Monday, May 03, 2010

O Niccolo

The cunning fellow above is one Niccolo Machiavelli born this day 1469 in Florence, Italy. We all know of him, we all know the term taken from his name to signify cunning and deceit in politics. Most of us either had to or wanted to read his masterclass "The Prince" at some point in our lives. Some of us even gave that book as a gift/hint to our boss. Most of us also know that "The Prince" was not published until Machiavelli had been dead for five years, although he did circulate it privately amongst his friends (that took some guts, here you are my pal, now read this book where I show you why that might be a bad idea). He had his up and downs as a civil servant in the service of the Florentine Republic, scaling the heights of power to where he was responsible for the militia of Florence, and went on several diplomatic missions to foreign powers, and plumbing the depths of the lows, being deposed from office in 1513, and tortured "with the rope" and exiled to his estate outside of Florence. There he wrote the book that made him famous, and is still widely read, and studied today. I do not subscribe to the theory that he was evil or all bad, I think his dark side is a bit overblown. He was, in my opinion, at heart a realist. A man who understood what it takes to rule, and that sometimes a boot in the arse is necessary to get things in order. A kind, gentle, ruler is all well and good, until people start to take him or her for granted, and then they start taking liberties, soon you have chaos, and generally chaos in government is a bad thing. A little fear can go a long way, and if you are the guy in charge, I believe it is still probably better to be feared than loved. It is a cynic's approach to the world, but then I am a confirmed, card carrying cynic (how is that for alliteration). So, for showing us that to rule, a little bit of ass kicking is necessary, and necessary is some times the only reason you need for doing something, Niccolo Machiavelli (May 3rd, 1469-June 21st, 1527, at the age of fifty-eight), you are my (248th) hero of the day.

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