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Thursday, March 11, 2021

Machiavelli: Two Ways of Politics

In politics, the brutal Jacobins are the rule and not the exception. These lines from Machiavelli’s The Prince apply to modern politics (and politicians) as much as to the politics and the politicians of Machiavelli’s time: “There are two ways of fighting: by law or by force. The first way is natural to men, and the second to beasts. But as the first way often proves inadequate one must needs have recourse to the second. So a prince must understand how to make a nice use of the beast and the man. The ancient writers taught princes about this by an allegory, when they described how Achilles and many other princes of the ancient world were sent to be brought up by Chiron, the centaur, so that he might train them his way. All the allegory means, in making the teacher half beast and half man, is that a prince must know how to act according to the nature of both, and that he cannot survive otherwise.”

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