As part of trying to expand my mind and broaden my horizons against the mind-numbness which concerns Big Oil, i have taken to reading; especially Renaissance and neo-classical period literature. I know it sounds boring, but i have a few books on my “to read” list that i need to tick out as being read.
The first book that i have chosen is Il Principe ( The Prince) which is the work of so-called shrewd political mastermind and loyal sucker-upper to the Medici family, Nicolo Machiavelli.
In Malaysian political circles, this book has long been touted as one of the “must read” in order to understand the political slogan of the end justifying means in which acts are perpertrated, and believe you me……this reins through in what we see political agents and their masters do and plot.
From my point of view, reading the book i saw through what Nicolo was trying to achieve.
We have to taken into account that when this piece was written, Machiavelli was no longer holding the mantle of power in his native city, having been made to “retire” and “enjoy” life as a private citizen in Florence after he and other conspirators were routed out by the Medici after themselves previously been exiled by the hands of Machiavelli and co about 20 years earlier.
Essentially, all his political theories on the book on how a principalities are won and lost, or on how a newly crowned prince would take care on how to look after his newly acquired piece of real estate are just a ploy to get attention to himself!
Well, he was simply trying to rouse a bit of attention from the court of the ruling Lorenzo de Medici ( or Lorenzo The Great to you and me) and this piece of salient advice would serve as a guide book to Lorenzo, and perhaps get the author a job in his court.
I simply find it hard to appreciate Machiavelli as a keen/brilliant political strategist when essentially at the end of his brilliant carreer he was on his knees grovelling to the newly annointed political master of the age! This was reflected by his correspondence at the time to the Medici court as well as his forewords on the actual book when he sent a copy to Lorenzo the Great!
I would grant him that his advice and examples are good, but i see that its too generalised and you can pluck examples from anywhere to illustrate for what he preaches for or you can as easily pluck a case from anywhere from history to argue against his points.
Saying all this, would you take advice from a desperate old has-been of his time?
Well, if you dont believe me, then do some research and get reading!