In Machiavelli’s Novel “The Prince

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Week 1 Machiavelli- B. 1469 D. 1527 First some background, a minor league diplomat and a fierce patriot who served the city state of Florence. Itself a weak state constantly at the effect (either through war or influence) of other stronger states. Machiavelli’s project as a political theorist is to articulate the conditions necessary to create a strong self-sufficient republic comprised of autonomous men. What is a republic? What is republican? A republic is a state in which citizens are the subjects and objects of their own laws. A republican is a person committed to citizen self rule. Machiavelli yearns to create a republic comprised of citizens who are politically active creatures who in the formation of collective policy transform their own selfish and egoistic needs, interests and concerns into a common good; a common good that is not indicative of a genera will of a flock of sheep but is instead a manifestation of a republican state populated by individual autonomous citizens. A state that could take strong and cohesive political action in response to the threats of outside forces. Machievelli’s other well known work, The Discourses on Rome is a study of how republics arise, develop, sustain and, if necessary, re-invent themselves. This book, The Prince is a treatise on the acts and duties of a class of men, Princes or sovereign powers from which the person responsible for ultimately founding a republic will emerge. For me, the key place to start in attempting to make sense of Machievelli, of thinking through how a participatory politics can possibly coexist with appeals to treachery and violence is with the following quote: “Fortune is a woman and if she is to be submissive it is necessary to beat and coerce her. Experience shows that she is more often subdued by men who do this then by those who act coldly. Always, being a woman, she favours
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