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Article :: Supporting Evidence

Machiavailli Reconsidered

The Prince

by Nicolo Machiavelli


Are Fortresses, And Many Other Things To Which Princes Often Resort, Advantageous Or Hurtful?

1. SOME princes, so as to hold securely the state, have disarmed their subjects; others have kept their subject towns by factions; others have fostered enmities against themselves; others have laid themselves out to gain over those whom they distrusted in the beginning of their governments; some have built fortresses; some have overthrown and destroyed them. And although one cannot give a final judgment on all one of these things unless one possesses the particulars of those states in which a decision has to be made, nevertheless I will speak as comprehensively as the matter of itself will admit.[1]

2. There never was a new prince who has disarmed his subjects; rather when he has found them disarmed he has always armed them, because, by arming them, those arms become yours, those men who were distrusted become faithful, and those who were faithful are kept so, and your subjects become your adherents. And whereas all subjects cannot be armed, yet when those whom you do arm are benefited, the others can be handled more freely, and this difference in their treatment, which they quite understand, makes the former your dependants, and the latter, considering it to be necessary that those who have the most danger and service should have the most reward, excuse you. But when you disarm them, you at once offend them by showing that you distrust them, either for cowardice or for want of loyalty, and either of these opinions breeds hatred against you. And because you cannot remain unarmed, it follows that you turn to mercenaries, which are of the character already shown; even if they should be good they would not be sufficient to defend you against powerful enemies and distrusted subjects. Therefore, as I have said, a new prince in a new principality has always distributed arms. Histories are full of examples. But when a prince acquires a new state, which he adds as a province to his old one, then it is necessary to disarm the men of that state, except those who have been his adherents in acquiring it; and these again, with time and opportunity, should be rendered soft and effeminate; and matters should be managed in such a way that all the armed men in the state shall be your own soldiers who in your old state were living near you.[2][3]

3. Our forefathers, and those who were reckoned wise, were accustomed to say that it was necessary to hold Pistoia by factions and Pisa by fortresses; and with this idea they fostered quarrels in some of their tributary towns so as to keep possession of them the more easily. This may have been well enough in those times when Italy was in a way balanced, but I do not believe that it can be accepted as a precept for to-day, because I do not believe that factions can ever be of use; rather it is certain that when the enemy comes upon you in divided cities you are quickly lost, because the weakest party will always assist the outside forces and the other will not be able to resist. The Venetians, moved, as I believe, by the above reasons, fostered the Guelph and Ghibelline factions in their tributary cities; and although they never allowed them to come to bloodshed, yet they nursed these disputes amongst them, so that the citizens, distracted by their differences, should not unite against them. Which, as we saw, did not afterwards turn out as expected, because, after the rout at Vaila, one party at once took courage and seized the state. Such methods argue, therefore, weakness in the prince, because these factions will never be permitted in a vigorous principality; such methods for enabling one the more easily to manage subjects are only useful in times of peace, but if war comes this policy proves fallacious.[4]

4. Without doubt princes become great when they overcome the difficulties and obstacles by which they are confronted, and therefore fortune, especially when she desires to make a new prince great, who has a greater necessity to earn renown than an hereditary one, causes enemies to arise and form designs against him, in order that he may have the opportunity of overcoming them, and by them to mount higher, as by a ladder which his enemies have raised. For this reason many consider that a wise prince, when he has the opportunity, ought with craft to foster some animosity against himself, so that, having crushed it, his renown may rise higher.[5]

5. Princes, especially new ones, have found more fidelity and assistance in those men who in the beginning of their rule were distrusted than among those who in the beginning were trusted. Pandolfo Petrucci, Prince of Siena, ruled his state more by those who had been distrusted than by others. But on this question one cannot speak generally, for it varies so much with the individual; I will only say this, that those men who at the commencement of a princedom have been hostile, if they are of a description to need assistance to support themselves, can always be gained over with the greatest ease, and they will be tightly held to serve the prince with fidelity, inasmuch as they know it to be very necessary for them to cancel by deeds the bad impression which he had formed of them; and thus the prince always extracts more profit from them than from those who, serving him in too much security, may neglect his affairs. And since the matter demands it, I must not fail to warn a prince, who by means of secret favours has acquired a new state, that he must well consider the reasons which induced those to favour him who did so; and if it be not a natural affection towards him, but only discontent with their government, then he will only keep them friendly with great trouble and difficulty, for it will be impossible to satisfy them. And weighing well the reasons for this in those examples which can be taken from ancient and modern affairs, we shall find that it is easier for the prince to make friends of those men who were contented under the former government, and are therefore his enemies, than of those who, being discontented with it, were favourable to him and encouraged him to seize it.

6. It has been a custom with princes, in order to hold their states more securely, to build fortresses that may serve as a bridle and bit to those who might design to work against them, and as a place of refuge from a first attack. I praise this system because it has been made use of formerly. Notwithstanding that, Messer Nicolo Vitelli in our times has been seen to demolish two fortresses in Citta di Castello so that he might keep that state; Guidubaldo, Duke of Urbino, on returning to his dominion, whence he had been driven by Cesare Borgia, razed to the foundations all the fortresses in that province, and considered that without them it would be more difficult to lose it; the Bentivoglio returning to Bologna came to a similar decision. Fortresses, therefore, are useful or not according to circumstances; if they do you good in one way they injure you in another. And this question can be reasoned thus: the prince who has more to fear from the people than from foreigners ought to build fortresses, but he who has more to fear from foreigners than from the people ought to leave them alone. The castle of Milan, built by Francesco Sforza, has made, and will make, more trouble for the house of Sforza than any other disorder in the state. For this reason the best possible fortress is — not to be hated by the people, because, although you may hold the fortresses, yet they will not save you if the people hate you, for there will never be wanting foreigners to assist a people who have taken arms against you. It has not been seen in our times that such fortresses have been of use to any prince, unless to the Countess of Forli, when the Count Girolamo, her consort, was killed; for by that means she was able to withstand the popular attack and wait for assistance from Milan, and thus recover her state; and the posture of affairs was such at that time that the foreigners could not assist the people. But fortresses were of little value to her afterwards when Cesare Borgia attacked her, and when the people, her enemy, were allied with foreigners. Therefore it would have been safer for her, both then and before, not to have been hated by the people than to have had the fortresses. All these things considered then, I shall praise him who builds fortresses as well as him who does not, and I shall blame whoever, trusting in them, cares little about being hated by the people.[6]

  • New princes never disarm their subjects. When they are armed, they become yours. When this happens, those whom you suspected become faithful and those who were faithful remain so.
  • When you disarm them, you offend them by showing that you distrust them for cowardice or lack of faith
  • However, when a prince acquires a new state to add to his principality, he must disarm everyone except those who were his partisans in acquiring the state.
  • A prince should never divide his states (hold one with parties, one with fortresses) because when the enemy approaches, the weak party will join the enemy and the strong party won't be strong enough to rule.
  • Princes find more utility in those who were suspect when he gained power than those who he trusted in the beginning.
  • Those who helped him seize it were unhappy with the state to begin with and the prince won't be able to live up to their expectations, while the prince can gain friendships with those who were content with the state to begin with.
  • The prince who has more fear of the people than of foreigners should build fortresses, but the one who has more fear of foreigners ought not to.
  • "I shall praise whoever makes fortresses and whoever does not, and I shall blame anyone who, trusting in fortresses, thinks little of being hated by the people."

[1] Machiavailli enumerates the major methods that rulers seek to consolidate and maintain power:
  • Disarming the population, depriving them of active means of defense from ruler predations, creating loss of support. This leaves the population with passive defense of whining for ruler favor (mobs, protesting), subterfuge and reduced productivity (depiving rulers of resources, since rulers choose not to be productive, preferring the strategic disadvantage of parasites).
  • Factions (rule by divide and conquer), keeping all organized points of view too busy fighting each other, whining for your favor, leaving ruler behavior unobserved and unmolested. This conflict costs productivity (resources diverted to internal conflict and personal defense), leaving rulers with a shrinking economy, destroys "common interest" and precludes a unified or, even loyal defense when external adversity presents itself.
  • Creating external threats such as US hegemony, economic aggression against Japan, causing Pearl Harbor and unifying US population to "common interest" of defense, resulting in a severe loss of freedom, total control of the US economy by those whom profit by conflict (Military Industrial Complex - MIC). The MIC never lost influence post WW2 and kept the bogus "cold war" with the USSR and China going. The USSR rulely imploded due to social / economic impossibilities, causing loss of the "neccessary" enemy (pretext). Humanity breathed a collective sigh of relief, expecting a "peace dividend". Fat chance. The bogus "war of terror" sprang up fully formed, which is subsuming virtually all productive resources and freedom to "defense", collapsing the social / economic survivability of the west. If this is not sufficient, a planetary economic war is raging against the productive, loading them and their progency with debts / bailouts from "too big to fail" financial fraudsters where the bailouts are "proceeds of crime", "blessed" by our corrupt governments.
  • Attempting to make domestic enemies, friends, increasing "consent of the governed". The irreconcilable differences of the bogus left and right philosophical Hegellian Dialectric appears designed to preclude this or any reconciliation from happening. "None of the above" is not an "allowed" option.
  • Some have built fortresses, others have destroyed them. The modern day equivalent of fortress is legally enforced monopolies such as trade unions making it "illegal" to hire replacement workers, placing unions in a position to extort employers (for "fairness") at least until union greed collapses the entire venture. Sometimes, these ventures are also decreed "too big to fail" and bailed out. This is a mammoth fraud of "private profit" (for "connected interests), "public loss".

[2] New rulers have always armed their subjects for the following reasons:
  • Men whom may distrust you become faithful because by arming them, they become able to defend themselves, give you a "benefit of doubt" and return the trust you have extended.
  • Men whom already trust you trust you more by the faith you have expressed in arming them.
  • The root of this is, by arming men, you have expressed, by deed that you do not intend to harm them, earning their loyality.
  • When all subjects cannot be armed, those who are should be given favorable treatment to other subjects. This makes your armed subjects dependant upon you, more willing to assist in control of the unarmed segment of the population. Note that today, because of union perks, members of "public service", the state, whom are, for the most part, involved in the pointing of guns at their fellow citizens have perks and benefits far in excess of what can be achieved by private enterprise. Control of renumeration for "public servants" has long ago slipped the leash of public oversight and "consent of the governed", regarding the taxation required to pay for this is considered to be "not required", despite fact that taxation is vuluntary and compulsion (equated to slavery) is prohibited by REAL law. Income taxation is approximately a century old. It took that long to shift western private, productive resources to unproductive statist control where they have been frittered away to the point that productivity is collapsing in the west.

[3] Rulers whom disarm their subjects face the following consequences:
  • Disarming the population, being an action has the opposite effect of arming them:
  • Trust and therefore support among men is reduced, because, disarming men is always without fail interpreted as lack of a ruler's trust in them, a signal that the ruler intends to aggress and is depriving them of defense. Or, since men give what they get, distrust and lack of faith on a rulers part will be met with the same.
  • Since rulers always need soldiers, disarming the domestic population eliminates a potential source of loyal soldiers. This leaves mercenaries and auxiliaries, with the fatal risks they pose to rules, discussed previously as the only alternatives.
  • When a ruler acquires a new domain, added to his own, he should use loyal soldiers from his old domain, disarm the soldiers of the new domain, apart form those who assisted in acquisition whom, should be, in Machiavaiili's words "rendered soft and effeminate", making them harmless.
  • The very interesting "rendered soft and effeminate" phrase used by Machiavailli regarding how to neutralize those whom once supported you such that they can never turn on you (presumably, once you betray them) can only refer to "Environmental Control, 101", controlling and altering choice by a controlling the conditions the "chooser" perceives according to Intelligent Choice or, choice, in general as proven by Darwin. In particular, "render soft and effeminate" can only mean, eliminate the need for their survival (risk to rulers) skills by pampering them, making them dependent, slothful and lazy. It must be asked: Is this the goal of the "welfare state", to render people "soft and effeminate" so they are unable to defend themselves, or survive when the betrayal (or, inevitable social / economic collapse, itself appearing as an engineered betrayal) comes?

    Machiavaillii, with his insights into the crucial importance of perception management seems to have intuitively been in possession of knowlege centuries in advance of formally proven knowlege such as evolution and behavioral control. This in turn came from his focus of the "reality of matters", as opposed to idealism.

    Note that "effeminate" is as used by Machiavailli and the author intends no slight to admirable, personally responsible, warrier women of today.

[4] Reiterates that using factions (rule by divide and conquor) may distract enemies against each other as opposed to united against the ruler, but the conflict cost and lack of unity of purpose dramatically weakens a ruler and, dooms him when an external threat presents, precluding a unified defence and steering discontented factions to the enemy. Using factions argues weakness both in a ruler and the ability of his regieme to stand.

[5] Greatness in power for rulers is a combination of accomplishment (problem solving) and exaggerated public perception. For a ruler to acquire power requires problems to solve, hence, the ancient Chinese truism "problems are opportunities". It is incumbent on rulers, seeking to acquire power at the expense of others, to provoke enemies just to defeat them and increase power by trubute extracted.

This is the basis of the unacknowleged "war on intelligence and freedom" waged by rulers planetwide, just to place everybody else in bondage and servitude, to achieve tribute (the power of something, from nothing except bullying). The completely bogus "war of terror" is a similar contrived "problem" created by aggression and servitude against some and calling their legitimitate self-defense "terror" and, using "defending" against terror as a pretext to dismantle all aspects of civil society and human rights achieved since the Magna Carta for as Machiavailli would state, "neccessity". Once general servitude is achieved, be aware, each and every one of us subject to "rule of man" will be involved in restoring freedom and the Rule of Law as a basic survival neccessity, against rulers whom are really predators.

[6] Fortresses may be of use, or a hinderance dependent on circumstance. One condition under which fortresses are not "of use" is when a ruler has inflamed a hostile population. They will ally with foregn usurpers and the fortresses and rulers within will be "dealt with". Another reminder of the absolute neccessity of "consent of the governed".


Darwin Reconsidered


Rule of Law


Mathematics of Rule

Thinking 101:

Intelligent Choice

Bill Ross is an electronic design engineer in Oakland, Ontario, Canada. The above article is either an excerpt from, supporting evidence for or logical implication of HumanNature, an evolving objective study of humanity and civilization and dissection of the lies of those who incorrectly believe they are in control from the factual, provable perspective. Feedback is welcome. Email Author

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