate Machiavelli's masterpiece but what I can do instead is to look at the main stand out issues of what is happening in the West today especially the Anglo countries (the Anglo Sub-Civilization of the larger Parent Western Civilization) and write down how I think Machiavelli would view the situation and what advice he could give to a new Prince.
What would Machiavelli make of modern political violence for example the kind practised by Antifa or other protest and opposition groups? Click the Button below to Read More on this somewhat delicate subject