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POS341 Political theory 1.18.07

POS341 Political theory 1.18.07 - Political Theory...

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Political Theory Machiavelli Thursday, January 18, 2007 Virtu Fortuna Machiavelli, The Prince One of the best known political theorists, one of Italy’s greatest writers, teacher to people (and tyrants?) Written to Juliano de Medici Two seemingly opposing works… The Discourses written for ordinary people Hero to “republicans”, popular rule, rule by the people Student of Studia Humanitatis Grew up in Florence Renaissance At 28, made ‘assistant secretary of state’ in Florence Family well-to-do, not wealthy (ardent republicans) Went to Paris, to study the courts there The French didn’t respect the Italians because they did not fear them Italy not unified Better to be feared than loved Florence: popular rule, usurpation by tyrant (de Medici) The Prince serves as a warning to republicans according to Rousseau Real politik – “reason of state” / raison d’etat Could be moral for rulers to do immoral (unlawful) things if protect the state Some believe Machiavelli teaches evil Could be considered the first political scientist (does not worry about how people ought to behave but how they do behave) Machiavelli’s interpretation of human nature: Ambizzione – overweening ambition that leads the ambitious person to try to succeed through any means possible (stance shared by the founding fathers – The Federalist Papers) Objective, neutral analysis, realist over idealist ‘political artist’ The Art of War Citizen militia is necessary for republic 1512 – di Medici overthrew the Florentine republic Fired, accused of plot, imprisoned, tortured, freed, sent to estate and prevented to come to Florence (house arrest) (dropped six times without confessing) Spent spare time studying and writing (reflecting)
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The Prince: Soul source of his notoriety (Machiavellian) Belongs to “mirror of princes” literary genre (like Seneca for Nero) Older, wiser man teaches a youth about to become ruler how to rule wisely and well Inverts the genre, Prince may be a satire because of this Address book to new principe(?) (non-heretical) How to teach these ambitious and devious up and comers how the world works Maxims Galliano di Medici, lout, sports over politics Machiavelli wants to get back to Florence so badly he will help the Di Medici’s become better rulers Short, declarative sentences Simple and straightforward Barbarians (French and Spanish) Not interested in republics, stable hereditary monarchies, ecclesiastical principalities Only into a new princedom with a new prince (though skill or good luck) Usurpers, upstarts, military dictators New Ruler must do two things: 1) take power 2) keeping power Mantenere lo stato – “maintaining the state” Stato – station or status A princedom is acquired through one of two ways: 1) Virtù – ability/skill Virtuous prince is virtuoso (very, very good at what he does), very good at ruling 2) Fortuna – luck (always runs out) Bono Fortuna (good) and mal fortuna (bad) Virtù is the only way to maintain power He teaches you how to be virtuoso (corruption is the absence of civic virtue)
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