machiavelli“The Nobles, seeing they cannot withstand the people, offer up the reputation of one of themselves, and they make him a Prince, so that under his shadow they can give vent to their ambitions.”  — Nicolo Machiavelli, The Prince, 1515.

I had heard about Claudia Hart’s satire of Machiavelli’s sixteenth century treatise The Prince, entitled A Child’s Machiavelli: A Primer on Power, but had never bothered to look at it. I should have. Now I know what Dubya was reading while others were writing his university exams for him. A few excerpts, and where the “President” of the United States has applied them:

When you take over someplace, kill off everyone who’s against you, pronto, then act really nice to everyone left. If people’re scared of you at first, you can boss ’em around easier later. [Bush Foreign Policy]

Never be afraid to beat someone up if you have to. First, try to talk ’em into listening, but just in case, you know what to do. [Bush & The United Nations]

Make sure you only let people see you doing stuff where you come off really good. [Aircraft Carrier Photo Ops]

If you’re not a Boss but you wanna be one, make sure you trick everyone into thinking you’re a really generous guy. Only give things away when people are watching. And if somebody’s gotta hate you, make sure it’s a bunch of weaklings with no money. [Tax Cuts for the Rich, Service Cuts for the Poor]

If you wanna give people presents, make sure it’s other people’s stuff. [Post-War Contracts for Halliburton]

In this context, reading The Prince, which could have been the bible for the right-wing groups that control the current US administration, is enough to send a shiver up your spine. Machiavelli intended the “ends justify the means” prescription of the book as irony, but the humour seems to have been lost on its new American adherents.

This entry was posted in How the World Really Works. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Rayne says:

    The US military reads Sun Tzu, not Machiavelli; why don’t neo-cons read Sun Tzu?

  2. Dave – this is one of the best articles I’ve read anywhere this weekend. Great work!

  3. Neo-cons don’t understand irony? Hell, they don’t understand anything that involves sublety. Why do you think that they all drive Hummers?

Comments are closed.