As They Are, The Machiavellian Perspective

Machiavelli's political philosophy is essentially historical. By this I mean to say that his analysis does not proceed from lofty principles derived from abstract reasoning or fanatical devotion to one particular idea. He says that civil law just is the judgment of the ancients. Therefore, learning the art of governance, learning politics, necessarily entails learning history.

His political outlook is anti-revolutionary, meaning that, to him, the world and the men found within it have not fundamentally changed since ancient times. There is no ushering in of a new age, no radical discontinuity with the past. The is not the politics of a Rousseau, a Hegel, or a Marx.

In this way, Machiavelli's perspective is illiberal and non-ideological. Politics is the art of organizing men as they are found in nature and not as they are thought to be according to the whims and sentiments of the supposed intellectual.

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