25/09/2019 by Sebastian Major
Web player: https://podplayer.net/?id=82091902
Since The Prince was first published in 1532 it has attracted an eclectic group of admirers. Figures as diverse as Napoleon Bonaparte, Jean-Jaques Rousseau, and Tupac Shakur, have managed to find some deep wisdom in the pages of Niccolo Machiavelli’s little book. Machiavelli’s enduring allure has always been fueled by the controversy that swirls around his work. To this day there is no consensus around what Machiavelli’s “real” goal was when he wrote The Prince. Is it possible to determine if Machiavelli deserves his bad reputation when there is so little agreement about him? Tune in and find out how 90’s rap beef, The Grateful Dead, and the weirdest job application in history all play a role in the story.
Listen Date: early January 2020
- The episode is mostly about how Sebastian Major has taken the Occam’s Razor explanation: no, The Prince is not a satire, and nor is it, as enjoyable as that would be, a trap to get tyrants to do the wrong thing so that they are overthrown. It’s far too sincerely written for that.
- The dichotomy between The Prince and the Discourses on Livy, according to Major, is not that much of a dichotomy if you focus on how Machiavelli is focused on order and stability above all. Is a republic the most stable form of government? Yes, there are no agonising issues of succession. If you have a new prince, how should he restore stability? Through ruthlessness.
- Major points out that most of the outrageous or scandalous advice is given to new usurpers, not to legitimate heirs – who get different, fairly mild advice.
- Major also points out that Machiavelli was scandalous in his time because he plainly stated that the world was not ideal, and therefore he was not giving idealist advice – making him one of the founders of realism and modernity.