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Utsikt från SAiP
View from my village of Sant’Andrea in Percussina. On a clear day like this, you could see the dome and the rooftops of Florence.

Machiavelli from Hell

– It is a great honor for me to enter this Internetional arena and address your Royal and Princely Highnesses, Presidents, Prime Ministers, scholars, and men of rank and honor. I am accustomed to spending time with people from your circles, because at my current place of residence in hell, you are well represented. However, if you read my compatriot Dante’s account, you will understand that sometimes it is a bit difficult to make oneself heard.

I salute you with respect and wish you all a long and happy life. I also greet you womenfolk, regretting that there are not too many of you in hell, since I have always appreciated your company. However, this situation is gradually improving thanks to your increased participation in civic life, which has made many of your sisters eligible to come here after their life on earth.

I know many of you would rather have seen a different person from the Mediterranean area return from the dead, but you should not blame me. Whether we reside in heaven or hell, we the dead have very little to say. We are accustomed to this fact from our life on earth because the destiny of man is controlled by powerful forces beyond his command, both during and after his life on earth.

In Italy, I am a national hero because they know what I did for my country. I am buried in the church of Santa Croce in Florence, and the inscription on my grave would have tears filling my eyes if I were among the living: No speech of praise can be equal to so great a name. (Tanto nomini nullum par elogium)

My Death and Present Situation

For many people, my name is linked to political violence, cunning, deception and lies, but that is a mistake. The people confuse me with the concept of “Machiavellism,” which I described in my classic work The Prince presented in 1514, almost exactly 500 years ago. The book gave me a bad reputation, but now it is all different.

Today I am recognized as a pioneering political philosopher, writer, and historian. I would have been delighted to listen to these commendations during my lifetime, but better late than never.  However, the praises have reached me in Hell and the reason why I am here, I tell you now.

On my deathbed – together with my loved onesI fell asleep and dreamt I saw a group of miserable men in rags. I asked them who they were, and they replied, “We are the saintly and the blessed; we are on our way to heaven.” I realized that my sins had been severe, but that God is good and would forgive me, and invite me to Paradise in which case I knew what awaited me.

Politics is timeless, I used to say, and this chimp proves my point. As I write in the book, he is a few million years behind in the development, but in his community, you will find the same quest for power, compromise, alliance building, and horse-trading that are evident in contemporary politics.

However, the dream continued and I saw a group of solemn men, noble and serious, speaking of important matters. Among them, I saw the great philosophers, and political scientists of the past: Plato, Plutarch, Tacitus, and others. I asked them who they were, and they replied, “We are the damned of hell.” When I awoke, he told my dear ones about my dream and that I preferred to go to hell to discuss politics with the ancient great philosophers, instead of the boring company of the pious and blessed in Paradise.

They took what I said with composure. My dear Marietta smiled at me as she used to do when I was joking, but I did not, this time. Instead of telling her I was serious, I closed my eyes, and began my journey to the other side.

Learned scholars have long wondered whether this story is true. It is. I am residing in the first circle of hell among the ancient philosophers and other people who were born before the time of Jesus. Because of that, they could not be redeemed by him, and consequently, were denied admission to paradise, despite their impeccable living, exactly as described by my countryman Dante Alighieri in The Divine Comedy.

My Life in Short

First Circle of Hell
Now, I reside in the first circuit of hell together with the great philosophers of antiquity. If you look carefully at the picture, you surely will recognize some of them.

I was born in 1469 in the city of Florence as the son of a lawyer, and died in 1527 because of my old age. It was a time of turmoil and rapid change that passes all understanding. Princes fell to the ground with knives in their backs and the guest of the Pope emptied a glass of wine and fell asleep, never to rise again. French and Spanish troops marched through our country in alliance with any prince desiring to conquer a rival. Pope Alexander’s son, Cesare Borgia, led an army attempting to broaden the Papal States by conquering Italian city-states,

My career in politics started 1498 when the ruling Medici family were thrown out and Florence became a republic. I was appointed secretary of the Second Chancery, essentially a foreign ministry and made secretary of the “Ten of Liberty and Peace,” responsible for the armed forces. I was 29 years at the time and soon thrown into hot water when Cesare Borgia approached our country with his army. I was sent me to meet Cesare, find out his plans, and influence him not to attack our republic. I had him not do that.

As a Florentine emissary, I met with the most important European leaders of the time, such as Louis XII of France, Ferdinand II of Aragon, Emperor Maximilian I of Habsburg, and numerous popes and princes of the Italian city-states.

Piero Soderini
In the Republic of Florence, we had a political system during 10 years, which might be termed pre democratic. Piero Soderini served as prime minister – or gonfaloniere, as we termed it – until he was overthrown and the Medici family returned.

My political career ended in 1412, when the Medici family regained power in Florence and fired me. Shortly thereafter, I was arrested on suspicion of participation in a conspiracy against the new rulers. They had me tortured, but I confessed nothing, and was eventually released. After that, I wrote a book about my political experiences that has become known as The Prince. I dedicated it to Lorenzo de Medici, the prince of Florence to win his favor and awarded a political office.

This was not to happen and it made me sad. However, my work was spread all over Europe, though misunderstood, and slandered to give me a bad name. Yet my book is so groundbreaking that it is still read and quoted after 500 years. What made the book unique was its description of factors benefiting political power, whether morally right or wrong, without passing moral judgment or threatening the sinners with the wrath of God, as was customary in such works. Consequently, the book was banned by the Church and in English plays, I was a villain and my name was corrupted to “Match Evil” and “Match a Villain.”

However, already by the mid-1500s, I was recognized as an innovative political thinker by the French philosopher Jean Bodin. Englishman James Harrington did the same in the 1600s, and this trend has continued to the present. Currently, I am regarded as a brilliant political theorist who adopted human freedom as my guiding principle. My texts can be used by citizens to reveal the game of politics or by politicians to perfect their tactics.

Galileo was my countryman who gave the world the telescope to discover the universe, but the clergy refused to watch. Similarly, many refused to look in my “binoculars” in the form of the book The Prince, to learn about the art of ruling and avoid being deceived.

About the new book, The Prince 2.0

With some trepidation, I once again involve myself in a book concerning the art of power. I had to pay a high price of disgrace and dishonor for my last book on the subject, even after my death.

To be honest, my judgment failed me the last time. Of course, I should have wrapped my recommendations regarding the cynical exercise of power in condemnation, referred to the verdict of God, quoted the Savior, and flattered those whose sympathies I wanted to gain. The term “political correctness” was not invented in my time, and I wonder whether it would have helped because this concept was alien to me. No political correctness of mine caused fortune to stand by me for such a long time.

Many people have asked me why I was appointed to prominent posts in the Republic and assigned important tasks that saved the Republic from ruin. I was only 29 years old and lacked nobility. I hope it is not perceived as bragging – because this is also alien to me – when I say that my ability clearly to speak the truth in what the moment required gave me respect and influence. This quality also provided me success and glory in my time as a civil servant of the Republic. However, the same character traits offered me no luck when I presented The Prince.

If Chamberlain had read and understood The Prince, he had never given in to Hitler in 1938, to take the most obvious case, when a person thought that the exercise of power and morality must be related.

Did people in my time understand The Prince? Has anyone ever understood it? I have asked myself these questions many times. My fate is reminiscent of the fate of Galileo Galilei, to some extent. As you know, he designed a telescope, pointed it at the sky, and found that the Earth was not the center of the universe, but one of several planets rotating around the sun.

Galileo presented his findings and was met by protests from the church hierarchy. He responded by offering them a look through the telescope to distinguish between lies and the truth. What occurred next contradicts all reason: Galileo’s opponents refused to look through the telescope.

Is this not what happened to me? In an analogous way, my adversaries refused to look through my “telescope” to discover that politics and morality are different things. They would have been able to see what I saw and take a new scientific leap, not regarding astronomy, as in the case of Galileo, but regarding the science of government, in which you observe without letting emotions take control.

If this scientific leap had occurred, the political leaders of the democratic world had not been so naive but seen through the sweet talk of authoritarian leaders. I only mention Adolf Hitler because it is the most notable case, though the examples are countless. Instead of recognizing this type of leaders as wicked and evil, the world around them considered them odd characters that could be handled if they were decent themselves.

Our Tuscan wine is unparalleled, and now they named a bottle after me. I suggest you uncork a bottle and relax together with a glass in one of your hands and my book in the other.

Once again, I am offering a “telescope” through The Prince 2.0. I know that the world has changed, but I also know that people are the same. In my days, it concerned saving the people from the folly of the princes; currently, it also concerns saving the people from themselves. People have their destiny in their own hands and are not at the mercy of anyone other than themselves.

To handle this, an understanding of the human nature, as I have commented in my books, could be a good start. This nature has been marked by the most warm-hearted compassion and the bloodiest forms of competition imaginable as well as everything between these extremes. However, you must accept and continue to manage this nature by implementing laws and institutions that utilize what is good, and limit what is bad in this nature.

I thank my brother in spirit in bringing my ideas to the world, Mr. Staffan A. Persson, from Stockholm, Sweden. I understand if you are skeptical about this person because so was I at first. Despite his youth and limited experience, he is only 67, and has done a respectable job. However, if you think otherwise, and you are a prominent journalist, scholar, or politician, you may wonder why I did not let my revelations come upon you, so that could have written this book in cooperation. To get the answer please click ADVENT & IDEAS here or above.

Please comment or help improve this text by mail to me  The book has been edited for spelling and grammatical errors, but this text has not, since it has been frequently updated thanks to the input of some readers. Thank you.)