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Revised August 12, 2018. The book has been edited for correct English, but this text has not. Please excuse any errors.
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In this book, Machiavelli presents a thesis in each chapter on success in politics. They are about power, to be good, appearance vs. reality, politics as theater, the art of selling, and more.

This book poses this question: What advice would Machiavelli give today’s politicians to gain and retain power? Machiavelli answers the question with a twinkle in his eye, but you may not necessarily like his answer. You may even hate them.

In principle, he recommends politicians to apply cuddle capitalism and create an overprotective nanny state, although he does not use those terms, instead talking about an absolute state. Are these good pieces of advice? Are they ethical? No, but it is not Machiavelli’s purpose to promote morality, but explore what gives political success.

Machiavelli was a diplomat and government official in Florence 500 years ago. He wrote the book The Prince, which became world famous for its straightforward views about the nature of political power. Today Machiavelli is seen as a pioneering political philosopher and proponent of liberty and freedom. On the Internet, distinguished persons like Salman Rushdie and Henry Kissinger honor him.

Machiavelli’s object of study is Sweden you may wonder what it has to do with America, or the UK, or Germany, or any other country. (You may also ask yourself why The Prince, which described politics in Florence 500 years ago, has been studied ever since.)

Machiavelli answered this question long ago by stating that politics is a timeless and borderless phenomenon where the same types of issues tend to repeat themselves, because people of all times have had the same desires and passions that produce the same results.

In The Prince 2.0, politics is seen as a quest for people’s love and votes to win the next election. According to Machiavelli a leading politician – in this case a prime minister – should recognize this:

  • A prime minister must maximize his power to shape and better the lives of ordinary people, even if they do not always understand what is best for them.
  • A prime minister always should portray himself as the representative of the good.
  • A prime minister, at times of his choosing, must say one thing to be able to do something else.
  • Many elections are determined by appearance, not reality.
  • A prime minister should not attempt to lecture people or make demands on them. His mission is to listen to people and respond to their demands; otherwise, the people will elect someone else to perform the task.
  • A virtuous prime minister ought to adopt such a course that his citizens will always, in every sort and kind of circumstance, have need of the state and of him, and then they will always vote for him.
  • There is no correlation between the righteousness of an idea in theory and how it operates in practice.

If you like all of these theses, they had not been Machiavellian. He describes how politics works, irrespective of whether it is good or bad. Is he exaggerating? Certainly, but that is his style. Anyway, many successful politicians have applied his theses.

If you are a conservative you may be amused by Machiavelli’s description of the way politicians are striving to gain power by creating an absolute state, where the secular and spiritual powers have merged to dominate people’s lives.

If you are a liberal you may be amused by Machiavelli’s description of the benefits of a strong state with high taxes and entitlement, to give the politicians the resources needed to shape society.

This dual perspective is typical of Machiavelli. In his writing, he could stand next to the prince advising him how to suppress a conspiracy. The next moment, standing next to the conspirators, he could advise them how to mix the poison.

The person who has conveyed these revelations from Machiavelli is Staffan A. Persson, from Sweden. Since he is a specialist in sales and marketing, and has written a much-acclaimed book on advertising, he claims that the disciplines of selling and the art of politics have a lot in common. Both are essentially about finding out what people want and satisfy their needs, following this thesis presented in the book:

  • A prime minister ought to regard politics as a market in which voters are customers whose votes can be purchased, with reforms serving as the means of payment. The sizes of associated entitlements are determined by availability of tax and loan opportunities and the number of votes needed to win the next election.

Is this the reality of politics? After reading the book, you will know and possibly become more successful if you are into politics. If you are a voter, you will most certainly gain a higher regard for the challenges of politics.

On the following pages, you will find a more in depth presentation of the book.

*) Please comment or help to improve this text by mail to machia@comhem.se. The book has been edited for spelling and grammatical errors, but this text has not, since it has been frequently updated.