SOFTENING UP THE STATE
Machiavelli’s enduring notoriety derives from his willingness to offer political advice to anyone, and his acknowledgement that such advice may differ radically according to circumstance. The answer to the question ‘What would Machiavelli say?’ is always going to be an interesting one because Machiavelli does not have a set of abstract principles from which his answers can be deduced. His analysis works only with motivations internal to the situation to which it refers, and comes without the usual side-constraints. For that reason it is always liable to surprise, redescribing the familiar in unfamiliar terms, and placing means and ends in novel relation.
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- Gopal Balakrishnan: Future Unknown: Machiavelli for the 21st Century To which thinkers should we turn in a bid to ground a new conceptualization of political agency—or to determine whether such a move has been nullified by the transformations of the last decades? Gopal Balakrishnan on Machiavelli’s parables of innovation and readings of him from Rousseau to Schmitt, Strauss to Gramsci. The Florentine as strategist of beginning anew, in the context of historic defeat.