Machiavelli’s Discourses on Livy (5/5): Why Does Machiavelli Favor Republicanism?

The Discourses of Livy shows that Machiavelli favors a republic over all other forms of government—even though the real political dialectic is between republics and non-republics (i.e. tyrannies). Machiavelli prefers republican governance mostly for state and practical purposes. While Machiavelli certainly is a fan of liberty and order, he does not believe people are naturally … Continue reading Machiavelli’s Discourses on Livy (5/5): Why Does Machiavelli Favor Republicanism?

Machiavelli’s Discourses on Livy (4/5): The Utility of Religion

Machiavelli was not a religious believer but believed in the social utility of religion. The question of God, salvation, and the immortality of the soul did not matter to him. What mattered to him was the reality of religion in life and how religion is useful for nations and why a nation’s vitality is tied … Continue reading Machiavelli’s Discourses on Livy (4/5): The Utility of Religion

Machiavelli’s Discourses on Livy (3/5): Libido Dominandi, Individualism, and Greatness

One of the peculiar twists of Machiavelli is how he inverts the Augustinian worldview. Saint Augustine of Hippo famously said that man, in his fallenness, lusted for domination. Man, in his estrangement and depravity, lusted to control others. Fallen man lives in conflict. Machiavelli inherits this anthropological truth but turns it on its head. It … Continue reading Machiavelli’s Discourses on Livy (3/5): Libido Dominandi, Individualism, and Greatness

Machiavelli’s Discourses on Livy (2/5): Political Conflict and Historicism

The central theme of book one is how the best form of political governance, or how the Roman republic became a more perfect republic, is through conflict. Machiavelli does not believe in the “from heaven” concept of constitutions. Nor does he agree with the classical political philosophers (Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, etc.) that the best political … Continue reading Machiavelli’s Discourses on Livy (2/5): Political Conflict and Historicism

Machiavelli’s Discourses on Livy (1/5): Polities and Political Forms

Niccolò Machiavelli is either scorned or considered the realist thinker par excellence. Even those who laud his realism may keep distance from his moral implications of politics. Such readings of Machiavelli have, more recently, been challenged thanks to individuals like Quinton Skinner, Harvey Mansfield, and Philip Bobbitt. Many people remember Machiavelli for his primer for … Continue reading Machiavelli’s Discourses on Livy (1/5): Polities and Political Forms

Conflict and Republicanism: Machiavelli’s Discourses on Livy

Niccolò Machiavelli was one of the foremost man of letters in the Late Renaissance.  He is remembered as the author of the “primer for princes” generally translated as The Prince in English.  His name is associated with manipulation and the idea that it is better to be evil than good to maintain political power.  However, … Continue reading Conflict and Republicanism: Machiavelli’s Discourses on Livy

Why Conflict and Division is Good for Politics

Everyone seems to preach of the need of unity and “coming together.”  In troubled times, in times of increased anxiety—sometimes spilling over into violence—the prophets of unity appear as a voice of “moderation.”  Unity is, of course, a code-word for establishment power politics; for it is the existing status-quo which always loses its grip on … Continue reading Why Conflict and Division is Good for Politics