New Page 1

Meeting Index

Eric Voegelin Society Meeting 2000

Was Machiavelli a "Spiritual Realist"?
Copyright 2000 Dante Germino



In order to indicate what I mean by the term "Spiritual Realist" I contrast said approach to politics with two other orientations: Vulgar or Unspiritual or "Crackpot" Realism and (More of Less Apocalyptic) Idealism. Using Plato's Parable of the Cave, I compare the Vulgar Realists --whose ultimate answer to political problems is to build more prisons--to prisoners themselves, shackled to the floor on the Right side of the Cave. The Idealists, --whose ultimate answer to political problems is "education, education, education" (without knowing what education is) are the prisoners shackled on the Left side. The Spiritual Realist is the ex-prisoner who has been helped to accomplish the periagoge and who returns to work on improving the lighting. The spiritual realist is not popular, because every now and then he or she tries to persuade the prisoners that they are dealing in the world of appearance rather than reality, and most of them do not like to hear this, but nonetheless the spiritual realist continues to work in the Cave (i.e. the world) and to try to patch it up, keep it in repair, all the while knowing that

There is only the trying
The rest is not our business. (T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets)

Now, if I were a lawyer, I could make a case for the proposition that Machiavelli was a Spiritual Realist. My case would be built on the entire Machiavellian text and not on what I call the Selective Textualism of some interpreters, who confine themselves to the Prince and the Discourses and even then swoop down on certain portions thereof and neglect to consider others (or so it seems to me). Furthermore, I could even have cited Eric Voegelin, who does appear, more or less, to call Machiavelli a Spiritual Realist. But because I am not a lawyer, and because I think that the early Voegelin's theory of spiritual realism needs revision in the light of the insights of the later Voegelin, --il maestro di color che sanno having left us some theoretical work to do--I do 
  not chose to make that case.

Now, of the three approaches indicated above I argue that if you had to chose one of them to describe Machiavelli, it would NOT be the one of which most political scientists (unlike at least some historians with more feel for context like F. Gilbert and H. Baron) are fond. No, my friends, remember this: MACHIAVELLI WAS NOT A VULGAR REALIST. Indeed, like a giant vacuum cleaner, Eric Voegelin in his History of Political Ideas sweeps up the debris deposited by the majority of political scientists by showing that the Florentine Secretary was "a healthy and honest figure"--at least compared to the contractualists and their "swindle of consent," a man who did NOT-- and I repeat NOT-- teach that there are two moralities, one for private and the other for political life, a man who was NOT a mere technician, NOT a cynic, NOT a nihilist, NOT a reincarnated Callicles on his knees before the god Power, did NOT think "might is right," and of course, did NOT separate politics from ethics. And, had he written on Machiavelli after the appearance of Leo Strauss's Thoughts on Machiavelli, Voegelin could only have registered his strong objection to the former's contention in his Preface that Machiavelli was a "teacher of evil," a view according to Strauss and Harvey Mansfield from which we are to "ascend." But why go down into THAT cave in the first place? It is hard to forgive Leo Strauss for writing those words, words which are contradicted by the book itself.

Indeed, if one had to pick one of the three approaches to describe Machiavelli, it would be--and this may surprise you--IDEALISM. Machiavelli is indeed the founder of modernity, and what is modernity if it be not idealistic? Innerworldly "progress" finally struggles to the fore despite the hold of the cyclical view of history on his consciousness, and in what does that progress consist? Populism, of course, of an uncritical kind, and fierce anatagonism towards obstacles to the victory of the new Order of Horizontalism, replacing the Order of Verticality. And so he caricatures the Roman Catholic Church almost in a manner worthy of Luther, brands the nobles who live in their castles "parasites," condemns humanist intellectuals who may be more preoccupied with scholarship than with the new modes and orders, and of course castigates "the Turk" (a synonym for Islam), as the "despotic" and "Asian" enemy of an emerging, modem, eventually "republican" "Europe." So, there is a strong idealistic component in Machiavelli, as his contemporary Guicciardini correctly discerned.

But --- But--Idealism is not all there is in Machiavelli: there is indeed a strain of Spiritual Realism in him, PROVIDED WE DO NOT ENGAGE IN 


SELECTIVE TEXTUALISM, for the Apocalyptic idealism of Prince, ch. 26, where manna from Heaven is to descend on the new, liberating leader of Italy and which is entitled "An Exhortation to Liberate Italy from Barbarian Domination that Stinks in Our Nostrils"--that "Exhortation" is balanced by Machiavelli's other and less well-known Exhortation: "The Exhortation to Repentance," wherein he quotes lines from Petrarch that brilliantly encapsulate the meaning of Spiritual Realism:

And to repent, and understand clearly That all that pleases the world is but a brief dream.

So, in answer to the question posed in my title, "Was Machiavelli a Spiritual Realist?" I conclude that a clear answer cannot be given, that Machiavelli will always be a Croceian enigma, because there are elements of all three approaches in his legacy. Those who unimaginatively interpret Machiavelli as a Vulgar Realist can always point to the literal meaning of some of his statements, and it has to be admitted that the Florentine's manner of writing left itself open to the charge that the author should have taken into account the fact that many readers in future generations would read him literally and out of context. But perhaps there is more than meets my eye on this score, and so I conclude by asking "Why are there elements of all three approaches in Machiavelli?" My answer, and here I draw on Eric Voegelin, is that he was confused precisely because he lived through the "Age of Confusion," in which the foundations of Western civilization were crumbling all around him. But, let us remember, that in his magnificent self-awareness Machiavelli's greatness, even today, shines through the mist of his confusion and conflicting motivations.###

Summary of Paper ( formerly to be read at the meeting).

When I began to investigate the question of whether Machiavelli was a 11spiritual realist," I did not realize that asking this question opens the widest window I know of on the Florentine Secretary's complexity. I think you will see why that is so when I give you my answer to the question. First, however, I must attempt in brief compass to define "spiritual realism," a term invented but insufficiently explained by Eric Voegelin. I think that my definition is faithful to Voegelin, the entire Voegelin, that is.

Let me say at the outset that it is difficult in 12 minutes to give a summary of what I mean by spiritual realism without it sounding like a caricature of same. 

But to anticipate obvious objections: It is not a reactionary concept and it is not meant to denigrate the importance of working in the world, the political world of the Cave. We all need to work to improve the lighting, as it were, and if we are shackled to the Right side of the Cave we need to use the concept of spiritual realism as a leaven to our tendency to solve all problems with force, prisons, armies, etc. If we are shackled to the Left, we need to use said concept to cast doubt on the proposition that all the ills of the world can be solved by "education, education, education," to quote Tony Blair, or perhaps George W. Bush. In a word, spiritual realism teaches us that "There is only the trying. The rest is not our business. "(T. S. Eliot)

I shall not here attempt a recapitulation of Part I of my paper, entitled rather ponderously a "Terminological Excursus. " Let me just say here that Voegelin ceased to use the term "spiritual realism" in the early 50's, and there is no mention of it in the New Science of Politics or in Order and History. I think this is a pity, for I wish that he had revised it in the light of his theophanic experiences that constitute a break in his thought, not an entire break to be sure, but a break nonetheless. So, il maestro di color che sanno, if so I may here refer to him in a panel organized by a society bearing his name, left us some theoretical work to do.

I think that the key to Voegelin's deeper understanding of spiritual realism is to be found in the Plato section of volume III of Order and History, which I had the privilege to introduce and edit in the new, recently published version thereof, which constitutes vol. 16 of his Collected Works, brought out in a beautiful edition by the University of Missouri Press. There, Voegelin speaks of the tension in Plato's thought between his "love of being" and his "love of existence," and it is this tension which I contend constitutes the core of spiritual realism properly understood.

From the perspective of eternal being, human actions are of little worth, as acknowledged by Petrarch in a sonnet quoted by none other than Machiavelli himself at the end of his neglected work, "The Exhortation to Repentance":

And repent and understand clearly That all that pleases the world is but a brief dream.

A shadow of tragedy, then, is cast over human affairs from the perspective of the spiritual realist. To revert to Plato, we humans are in the Cave and most of us will remain there, at least for most of the time. We will pursue appearances  rather than truth and our lives will be consumed by the perpetual and fruitless chase after the mutable good, mistaking it in its various permutations (bodily pleasure, greed, the lust for power) for the immutable Good, the Agathon.

Spiritual realism will probably never be popular, because it entails our acknowledging that we are in the Cave, which requires humility. We need not always remain there, however, for help is available, in that we can respond to the pull of the golden cord of reason or of preventive grace and seek to emulate the spiritual athletes who have broken out of their imprisonment, insofar as it is possible to do here below in the metaxy of existence, at least for moments, here and there.

"The love of being is constantly drawing Plato away from the Cave toward fulfillment in death beyond time and the world, but the love of existence brings him back to shed indirect light on the problems encountered in the metaxy or Between of human life ... Plato knew that there was no way to the life of the spirit that did not run through the body, and so existence in the pride of life was something to be grasped and savored, for rising above the rhythms of lasting and passing there surges the thing called man."(p.6 of Introduction by DG)

To speak more practically, for the spiritual realist, the world--defined by the O.E.D. as "human existence"--will always remain the world, and, contrary to modem gnosticism or idealism, it is not perfectible. To quote from the then Monk Khantipalo's brilliant study of Theravada Buddhism as practiced in Thailand:

"The world has always been like this: some factors advancing, some declining, for this state of things is never stable. Those who work in the world can, at best, keep it patched up and try to prevent deterioration." fLaurence Khantipalo Mills, Buddhism Explained (Bangkok: Silkworm Books, 1999), 63.1

Now, if I were a lawyer, and Machiavelli's life depended on it, I could make a convincing case for the proposition that although certainly no Plato, Machiavelli deserves to be ranked as a "spiritual realist." There is indeed a sense of tragedy cast over Machiavelli's writing, most explicity revealed of course in the "Exhortation to Repentence" and in his "Tercets on Ambition." Chapter 18 of The Prince tells us how the many judge by appearances, while the few (who do not) "have no place to stand" in a world wherein the many call the tune. However, not being a lawyer, I do not chose to make that case. And I disagree with the early Voegelin, (who does call Machiavelli a spiritual realist, incidentally) on grounds that had Voegelin revised this concept in the light of  his analysis of "the leap in being," he would no longer have held Machiavelli to be worthy of this designation.

In my paper I distinguish between three approaches to politics: spiritual realism, unspiritual or "crackpot" realism, and (potentially) apocalyptic "idealism." Here let me explain that each of these three approaches attempts to answer the question "What does it mean to be 'realistic' in politics?" There are today two main pre-analytic answers to this question found in the Cave of everyday politics, one from the Right and the other from the Left. The Right contends that realism in politics entails suspicion of immigrants and foreigners, reliance on more prisons and police and larger armies and navies, and toughness on "law and order." The Left regards the Right as "crackpot realists," or cynics and believes that the problems of the human condition may be solved through
ever increasing public expenditure on health, education, and social welfare, as well as through promoting a multi-cultural society. Spiritual realists seek to indicate a third way between the Scylla of naked power and the Charybdis of innocence about the reality of evil in human affairs. In brief, spiritual realism rejects both the traditionalist Right and the apocalyptic Left, without occupying a mushy center-ground between the two. I conclude that there are elements of all three approaches in Machiavelli, although I agree with Voegelin in the Machiavelli chapters in his History of Political Ideas that it is least likely that he was "Machiavellian," or a "teacher of evil" as the legend has it. It must be said, however, that the great Florentine's manner of writing left himself vulnerable to that charge, because he should have known that most readers would read him literally and out of context, or rather out of the many contexts in which he placed himself.

Why are there elements of all three approaches and why does Machiavelli remain today an "enigma that can never be resolved" (Croce)? Because he was confused. Why was he confused? Because he lived in what Voegelin himself called "The Age of Confusion," in which the foundations of Western civilization were crumbling around him.

I argue further that, if one had to pick one of the three adumbrated approaches to politics most faithfully to represent Machiavelli's thought, it would be the opposite of the one with which he is traditionally identified: i.e., it would be idealism, with touches of apocalyptic fervor as shown most clearly in his other "Exhortation," namely Chapter 26 of The Prince where manna from heaven is to descend upon the new, liberating leader who will free Italy from the "barbarian" domination that "stinks in our nostrils." And I contend that at bottom Machiavelli was the first great constructor of the democratic ethos, and indeed,  (to agree with Leo Strauss), the first founder of modernity. (Having mentioned Professor Strauss, who wrote one of the greatest books on Machiavelli, I find it hard to forgive him for professing agreement with the vilificatory tradition that judged the great Florentine a "teacher of evil." I do not think that Strauss's book itself supports that charge, nor is it sufficient to argue as has another author of major and serious works on Machiavelli, Harvey Mansfield, that one "must ascend" from Strauss's judgment. But, as an eminent member of our panel, Dr. Chaiwat Satha-Anand, has acutely observed in another place, "Why should we be put in a position where we have to "ascend" at all?)

Voegelin, to his credit, destroyed the conventional image of Machiavelli of which political scientists tend to be so enamored. He pronounces Machiavelli "a healthy and honest figure, most certainly preferable as a man to the contractualists (above all Locke) who try to cover the reality of power underneath ... the immoral swindle of consent." Voegelin's Machiavelli called a spade a spade, had no theory of a "double morality," was no mere technician or "expert" adviser on how to achieve power as an end in itself, was not a nihilist, or a cynic, or a Callicles-like worshipper of "might is right" and did not separate politics from ethics. He was not the founder of a political science that teaches "who gets what, when, and how," to quote Harold Lasswell. Like a gigantic vacuum cleaner, Eric Voegelin sucks up and disposes of all the simple-minded, fallacious, and ignorant interpretations of Machiavelli so prominent in the literature of our discipline. (In this respect it must be said that historians like Hans Baron have been vastly superior, for they recognize Machiavelli's thought as a tissue of many "layers" and "conflicting emotional motivations.")

As previously stated, I do not agree with everything Voegelin said about Machiavelli, and to my disagreement that he deserves to be grouped with the spiritual realists I would add that Niccol6 was at heart not a "pagan" espousing the myth of nature and cosmic cycles, either, although such seeming espousal, e pluribus unum, maybe found in places in his work. Furthermore, in another place, Voegelin refers to Machiavelli as one of a group of so-called "secular" realists, when to me there is nothing "secular" about Machiavelli. (Perhaps Voegelin was using the German meaning of "secular" which is weldich (literally, "worldly") when of course in English "secular" sounds like the ACLU at least in the American context, dogmatically fighting for the "separation" of Church and State. One problem is that Eric Voegelin seems to have been unaware of the "Exhortation to Repentance." Machiavelli was a strange and confused sort of Christian, to be sure, but that he believed himself to be such--a Christian of a reforming sort, that is--, I think is clear. I know that I am in a minority in this respect, however. But, before you dismiss my claim, read  Machiavelli in his own words in Sebastian De Grazia's Machiavelli in Hell; you may be surprised how often he speaks of God and in his familiar letters of Christ--and not always in a heterodox sense.

And so, my fellow students of the greatest political philosopher of the Twentieth Century, let us push ahead, building on Voegelin's insights, and further develop a concept which in him is insufficiently theorized: spiritual realism. To do so we shall, like Plato, have to combine the love of eternal being with the love of existence. We shall also need to delve into the riches of Israelite revelation, Christianity, Islam, Theravada Buddhism, and Confucianism for equivalent expressions of the truth of Spiritual Realism. And let us continue to investigate Niccol6 Machiavelli, whose greatness shines through his confusion and conflicting motivations.

(The Paper itself Follows the above Summary)

I. Terminological Excursus

As I have recently wrestled with the term "spiritual realism," I have found it to be one of Eric Voegelin's more opaque concepts. In Political Philosophy and the Open Society, a book I published in 1982, 1 used "spiritual realism" as a necessary third position between what C. Wright Mills wittily called "crackpot realism" and political "idealism." In other words, spiritual realism was the true, un-crackpot form of realism, which held in balance both the power drive and the aspirational side of the consciousness of humans as political actors. I I later found that Ellis Sandoz had understood the concept in more or less the same way, independently of my interpretation. As for my first encounter with the term itself, no doubt I first read it somewhere in Voegelin's manuscripts during the 1970's and it stuck in my mind. Reading the recently published volume 25 of Voegelin's Collected Works, with Juergen Gebhardt's Introduction, I was at first puzzled, because, judging by Gebhardt's account, in this, the last completed section of the History of Political Ideas, Voegelin at times employed "spiritual realism" to apply more narrowly to a group of so-called "secular" modem thinkers, including Machiavelli, Schelling, and Nietzsche. I now see, however, after reading the Introduction to the whole History of Political Ideas by Thomas Hollweck and Ellis Sandoz, that in the History Voegelin understood the term "spiritual realism" to reach back at least to Dante, and that he saw the "secular" realists to include Bodin, Hobbes, Vico, and Spinoza in addition to the trio mentioned above where Machiavelli becomes somehow also a "secular" thinker.2

Gebhardt suggests that part of the difficulty in understanding Voegelin's meaning of the term "spiritual realism" has to do with the fact that in German, which of course was Voegelin's first language, the word Geist means both "spirit" and "mind." In any case, to Gebhardt, it seems that part of the meaning of spiritual realism for the early Voegelin was this: a current of thought whose purpose was to protect Geist from the onslaught of phenomenalistic reductionsirn and ideological fanaticism in modernity. Gebhardt even suggests that for Voegelin of the unfinished History of Political Ideas there were two modernities, one that of the "secular" spiritual realists including Spinoza, Bodin, Vico, and and Hobbes, in addition to the already mentioned Machiavelli, Schelling, and Nietzsche, and the other modernity which we know from its ideological evasion through the manufacturing of "consent," its exhaltation of violence, and in general its anti-spiritual reductionism, among other depressing features.3

Be that as it may, it is clear that Voegelin did not always restrict the term spiritual realism to the modem period. Even in volume 25, for example, he employs the term "realist" in a way that would apply to any political philosopher, modem or premodern, from Plato onwards who was open to the entire range of reality and did not entertain chiliastic expectations about the possibilities of world-immanent collective action.4 And so I am asking the question "Does Machiavelli deserve to be ranked among the spiritual realists in the same way as a Plato, or an Augustine, or an Aquinas?" , or to put it more precisely: "Of the three categories--'Vulgar Realist,' 'Idealist,' or 'Spiritual Realist'-- under which heading can we say that Machiavelli properly belongs?"

I recognize, however, that my approach still leaves Voegelin's use of the term "spiritual realism" something of a puzzle. (And I must candidly add that not all of the responsibility for that rests on the shoulders of this or any interpreter, for the concept is used in varying ways in various places in the Voegelinian corpus.) Recently Professor Ellis Sandoz in a personal communication has offered the following helpful clarification: "The criterion seems to be an assessment of the degree to which the foundation of political order in light of the truth of transcendence is ... capable of being embodied in the contemporary world of the respective thinker. The philosophy of order {of the spiritual realist} ... must then be articulated with an awareness of the Ground, matched by an awareness of its feebleness in orienting politics and history under conditions of the world, sinful mankind, rebellion, and the like. This discrepancy engenders a tragic sense in the philosopher, who although he lives   by hope (even "hopeless hope" as Voegelin has put it) reconciles himself to imperfection and mutilated reality." (Sandoz, 8 January, 2000.)

Reflecting on how I came to use the concept "spiritual realism" in my Open Society book, I now realize that I was influenced in its use by the Eric Voegelin of Order and History rather than the earlier Voegelin of the History of Poltical Ideas. Above all, Voegelin's interpretation of the Platonic symbol metaxy (or the "Between" of human life) was crucial in formulating my understanding of spiritual realism. Also, in the English translation by Gerhard Niemeyer of Voegelin's 1966 work Anamnesis, Voegelin added an Appendix containing a diagram which charts human existence occurring between two contrasting poles, the Divine Nous and the Apeirontic Depth. If we move up the layers of reality from the Depth to the Nous we proceed from inorganic nature, vegetative nature, animal nature, the passions of the psyche, the noetic psyche and finally the Nous. T11us, the structure of political reality occurs "between" the bottom pole of "bodily foundation" and the top pole of "spiritual formation." So, in my view the spiritual realist is any thinker whose language symbols point toward the entire existential range of the reality in which man participates and which avoids the perils of reductionism, or determining the higher strata by the lower. At the same time the spiritual realist does not see the spirit as disembodied and is vividly aware both of the downward "pull" of the instincts and passions and the "counterpull" of the forces of spiritual attraction. (EV, CW 12, 287-291)

The problem is complicated for me by the fact that no sooner than did he began to use the Platonic language of the metaxy , Voegelin apparently ceased to use the term "spiritual realism." I must say, however, if I may put it this way, that I find my own usage of the term "spiritual realism" more "Voegelinian" than Voegelin's own earlier formulation of said concept, because some of the thinkers designated by the "earlier" Voegelin as "spiritual realists" like Dante, Spinoza, Schelling and Nietzsche, may well flunk the test of reality in terms of the metaxy.

That the later Voegelin came to see the problem of "demonism" and spiritual realism in a different light from his earlier writings can in my judgment be confirmed by noting his remarks on Machiavelli in Order and History III, recently republished by the University of Missouri Press (vol. 16 of Collected Works, 2000) and edited with an Introduction by the present writer. For example, on p. 279 Voegelin compares Machiavelli and Plato and says that Plato, unlike Machiavelli, rejected the "tyrannical alternative" of unification by means of power politics alone, for he knew that said alternative "would have meant, as it did for Machiavelli, the renunciation of the spirit and the fall into demonism." Here "demonism" seems to be used in a condemnatory way unlike its earlier equation, as in Goethe, with "genius." The difference, I would argue, is the result of Voegelin's deepened understanding of reality in the wake of his philosophy of history based on the "leaps in being" and the primacy of theophanic experience.

A second terminological problem which I have confronted concerns the meaning of the adjective "demonic." Once more, I draw on the expertise of Professor Ellis Sandoz to clarify the problem at hand. As he has written to me in the same communication cited above, "The term demonic is ambiguous in Voegelin and does not necessarily or often equal evil or Satanic... {The demonic is} a spiritual force beyond good and evil representations of Being, one that can be either Good or Satanic.... {So, the Demonic }a semi-divine capacity found in exceptional men, the kind of personality Nietzsche admires from antiquity (heroic) but spiritualized; or in Machiavelli the kind that can master Fortuna through virtu`, or in St. Paul, the man who is a 'law unto himself. "'

Now, in what follows I shall use the term demonic to stand for what Machiavelli recognized --and which I think it is clear from the quotations I give below that Voegelin understood that Machiavelli recognized--to be evil, but nonetheless capable of being harnessed to results held to be good by the many, who, after all, judge by appearances. So for Machiavelli the result or "outcome" (il fine) of the demonic personality's actions in the world where the many call the tune, may be called good as indicated in Prince, ch. 18 if indeed he is a Borgia and not an Agathocles, the difference being that Borgia harnessed his demonism to an idea--the new Italy--whereas Agathocles had no objective but self-indulgence. (Please see note 6 below for further remarks on Voegelin's use of "demonic.")

Let me now briefly flesh out a bit the meaning of spiritual realism, as I understand it. The spiritual realist approaches politics as an activity taking place in the metaxy or Between of human life: life takes place between the contrasting poles of good and evil, hope and despair, joy and misery, and the everlasting and the ephemeral. Spiritual realism, I contend, is the only realism that is truly realistic--i.e., that confronts reality as it is and not as we would like it to be or fear it on the verge of becoming. THE SPIRITUAL REALIST HAS IDEALS, but tempered ones. He or she is not a utopian, but a constructor of paradigms-models capable of being diluted by degrees until they may come into contact with and be applicable to the empirical situation in a given society. (Plato and Aristotle showed us the way here.) In today's world, the spiritual realist thinks of democracy neither as paradigm nor as panacea but in Churchill's words as "the worst form of government, except for all the others." The spiritual realist aspires to "improve" things in terms of making social arrangements more just, but has moderate expectations for success. In the words of T.S. Eliot:

There is the only the trying; The rest is not our business.

Finally, the spiritual realist rejects all shortcuts allegedly available for the transformation of the human condition through natural science and technology: technology is a mixed blessing and salvation will not come through the internet or some other technological fix, because salvation is not to be found in the world. And so forth. I am sure that you, gentle reader, can think of many other examples of this kind.

II. Was Machiavelli a Spiritual Realist?

But enough of this terminological digression. Let us turn to our question of the day, viz., "Was Machiavelli a Spiritual Realist? "--using my own understanding of the term as inspired by the later Voegelin. Now Voegelin himself in his masterful interpretation of Machiavelli in volume 22 of the Collected Works has disposed of the conventional interpretation, still popular with most political scientists, that Machiavelli was nothing but a crackpot or vulgar realist. Indeed, Voegelin uses some of his most vigorous expressions against those who have portrayed Machiavelli as a Machiavellian--as a "teacher of evil," to be precise. He pronounces the great Florentine a "healthy and honest figure, most certainly preferable as a man to the contractualists who try to cover the reality of power underneath ... the immoral swindle of consent."5 With this verdict I am in entire agreement. Machiavelli called a spade a spade, had no theory of a double morality, one for citizens and the other for rulers, was no mere technician or "expert" adviser on how to achieve power as an end in itself, was not a nihilist, or a cynic or a Callicles-like worshipper of "might is right," and did not like Locke engage in the "swindle of consent." Like a gigantic vacuum cleaner, Voegelin sucks up and destroys all the simple-minded, fallacious, and ignorant interpretations of Machiavelli prominent in much of the scholarly literature by political scientists. (The historians, such as Hans Baron and Felix Gilbert, seem to have acquitted themselves better, recognizing that Machiavelli's thought is a delicate tissue of many layers.) The only prominent conventional misinterpretation Voegelin fails to spot is the one which ignorantly misattributes to Machiavelli the maxim "the end justifies the means," a misattribution due to a faulty translation of a line in Prince, ch. 18, and which I discuss in detail in my article "Second Thoughts on Strauss's Machiavelli," cited below. I might add that Dr. Chaiwat Satha-Anand of Thammasat University in Bangkok has in his highly original doctoral dissertation for the University of Hawaii shown the degree to which Machiavelli thought it unintelligent to "rely on the Lion alone," and how in Y7ie Prince the great Florentine laid great emphasis on learning how to "maneuver around men's brains" in politics. Machiavelli's "political realism" was not vulgar but subtle, so much so, argues Dr. Chaiwat, that proponents of non-violence have much that they can learn from him!

What about our second alternative: Machiavelli as an "idealist" in politics? To quote for convenience my own definition: "Political idealists substitute a utopian dream world for the reality of existence in the metaxy and magically wish away the antagonistic, destructive, and demonic potentialies of human nature. Idealists imagine all human beings to be (at least potentially) like themselves--or rather like their self-congratulatory fantasies about themselves." (Germino, PP and the OS, p. 179) Now, I personally have a suspicion that Machiavelli has more than a touch of idealism in his make-up. It is no accident that almost everyone agrees that Machiavelli was a leading figure in the evocation of sentiments which we now commonly call by the name of "modernity." What is modernity if it be not idealistic?

But before continuing to argue the case for Machiavelli as "idealist," let us dwell for a moment on the problem of what Voegelin calls Machiavelli's "demonism." According to Voegelin, Machiavelli gave his blessing to the demonic streak in his political founding hero. What is Cesare Borgia if he be not demonic, and yet he was apparently Machiavelli's chief model for the "new prince" who would "liberate Italy from this barbarian domination that stinks in our nostrils"? Voegelin himself on several occasions in both volumes 22 and 25 of CW recognizes what he calls the "demonic" element in Machiavelli, and even goes so far as to say that in Machiavelli we encounter "a demonic closure of the soul against transcendent reality." And yet despite this, in vol. 25 Voegelin refers approvingly to "the demonic realism of Machiavelli." Well, if Gebhardt is right and the purpose of spiritual realism is to protect the spirit from being mangled by distinctly unspiritual forces, how can a "demonic realism" closed to transcendence do the job? 6 It sounds rather as if the Mafia were called in to "protect" Socrates. It would seem more consistent for Voegelin to have said that out of an idealistic fixation, which he correctly notes was recognized by Guicciardini, Machiavelli was led in this instance to re-define demonism as heroism, perhaps under the conscious or unconscious influence of Timur's meteoric rise to power and conquest which, as Voegelin shows, had mesmerized a generation of historians before Machiavelli.

To illustrate further the idealistic component in Machiavelli, is it not a fact that the final chapter 26 of the Prince is one of the most idealistic pieces of propaganda ever penned? It is indeed entitled an "Exhortation," and we are told that manna would come down from Heaven to feed the hungry and that faction torn Italy would rise up and receive him, i1principe nuovo, as one family, united in love and adoration of him. "They make a desert and call it peace," reported Tacitus about the Romans, 7 and similarly to the Romans Machiavelli appears to hail as "heroic" the actions of a political gangster who first has his lieutenants do his dirty work and when they are no longer useful displays them "in two pieces" beside a chopping block in the piazza to appease the masses and who invites all his enemies to dinner and has them strangled! (Yet, see the ensuing quotation from his other "Exhortation"--this one on "Repentance"--- for a declaration by Machiavelli that the penitent man "meditates" on but does not "delight" in the doings of the wicked.)

So we may see as one apparent component in Machiavelli the idealization of demonism. Perhaps the Florentine Secretary was aware of what he was doing when in a letter to Vettori he referred to the work that was posthumously to be published under the title 11 Principe as a ghiribizzo, a word that may be variously translated as "caprice," "whim," "fantasy" or "joke." If that be true, then the joke is on us--or on those of us who take the Prince too literally. It is rather as if Machiavelli thought to himself, "in my ideal world, or second reality, brutality will turn out to have good results." And therefore, although it can never be morally justified in terms of the Table of Virtues in Chapter 15, it will be "excused" by the common people if it advances their Cause.

But there are other more easily recognizable idealistic threads in the Machiavellian tapestry. Was it not Rousseau who observed that The Prince "is a book for republicans"? Can anyone contest that Machiavelli was the first writer of stature to praise the common people, as he himself claimed? What is his call for "new modes and orders" but the first blast of the trumpet in the intellectual evocation of the modem democratic idea, viz. the substitution of the tradional order of verticality issuing in a "society of unequals" by the new order of horizontalism, or the "society of equals." 8 It is true that we had to wait until Condorcet and others in the 18th Century to espouse the democratic evocation in its fullness, but Machiavelli is the first writer ever to address the prince with the familiar "tu" instead of the formal "Lei", thereby implying a relationship of equality rather than of superiority-inferiority between himself and his Lord. 

Machiavelli's ferocious attack upon denigrators of the people --as in his contempt for the proverb "He who builds on the people builds on mud,"--may in part at least represent an idealization of the people's judgment, as is the case with his simplisitic dichotomy between "the few who desire to oppress" and "the people who desire (only) not to be oppressed." 9

Like all idealists, Machiavelli has stacked up a row of villains who are ruining the progressive course of history, destroying the utopian hope for establishing a"perpetual republic" within time and the world. (One must read the Discourses carefully to see that, while in one place Machiavelli denies there can be a perpetual republic in another he admits it as a possibility-4 refer here to Discorsi III, chapters 17 and 21, respectively.) There is first the Roman Catholic Church, which he caricatures at times in a manner almost worthy of Luther, whom he strangely never mentions but of whose mighty Reformation Machiavelli cannot but have been aware with his diplomatic contacts. (Machiavelli died only in 1527, or ten years after the public beginning of the Lutheran revolt.) After the Church there are the nobles--i grandi--who sit in their castles and parasitically live off the sweat and blood of the people. Then, there are the humanist intellectuals who are mere conternplators and who refuse to harness themselves to the Cause of evoking a new order of Horizontalism. Finally, there is Islam or "the Turk, the threat of what is not European, of the hordes threatening Europe from "Asia." In this respect, Machiavelli echoes Luther's "War against the Turk" of 1519.

But is there no case to be made for Machiavelli as a spiritual realist? Yes, I think that there is a basis for such a case, although on other grounds than those cited by Voegelin in his treatment of Machiavelli in his History of Political Ideas. If spiritual realism entails the protection of the spirit from its imprisonment in the practical everyday concerns of the political cosmion , then, far from offering breathing space for the spirit, Machiavelli instead constructs an alternative intramundane prison for it. For the great Florentine appears to have been busier evoking a new, modem, egalitarian cosmion than with exploring all dimensions of reality. He may have sought to replace one "fragment" of reality with another, and it is not always clear that the substitution was an improvement. 10 To quote Voegelin himself, toward the end of his chapter on Machiavelli: "The creed of the spirito italiano and the onore del mondo ... is a rejection of the transcendental meaning of history and a reversion to the tribalism of the particular community." 11

However, I do not think that we can leave Machiavelli frozen in this moment of  tribalistic closure. Machiavelli the Italian patriot, the first- and, over the centuries until its creation as a nation, the leading- voice for Italian independence, is certainly an important part of his legacy. But I do not think Machiavelli was deaf to the call of the universal open society of all humankind. I do not agree at all with Voegelin that "there is nothing enigmatic" about Machiavelli. Nor do I agree with Voegelin that Machiavelli was definitely "not a Christian" but rather religiously a "pagan." 12 Voegelin seems to have been unfamiliar with the Florentine Secretary's "Exhortation to Repentance," which ends with a quotation from a Sonnet by Petrarch:

And repent and understand clearly That all that pleases the world is but a brief dream. 13

On Machiavelli and Christianity, I would perhaps agree with Bernard Crick's summation of my view when he wrote that "for Professor Germino Machiavelli is a funny kind of Christian." .14 Yet, that he believed himself to be a Christian (I would say an odd rather than a "funny" one) seems to me to be as clear as anything is about Machiavelli. He signs his most intimate letters "Christ be with you," and in the "Exhortation to Repentance," after quoting Corinthians 13 on caritas, he writes:

"On this (Charity) is based the Christian faith. He cannot be full of charity who is not full of religion, because charity is patient, is kindly, is not envious, is not perverse, does not show pride, is not ambitious, does not seek her own profit, does not get angry, meditates on the wicked man, does not delight in him, does not take pleasure in vanity, suffers everything, believes everything, hopes everything. Oh divine virtue! Oh, happy are those that possess you! This is the heavenly garment in which we must be clad if we are to be admitted to the celestial marriage feast of our Emperor Jesus Christ in the heavenly kingdom!" 15

In general, we may say that with this second Exhortation, Machiavelli apparently seeks to inject the perspective of spiritual realism to provide overall balance to his cogitations on the human condition, and that indeed the "Exhortation to Repentance" is to be read conjointly with the "Exhortation to Liberate Italy ... etc" if one is to grasp the whole of the Florentine's meditations.

Now, it might be responded, of course, that Machiavelli is being ironic here, that he is making a set speech probably required for admission into a club or confraternity of some sort, that he is cloaking himself in religion to avoid persecution, etc. (This would most certainly have been the reply of Professor Strauss, even if one of his most able followers, Harvey Mansfield, calls Machiavelli "an exceedingly bold writer.") And then one must consider these lines from his May 27, 1521 letter to his great contemporary Guicciardini:

"..(f)or a long time I have not said what I believed, nor do I ever believe what I say, and if indeed sometimes I do happen to tell the truth, I hide it among so many lies that it is hard to find." 16

Of course the last statement may itself be doubted, since he says he never believes what he says, so we may invoke the Russellian paradox and conclude that he is not believing that he does not believe what he says. In any event, on this point I am much more inclined to agree with Benedetto Croce, who said that Machiavelli was "an enigma that will never be resolved" than with Eric Voegelin, who claimed that there was nothing enigmatic about his political teaching!

Conclusion

Now to return to the question posed in my title: "Was Machiavelli a Spiritual Realist?" My conclusion--provisional conclusion, because the Florentine Secretary and self-styled "Tragic and Comic Writer" looks slightly different every time one immerses oneself in him--is that it is not possible to give a hard and fast answer, for the very simple reason that Machiavelli was living through the disintegration of Western civilization and was part of what Voegelin calls "The Age of the Great Confusion." 17 1 conclude, therefore, that Machiavelli was (pardonably) confused, that he was enigmatic because he was confused, and that there are elements of all three approaches -- Vulgar Realism, Idealism, and Spiritual Realism --in his work. (However, Vulgar or Unspiritual Realism exists in Machiavelli to the degree that some passages are taken literally and without irony. As Hans Baron has noted, Machiavelli's life "will always have to be presented as a delicate tissue of sometimes conflicting motivations, not simply as a neat succession of distinct phases.") 18

Finally, let me suggest that if we want the clarity of the authentic spiritual realist, we need to go back to Plato and forward to Voegelin. ###

Appendix on Gebhardt on Spiritual Realism

It has belatedly come to my attention that Juergen Gebhardt contributed an article on Spiritual Realism in Voegelin to the Festschrift published in his honor edited by Peter Opitz and Gregor Sebba, entitled The Philosophy of Order (Stuttgart: Ernst Klett, 1981), 332-344, entitled "Erfahrung und Wirklichkeit: Anmerkungen zur PolitishcenWissenschaft des spirituellen Realismus." In it Gebhardt signals his acceptance of the category "secular spiritual realist," and Voegelin's inclusion of Machiavelli, Bodin, Hobbes, Spinoza, Schelling, and Nietzsche. I have already given my critique of this concept in the text. As for the term "Spiritual Realism" itself Gebhardt centers his definition on the comment in the then unpublished History of Pe4itical Ideas (section on "The Middle Ages, The Church, and the Nations") by Voegelin as follows: Spiritual Realism indicates "the attitude of the political thinker ... who has to detach himself intellectually, and sometimes practically, from the surrounding political institutions because he cannot attribute to them representative ftinctions for the life of the spirit which he experiences as real within himself." Once more the vagueness of Voegelin's usage of the term in the History of Politcal Ideas is highlighted when, having first described Spiritual Realism as a "modem" and even a "secular" term, Voegelin includes Plato among these Realists in his article "Nietzsche, the Crisis and the War," VI, Journal of Politics (1 944), 178, ff. There Voegelin remarks that "Platonism in Politics is the attempt, perhaps hopeless and futile, to regenerate a disintegrating society spiritually by creating the model of a true order of values, and by using as the material for for the model realistically the elements which are present in the substance of society." (Quoted, Gebhardt, p.3 3 8) There follows a comment by Voegelin on Nietzsche casting severe doubt on whether the latter was a Spiritual Realist at all. Regrettably, it cannot be said that Gebhardt either indicates the confusions in "early" Voegelin's treatment of the concept--and also note that he is at this point still using the term "values," which he will later discredit--or does anything to clarify them in his contribution to the Festschrift.

Endnotes

1 In Political Philosophy and the Open Society (Baton Rouge: LSU Press, 1982), 1 follow the most able of the "unspiritual realists," Hans Morgenthau, as regards to the definition of "realism": the thinker whom he calls the political realist "maintains the autonomy of the political sphere ... He thinks of interest defined as power." The political realist "subordinates other standards of thought to the political one." Quoted in Ibid., 178-79. 1 then criticise Morgenthau's notion of politics as being too narrow, precisely because it excludes the realm of Geist. I maintain that this political realism of Morgenthau "concentrates too heavily on the negative pole of the metaxial balance." Idealism, on the other hand, veers too close to the positive pole. Only "spiritual realism" is truly balanced in its representation of the metaxial reality. A truly realistic theory of politics, I argue, must include the spiritual dimension, both as regards its potential in humans for good and for evil.

2 See Conclusion to Gebhardt's Introduction to Eric Voegelin, 25 Collected Works: The New Order and the Last Orientation, ed. by Juergen Gebhardt and Thomas Hollweck (Columbia and London: University of Missouri Press, 1999), Introduction by Gebhardt, 33-34. For the long quotation by Voegelin extending spiritual realism back to Dante, and including Bodin, Spinoza and Hobbes, see Eric Voegelin, 19 Collected Works: Hellenism, Rome, and Early Christianity, ed. by Athanasios (Columbia and London: U. of Mo. Press, 1997), quoted in the "General Introduction to the Series," by Thomas Hollweck and Ellis Sandoz, 34. Perhaps Voegelin would have cleared up the discrepancies in his use of 11spiritual realism" had he prepared the Ms. for final publication, and hopefully would also have modified the unfortunate adjective "secular" to describe these thinkers, for it is hard to see how any of them was "secular" or indeed how a 11spiritual realist" could possibly be "secular," for secularism presupposes the exclusion of the spirit from politics! Regrettably, Gebhardt does not discuss this problem.

3.CW, vol 25, 34. See also Ibid., 51 for Voegelin's distinction between the "demonic realism" of Machiavelli, the "contemplative realism" of Bodin, and the "psychological realism" of Hobbes. On this same page one finds the following remark by Voegelin on Machiavelli: "Machiavelli's myth of the demonic hero had its function in the hope of the political savior of Italy..." He also writes of "the horror of the Prince" as the "revelation of the demonic Nature of Man as the source of order."

4 See inter alia Voegelin's comparison of Schelling and Aquinas, in Ibid., 240. But see also n. 2.

5. Eric Voegelin, 22 Collected Works: Renaissance and Reformation, ed. D.L. Morse and Wm. M. Thompson (Columbia and London: U. of Mo. Press, 1998), 55, 64, 82-84.

6. Eric Voegelin, CW, vol. 22, op.cit., 86 and vol. 25, op.cit., 61, emphasis added. Apparently Voegelin used the terni "demonic" for the first time in print in 1933. Klaus Vondung points out in his Introduction to the English translation of Voegelin's book Die Rassenidee in des Geistgeschichte von Ray bis Carus that with Schiller's apotheosis of Goethe "the term demonic came to be used as an equivalent for genius ... The demonic figure found its most distinct description, in Voegelin's eyes, as the 'well-born man' in Carus' appreciation of Goethe." Editor's Introduction to Eric Voegelin, 3 Collected Works: The History of the Race Ideaftom Ray to Carus (Baton Rouge: LSU Press, 1998), xvi. Voegelin indeed declares in this early work that "the idea of the demonic ... consciously takes up pagan nuances; the sacred and the moral recede and the fertile, generative element ('the productive' in Goethe's terms) comes to the fore." Ibid., 10. 1 am grateftil to Ellis Sandoz for indicating this passage to me. Despite this passage and other similar ones in the book on the Race Idea, I do not think that the interpreter of Voegelin can without qualification, transpose Voegelin's 1933 characterization of the term demonic to the History of Political Ideas, written some 15 to 20 years later, because in the History Voegelin pronounces it to be a form of "closure" of the soul in the Bergsonian sense and so the concept of the demonic takes on for Voegelin a negative hue missing in the earlier characterization. Voegelin in the interim has begun to develop his philosophy of history in terms of which it is not permissible philosophically to regress from a more to a less differentiated symbolic language and the Platonic symbolization, along with Israelite and Christian revelation, has become paradigmatic for Voegelin in history. Finally, it would be a bit of a stretch to equate Cesare Borgia with Goethe, to revert to Schiller's characterization of demonic evoked by Voegelin in 1933. It seems that also that the Socratic daimonion may have lingered in Voegelin's mind as the equivalent of "demonic," however inconsistent this would be with his characterization of the demonic in Machiavelli as "closed to transcendence."

7. "Solitudinem jaciunt pacem appellant. " Tacitus, Agricol , 3 0, from a set speech of the British chieftan Galgacus. I am indebted to Benedetto Fontana for this reference. In his "Tercets on Ambition," Machiavelli expressed a similar pathos over the mindless destruction of war and other forms of human cruelty. See Gilbert, trans., Machiavelli: The Chief Works, 3 vols., (Durham,N.C.: Duke University Press, 1965),Il, 735-39 especially at 738.

8 See Dante Germino, "Fennema's Theory of the Intellectual Construction of Modem Democracy," paper written in 1999, for a development of the theme of the evocation of modem democracy as a "society of equals" on the basis of the Dutch political theorist Meindert Fennema's work De Moderne Democratie: Geschiedenis van een Politieke Theorie (Amsterdam: Het Spinhuis, 1995). See the Dutch legal theorist Andreas Kmneging I s important book Aristocracy, Antiquity and History (Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Press, 1997) for a learned exposition of the "society of unequals" accepted unquestioningly by the predemocratic cosinion in Europe generally and France in particular.

9 Machiavelli, II Principe, ch. 9. Harvey Mansfield's English translation indicates the many times Machiavelli uses the familiar "tu" in addressing the prince.

10 On the disintegration of Western civilization into fragments in the 16th century, see in particular Voegelin, CW vol.25, 193-198.

11 Voegelin, CW vol.22, 86-7.

12 Ibid., 31-2, 84, 86.

13 Machiavelli, "An Exhortation to Repentance," in Gilbert, op.cit., 1, 171-74. For a more extended analysis of this neglected document, see Dante Germino "Second Thoughts on Leo Strauss's Machiavelli," 28 Journal of Politics, (1966) 794-817.

14 From "Bibliographical Appendix" by Bernard Crick, ed., Machiavelli: The Discourses (Penguin Books, 1970 and further editions).

15 Machiavelli, in Gilbert, Chief Works, 1, 173.

16 Machiavelli, in Ibid., 11, 973.

17 Voegelin, CW, vol. 22, 217, ff.

18 Hans Baron, In Search of florentine Civic Humanism (2 vols., Princeton University Press, 1989), 11, 147. See also Baron's reference to what he calls "the differences (in Machiavelli) that arise from his varying emotional outlook." Ibid., 118. For a learned and sophisticated exposition of the view that Machiavelli did have a consistent teaching about politics and religion, see Benedetto Fontana, "Love of Country and Love of God: The Political Uses of Religion in Machiavelli," Journal of the History of Ideas (1999), 639-658.-

                                                    Machiavelli: Father of Leadership Studies

                                                           Copyright 2000 Nathan W. Harter
A.
Leadership Studies is an interdisciplinary attempt to understand, and prepare people to become, leaders in contemporary society and organizations. At present, there is no consensus where it belongs in the university. The liberal arts claim to have been dealing with leadership all along, but now departments and programs specifically on leadership pop up in the military sciences, in schools of education, in psychology and sociology, in addition to business and management. My own department of organizational leadership is part of the School of Technology. And of course there has been no lack of interest from political scientists: James MacGregor Bums, as most of you know, is a past president of the American Political Science Association, and it is his book titled Leadership that many credit with spurring this enterprise known as Leadership Studies.

By 1990, Bernard Bass identified about "600 institutions of higher learning in America [that] offer some form of 'leadership studies' in their curricula." (Born, p. 45) With such widespread academic interest in the subject, as a distinct subject area, part of the task now is to trace its intellectual roots, if for no other reason than placing it into a theoretical context. What I have proposed is that we can trace leadership studies back to Machiavelli - not because Machiavelli was the first to write about leadership, but rather because he is regarded as the first to write about leadership in the manner now adopted in leadership studies.1

To explain this claim, my paper has two parts. One part challenges those engaged in leadership studies who already acknowledge the relevance of Machiavelli to consider the uses to which he is being put. I see two problems with the way leadership studies use Machiavelli, to the extent they do so at all. First, it would enrich their understanding of Machiavelli to consult commentators such as Voegelin and Strauss, to be wary of accepting a simplistic version of what Machiavelli wrote. The second problem with the way leadership studies use Machiavelli is that they could afford to re-visit the implications of his influence: what follows logically from his premises? Is he really a teacher of evil? Are his methods adequate to the task we have set for ourselves? Are there hidden presuppositions to detect? I won't be answering such questions today. My goal is to inte~ect these kinds of questions into their conversation. What I am trying to do is set the table for the others assembled here at the rostrum.

The second part of my paper tries to bring more voices to that conversation by showing to those in leadership studies who don't acknowledge him the plausibility of claiming Machiavelli as a precursor, a model (rightly or wrongly) for what folks in leadership studies are doing. In this way, I would like to bring them to the stage where they become open to the kinds of deliberations mentioned in the first part of the paper, so we leave nobody out.

It's very much like revealing the identity of your biological father. If you didn't know, perhaps you should, because there are implications.

1 I almost wrote that leadership studies is Machiavellian because it is not sufficiently Aristotelian.


B.

1. Not every writer on leadership acknowledges the influence of Machiavelli. It goes without saying that many make no reference to him whatsoever. A few even explicitly refuse to include authors pre-dating the last century. Joseph Rost, to cite one example, insists that leadership "as we know it, is a twentieth-century concept and to trace our understanding of it to previous eras of Western civilization ... is as wrong as to suggest that the people of earlier civilizations knew what, for instance, computerizationn meant." (p. 43 2) If he is correct, then somebody should tell this to the publishing houses, because when I conducted a search of book titles at amazon.com last spring, the following stuck out as particularly obvious attempts to apply Machiavelli's precepts or bring them up-to-date:

*Rudolf Berner, Machiavelli 2000
*Stanley Bing, What would Machiavelli do?
*Richard Biskirk, Modern management and Machiavelli
*W.T. Brahmstedt, Memo to the boss from Mack: A contemporary rendering of
*The Prince by Niccol6 Machiavelli
*Gerald Griffin, Machiavelli on Management
*L.F. Gunlicks,The Machiavellian manager's handbook for success
*Phil Harris (Ed.), Machiavelli, marketing and management
*
Richard Hill, The Boss: Machiavelli on managerial leadership
*
Antony Jay, Management and Machiavelli: Discovering a new science of
management in the timeless principles of state craft
*
Michael Arthur Ledeen, Machiavelli on modern leadership: 97hy
Machiavelli's iron rules are as timely and important today as five
centuries ago

2 Early in his career, Eric Voegelin identified this sort of claim as one of the dogmas in a "system of scientific superstition". For the scientifically superstitious who presume that science itself progresses steadily, "[t]he problems and ideas of earlier times are 'antiquated,' 'overcome,' irrelevant to the present, and need not be known." (1933/1997, 11:9)


*
Alistair McAlpine, The new Machiavelli: The art of politics in business 

*Fritz Lawrence Mervil, The political philosophy of Niccolao Machiavelli as it applies to politics, the management of the firm, and the science of living 

*Dick Morris, The new prince: Machiavelli updated for the twenty-first century V. Paperback (?), The Mafia manager: A guide to the corporate Machiavelli

*Harriet Rubin, The princessa: Machiavelli for women

Back in 1950, Daniel Bell made the following observation: "Almost the en literature on leadership stems in large measure from the writings of Aristotle and Machiavelli." "Nor has the craft of political leadership been elaborated much beyond the descriptions of Machiavelli in The Prince and The Discourses." (p. 395f) James MacGregor Bums, writing in 1978, observed that "[t]oday, more than half a millennium after the author's birth, The Prince still stands as the most famous - and infamous - of books of practical advice to leaders on how to win and wield power." (p. 444) "Machiavelli has had countless imitators. The vogue of the 'how to' manual still thrives today...." (p. 446; cf. p. 16) Textbook writers Baron and Greenberg echoed these sentiments in 1990.

Unsettlingly, the ideas Machiavelli proposed are still very much with us. In fact, they are readily visible in many books that have made their way onto the best-seller lists in recent years - books that describe similar self-centered strategies for gaining power and success.... The popularity of such books suggests that people today are as fascinated by the tactics of Machiavelli described as they were more than four centuries ago. But are these strategies really put to actual use? Are there individuals who choose to live by the ruthless, self-serving creed Machiavelli proposed? The answer appears to be 'yes.' (p. 197) 2. A few textbooks on leadership try to explain the importance of Machiavelli or

include excerpts of The Prince - usually to give students a brief lesson in the history of ideas. For example, Shriberg, Lloyd, Shriberg, and Williamson (1997) place him between Aquinas and Hobbes and then in a later chapter offer the following heading: "The Ethical Perspective: Mother Teresa versus Machiavelli". (p. 133) Keith Grint (1997) sandwiches Machiavelli between Sun Tzu and Vilfredo Pareto. J. Thomas Wren (1995) draws a contrast between Machiavelli and Lao-Tsu.

Those of you familiar with the secondary literature might be wondering which Machiavelli these texts and programs are teaching, inasmuch as there are several interpretations to choose from. It simplifies the task to realize that by and large they restrict themselves to The Prince. Even so, we end up with several interpretations. One interpretation insists that Machiavelli was writing exclusively for his own time and place, which means that for the rest of us his work would be of only historical interest. (e.g. Burd, 1891/1960; Sabine, 1937) Along these lines, James MacGregor Bums wrote the following: "Even Machiavelli's celebrated portrait of the uses and abuses of power, while relevant to a few other cultures and eras, is essentially culture-bound and irrelevant to a host of other power situations and systems." (p. 16)3 Another interpretation claims that Machiavelli was never in earnest about what he wrote in The Prince. Within this camp, one version says that the work is satirical (e.g. Mattingly, 1958/1960), while another says he was hiding his real message to avoid detection. (e.g. Strauss, 1987) Be that as it may, most if not all efforts to teach Machiavelli in leadership programs do so in accordance with an interpretation that he was writing in earnest about what he had come to learn about the uses of power, so that when he offers advice, he truly believes in it. He meant what he said, and we in our times have something to gain by listening to him (even if only to repudiate or qualify what he wrote).

3 This from an author who made good use of Machiavelli, especially in Roosevelt: The Lion and the Fox (1956).


For example, making the rounds is something known to folks in organizational behavior as "Machiavellianism". The notion here pertains to a personality profile of someone willing "to manipulate others for personal gain and to put self-interest above the interest of the group." (Nahavandi & Malekzadeh, p. 128) Apparently, "[p]sychologists have developed a series of instruments called Mach scales to measure a person's Machiavellian orientation." (Schermerhorn, Hunt, & Osborn, p. 54)

Here we can discern the popular Machiavelli, the Machiavelli everyone loves to hate (even if it is a cartoon Machiavelli, as Professor Germino just reminded us4). Machiavelli has really become more a symbol of a particularly ruthless and cunning approach to leadership. Unfair to the man and his writings? Perhaps. Nonetheless, he is a useful symbol, and to be honest (again, as Professor Germino observed) he has no one to blame but himself. Many passages lend themselves to this kind of appropriation.

3. So, in our zeal to tell folks doing leadership studies that they might have misconstrued or oversimplified the man's work - something I'd often like to do -perhaps we are missing the point. Perhaps they don't care what Machiavelli intended. I'm not so sure some of them care what he actually wrote. They are content that they understand him well enough. They are now hard at work at the process of symbolization, and the name of Machiavelli has an accepted and useful meaning - a meaning whose relationship to the actual Renaissance author is at risk of becoming increasingly remote.

4 Voegelin wrote that what Machiavelli had been trying to do was an "alternative of developing a materialistic, nihilistic theory of politics - the alternative of developing the 'Machiavellianism' that his critics attribute to him." (Voegelin, XXII:86)

Seasoned Voegelinians recognize this as a problem. "We have to distinguish," wrote Voegelin, "between resistance to truth and agreement or disagreement about the optimal symbolization of truth experienced." (1987, p. 35) It is one thing to debate whether an interpretation is better or worse than another. It is quite another to reject the text or experience to be interpreted and proceed to use it in a manner oblivious to its origins. For those in leadership studies willing to debate the adequacy of their symbolization, then the panel here today can make a difference, and I should get out of the way. Unfortunately, for those in leadership studies unwilling to debate the adequacy of their symbolization, the panel is wasting its breath, since it takes an entirely different set of tools to pry a person out of his "Second Reality". (1966/1990, XII:33f) He or she won't listen to any of us here.

At least a number of these contemporary writers acknowledge the relevance of Machiavelli, even if they do not agree what it is. These people can be made to prepare themselves to read Voegelin and Strauss, because they shall have crossed a threshold in their thinking, and in the interest of time I shall have to hand them over to the rest of you.5 I do want to mention that tomorrow at 3:30, Professor Michael Harvey of Washington College will talk on "Machiavelli as the founder of contemporary management studies".6 Some of you might want to attend.

5 Even if a writer or teacher explicitly recognizes the relevance of Machiavelli of contemporary leadership studies, one has to avoid proceeding as though The Prince (or any other work of Machiavelli) had been written for direct application to any twenty-first century factory manager or production supervisor. At the far, extreme from believing Machiavelli would be irrelevant is the equivalent extreme that his work is always directly relevant to every instance of leadership. For one thing, such an uncritical use of Machiavelli overlooks the various types of leader that he portrays (Voegelin, Y-XII:77), as well as the various types of regime (Voegelin, XXII:73). 

6 When I saw this, I approached him electronically and found some of the work he is doing to be first-rate. We have corresponded since, and it turns out he and I had been running along parallel tracks.

C.
For the balance of my time, I want to bring a few more people across that threshold, so they too might benefit from what the experts have to say about Machiavelli and the implications of his works. These people I'd like to discuss next are those in leadership studies who either disavow Machiavelli's influence or simply do not recognize that Machiavelli has any residual influence on their work -- despite all of the new books at amazon.com.

1. For one thing, to echo what Professor Germino has said, Machiavelli was a realist. (Voegelin, XXV:59) He took his lessons from years of direct personal observation and hours poring over the historical record.7 Machiavelli sought to derive evidence of the real world, of real people, before offering comment on how one ought to lead. For him, the key to knowing how to rule is knowing how men live. (Strauss, 1987, p. 300)

According to this view, Machiavelli represents the attempt to ground order not on Revelation (e.g. Christianity) or disembodied Reason (e.g. Plato) but on Reality, on the way things are, as though revelation, reason, and reality are mutually exclusive.8 In this sense, he serves as a precursor to the empirical, scientific study of humankind, even as "the first political scientist" (Rhu, 19989), and to that extent he serves as a precursor to many of the scholars presently at work in the field of leadership studies. His declared ambition is the same: to accumulate the evidence and draw conclusions to be of use in concrete historical situations.


7 There is some question how faithfully Machiavelli pursued this method. (e.g. Butterfield, 1967, p. 25 &
chap. 2; Plamenatz, 1963, p. 4)
8 Voegelinians would object to this characterization, but I am not offering it for its truth-value. I am trying
to place Machiavelli within a category he expressly described for his work that he shares with other writers.
9Voegelin would have objected to Rhu's characterization of Machiavelli as the "first political scientist"
because he obviously did not share Rhu's view of what political science is. Professor Moulakis was right
to bring this to my attention. The point to be made, regardless, is that many who write about leadership


2. More specifically, Machiavelli concerned himself with the dynamics of social power, not only what it is, but how it works, and from this he was able to come up with a set of prescriptions. These prescriptions together form a handbook for leaders (that is, in The Prince, for a particular type of leader). Therefore, as writers today attempt to understand power, they follow in his path, even if unwittingly. Hughes, Ginnett, and Curphy have made the connection explicit by devoting a chapter in their textbook on leadership (1993, 1996) to social power and then opening with a reference to Machiavelli's Prince. (p. 117)10 1 mention this to illustrate that, not only do present day scholars employ the same or similar methods, for the same or similar reasons, but they also study the same or similar questions.

3. In the accumulation of evidence from the past, Machiavelli was quite aware of situational differences and the fact that these situational differences determine leadership effectiveness - an approach to leadership studies that Northouse describes in his 1997 text on Leadership as "[o]ne of the most widely recognized approaches to leadership.... [I]t has been used extensively in training and development for organizations throughout the country." (p. 53; see generally chap. 4) In organizational behavior, the situational

would take sides with Rhu, which has the limited advantage of bringing them into the debate over
Machiavelli's importance for leadership studies.
10 On the importance of the study of power for understanding leadership, see e.g. Nahavandi &
Malekzadeh, 1999, chap. 11; Northouse, 1997, p. 6; Shriberg, Lloyd, Shriberg, & Williamson, 1997, pp.
124-137; Schermerhorn, Hunt, & Osbom, 1997, chap. 14; and Baron & Greenberg, 1990, chap. 12.

 approach has led to "contingency theory", in which the objective is to match the style or method of leadership with the situation. I I (Northouse, 1997, chap. 5) In any event, it has become commonplace to assert that the most effective leadership behaviors will depend on a number of variables; there is no one-right-way to lead in all situations. 11Writers today routinely accept the notion that leadership has to be adapted. (e.g. Grint, 1997, II, reprinting Barnard [1948], Stogdill [1948], and Fiedler [1976]) As a result, they reject any advice about the "best way to lead" that fails to consider the variables. 12

4. Broader presuppositions in leadership studies help to make the linkage with Machiavelli stronger, like the notion that leaders can make a difference and leadership can be taught. Here are two fundamental propositions where they agree. You and I might uncover a number of other parallels: the follower's over-reliance on appearances and the study in our time of "impression management"13 the stability of republics and the movement in our time to "empower" followers 14 the ubiquity of elites and what has come to be called in sociology "elite theory"15 interpersonal conflict grounded in the underlying interests of the parties16

11 An approach probably captured best in the work of Hersey and Blanchard regarding Situational
Leadership. (1969)
12 Chemers put it this way: "One would be hard put to find an empirical theory of leadership which holds
that one style of leadership is appropriate for all situations." (In Wren, 1995, p. 96)
13 "When a person deliberately sets out to establish a particular identity in the eyes of others we speak of
impression management or self-presentation [citations omitted]." (Tedeschi & MelbuTg, 1984, p. 52;
Greenberg, 1996, pp. 106-108)
14 See e.g. Northouse, 1997, p. 242f. If it seems contradictory to "empower" followers and also prescribe
ways for a leader to manipulate or overwhelm them, that same tension exists in Machiavelli as it does in leadership studies, although more than one way can be found to reconcile the two claims.
15Levine, 1995, chap. 12.
16See especially the literature on conflict management. (E.g. Fisher, Ury, & Patton, 1981, 1991).


the never-ending emergence of needs, either new needs in place of satisfied needs or the recurrence of needs, a la Abraham Maslow attunement to first principles and the present-day advice to adopt and emphasize vision statements the periodic necessity of an organizational form to be smashed in order to release the frustrated potential of its members and liberate latent vitality, rather like hostile takeovers in the corporate world the vagueness or silence about the ends of leadership, about the reason for trying to lead anyone at all

The fact that they happen to agree on a list of propositions is not conclusive proof of Machiavelli's influence, of course, but it does serve as evidence. And from the accumulated weight of this evidence, perhaps those who never gave Machiavelli a second thought might profitably turn to his works with a newfound appreciation, to see what else the man wrote and what he concluded as a result of his studies.

D.

It was not my sole objective this morning to bring leadership studies to Machiavelli and make them drink, although that strikes me as useful (if for no other reason than the principle that awareness is better than ignorance). It is also my objective to warn leadership studies -- whoever it is that falls within leadership studies -- that if it turns out Machiavelli is their father, then perhaps they need to consider the implications

E.
 of their ancestry. By accepting his premises and his methods, knowingly or not, will they also arrive at the conclusions that have left him in such disrepute? I appreciate the guidance, encouragement, and correction of panel members, plus Professors Michael Harvey, Ellis Sandoz, and Steve McVey, despite the responsibility I
assume for what appears on these pages.

References
Baron, R., & J. Greenberg. (1990). Behavior in organizations (31d ed.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Bell, D. "Notes on authoritarian and democratic leadership." In Gouldner, A. (Ed.). (1950). Studies in Leadership (pp. 395-408). New York: Harper & Bros.

Born, D. "'Leadership studies': A critical appraisal." In P. Temes (Ed.). (1996). Teaching leadership (pp. 45-72). New York: Peter Lang.

Burd, L.A. "A product and spokesman of Renaissance Italy." In D. Jensen (Ed.). (1960).
Machiavelli: Cynic, patriot, or political scientist? (pp. 42-45). [Problems in
European Civilization] Boston: D.C. Heath & Co. (Original work published 1891)

Burns, J.M. (1978). Leadership. New York: Harper Torchbooks.

Butterfield, H. (1967). The statecraft of Machiavelli. New York: Collier Books.

Fisher, R., Ury, W., & B. Patton. (1981, 199 1). Getting to yes (2nd ed.). New York: Penguin.

Greenberg, J. (1996). The quest for justice on the job (part II). Thousand Oaks: Sage.

Grint, K. Ed. (1997). Leadership [Oxford Management Reader]. New York: Oxford University Press.

Hersey, P., & K. Blanchard. (1969). "Life cycle theory of leadership." Training and Development Journal. 23:26-34.

Hughes, R., Ginnett, R., & G. Curphy. (1993, 1996). Leadership (2' ed.). Chicago: Irwin.

Levine, D. (1995). Visions of the sociological tradition (chap. 12). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Mattingly, G. "Political science or political satire?" hi D. Jensen (Ed.). (1960). Machiavelli: Cynic, patriot, or political scientist? (pp. 98-108) [Problems in European Civilization]. Boston: D.C. Heath & Co.

Nahavandi, A., & A. Malekzadeh. (1999). Organizational behavior. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Northouse, P. (1997). Leadership. Thousand Oaks: Sage.

Plamenatz, J. (1963). Man and society (vol. 1; chap. 1). New York: McGraw-Hill.

Rhu, L. (1998, December 1). "Renewing the renaissance and its literature." The World and L 13:324ff.

Rost, J. (1991, 1993). Leadership for the twenty-first century. Westport, CT: Praeger.

Sabine, G. (1937). A history of political theory. New York: Henry Holt & Co.

Schermerhorn, J., Jr., Hunt, J., & R. Osborn. (1997). Organizational behavior (6' ed.). New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Shriberg, A., Lloyd, C., Shriberg, D., & M. Williamson. (1997). Practicing leadership. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Strauss, L. (1987). "Niccol6 Machiavelli." In L. Strauss & J. Cropsey (Eds.). History of political philosophy (3' ed.) (pp. 296-317). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Tedeschi, J., & Melburg, V. "Impression management and influence in the organization." In Bachrach & Lawler (Eds.). (1984). Research in the Sociology of Organizations, 3, pp. 31-58.

Voegelin, E. (1997). The collected works (vol. II)(R. Hein, Trans.; K. Vondung, Ed.). Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press. (Original work published 1933)

Voegelin, E. (1990). The collected works (vol. XII: chap. 1)(E. Sandoz, Ed.). Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press. (Original work published 1966)

Voegelin, E. (1998). The collected works (vol. XXII) (D. Morse & W. Thompson, Eds.).
Columbia: University of Missouri Press.

Voegelin, E. (1999). The collected works (vol. XXV)(J. Gebhardt & T. Hollweck, Eds.). Columbia: University of Missouri Press.

Voegelin, E. (1987). In search of order [Order and history, vol. V]. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press.

Wren, J. T., Ed. (1995). The leader's companion. New York: Free Press.

Voegelin and Strauss on Machiavelli

Copyright 2000 Athanasios Moulakis

 

It is easy to see what Stauss and Voegelin have in common: the heritage of the Central-European Kulturbuergertum, the German University, deeply felt resistance to the ideological climate and the practical enormities of the twentieth century, the turn (or return) to the classical and biblical tradition, emigration to America and considered appreciation for its political order - the list is far from exhaustive.

It is rather more difficult to establish exactly in what way the two thinkers are different. Looking at their respective, widely divergent, interpretations of Machiavelli side by side will help us understand the distinctive character of each. It will also allow us to examine, yet again, the enigma of Machiavelli.

Both, of course, deny that there is such an enigma - pace Benedetto Croce - and they do so in characteristically different ways. Strauss accepts what he calls the wholesome, widespread, common, received opinion that takes Machiavelli to be "a teacher of evil". To Strauss, sophisticated attempts to present Machiavelli as a neutral social scientist or an ardent patriot, who can therefore be justified to our moral sense, are just that: sophistications that miss the core of Machiavelli's teaching. The enigma is born of ideological purblindness. In an important methodological observation Strauss writes "the problem inherent in the surface of things, and only in the surface of things, is the heart of things". [13] It is the scholar's business not to ignore the popular view, but to proceed to a "considerate ascent" from it. It is to such an ascent that Strauss devotes a very substantial book, Thoughts on Machiavelli, a masterpiece of close reading and brilliant - some would say ingenious - interpretation.1 It is a most Straussian book, calculated to discourage the impatient reader eager to get the gist without following the twists and turns of the erudite commentary. Straussian exegesis, like a religious practice, is best appreciated from the inside. By staying close to the text Strauss pays the author, i.e. Machiavelli, the compliment of taking his writings seriously on the prima facie assumption that they have been carefully and artfully composed. Errors of fact, contradictions, misquotations from well-known authorities that puzzle learned commentators, must not be considered slips but deliberate pointers placed by Machiavelli to guide careful readers - "those who understand" - to the literally unspeakable core of his teachings.

Ascending from opinion to knowledge (in political matters from public opinion) is the proper of philosophy, understood in its classical sense. It is the process of critical clarification that rises from what is commonly said that Voegelin in his writings also recognizes as characteristically and paradigmatically Aristotelian. It is opposed to the willful or fanciful positing of abstract starting points, in the manner of sophists and

1Leo Strauss, Thoughts on Machiavelli (Glencoe Ill.: The Free Press, 1958). Numbers in brackets in my text refer to pages in this or Voegelin's book (see note 2).

 modem ideologues, who then do violence to the given phenomena of political life as they attempt to descend from the height of their constructs to particular "applications". As a basis of argument, furthermore, the posited definition forces the interlocutor onto the ground of the sophist's own choosing, thus obscuring or eliding the common ground of reality. Far better, then, to start with what is commonly said, however vague and in need of clarification.

Yet, according to Strauss, we modems are at a disadvantage with regard to the possibilities of ascent from the concrete conflicts and particular problems of any given polity to the universal and permanent considerations that emerge in the process of philosophical elucidation. The immediacy that linked the naive perception of political problems with the philosophical pursuit of the best regime is clouded by received doctrines. Our political ideas are neither spontaneously nor wholly ours, but colored by what has been handed down. Hence the "enigma" of Machiavelli. The learned expositors misinterpret his views concerning religion and morality, "because they are Machiavelli's pupils". "They do not see the evil character of his thought because they are the heirs of the Machiavellian tradition; because they or their forgotten teachers of their teachers, have been corrupted by Machiavelli". [ 12]

In order to liberate philosophy from history we must do history. The ascent that will reveal Machiavelli's true teaching is also a via negativa, to undo what Machiavelli has wrought. It is because Machiavelli succeeded in his intention that he appears as an enigma. The learned expositors are clearly not "those who understand".

Strauss does not place Machiavelli in a historical context, in the sense of the contingent events of his time. That would indeed be the act of one duped by consciously or unconsciously Machiavellian lessons. Yet Machiavelli is a pivotal figure in Strauss's view of history. He is the fountainhead of Modem political thought, a mode of thought that rejects the Ancient striving for the best regime. The philosophical aspiration that rises from concrete political experience leads to knowledge that transcends rather than extends opinion. Philosophy, accordingly, transcends rather than extends the city. The city, any real city, cannot but rest on opinion, possibly informed by philosophy, but not qua philosophy, for the return to the cave can and does prove deadly. Philosophy is not for everyman and the tension between the city and philosophy cannot be resolved.

Modern thought, by contrast, seeks to resolve the tension between the aspiration to the ideal and the city, dismissing the former as fanciful, and considering men, in the words of the XVth chapter of The Prince, "as they live" rather than "as they ought to live". The aspiration of thought is then not to transcend, but to serve the city and the passions it represents. The problem is that of overcoming the vicissitudes of fortune. The classical world-view of a teleological physis is replaced by a capricious nature. Virtue, still and characteristically called that, is accordingly no longer a potential to be developed of what is most human in man, but the capacity to battle fortune. The common good in cities organized to battle fortune cannot be virtue as the finality of man animal politicum, but rather liberty, security, wealth and especially glory, a manifestation of collective selfishness, that does not lead to virtue, but that, conversely, "virtue' is meant to serve.

The modem, Machiavellian city is then not an emanation or evocation of the order of the soul, and that is what Strauss takes Machiavelli to mean when he says that am[a] la  patria piu dell' anima. [10] There is no effort to subordinate the political to what is above and of greater value and permanence than the political. Machiavelli embarks instead on a voyage of discovery, plus ultra, claiming to have discovered in his "new orders" a new continent, in the characteristic modem inflection that takes the loss of a vertical orientation to be the broadening of one's universe.

Strauss's Machiavelli is a Miltonian devil: evil and a consummate deceiver but also very grand. He is, among other things, like a true philosopher, a master of esoteric writing, except that he works for the other side. He is a "fallen angel", representing a "perverted nobility of a very high order," manifest in "the intrepidity of his thought, the grandeur of his vision, and the graceful subtlety of his speech". [13]

Voegelin's Machiavelli is a less formidable figure, but still very interesting, and a lot nicer. Voegelin clearly rather likes Machiavelli to whom he devotes a chapter of some fifty pages in his History of Political Ideas, parts of which appeared as an article in The Review of Politics.2 According to Voegelin, the confusion about Machiavelli arises not from refusing the received view of him as a "teacher of evil", but from accepting it. He correctly traces the earliest condemnations of Machiavelli (or at least of The Prince) to the Counterreformation and its unctuous pieties intended to legitimize authorities in power. "It is hardly necessary to say", writes Voegelin, with sovereign contempt, "that such preoccupations of moralistic propaganda cannot be the basis for a critical analysis of

2 Eric Voegelin, History of Political Ideas, Vol. IV, Renaissance and Reformation, ed. By David L. Morse and William M.Thompson, The Collected Works of Eric Voegelin Vol. 22 (Columbia MO: Missouri U.P. 1998). Pp. 31-87.
          
"Machiavelli's Prince: Background and Formation", The Review of Politics 13 (1051) 142-68.


Machiavelli's ideas." [31] Indeed it speaks for Machiavelli, in Voegelin's estimation, that his experience of raw power, exercised without evident legitimating explanation, allows him to unmask "the moralist in politics as the profiteer of the status quo, as the hypocrite who wants everybody to be moral and peace-loving after his own power drive has carried him into a position that he wants to retain." [37]

Voegelin explains that "furious concentration on the evil book'', i.e. The Prince, placing the dubious morality of Machiavelli's advice to rulers in the forefront, was intended by progressivist historiography to demonize and thus explain away Machiavelli as an aberration in the purported rise from the darkness of the Middle Ages to ever sunnier uplands of the Enlightenment and beyond. Like Strauss, Voegelin objects to the speculative convergence, supposedly carried out by history itself, of the true and the good as the ends of philosophy on the one hand, with the intramundane institutions of politics on the other. He also recognizes the tendency as characteristically and nefariously modem. But rather than cast Machiavelli as the fount and origin of modem corruption, he sees in him the realist who, like Thucydides before him and Hobbes after him, recognized realities of power without trying to edulcify them. None of them are "spiritual realists" in the sense developed by Prof. Germino, i.e. thinkers open to the entire ontological range from the inanimate to the divine, but all appreciated by Voegelin because they call a spade a spade:

"A man like Machiavelli who theorizes on the basis of his stark experience of power is a healthy and honest figure, most certainly preferable as a man to the contractualists who try to cover the reality of power underneath established order by the moral, or should we say immoral, swindle of consent." [37]

So much for the Declaration of Independence and the derivation of just powers. Although both Voegelin and Strauss explicitly embrace the American polity, they do so for rather different reasons. Voegelin sees in the living American "form of mind" the greatest, least damaged, most vital, residue of the "substance of order" as prefigured (as well as handed down) by the Christian and Classical orienting experience. Strauss, more cautiously and perhaps less candidly, instead quotes, without quite endorsing, Thomas Paine to the effect that, unlike all the governments of the Old World, the foundation of the United States alone was laid in freedom and justice. Without saying that it rests on consent and contract, i.e., ultimately on the will of autonomous subjects, this means, according to Strauss - in a telling optative - that "the United States may be the only country in the world which was founded in explicit opposition to Machiavellian principles". [13]

Voegelin allows for no such (be it prudently dissimulating) exceptionalism. For him there is no escaping what Ken Minogue once called "the stink in the basement". The fratricide of Romulus is emblematic: "Every political order is in some part an accident of existence. The mystery of existential cruelty and guilt is at the bottom of the best order." There is violence and injustice at the origin and in the make-up of every human order, however purified and legitimated it may become in the course of events. There is no accounting for the mysterium iniquitatis. This is not to equate power with evil, but to pose the existential question of the origin of evil and the sources of order in a universe in which evil is unquestionably and inevitably present. It is the merit of Machiavelli, according to Voegelin, that he faces the problem squarely and "never tries to base morality on the necessities and expediencies of existence." His teaching is not that might is right, but that might and right are incommensurable. "Spiritual morality is a problem in human existence precisely because there is a good deal more to human existence than spirit. All attacks on Machiavelli as the inventor or advocate of a "double morality" for private and public conduct, etc., can be dismissed as manifestations of philosophical ignorance." [82/83]

This clearly shows how far Voegelin's intellectual and moral temperament is from that of Strauss, for whatever the faults of the latter, it is difficult to accuse him of philosophical ignorance. Yet it is also clear that, if for Strauss the philosopher who would survive in the city needs to dissimulate the truth of the spirit, Voegelin emphasizes the need, in the medium of the city of opinion, to mask the concomitant and antipodal truth of existence:

"By social convention the mystery of guilt is not admitted to public consciousness. A political thinker who through his work stimulates an uncomfortable awareness of this mystery will become unpopular with the intellectual retainers of an established order". [83]

Voegelin recognizes that there is something radically new and strange about Machiavelli, who, he writes, brings about "a severe break with the traditions for treating political problems". [3 1 ] But his originality is not an aberrant singularity that would allow him to be conveniently bracketed so as not to interfere with the ideological postulate of the common march of "progress". His individual genius is undeniable, but he is nonetheless embedded in a tradition, and responds to the stimuli of a particular time. Voegelin does not reduce Machiavelli's work to a function of his time (whatever that would mean), but he cannot consider it apart from the contingent circumstances in which it emerged: The republican intermezzo in Florentine constitutional history (it is interesting to note that for Voegelin Florentine republicanism is "weltgeschichtlich" a lost cause, doomed in the larger scheme of things, poignant perhaps, but certainly pathetic), during which Machiavelli was active as chancellor, a period especially conducive to discussions of constitutional matters; the invasion of Italy in 1494 and its aftermath that revealed the newly consolidated national monarchies, France and Spain, as the dominant forms of effective political organization for the age; the shocking effect and aftereffect on European attitudes of the Mongol advance westward; all manifesting, from an Italian point of view, "naked power destructive of meaningful order." This was most painfully and humiliatingly evident by the incapacity of Italy, the center of intellectual and cultural sophistication of its time, to organize and defend itself against the marauding barbarians. Voegelin paints with a broad brush, but there is no denying the collapse of various modes of received legitimacy and the emergence and just as frequent quick collapse of dynasts and powers in Jacob Burckhardt's words "rein tatsaechlich" i.e. of merely pragmatic existence without a shred of normative cover.

In responding to this world out of normative joint Machiavelli was not without intellectual antecedents - and Voegelin provides the outline of a specifically Italian tradition of secular statesmanship, meaning a statecraft detached from considerations of transcendent legitimation, that "treats the state as an autonomous absolute historical phenomenon, without relation to a legitimating environment of meaning". [40] This line of political thought is said to begin, somewhat oddly perhaps, with the quintessentially Spanish Cardinal Albomoz and his provisions for re-founding the Papal state.

The transition from the multiple intersecting autonomies and dependencies of the Middle Ages to the idea of the sovereignty, internal and external, of territorial states, is subsumed in Voegelin's account under a broader pattern of the "history of order." He presents it as the breaking up of a "spiritually animated whole into legal jurisdictions" with the concomitant development of subjectivity understood as an "insistence on personal and national rights no longer subordinated to the whole":

"The disintegration of Christianitas affected both the spiritual and the temporal order insofar as in both spheres the common spirit that induces cooperation between persons in spite of diverging interests, as well as the sense of an obligation to compromise in the spirit of the whole was seeping out." [35]

The notion of a Christianitas as an effective historical order informed by a spirit of cooperation and compromise beyond the sphere of symbolic justifications, requires an effort of the imagination, but it is a useful heuristic device and certainly important to Voegelin's scheme of history. The invasion of Charles VIII, that undoubtedly marks an era in the fortunes of Italy was, according to Voegelin, the first manifestation of modem pleonexia. [38] It is not clear whether we should suppose, say, the Hundred Years War or the Sicilian Vespers to have been motivated by "obligation to the whole".

What Voegelin is concerned about, however, is not the effective violence or injustice of events, but the terms in which they appeared meaningful to the participants. He is lamenting the loss of an understanding of history as a meaningful unfolding, as the consciousness of providential development through time, expressed by means such as the speculation on the four world monarchies or the translatio imperii.

For Voegelin Machiavelli's turning to the model of the Roman polity and to the example of Livy's historiography is symptomatic for this vacuum. In his view, which is amply illustrated in earlier volumes of his History of Ideas, "the stream of secular state history" of Rome "did not admit a divine Providence governing universal History" whereas following Livy leads to emphasis on contingent events "wars and revolution to the exclusion of the permanent factors and the long-range developments that determine the texture of history".

On the other hand Machiavelli represents an advance, because, under the impetus of the events in Asia, it was no longer possible to uphold the view of a single line of meaningful development, and the questioning of the Augustinian model of a historia sacra opened the field for a more adequate understanding of universal human history to include the great Eastern civilizations that could no longer be ignored.

The suspension of the Augustinian model together with a turn to Roman history on the model of Polybius allowed Machiavelli, furthermore, to recover a problem that the Christian linear history had concealed. That is the problem of cycles, the pattern of growth and decay of civilizations (or, as Voegelin writes, "the course of national history") passing through various forms and stages of government. In so doing Machiavelli anticipates the speculation on corsi and ricorsi of Vico, Eduard Meyer, Spengler, Toynbee and, implicitly, of Voegelin himself. [86]

In Voegelin's view, to the extent that Machiavelli attaches his reflections on political order to natural cycles, far from postulating the "State as a Work of Art," (Burckhardt), i.e., as a modernistic product of ingenious artifice, he recognizes organized society as a natural phenomenon "complete with its political, religious, and civilizational order." [63) Voegelin is quick to add that Machiavelli's naturalism is pagan, but not mechanical, thus leaving room, like its Stoic ancestor, for free human agency.3

The figure of the Founder, crucial to Machiavelli's scheme, is thus for Voegelin the vehicle of a cosmic force, a mediator who brings forth the substance of order. Machiavelli's uno solo is an instance of the charismatic personality that we find as the hero in several stages - and at different levels of differentiation - of the History of Order as told by Voegelin: the exceptional, creative, mystical individual, who draws the substance of order out of the depth of his psyche, moved by and against the corruption and obtuseness of his age and who creates a social field that we recognize as political order by his compellingly persuasive effect on others. Machiavelli would have spoken of occasione, of the opportunity for the founder to create new orders in the malleable material thrown up by the disorder of his times.

Machiavelli's Founder - by implicit intention Machiavelli himself - introduces new modes and orders. But how does the innovation become socially effective? For Voegelin because the charismatic figure creates a social field - in the case of Machiavelli, a field of force, but force of "stoic" inspiration, that creates order in the image of the
cosmos and held together by "sacramental" bonds. From a more differentiated point of view, open to the order of transcendence, it must appear as a deficient order, as "the demonic naturalism of power as a formal principle of order restricted as to its substance ... by the idea that the order of power should be the order of a nation". [88]

3 There is, of course, a significant body of thought ranging from the Italian neo-guelf authors to
Sebastian De Grazia's Pulitzer-prize winning book Machiavelli in Hell, that argues that Machiavelli, far
from being "pagan", was Christian in significant ways. Indeed, Prof Germino's paper on this panel
adduces evidences to that effect.


 Machiavelli's order is, of course, merely the order of power. Voegelin is acutely aware of this. The entire section of the pertinent volume is titled "The Order of Power". It is a neo-pagan order that remains closed towards transcendental reality and hence reverts to the tribalism of a particular national community rather than aspire to the openness and common bonds of mankind. But it is nonetheless a principle of order that is rooted in the psyche and operates by means of virtu'. Strauss, as we saw, would wonder at this point how this anchoring of the order of power in the soul as the sensorium of natural order squares with loving one's country more than one's soul.

Strauss interprets Machiavelli's founding intentions in conjunction with his discussions of the "unarmed prophet". [ 174 ff.] For all the disparagement of Savonarola the fact remains that the unarmed prophet par excellence, Jesus, was an enormously successful Founder. This is because he was in fact a master of the "effective reality of things" which is, if one reads closely, really the effectiveness of creating perceptions, of guiding opinion. Machiavelli is then the first political philosopher who sought to impose his new orders by propaganda, and thus undo Christianity by emulating its means. For Strauss, therefore, Machiavelli is not merely a non-Christian neo-pagan, but a virulent and very effective anti-Christian.

For Voegelin, Machiavelli's order is still an emanation of the soul, a soul that partakes of the entirety of experience albeit falling back inexcusably in the level of differentiation. For Strauss a coherent Machiavellian order emerges because the master passion that drives the dominant personalities, the thirst for glory, can only be realized in terms of the acclaim and the perceived benefit of others, so that individual masterselfishness can rest on ostensibly more respectable collective selfishness.

To Voegelin the advice to rulers that appears so shocking in The Prince makes sense in light of the final chapter, the exhortation to liberate Italy from the barbarians. Voegelin does not say this with the intention of taking nationalist exaltation as a good reason for cruelty and fraud, but it is the case, he writes, that "in order to create and maintain a stable political order, the prince must observe certain rules of conduct." [78]

Voegelin, unlike Strauss, does not seem to think that Machiavelli's advice may aim to assist the prince in merely in attaining and maintaining his own rule, whatever his reasons. The pathos of the last chapter of The Prince persuades Voegelin that Machiavelli leaves the sphere of realistic observation to rise to redeeming faith. This is, of course, national, not Christian redemption, but the trope is analogous, and Voegelin finds echoes of Hebrews: "The age is hopeless - yet [Machiavelli] does not want to abandon hope ... His hope is the substance of his faith in a structure of the field of action in which ordinata virtu' has half or 'almost half a chance to prevail." [80 see also 85] Fortune in this scheme is the relation between the force of circumstances and the prowess of man.

Voegelin sees the situation of Italy as described in the passionate pages of
Machiavelli as a mythic depth of misery, such as gave rise to Moses, Cyrus, and Theseus.
He points to the apocalyptic portents in Machiavelli's text, recognizing a "type" of text that seeks to call forth a redeemer, a text speaks of a cloud showing the way, of the sea opening, of manna from heaven, of rocks spouting water, etc. It is precisely the kind of counterfactual assertion that Strauss finds suspicious and telling in a very different sense. Since we know (and Machiavelli knows that his sensible and attentive readers know) that such things did not happen, what are we to make of the rest of the story?

For Voegelin Machiavelli "crytalliz[es] the ideas of the age in the symbol of the prince who, through fortuna. and virtu' will be the savior and restorer of Italy."[36] And that "symbol" is best represented, not in any of the major or best known works, but in the Life of Castruccio Castracani which, as Voegelin shows, is no biography in the ordinary sense but contains many standard elements of the stories of redeemer-heroes, such as the topos of the foundling who performs feats of amazing prowess in childhood, eventually makes his way to the throne, etc.

Both Strauss and Voegelin discuss the importance Machiavelli attributes to religion. But whereas Strauss sees in Machiavelli's religion an instrumentum regni, a tool doubly insidious because by insinuating a counterreligion it undermines the real thing, Voegelin appreciates Machiavelli's emphasis for the need of sacramental bonds holding societies together. The experience of the failure of positivist legal formalism, such as that of his former master Kelsen who had drafted the Austrian constitution, suggested that the pretence of constructing an order, structured by purely formal, procedural rules, an order that is not lived as a partaking of a common substance could only create a vacuum bound to be filled by ideological ersatz divinities. Hence his quarrel with contractualists.

Voegelin, as we saw, deplores Machiavelli's closure toward transcendence, but he
regards the pagan naturalism that comes back to the surface as more compactly articulated, but nonetheless valid openness to the experience of cosmic reality that prevents Machiavelli from "derailing into Gnosticism" and connotes also an open approach to history. [85] "On the plane of finite existence, history will still be shaped by the virtfu' that has faith in its own substance" [85]

Both Strauss and Voegelin battle against the hubris of controlling history, the ideological intellectuals' presumptuous folly of believing himself outside and above a process in which in fact he partakes, the structure of which he cannot fully comprehend, much less determine. In Strauss' binary division of "Ancient" and "Modem" modes of political thought Machiavelli stands at the head of those who seek to command fortune. By contrast, in Voegelin's scheme of increasingly differentiated evocations of the spirit, threatened by reification and loss of substance such as to evoke further evocations as a reaction, Machiavelli represents a fall back and an advance at the same time. We should be grateful for Machiavelli's demystifying candor, that reveals, among other things, the consciousness of ancient cosmic rhythms. Yet, in terms of history, his mythopoetic pathos ultimately yields to the mere flow of unstructured, contingent, i.e. for Voegelin meaningless events, as is manifest in the Florentine Secretary's latest work, the Florentine Histories. [86]

                                  

MACHIAVELLI ON GROWTH AS AN END

Copyright 2000 William Connell



One of the major, well-recognized aims of Renaissance scholarship in recent decades has been the reconstruction of the historical context of the writings of Niccol6 Machiavelli. Calls for a "contextualized" Machiavelli have come from many scholars, some in reaction against the idealized readings of the past, and some in an honest effort to resolve the widely disparate interpretations that have been advanced concerning a relatively small and well-defined group of texts. Understanding Machiavelli's ideas by placing them "in context" has been a cherished goal of members of the so-called "Cambridge School" in the history of political thought, but these scholars have by no means been alone in looking to Machiavelli's intellectual and political environment for answers to what Felix Gilbert used to call "the Machiavelli question."' In the absence of a consensus on Machiavelli--and some scholars still see him as a counselor to tyrants, while others view him as the advocate of moderate Aristotelian republicanism--there is something eminently sensible in looking to contemporary ideas and events for aid in understanding not just the meaning of important phrases and passages, but also the author's general intent.

Indeed, the appeal to context was not really new in Machiavelli scholarship, where it had already developed out of earlier research. It used to be the case that most historians

1. See the collection Meaning &Context: Ouentin Skinner and his Critics, ed. Jarnes Tully (Princeton, 1988), esp. pp. 29-67 (Skinner), 194-203 (Nathan Tarcov), 218-228 (Charles Taylor), and 246273 (the kernel of Skinner's response).

I
who studied Machiavelli belonged to one of two groups, each of which emphasized a particular Machiavellian "context" in developing its interpretations. Thus, Meinecke, Chabod and others preferred to study Machiavelli with a view to the international diplomacy of the early sixteenth century.2 These historians emphasized the politics of power, realism in historical and political writing, and the transformation of Europe's national monarchies into modem states. The texts they privileged were The Prince and the dispatches ftom France, Germany and the Papal Court. A second group of scholars instead preferred to interpret Machiavelli in the context of the republican politics of Florence, and its relation with the tradition of classical republican thought. Such scholars as Hans Baron and J.G.A. Pocock and (more recently) Quentin Skinner and John Najemy tended to see the republicanism of the Discourses on Livy as indicative of Machiavelli's genuine political beliefs, and they treated The Prince as something of an exception in Machiavelli's oeuvre.3

It was argued by some that apparent differences between what might be called the "internationalist" and the "republican" approaches to Machiavelli, stemmed from substantive changes in the Florentine writer's own political ideas, changes that would have occurred in the period between the completion of The Prince and the completion of

2. Friedrich Meinecke, Die Idee der Staatsraison in der neueren Geschichte (Munich and Berlin, 1924); Eugenio Duprd Theseider, Niccol6 Machiavelli diplomatico, 1. L'arte della diplomazia nel Quattrocento (Como, 1945), esp. pp. 197-204 on the Venetian relazioni; Federico Chabod, Scritti su Machiavelli (Turin, 1964); Sergio Bertelli, "Machiavelli e la politica estera florentina," in Studies on Machiavelli, ed. Myron P. Gilmore (Florence, 1972), pp. 31-72.

3. Hans Baron, "Machiavelli: The Republican Citizen and Author of The Prince" (1961) in his In Search of Florentine Civic Humanism (Princeton, 1988), IL 10 1- 15 1; J. G. A. Pocock, The Machiavellian Moment: Florentine Political Thought and the Atlantic Republican Tradition (Princeton, 1975); Quentin Skinner, Machiavelli (New York, 198 1); idem, in Machiavelli and Republicanism, ed. Gisela Bock, Quentin Skinner and Maurizio Viroli (Cambridge, 1990), pp. 121-141, 293-309; John M. Najemy, Between Friends: Discourses of Power and Desire in the Machiavelli-Vettori Letters of 1513-1515 (Princeton, 1993). See also William J. Connell, "The Republican Idea," in James Hankins, ed., Renaissance Civic Humanism: Regppraisals and Reflections (Cambridge, 2000), pp. 14-29.

the Discourses.4 But students of Machiavelli's style and imagery, and even more importantly, of his anthropology and ethics, have confirmed time and again a fundamental consistency in the outlook of the Florentine secretary's major works.5 As Felix Gilbert demonstrated, however, the two approaches may be susceptible of synthesis, once the historian's method comprises both the way in which citizens of the Florentine Republic viewed the outside world and the way it perceived them.6

In another effort to bridge the gap between the "internationalist" and "republican" readings of Machiavelli, a few scholars have recently indicated another context for Machiavellian research, namely the territorial state in Tuscany that was administered by Florence in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.7 The suggestion would seem to make good sense, for it was in the Florentine "dominion" --the territory that lay between the city walls and the Republic's outer political boundaries--that Machiavelli received his own apprenticeship in statecraft. In his position as Second Chancellor, he oversaw



4. The argument for a strong distinction between The Prince and the Discourses on grounds of intention, content and date of composition was made by J. H. Hexter, "Seyssel, Machiavelli and Polybius VI: The Mystery of the Missing Translation," Studies in the Renaissance, 3 (1956), pp. 75-96; and Baron, "Machiavelli: The Republican Citizen." Compare the remarks of Felix Gilbert, "Machiavelli in Modem Historical Scholarship," Italian Quarterly, 14 (197 1), p. 25 n. 20. On a longstanding tendency to find "dichotomies" in Machiavelli's work see Dante Della Terza, "The Most Recent Image of Machiavelli: The Contribution of the Linguist and the Literary Historian," Italian Quarterly, 14 (1971), pp. 91-113.

5. For the most forceful statement of the coherence of Machiavelli's thought, see Gennaro Sasso, Niccol6 Machiavelli. Storia del suo pensiero politico, 2 vols. (Bologna, 1980-93). Mark Hulliung, Citizen Machiavelli (Princeton, 1983); Sebastian de Grazia, Machiavelli In Hell (Princeton, 1989); Hanna Fenichel Pitkin, Fortune is a Woman: Gender and Politics in the Thought of Niccolb Machiavelli (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1984); and Victoria Kahn, Machiavellian Rhetoric: From the Counter-reformation to Milton (Princeton, 1994), pp. 15-59, argue (each in an original way) for a single Machiavelli.

6. See especially, Felix Gilbert, "Florentine Political Assumptions in the Period of Savonarola and Soderini," Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 20 (1957), pp. 187-214; and idem, Machiavelli and Guicciardini: Politics and History in Sixteenth-Cengia Florence, rev. ed. (New York: Norton, 1984). For another treatment of the changing mutual perceptions of an Italian republic and the outside world, see William J. Bouwsma, Venice and the Defense of Republican LibeM: Renaissance Values in the Age of the Counter Reformation (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1968), esp. pp. 162-231, 417482.

7. Elena Fasano Guarini, "Machiavelli and the Crisis of the Italian Republics," in Machiavelli and Rgepublicanism, pp. 17-40; Giovanni Silvano, "Dal centro alla periferia. Niccol6 Machiavelli tra stato cittadino e stato territoriale," Archivio storico italiano, 150 (1992), pp. 1105-1141.


correspondence with Florentine officers in the dominion; as Secretary to the Ten of Liberty and Peace, he helped manage the defense of Florentine territory; and as Chancellor of the Nine of Militia, Machiavelli raised and trained troops in the dominion. Moreover, Machiavelli's writings as a chancery officer reveal a close attention to the mechanics of territorial government.8 But what is perhaps most surprising is that, in contrast with his diplomatic experience, where influence on the later writings has often been demonstrated, there is a disjunction between Machiavelli's work in Florentine territorial administration and the later discussions of The Prince and the Discourses.

Notwithstanding the many claims that have been made with respect to Machiavelli and the development of the concept of the modem state, there was a decided primitivism to his treatment of the actual administration of states by their own governments. Certainly, Machiavelli was no Weberian. One finds in his writing little recognition of the growth of bureaucracy, the legal revolution of the later middle ages, or the rise of a capitalist economy. The department of government he treated most extensively was the military, and here Machiavelli was both unreasonably idealistic and technically backward.9

Especially indicative is Machiavelli's near silence about the two areas of Renaissance state building in Florence that have been most investigated by modem historians: the chancery and the fisc. 10 The chancery was the area of administration that

8. Fredi Chiappelli, "Machiavelli as Secretary," Italian Quarterly, 14 (1971), pp. 27-44, suggested Machiavelli's thought could be discovered in nuce in these writings, but the resulting Machiavelli was stripped of many essential qualities. Jean-Jacques Marchand, NiccoI6 Machiavelli. I primi scritti politici (1499-1512). Nascita di un pensiero e di uno stile (Padua, 1975), in an exemplary study, squeezed as much as possible from the early works, but he found more "stile" than "pensiero."

9. Piero Pieri, Il rinascimento e la crisi militare italiana (Turin, 1952). Felix Gilbert, "Machiavelli: The Renaissance Art of War," in The Makers of Modem Strategy, 3rd ed., ed. Peter Paret (Princeton, 1984), pp. 11 -3 1, was only slightly more sympathetic to Machiavelli.

10. On the Florentine fisc in relation to state-building, see Anthony Molho, "L'amministrazione del debito pubblico a Firenze nel quindicesimo secolo," in I ceti dirigenti nella Toscana del Quattrocento (Monte Oriolo: Papafava, 1987), pp. 191-207; and idem, "Lo Stato e la finanza pubblica. Un'ipotesi basata


Machiavelli knew best, yet he referred to it not once in The Prince, the Discourses or the Florentine Histories. Two chancellors, Leonardo Bruni and Poggio Bracciolini, were remembered as "historians," but there was no mention of their service to the Florentine government. I I The only person mentioned as a "chancellor" in the Histories was Cola di Rienzo, a figure Machiavelli possibly admired, but who abandoned that line of work in 1347 when he seized power in Rome and declared himself Tribune. 12 Machiavelli shows a similar lack of interest in fiscal matters. The argument in the Discourses and the Art of War against the common opinion that "money is the sinews of war," underlined his consistently held view that fiscal might was a secondary factor in the government of states. 13 A state's fisc might reflect the "industry" of its citizens, 14 but wealth alone would not always enable it to find good soldiers when they were needed. In the Florentine Histories, he discussed the imposition of the 1427 catasto primarily in terms of the political struggle between the grandi and the popolo. 15 He overlooked the catasto's formidable centralizing role when he discussed its imposition on the dominion; and he seems to have viewed the Volterrans' resistance to it with sympathy. 16 Discussing the
sulla storia tardomedioevale di Firenze," in Origini dello Stato. Processi di formazione statale in Italia fra medioevo ed etA moderna. eds. Giorgio Chittolini, Anthony Molho, and Pierangelo Schiera (Bologna, 1994), pp. 225-80. On the chancery, see especially Alison Brown, Bartolomeo Scala, 1430-1497, Chancellor of Florence: The Humanist as Bureaucrat (Princeton, 1979), pp. 161-192; and Robert Black, "The Political Thought of the Florentine Chancellors," Historical Journal, 29 (1986), pp. 991-1003.

11. Istorie, Proemio, p. 632.

12. Note the assimilation that takes place when Machiavelli, Istorie ' D 1, p. 653, calls him "Niccol6 di Lorenzo, cancelliere in Campidoglio," using the Tuscan form of Cola's Christian name. Machiavelli preserved the dialect form, "Cola," for another historical figure, "Cola Montano," at Istorie, vii.33, p. 814.

13. Niccol6 Machiavelli, Discorsi sopra la prima deca di Tito Livio, ii. 10, in Tutte le opere, ed. Martelli [cited hereafter as Discorsi , p. 159; idem, Arte della guerra vii. in Tutte le opere, p. 386.

14. Istorie florentine, Proemio, in Tutte le opere, ed. Martelli [cited hereafter as Istoriel p. 633, referring to Florence's war with Filippo Maria Visconti.

15. Istorie iv. 14, pp. 722-3.

16. Ibid., iv. 15-7, pp. 723-5.


French, Machiavelli suggested the absence of fiscal uniformity helped keep their kingdom
united. 17

Clearly, Machiavelli found little that was worthy of imitation in Florentine administration. And yet, it was once assumed that Machiavelli was an advocate of the processes that transformed Florence into an early modem territorial state. An early proponent of this idea was Francesco Ercole, who in 1926 wrote that Machiavelli "recognized [ ... ] the [ ... ] tendency of the city-state to [ ... ] transform itself, in one way or another, into a unitary and territorial state." 18 But the adjectives "unitary" and "territorial" as used by Ercole are quite misleading. One of the reasons Machiavelli stood out among the political writers of his day was that he rejected such conventional legal and institutional understandings of the territorial state. As we shall see, Machiavelli remained the consistent advocate of a quite different mode of government. For throughout his writings, the Florentine argued against the territorial state and in favor of an expansionist republican empire. In wishing to be free of the mistakes of the present, Machiavelli was thus rebelling against his "context." 19

Machiavelli's most careful formulation of his views on territorial expansion can be found in Book I, Chapter 6, of the Discourses. Here, in a passage that has sometimes been misunderstood, Machiavelli examined the differences that distinguished a popularly based republic such as Rome from narrowly based aristocratic republics such as Venice

17. Il Principe, ed. Giorgio Inglese (Turin, 1995) [cited hereafter as PrinciRel, iii. 10, p. 13.


18. Francesco Ercole, La politica di Machiavelli (Rome, 1926), pp. 106-7. For similar views of Machiavelli and the modem state, see: Alfred Schmidt, Niccol6 Machiavelli und die allgerneine Staatslehre der Gegenw (Karlsruhe, 1907); Leonhard von Muralt, Machiavellis Staatsgedanke (Basel, 1945); James Burnham, The Machiavellians: Defenders of Freedom (Chicago, 1963), p. 35; and Herfried MUnkler, Machiavelli. Die Begrandung des politischen Denkens der Neuzeit aus der Krise der Republik Florenz (Frankfurt a. M., 1984), pp. 329-337.

19. Compare Joseph R. Strayer, On the Medieval Origins of the Modem State (Princeton, 1970), whose "modem" state Machiavelli would certainly have disliked. For the Florentine context, see Lauro Martines, LgMers and Statecraft in Renaissance Florence (Princeton, 1968), which might be read as a description of the world Machiavelli was trying to escape.

and Sparta. The two kinds of republic presented the would-be founder of a republic with an important choice. As Machiavelli put it,20 If anyone should wish to order a new republic, he would have to examine whether he wished that she expand (ampliasse) in dominion and power, like Rome, or that she remain within narrow confines. In the first case, it is necessary to order her like Rome [with a popular constitutio In the second case, you can (puoi) order her like Sparta and like Venice [with an aristocratic constitution]. But, because expansion is the poison of republics of this [latter kind], he who establishes them must prohibit their acquisition of other territory (lo acquisire in all possible ways, because when such acquisitions are piled upon a weak republic they are invariably its ruin. Modem commentators have sometimes interpreted this passage as establishing equally suitable alternatives for the founder of a republic.21 However, the passage was constructed in such a way as to lead the reader to believe the second alternative was less desirable. Thus, Machiavelli used an abstracted third person when speaking of the founder of a republic like Rome, but changed to a tu of condescension (with the verb puoi) when describing the founding of a republic like Venice or Sparta.22 Sparta and Venice were thus "weak" republics because they could not stand the burden of territorial acquisitions.

20. Discorsi, i.6, p. 86.

21. Alfredo Bonadeo, "Appunti sul concetto di conquista e ambizione nel Machiavelli e sull'antixnachiavellismo," Annali dell'Istituto orientale ' 12 (1970), pp. 245-60; idem, "Machiavelli on War and Conquest," II pensiero politico, 7 (1974), pp. 334-361. Pocock, Machiavellian Moment, pp. 196-199 got it right, and so did Harvey C. Mansfield, Jr., Machiavellian Virtue (Chicago, 1996), pp. 85-92.

22. Machiavelli's use of the tu and the voi was more complicated than indicated in the nonetheless perceptive comment of Leo Strauss Thoughts on Machiavelli (Chicago, 1958), p. 77; later endorsed by Gian Roberto Sarolli, "Un dichirografo inedito del Machiavelii'dictante'e'scribente,"' Modem Lanauage Notes, 80 (1965), pp. 58-9. In this regard, it might be mentioned that Sarolli's article failed to distinguish between the normal use of the second person singular in letters from Florentine magistracies to their officers (a "collegial" tu) and the customary use of the voi in private correspondence in this period.

Machiavelli acknowledged that non-expansive republicanism had a certain appeal.

That he was sincere in this is confirmed by a passage in his poem, L'Asino, in which he
criticized Athens, Sparta and Florence for having subjected the territory surrounding
them, and also by Castruccio Castracani's deathbed wish in the Vita that he had made
'T 23 In the
riends" (amici) of neighboring states, rather than try to conquer them. Discourses, Machiavelli wrote that he "would like to believe" that a long-lived republic might be founded by establishing it on a strong site and endowing it with only as much power as was needed for its own defense. "And without doubt I believe that if the thing (i.e. the constitution) could be kept balanced in this manner, that this would be the true political life (vivere politico and true peace for a City."24

    But, reading further, it becomes clear that Machiavelli thought the alternative represented by Sparta and Venice was a false one. Since all human affairs are in motion, "necessity" forces "you',25 to undertake "many things to which reason will not induce you." Other states have their own interests and ambitions, and inevitably, the "necessity" of warfare impinges on even the republic of limited ambition. The republic without ambitions will be faced with a choice between expanding in order to maintain its liberty or seeing its liberty extinguished.26

    Since he did not believe that it was possible "to balance this thing," Machiavelli thought that it was necessary in ordering a republic "to think of the more honorable outcome," and to establish the regime in such a way, "that even if necessity should induce

23. L'asino ch. 5, in Tutte le opere, ed. Martelli, p. 966; Vita di Castruccio Castracani da Lucca, p. 626. Careful consideration of Machiavelli's language in these two passages confirms that neither contradicts the general conclusion of the Discourses.

24. Discorsi, ii.6, p. 86.

25. Again, a tu accompanies the lesser alternative.

26. Discorsi, ii.6, p. 86. Pocock, Machiavellian Moment, p. 199, rightly explained Machiavelli's choice of Rome over Sparta on the grounds that "to reject expansion is to expose oneself to fortune without seeking to dominate her."


it to expand, it would be able to preserve that which it had occupied." Sparta and Venice, the republics of reason, were not ordered with empires in mind, and both lost within brief periods the empires that necessity forced them to acquire.27 Only the German city-states of Machiavelli's day were able to be free (and also economically and militarily strong) while also being unacquisitive--but this was owing to their living under Imperial protection.28 Were such protection removed, Machiavelli implies, the Germans, too, would be forced to expand, if they wished to preserve their liberty.

    Machiavelli's argument is stated so plainly that it might be easy to overlook the extent to which his endorsement of the imperialism of the republic of "necessity" marked a significant break with earlier republican theorists. For Plato, Aristotle and Cicero, the purpose of government was the inculcation of virtue in the citizens of a regime: in Machiavelli's writings empire takes the place of virtue as the end of the republic. Thus Plato and Aristotle condemned territorial expansion because they believed city-states would lose their ability to effectively shape citizens when they grew too large. The large polis would lose its "political" character.29 Among Roman writers, similar views were expressed by the historians Sallust and Livy, but this was not the opinion of Cicero in one of the most influential discussions of the problem of imperialism. In the De officiis--a text Machiavelli knew from his boyhood--Cicero argued that empire was a consequence

27. Here, as has often been noted, Machiavelli ignored the astonishing revival of Venetian fortunes after the battle at Agnadello (known to him as "VailA"). For Machiavelli's consistent belittling of Venetian political achievements, see Innocenzo Cervelli, Machiavelli e la crisi dello stato veneziano (Naples, 1974).

28. On the strength (potentia) of the German cities that yet resulted in no acquisition (acquisto),see the  Ritracto delle cose della Magn , in Marchand, Niccolo Machiavelli. I primi scrittil pp. 525-32 (esp. 525,
530). Similarly in a draft version, the Rapporto di cose della Magn , ibid., p. 480: "le comunita sanno che
lo acquisto d'talia farebbe pe'principi e non per loro, potendo questi venire ad godervi personalmente li
paesi d'Italia e non loro."

29. Plato, Republic, 423b-c; Aristotle, Politics, 1324b-1327b, 1333b-1334a.


of Roman virtue.30 Although Cicero's position was quite different from Plato's and Aristotle's, the Roman orator agreed with Plato and Aristotle on the crucial point that the "end" of the republic was virtue: empire was a manifestation of virtue, not an end in itself. 3 1

That Machiavelli disagreed with the republican theorists of antiquity on the question of imperialism is notable, since it shows him diverging from another of the "contexts" in which he is often discussed, namely classical republicanism. Of course, Plato was not always taken seriously, but Aristotle and Cicero were authorities of a
different order. Interestingly, Machiavelli only once cited Aristotle favorably in his writings--on the violence done to women by tyrants--and elsewhere he preferred to criticize him.32 Was Machiavelli thinking of Aristotle's moderate politei --and not only of the regimes of Plato and Xenophon--when he wrote in The Prince against "republics and principalities that have never been seen to exist or known to exist in truth"?33 But it was by inverting the key terms of Cicero's position that Machiavelli really changed the nature of the discussion concerning empire. Machiavelli's vocabulary was

30. Cicero, De officiis, 2.26-27. Roberto Ridolfi, Vita di Niccolo Machiavelli, 7th rev. ed. (Florence, 1978), p. 424 n. 7, noted the presence of a borrowed copy of the De officiis in the home of Machiavelli's father, Bernardo. For Ciceronian influences on Machiavelli, see Marcia L. Colish, "Cicero's De officiis and Machiavelli's Prince," Sixteenth Cengn Journal, 9 (1978), pp. 81-93. See also Patricia J. Osmond, "Sallust and Machiavelli: From Civic Humanism to Political Prudence," Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 23 (1993), pp. 407-38.

3 1. For Cicero's views on Roman expansion, see Hans Dieter Meyer, Cicero und das Reich (Cologne, 1957); and P.A. Brunt, "Laus Imperii," in Imperialism in the Ancient World, ed. P.D.A. Garnsey and C.R. Whitaker (Cambridge, 1978), pp. 159-191.

32. Discorsi, iii.26, p. 233. For Machiavelli's otherwise negative view of Aristotle, see his letter to Francesco Vettori of 26 August 15 13, in Tutte le opere, ed. Martelli, p. 1156, referring to the Politics, and compare Vettori's previous letter of 20 August 1513, ibid., p. 1153. See also the Discursus Florentinarurn Rerurn Post Mortem lunioris Laurentii Medices, ibid., p. 30.

33. Principe, xv.4, p. 102. More's Utopia, published in 1516 and therefore after the first redaction of The Prince, was known to Francesco Vettori, who mentioned it in his Sommario della storia d'Italia dal 1511 al 1527, published in Francesco Vettori, Scritti storici e politici, ed. Enrico Niccolini (Bari, 1972), p. 145.

perfectly Aristotelian and Ciceronian in its discussion of "ends," their tele or fines becoming his fini, but the conclusion he reached was directly opposite. In Book 1, Chapter 29, of the Discourses, Machiavelli stated that the city has "two ends" The first is "to acquire" (lo acquisire) territory; the second is "to maintain its independence." In Discourses, Book II, Chapter 2, Machiavelli stated even more directly that "increase" (accrescere is "the end of a republic" il fine della republico. Thus expansion, not the inculcation of virtue, was the goal of Machiavellian government. To virtue in the classical sense Machiavelli assigned a subordinate role, as one of the means assisting expansion; and in so doing, he changed the meaning of virtue itself.

    Concomitant with the redefinition of virtue, which scholars have often discussed, Machiavelli's endorsement of expansion predicated his reworking of other aspects of contemporary political language.34 It is true that Machiavelli's political vocabulary and his stock of metaphors remained essentially those of the political writers who preceded him, and also of contemporary politicians, statesmen and bureaucrats; however, in the pages of Machiavelli's chief works, some of these traditional elements assumed novel meanings. 35 Time and again the reader of Machiavelli encounters words and images

34. The best discussions of Machiavellian virtit remain J. H. Whitfield, Machiavelli (1946; rpt. New York, 1966), pp. 97-105; and Neal Wood, "Machiavelli's Concept of Virtii Reconsidered," Political Studies 15 (1967), pp. 159-172.

35. For the context, see Allan H. Gilbert, Machiavelli's "Prince" and Its Forerunners: The Prince as a typical Book "De Regimine Principurn" (Durham, N.C., 1938); Felix Gilbert, "Florentine Political Assumptions in the Period of Savonarola and Soderini," Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, 20 (1957), pp. 187-214; Federico Chabod, "Alcuni questioni di terminologia: 'stato', 'nazione', 'patria'nel linguaggio del Cinquecento," in his Scritti sul Rinascimento (Turin, 1967), pp. 627-61; Mario Santoro, Fortuna, ragione e prudenza nella civiltA letteraria del Cinquecento (Naples, 1967); Nicolai Rubinstein, "Notes on the word stato in Florence before Machiavelli," in Florilegium Historiale, ed. J.G. Rowe and W.H. Stockdale (Toronto, 1971), pp. 313-326; idem, "Florentina Libertas," Rinascimento, ser. 2, 26 (1986), pp. 3-26. A helpful introduction to Machiavelli's vocabulary may be found in appendix to Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince ' trans. Quentin Skinner and Russell Price (Cambridge, 1988), pp. 100-13. Fredi Chiappelli, Studi sul linLyuap-2io del Machiavelli (Florence, 1952), by design paid little attention to contemporary usage, which sometimes makes his study all the more useful.


employed in ways that would have run counter to such medieval and Renaissance expectations.36

After virtu, the most frequently discussed word in the Machiavellian vocabulary is stato. An older dispute--whether Machiavelli's use of the word corresponded with the modem impersonal meaning of the word "state" 3 7--has been answered in the negative, inasmuch as in Machiavelli's use of stato. the word can be shown always to stand for the stato of someone--of a person or a group of people.38 The modemiuridical understanding of the "state" reached maturity only in the decades after Machiavelli's death.39

The argument has since been recast, however, to show that Machiavelli's use of stato differed from that of medieval writers in that he used stato in "exploitative" and "predatory" contexts, so that stato was generally the object of verbs of aggression, acquisition, and manipulation.40 It has been suggested rightly that Machiavelli's "predatory" use of stato developed among preceding generations in the grasping, competitive world of Florentine oligarchical politics, in which "status" might be both acquired and lost.41 Finally, further study has shown that because of Machiavelli's

36. Cf the description of Machiavelli's refutation of the traditional catalogue of virtues in Felix Gilbert, "The Humanist Concept of the Prince and The Prince of Machiavelli," in his History: Choice and Commitment (Cambridge, Mass., 1977), pp. 91-114, esp. I I Off.

37. A position advanced by Ernst Cassirer, The Myth of the State (New Haven, 1946), pp. 133-134, 140-141, 154-155. Compare also Chiappelli, Studi sul linguaggio, pp. 59-73.

38. J.H. Hexter, "The Predatory Vision: NiccoI6 Machiavelli. 11 Principe and lo stato in his The Vision of Politics on the Eve of the Reformation: More, Machiavelli, Seyssel (New York, 1973), pp. 173175; further supported by Skinner, Foundations, 11:353-354.

39. J.W. Allen, A History of Political Thought in the Sixteenth Century, (1928; New York, 1960), pp. 407ff.; and Skinner, Foundations, 11:349-358. Alberto Tenenti, Stato: un'idea, una logica. Dal comune italiano all'assolutismo francese (Bologna, 1987), offers a rich discussion (esp. pp. 15-97), but does not change the overall conclusion.

40. Hexter, "The Predatory Vision."

41. Martines, LMers and Statecraft, pp. 390-391.


advice to both princes and republics to aggrandize themselves, stato becomes in his work not merely a static quality, but a quality whose possession brings with it an inherent obligation to increase.42 Thus, as others have shown, the word stato, as Machiavelli uses it, ceases to indicate an "estate" as a "static" quality, becoming instead a quality the possession of which entails further increase or promotion.

Machiavelli worked a similar transformation of the metaphor, traditional to both earlier and contemporary political writing, which likened the political regime to a human body.43 Although Machiavelli made use of the ancient and medieval metaphors that spoke of the relationship between a king and his subjects as similar to that between a body's head and limbs, it has by now become commonplace that Machiavelli interjected into this image an "organic" conception of the regime; that is, he thought of the regime as a living thing, subject to cycles of birth and death. An essentially traditional use of body imagery to describe political situations was already present in Machiavelli's earliest chancery writings of 1498,44 in accordance with a typical usage of state scribes.45 Thus Machiavelli's writings include a number of customary arguments regarding the relative importance of various parts of the body. An annexed province is "like an added member."46 A policy of disarming one's own people is mistaken, "because the heart and

42. Mansfield, Machiavellian Virtue, pp. 281-294. On the obligation to acquire, see, for example, Discorsil i.5, p. 84: "la paura del perdere genera in loro le medesime voglie che sono in quelli che desiderano acquistare; perch6 non pare agli uomini possedere sicuramente quello che Nomo ha, se non si acquista di nuovo dell'altro."

43. Jacques Le Goff, "Head or Heart? The Political Use of Body Metaphors in the Middle Ages," in Fragments for a HistoKy of the Body, 3 vols. (New York, 1989), 1: 12-27; Paul Archambault, "The Analogy of the 'Body' in Renaissance Political Literature," Biblioth6gue d'Humanisme et Renaissance, 29 (1967), pp. 32-53.

44. Chiappelli, "Machiavelli as Secretary," pp. 34-35.

45. See, for example, James S. Grubb, Firstborn of Venice: Vicenza in the Early Renaissance State (Baltimore, 1988), pp. 26-27.

46. Principe, iii. 1, p. 10. For the prince/general as head, and individual Italians as limbs, see Xxvi. 16, p. 172.


the vital parts of a body should be kept covered, and not its extremities. "47 Machiavelli also used a rich store of medical analogies to describe the illnesses of a state, and the methods for healing them.48

     But at some point in the development of Machiavelli's thought, his use of the metaphor of the body took a novel turn. For Machiavelli attributed to the political body an appetite. Herein lies the significance of the story that Machiavelli borrowed from Vitruvius of Alexander the Great, who, when the architect Deinocrates proposed building a city in the shape of a human body on Mount Athos, rejected the plan for the reason that the inhabitants would have nothing to feed them.49 In the Discourses, Machiavelli stated the position even more forcefully, asserting that "the end (Line) of a republic is to enervate and to weaken all other bodies in order that its own body might increase."50 The republican regime that Machiavelli praised was a regime that consumed.

    Expansion was necessary, then, but how was the state to go about it? Machiavelli made it clear that he favored some modes of expansion over others. These were discussed in Book II, Chapter 4, of the Discourses. Machiavelli wrote that the ancient republics employed three modes in aggrandizing themselves.51 The first was to form a league of several republics, none of which had precedence over the other: Machiavelli adduced the example of the ancient Etruscans, whom he called "Tuscans."52 The ancient

47. Discorsi, ii.30, p. 191.

48. E.g., Principe, iii.26-8, pp. 17-8; Chiappelli, Studi sul linguaggio pp. 78 and 88-89; Luigi Zanzi, I "segni" della natura e i "Paradigmi" della storia: il metodo del Machiavelli. Ricerche sulla logica scientifica depli "umanisti" tra medicina e storiografi (Manduria, 198 1); and especially the rich and suggestive treatment of Anthony J. Parel, The Machiavellian Cosmos (New Haven, 1992), pp. 101-112 et passim.

49. Discorsi i. 1, p. 78.


50. Discorsi, ii.2, p. 150.


51. Discorsi, ii.4, pp. 1524.


Tuscans ruled all of Italy north of Rome and south of the Alps. The first mode had significant drawbacks, however. The ancient Tuscans were incapable of extending their rule beyond Italy and proved unable to defend Lombardy against the Gauls. They also left no history of themselves. 53 A second mode of aggrandizement, the one followed by the Romans, was for a republic to make partners (compagni: the word for "business partners") of other states, however always reserving to itself the commanding rank, the seat of empire, and the title to all undertakings. The third mode was immediately to make subjects rather than partners of other states. This was the mode employed by Athens and Sparta in antiquity (although Machiavelli distorted both examples 54 ), and by the Florentine and Venetian states in his own day.

    Machiavelli rejected the last method--immediate subjugation--on the grounds that governing cities with violence, especially cities that had been accustomed to liberty, was a difficult and costly business.55 The Athenian and Spartan empires were both ruined, he said, by the inability to maintain such dominions once they were acquired. The mode Machiavelli recommended most highly was the Roman mode, which operated through the adoption and creation of slightly inferior partner regimes. Although these partners were afforded equality in most matters, Rome reserved for herself the place of honor in their endeavors. The result was that unawares the partners spent their own labors and blood in subjecting themselves to Rome. For after the Romans had led their partners outside of

52. On this theme, note Peter Godman, From Poliziano to Machiavelli: Florentine Humanism in the HiA Renaissance (Princeton, 1998), pp. 258, 288.

53. Discorsi, ii.4, p. 154: "La quale potenza e gloria ... fu tanto spenta, che ... al presente non ce n' e'quasi memoria." And again in the following chapter, Discorsi, ii.5, p. 155: "Talchd, come si e` detto, di lei ne rimane solo la memoria del nome."

54. Machiavelli's presentation of the Athenian and Spartan modes of expansion is misleading, since both Greek cities were the heads of "leagues" for many years before transforming them into empires. For Machiavelli's use of Thucydides (but not on this point), see Marcello Simonetta, "Machiavelli lettore di Tucidide," Esperienze letterarie, 22, n. 3 (1997), pp. 53-68.

55. This explains the seeming anti-imperialism of the statements in The Ass and the Life of Castruccio, cited at note 23 above.


Italy and reduced many foreign lands to the status of subject provinces, the partners found they were both surrounded by Roman subjects and oppressed by a greatly reinforced Rome. The partners revolted (in the Social War), and they were suppressed and reduced to the status of subjects. Thus, the final result of the Roman mode of aggrandizement differed little from that of the mode of the Athenians and the Spartans. But the more efficient Roman mode of expansion required delaying the final subjection of a republic's neighbors until such a moment when the partners forced the republic to subject them. To be sure, the "partnership" of this mode of expansion was in effect a kind of fraud--and Machiavelli praised the Romans for their use of fraud as well as force in their conquests.56

    Since Machiavelli evidently thought that Florence had made the mistake of immediately subjecting her neighbors, the first method, illustrated by the Etruscan league, merits further attention. Machiavelli suggested that this might be the best option still open to the Tuscans of his day. Castruccio seemed to indicate this path when he spoke of befriending neighboring states in the Life.57 And, as Machiavelli argued elsewhere, "men born in one province keep almost the same nature for all times." 58 A league at least appeared to offer the possibility of prolonged independence, if not the greatness that had been Rome's.

    But Machiavelli's recommendation of a league still has something slightly puzzling about it. Why would Machiavelli have recommended a mode of

56. Cf, Discorsi, 113, p. 163, "Che si viene di bassa a gran fortuna piii con la fraude che con la forza," which restates Rome's policy toward her neighbors as described in IIA as one of fraud in a laudable cause. See, too, iii.40, pp. 248-249, where Machiavelli's initial condemnation of fraud was qualified by what followed. Also Principe, xviii, pp. 115-20. R. T. Ridley, "Machiavelli and Roman History in the Discourses," Ouaderni di storia, 18 (1983), p. 200, is better than Whitfield, Machiavelli, p. 153, on this question.

57. Note 23 above.

58. Discorsil iii.43, p. 250.


aggrandizement that led the Tuscans into "oblivion"? It seems possible Machiavelli believed that the advantage offered by a league was the ease with which it could be turned into a network of "partners." Since the republic that desired to expand was supposed to deceive others into helping it expand, and since no state would willingly become a 11partner" to another republic if it knew what future was in store for it, a "league" offered the best practical beginnings for expansion along the lines laid by the Roman republic.

    During the early stages of the growth of an empire, Machiavelli seems to have envisioned the preservation of substantial local autonomies. Partner republics would continue to administer justice by themselves, as Capua had done for 3 00 years while nominally under Roman control; and as Pistoia had done--though under Florentine control in other ways--during the fourteenth century.59 In France, similarly, the provinces of Burgundy, Brittany, Gascony and Normandy were said in The Prince to have "become one whole body" with the French kingdom, not despite, but because they were allowed to retain their former laws and taxes.60 For Machiavelli the cohesion of states was not measured by unified legal codes or by centralized administrative and territorial structures, but in terms of a psychological cohesion that could better be achieved by preserving local autonomies. This is a far cry from Ercole's "unitary" state.

When, in The Prince, Machiavelli rejected the time-worn Florentine strategy for controlling Tuscany summarized in the maxim, "Rule Pisa with fortresses and Pistoia with factions,"61 he was hoping for the establishment of a territorial order quite different from the one that existed in his own day. Where fortresses were garrisoned in subject towns, they proved expensive, and, worst of all, they daily incurred the wrath of the

59. Discorsi, ii.2 1, pp. 177-178.

60. Principe, iii, 7-10, pp. 12-3. Machiavelli here underestimated the royal interference in these parts of France. Compare the Ritracto di cose di Francia, in Marchand, Machiavelli. Primi scritti, pp. 507524, which gave a more accurate account.

61. Principe, xx, pp. 138-46.

subjects, by furnishing daily reminders of servitude.62 In place of hostile garrisons, Machiavelli would have granted substantial autonomy to the subject towns of Tuscany. Such towns would be more likely to defend themselves if attacked. And, as partners rather than subjects, they would be more likely to give of themselves in military action together with the Florentines. Factions, for their part, rendered subject towns highly vulnerable to external enemies;63 and there was the risk that such factions would spread to the ruling city, just as they had spread from Pistoia to Florence in the past.64 Machiavelli's rejection of the customary policy toward factions in the territory leads us back to the capital city, however, as we explore how he tried to transform political thinking: what about factions in the capital?

As Quentin Skinner justly pointed out, one of the fundamental ways in which Machiavelli broke with the expectations of his predecessors and contemporaries, was through his striking praise, in the Discourses, of Roman civic discord.65 Guicciardini's somewhat amazed response to Machiavelli's argument was that "to praise discord was like praising the sickness of someone who was ill.,"66 But the extent and nature of Machiavelli's endorsement of "disunion"--and what motivated it--have not always been completely understood.67 To begin with, as we have seen, Machiavelli opposed factions

62. Criticisms of fortresses are at ibid.; and Discorsi, ii.24, pp. 181-184.

63. Principe, xx. 11, pp. 140; although such towns were difficult for a prince or republic to hold. For the proper way to acquire a town riven by factions, see Discorsi ii.25, pp. 184-5.

64. Discorsi, iii.27, pp. 233-234; cf. Istorie, ii.16, pp. 668ff. See also William J. Connell, "'I fautori delle parti'. Citizen Interest and the Treatment of a Subject Town, c. 1500," in Istituzioni e societa` in Toscana in eta` moderna (Rome, 1994),1: 118-147.

65. Skinner, Foundations L 18 1;

66. Francesco Guicciardini, Considerazioni sui'Discorsi' del Machiavelli, L4, in his Opere, 3 vols., ed. Emanuella Lugnani Scarano (Turin, 1970),1:616: "laudare le disunione e` come laudare in uno infermo la infermita`... ".

67. See Skinner, Foundations 1: 18 1, where it was argued that Machiavelli believed "that, since these conflicts served to cancel out sectional interests, they served at the same time to guarantee that the only


in subject towns for reasons of security. But if he opposed them there, would he not oppose them in the capital city for the same reasons? On closer examination, it seems that Machiavelli distinguished between a healthy form of civic discord--which was essentially a class struggle between patricians and plebs--and an unhealthy form of discord, characterized by political factions and parties.

Thus, although Machiavelli praised Rome's disunion and her tumults when these resulted from class antagonism between nobles and plebs,68 he was quite quick to condemn political factions (parti or sette) that sought to control the state for private benefit.69 Class divisions, on the other hand, produced both healthy competition and good laws tending toward the expansion of the republic, so long as the demands of the competing classes did not become excessive or degenerate into private hatreds.70 A similar tale was told in the Florentine Histories, where Machiavelli wrote that under the government of the Primp Popolo--a regime he interpreted as having originated in the conflict between Florentine magnates and popolani--"our city was never in greater or happier condition.',71

Machiavelli argued in the Discourses that "those who condemn the tumults between the nobles and the plebs" in ancient Rome erred by blaming "those things which

enactments which actually passed into law were those which benefited the community as a whole." Because Skinner did not gasp Machiavelli's distinction between class conflict (which Machiavelli endorsed) and factional conflict (which Machiavelli criticized), the result was a Machiavelli inordinately close to the writers of the The Federalist and Adam Smith--as in Skinner's Machiavelli, where he wrote (p. 66): "although motivated entirely by their selfish interests, the factions will thus be guided, as if by an invisible hand (sic!), to promote the public interest in all their legislative acts."

68. Discorsi i.4, p. 84; Alfred Bonadeo, Corruption, Conflict, and Power in the Works and Times of NiccoI6 Machiavelli (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1973), pp. 35-71.

69. See, for example the description of the creation of a parte by an ambitious citizen in Discorsi
iii.28, p. 235.

70. Discorsi, i.3-7, pp. 81-88; Istorie, iii.1, pp. 690-691.

71. Istorie ii. 15, p. 668. Not only was there a popular army, but also "tutta la Toscana, parte come subietta, parte come amiga," obeyed Florence [my emphasis].

were the first cause of Rome's remaining free.,' 72 It has been suggested recently that Machiavelli saw these "tumults" as "a consequence of intense political involvement," and hence consistent with internal liberty. Although the airing of political differences was of a certain limited importance in Machiavelli's brand of republicanism,73 it seems, however, that the "freedom" that interested Machiavelli was directed toward foreign powers, rather than domestic liberty.74 And, as was shown previously, territorial expansion was necessary to the preservation of freedom. By engaging the Roman people in the business of the commonwealth, the Roman constitution harnessed popular energy for Rome's wars of conquest--toward achieving what Machiavelli considered the goal or "end" of the republic. The occasional domestic tumults of an empowered populace were a small price to pay for the advantages that accrued from a popular army.75

Machiavelli's ideal of an imperialistic but minimally centralizing republican state that permitted class struggle ran quite contrary to the ideas of other contemporary writers. Francesco Guicciardini, a lawyer who devoted much of his career to creating for the Papacy an "impersonal" modem territorial state for the Papacy,76 was at great pains in his Considerations on Machiavelli's Discourses to show the extent to which Machiavelli's ideas were out of "context" in the Italy of the early sixteenth century. Thus, Guicciardini argued that the Florentine and Venetian governments were not weakened but

72. Discorsi, L4, p. 82.

73. Compare, for example, the criticism of lengthy deliberations in republics in -Discorsi, ii. 15, pp.164-166.

74. See Rubinstein, "Florentina Libertas."

75. Discorsi, i.4, p. 83: "dico come ogni cittA debbe avere i suoi modi con i quali il popolo possa sfogare I'ambizione sua, e massime quelle cittA che nelle cose importanti si vogliono valere del popolo."

76 As papal governor, Guicciardini famously defended the territories of the Church from armed attack even while the Papacy was vacant.


strengthened by having enlarged their jurisdictions and "domesticated" their neighbors.77 Machiavelli, as we have seen, viewed the immediate subjection of neighboring powers as creating early and unnecessary limits to a republic's expansion.

Questions of legal jurisdiction, which mattered a great deal to Guicciardini, were of minimal importance to Machiavelli. At various points in his writings, Machiavelli juxtaposed the term "imperio," his equivalent for territorial sovereignty, with "forza," which might be best translated as "strength." According to Machiavelli, the expansion of a republic's imperio had the effect of weakening its forza. For a republic to achieve greatness, it was necessary for it to finds the means to increase its forza through a form of imperialism more subtle and therefore more powerful than the simple extension of its jurisdiction. If, as Machiavelli stated in The Prince and the Discourses, men are greedy and ambitious by nature; then the politics of ragione will invariably give way to the politics of necessita`; and necessita` requires that a state either expand or be conquered. But the preferred mode of expansion was not the simple subjection of vanquished states. That was a path to imperio--to increased jurisdiction--but not to forza.78 While imperio was characteristic of the early modem territorial state, forza, the quality that made the Romans great, lay in the creation of partners (not subjects), in citizen arms, and in finding ways to channel the energies of class conflict between the ambitious few and the popolo into foreign expansion.

To conclude, in Machiavelli's view it was a mistake for a republic to subject its neighbors and become a limited territorial state. Far from a prophet of the unitary territorial state, our examination of Machiavelli's ideas on empire, the treatment of subject territories, and the problem of civic discord reveals him as what he in fact claimed to be at the outset of the Discourses: a writer who sought in the history of Rome's growth a new and "untrodden"79 path for solving and moving beyond the problems of what today we call his historical "context."

77 Guicciardini, Considerazioni, 11. 19, in Opere, ed. Lugnani Scarano, 1, p. 668. See, too, Osvaldo Cavallar, Francesco Guicciardini iziurista (Milan, 199 1).

78 Discorsi ii. 19, p. 175. Compare Ercole, La politica del Machiavelli, pp. 114-116, who wrote that there were two kinds of imperio in Machiavelli, one backed by sufficient forza ("la ... forza effettiva di attuarsi e di farsi rispettare"), the other not. Ercole overemphasized, however, the jurisdictional aspect of the first kind of imperio. On iMperio in the Florentine context, see Alison Brown, "The Language of Empire," forthcoming in William J. Connell and Andrea Zorzi, eds., Florentine Tuscgny: Structures and Practices of Power.

79 Discorsi ' i, preface, p. 76: "ho deliberato entrarae per una via, la quale, non essendo ancora trita... ". On the passage, see Najemy, Between Friends, pp. 337-338, esp. n. 10.