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My contemporary Thomas More wrote the book Utopia about an ideal society that did not exist but in his fantasies. Both Utopia and The Prince can be interpreted as rampant mockery of the visionary theorists and reformers of our time. While I was cursed, More was canonized, from which today’s politicians can learn that it is better to talk about how things should be, rather than how they actually are.

The Advent and Idea of the Book

In the spring of 1514, I presented The Prince to the ruler of the Principality of Florence, Lorenzo de’Medici. The rest is history. In the following centuries, many politicians denounced the book, after which they employed its principles. Other people misunderstood and vilified me. I thought my book would impress important people and help me resume my political career, but that did not happen. *)

After my life on earth, I observed everything that occurred on Earth from my settlement in hell. It was an ordeal, because things I had written to warn against seem to have fallen on stony ground. However, the passage of time gave me new insights that made me want to present a new version of my classic for the modern democratic world. How do you do that from the “other side?” I consulted the angels and the demons and eventually I found an answer.

By transmitting revelations and dreams, I tried to have the most distinguished political scientists, politicians, and journalists embrace my ideas and write a new version of The Prince. Perhaps you – yes exactly you – now reading this text is one of the many persons I tried to influence. My plan was perfect because you wrote and wrote, but not the way I wanted you to write.

You and other talented people presented great ideas to solve political problems, but without the focus on power, that is my hallmark. Your greatest strength turned out to be your greatest weakness, and hindered you realizing my plan. You quickly understood my ideas, but instead of presenting them to the world you expanded and “improved” them to become something other than I intended. You seem to think that politics is about logical problem solving and neglected other human motivations in varying degrees, primarily the pursuit of power and an understanding of man as a political and religious being. Your writing actually made me unhappy.

The situation did not improve until my spirit encountered a certain Staffan A. Persson, on a dark and rainy back street, crapulous, exhausted, sick, without money, abandoned by friends and dog, and with a feeling of only death waiting for him. In that condition, Mr. Persson pledged his soul to relate my thoughts, if I would convey my revelations to him. With this offering to me, a since long dead and slandered man, Mr. Persson had hopes to have his sins forgiven for everything he had done during his life. I hesitated because I understood that his sins must have been dire, but with his soul as hostage, it was worth trying.

My old home in Sant’Andrea in Percussina where I wrote The Prince is now a museum.

This incident and my revelations has resulted in The Prince 2.0. The question now is whether Mr. Persson has been true to me or must pay for his arrogance with his soul burning in hell until the end of days.

Supporting a fate contrary to hell, Mr. Persson had me present a thesis in each of the chapters on how a political leader should act to gain and hold power. A few samples follow:

  • 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 should ensure that the people perceive all economic progress and every achievement as gifts to the people from him and his government to the greatest extent possible.
  • 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.
  • Many elections are determined by appearance, not reality.
  • A prime minister, at times of his choosing, must say one thing to be able to do something else.

These propositions appear true to my philosophy and may provide Mr. Persson some hope of escaping the fires of hell. Another factor supporting Mr. Persson is the many similarities between The Prince 2.0 and The Prince. First, the theme is the same: how a politician acquires and retains power whether prudently and according to the prevailing norms or not. The new book also resembles the predecessor in size and number of chapters. Many chapter headings in the two books are similar, such as the following:

  • Concerning the Way in Which a Prime Minister Should Honor His Word
  • How the Strength of Every Nation Should be Measured
  • Why Prime Ministers Have Lost General Elections
  • Concerning Generosity and Parsimony
  • What a Prime Minister may do to be Admired and Celebrated
  • About the Advisors to a Prime Minister
  • What Fortune Can Effect in Human Affairs, and How She May be Withstood

In Italy, I am venerated with statues and memorials, such as this one in San Gimignano concerning my efforts to organize a national militia. The plaque’s text: Here, near Via de’Fossi and St. Francis Tower, Niccolò Machiavelli, Secretary of the Republic of Florence, in 1507, announced the first teaching of the new art of war to the national militia. When the illegal trade in soldier wages and mercenary armies were abolished, there was a demand for the right of the Italian people to go to war and sacrifice their blood for their country. (Click the image for larger text.)

In the new book, Mr. Persson have me talk about the old times when I collaborated with Leonardo da Vinci or negotiated with Pope Alexander’s son, Cesare Borgia, to save Florence from attack. Famous theses from the Prince are restated slightly modified to suit our times. One of the most famous of them appears like this in a somewhat modernized form:

There is nothing more difficult to carry out, nor more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to abolish than an entitlement. The reformer will make enemies of all those who profit by the old order and only lukewarm defenders among the great mass of the people because the money they save is very modest.

These factors suggest that Mr. Persson may escape hellfire, unless his other sins make this fate inevitable. Of course, he may be accused of desecrating the pride of his country “The Swedish Model,” but that would be unfair. Mr. Persson cannot be held responsible for the statements of his protagonist, that is to say me. Do you think I am joking about serious things in an inappropriate way, do not blame me, but the Swedish political reality that is a bit funny, though not on purpose.

Is there still any reason to have Mr. Persson burn in hell? The answer may be yes and when you read the book, you will see why. However, I will pass the judgment to Him who rules the living and the dead for evermore. Thanks to His infinite wisdom, the verdict of Mr. Persson will be just.

*) Please comment or help improve this text by mail to

The book has been edited for spelling and grammatical errors, but this text has not, since its been frequently updated thanks to the input of some readers. Thank you.