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Machiavellism - Small-scale Societies And Kingdoms, Ancient China, Ancient India, Europe, Machiavellian Rule

ruler theory expedient ideal

Machiavellism, a word that goes back to the late sixteenth century, is a name for the theory and practice of amoral politics. In its ideal, simply abstract sense, it is not meant to coincide exactly with the views or practices of any historical individual, even Niccolò Machiavelli (1469–1527) himself. When Machiavelli praises the citizens of the ancient republic of Rome as noble and public-spirited, he is no Machiavellian. Consistent Machiavellism is unconstrained by custom, ideal, or conscience and aims only at the expedient means, lawful or not, to gain desired political ends. War is thought not only often expedient but necessary to maintain a people's vigor. The absence of moral restraint is reinforced by the fixed opinion that human beings are by nature weak, inconstant, selfish, and inclined to evil. Expositions of Machiavellism often take the form of advice for a ruler, who is regarded as indispensable to the state, and the welfare of ruler and state are considered to be identical. Aimed at practice rather than theory, the literature of Machiavellism is filled with amoral strategies to gain the ruler's ends.

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