That’s Rousseau there with the blood. He was the first person to have the idea that The Prince – rather than being the founding text of modern statecraft – was actually an ingeniously sneaky political satire meant to expose the wannabe Princes as the giant dicks they undoubtably were. I realise this probably isn’t common knowledge. The only reason I know is because (awesomely) I had the opportunity to teach Machiavelli in a political philosophy paper recently. Lots of people have tried to run with this interpretation, claiming that Machiavelli was actually a republican democrat (he totally was), that he was sending up the Medici’s (he so wasn’t), and even that he was secretly attempting to “undo Lorenzo Medici by giving him advice that would jeopardize his power, hasten his overthrow, and allow for the resurgence of the Florentine republic” (Bullshiiit).

Yeah Machiavelli was a republican. But it’s hard to be a proper republican if your country has no state; The Prince just describes the fact that there is no state or nation in history that hasn’t been founded on massive violence (arguably creating the biggest, fattest, ugliest paradox of western political philosophy, just to mention.) He also lets us know that any state at least partially dependant on consent, if it’s going to last, is going to have to learn how to deceive its citizenry. Machiavelli wrote in a time when people still remembered the Dark Ages (truncated historical assessment: they feckin sucked!) The state was the only guarantee of law, education, art, culture. Machiavelli was a staggeringly talented historian, rhetorician, strategist, political philosopher (he hated philosophy but that just makes him cooler right?) Yep, he had republican and early democratic values, but without question the aim of unifying and stabilising and Italian state was completely outside morality.

I also find it funny that the Italians still can’t have a state.

The other guy is Kant. He’s there because he seems to look good with a crossbow bolt in his head.

- Matt

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