The Prince

The Politics of the Young: Machiavellian Christianity

Niccolo Machiavelli opens The Prince in full compliance with the behavioral laws he sets forth in following chapters; fitting with his brazen separation of ethics from politics, he meekly addresses Lorenzo de Medici with such words as "I hope it will not be thought presumptuous for someone of humble and lowly status to dare to discuss the behavior of rulers" (6) and "I therefore beg your Magnificence to accept this little gift of mine in the spirit in which it is sent" (6). In order to avoid "the unrelenting malevolence of undeserved ill fortune" (6), Machiavelli meets the standards of etiquette expected from his role as a commoner, thus subliminally introducing his utilitarian philosophy on virtue by feigning humility in order to win approval. At great odds with Aristotle in the area of morality, Machiavelli will not have any part of virtue unless it proves to serve some use to the ruler of a principality. Such is the reality of modern American life; as Machiavelli resolves not to ignore "the gap between how people actually behave and how they ought to behave" (48; Ch. 15), so are the everyday ethical motives of a democratic people impeded by worldly visions of capitalistic success and...

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