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June 20, 2006



Glad you enjoyed the group. I can't wait for the Art of War.


"These days?"--Machiavelli was synonymous with cold-blooded manipulation almost within his lifetime! Marlowe's "Jew of Malta" (1590) opnes with Machiavelli's ghost adressing the audience proclaiming his return from across the ocean to do harm; In Shakespeare's "Richard III" Richard boasts about how he sent "the murderous Machiavell to school..."
Actually, Machivelli's reputation is a good deal better these days than the last several centuries.... Compared to Karl Rove, he was positively benign. And he was a much better playwright--"The Mandragola" is a very funny piece and cynical enough to make Kevin SMith blanch...


The best way to fight a war is not to have one.

John (Uneasy Rhetoric)

'Twas nice to meet you last night, and I thoroughly enjoyed the conversation.

I think it's easy to say that M was evil because he didn't dismiss brutality as a way to get what you want. But brutality isn't, according to M the *only* or even the most effective, way to get what you want. I think there is a lot to learn from him, especially that leaders sometimes have to do things they might find uncomfortable if not vile.

As for Marlowe/Shakespeare, I suspect the debate over the value of Machiavelli was just as intense then.


There was no "debate"--for most Europeans of the 16yh/17th century, Machiavelli was a pop zeitgeist synonym for treachery and Italian deciefulness and not much else (except for Italians who laughed at The Mandragola because it's very funny).
And please remember: like DeSade, Machiavelli only described, he didn't actually DO the things he talked about; he certainly was in no position (as an exile) to do much more than make notes about the realpolitik of 16th century Italy. No more than Sade did 99% of the truly perverse things he wrote about (how could he, when so much of his adult life was spent in prison)?

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