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  Machiavellianism, in political science, is generally used to describe an amoral political style in which a political objective is achieved without regard to moral consequences. However, this usage is true neither to the spirit nor the content of Machiavelli\'s writing—even if it is true that Joseph Stalin kept a copy of Machiavelli\'s The Prince by his bedside. Machiavellianism may more properly be described as the view that the conduct of states must be guided by a different morality to that of citizens in their private conduct.

Niccolò Machiavelli (1469 - 1527) was a Florentine public administrator, political adviser and political theorist whose primary works, The Prince and Discourses on the First Ten Books of Titus Livy are among the most influential works of realist political theory. He is considered a founding father of political science because of his willingness to develop general maxims about political conduct and behaviour, which are not bound by culture or time. His expressive and vigorous style is best captured by reading him. Among his many claims he contended that in all republics the number of citizens in positions of command is never more than forty or fifty; and that they can be kept quiet with honours or done away with; the rest, who only seek security, pose no problem of control. This particular maxim explains why élite theorists are sometimes called neo-Machiavellians.

Machiavelli was not the first proponent of a realist approach to politics, nor was he the first to emphasize the role of fortuna (luck), or of boldness, flexibility and courage (political virtú). However, the originality of his views can be found in the logical extension of two premises. First, he argued that while morality based on either Christian or pagan values is both necessary and desirable for a functional society, the political sphere is not best governed by the same morality. Second, as a committed republican, he believed that sovereignty should reside with the people and that government should be limited by a constitution. From these two premises Machiavelli concluded that since it is a leader\'s duty to succeed in the public eye and since politics often requires deceit, it is therefore a leader\'s duty to deceive in the attainment and execution of power. Only after power is secured can republican society function based upon morals and laws. Critics of Machiavellianism are numberless, but not many of them write as well as Machiavelli. BO\'L

See also republicanism.Further reading I. Berlin, ‘The Originality of Machiavelli’ in Against the Current: Essays in the History of Ideas; , J.G.A. Pocock, The Machiavellian Movement; , Q. Skinner, Machiavelli.



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