Tuesday, May 13, 2014

What Would Machiavelli Do?

by Stanley Bing

Thoughts: I'm not quite sure of the point of this book. If it was to make fun of our celebrities, "ruling class", and own egos in an amusing way, then it succeeded, for the most part. If it were trying, as seemed to me, to bring Machiavelli's thoughts and ideas to a modern audience, then it definitely failed. The theme of this book was basically "be mean and do whatever you feel like doing, and you'll be successful". According to this book, what Machiavelli would do was "[B]e satisfied with nobody but himself" (pg. 45), "[D]o what he feels like doing" (pg. 64), "[R]espond poorly to criticism" (pg. 73), "[C]arry a grudge until the extinction of the cockroach" (pg. 74), and "[E]stablish and maintain a psychotic level of control" (pg. 123), among many others. Many of these are in direct contradiction to what Machiavelli actually wrote in The Prince, such as, "each of [these councillors] should know that, the more freely he shall speak, the more he shall be preferred" (pg. 111). Elsewhere (I can't find at the specific spots) he talks about the times a prince should delegate, should forgive, and practically the whole book is about a prince can't just do what he feels like doing. Machiavelli is so much more practical and rational and amoral rather than immoral than the Machiavelli portrayed in this book. I think people get caught up in the "better to be feared than loved" thing, and forget all the rest.

To summarize, it was funny (although not that funny), but not at all what Machiavelli would do.

Grade: 2 stars

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