second character we meet in the impossible interviews feature is Niccolò Machiavelli.
Fiorentino, born in 1469 and died in 1527, he was
one of the most important political thinkers of that period.
A statesman, he
served the Fiorentino republic on diverse political diplomatic assignments
demonstrating right from the beginning a great capacity for analysing and
interpreting political facts.
The vulgate population want the name of
Machiavelli surrounded with an aura of cynicism and immorality, at the limits of
But was it really like that?
Here we are face to face
with the perfidious Machiavelli. With what title should I call you?
say your Excellency, most appropriate to one who has passed his life dealing
in politics, fundamentals and other humane things.
Excuse my antique language,
but I really cannot speak in your modern tongue, Italian but a close friend
to Britannic terminology.
Your Excellency began your political and
diplomatic career in 1498, after the end of Savonarola. What memories do
you have of him?
He was a man who was incapable of acknowledging
Exactly, in politics the worst mistake
that man or prince can make, is that of not acknowledging reality, not
understanding how things really are and how the laws which govern them
stand. To see what is the actual reality.
How did I have the foresight to write about
the Prince: “he who leaves what is to be done for that which should be
done soon learns his ruin rather than his preservation”.
was it that Savonarola did not understand?
Poor Girolamo did not
understand that he had become a menace for everyone, humble and powerful,
rich and wretched, and thus everyone wanted to eliminate him, starting
Alessandro VI. Savonarola recognised the cord and the stake as soon
as the Pope threatened interdiction for the city of Firenze.
Did the Fiorentini
Yes but not because they were devoted to the Pope. The
interdiction would have left the outside debtors freer to not honour
their debts towards the Fiorentini merchants and money lenders.
Would Firenze have
accepted such a grave threat to its sustenance?
What was Firenze
like in those times?
Rich, lively, and proud as a woman fighting and
yelling but refusing to submit. Yet full of danger.
because there were many threats. Conspiracy, treason, invasions:
just the memory of the French invasion in 1494 is enough, and
considered a conspirator, a danger for the independence of the
city and therefore considered deserving of the worst of deaths.
Let us come to the
question which is perhaps of most interest to our readers.
Your Excellency is
considered a cold and political thinker, so much so that the
adjective Machiavellian has become synonymous with diabolical.
Very frequently the
readers of my writings, often with simple minds unaccustomed
to the difficult exercise of political analysis, have not fully
could not be considered immoral since I never preached against
it, rather I kept at a distance any temptation to see politics
rules, which are
without doubt good and admirable, but have little to do with
Therefore my stern warning to the princes was: consider that
politics has its laws and if you want to win over your enemy
you must recognise such laws and adapt to them.
If need be I should be considered amoral never
For you the Prince is he who is able to establish and defend
the State with force and authority. Wont you admit that is a rather strong idea
and perhaps a bit democratic.
I did say that the Price is he who founded
the State and I defend him about the wise use of force,
but I did also say that this state of affairs must be transitory
force, so that the subjects do not nurture ideas of vendettas
against a Prince who is too hard.
These are the same things that German philosopher Immanuel
Kant wrote, he who passed through your world three centuries
after me. He admired the King of Prussia Federico II,
who certainly did
Since your time the world has changed much. How do you
Before replying I would like to remind you that the great changes
and revolutions were nearly always less that what they
appeared at the beginning.
Enough to think of the French Revolution which started against
a King and finished with a halleluia to an Emperor.
Certainly that little Corsican knew the art of politics well.
Have you ever thought that the word revolution
could be considered in two opposite ways?
Revolution is radical change, but
also the lack of change. The earth, as studied by the
genius Copernico and Galileo, completes a revolutionary
turning on itself
to return to
the beginning without any change.
What do you think of the heads of
government and of State who today decide the destiny
of the world?
forget the law of foxes and lions.
What is that?
It is a
metaphor which another Italian intellect, Vilfredo
Pareto, gave me the honour of recapturing.
The Foxes are the politicians who have no power
and use astuteness, deception and any other artifice
it, but once they have obtained it they become
inclined to use
To the lions I say: beware, because the foxes are
ready to take your places, and to those who trust
they will also become lions.
How are you up there?
I tried to become
consultant to the Prince as I was for all of
my terrestrial life, but even here there is
of prejudice against