Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Prince- Machiavelli

I gave this book three stars. Actually, it is a well-written classic with a good deal of helpful insights. He is giving counsel to a Prince on how he should govern his affairs to gain and secure a kingdom. The advice is mostly good. Mostly, because at times Machiavelli encourages poor or even evil behavior. Although writing as a believer, it seems, he does not give strict Christian advice. His advice is particularly prudent and pragmatic. For the most part, this works as pragmatism and prudence generally fall in line with a Biblical form. However, when the 'right' way and the pragmatic way are in conflict with one another, Machiavelli encourages the Prince to govern in the way that best fits the advancement of his kingdom, even if it means doing things otherwise considered evil.

Thus, while I commend the reading of this book and adherence to many of its precepts, I cannot give it my tacit approval. Three stars is all it will muster.

There is good advice in this book, not only for princes but for all who are in leadership and positions of authority. However, there is also danger in contemplating the Machiavellian advice. One ought to rule well and ruling well means knowing what is going on around you. However, one ought not to rule too cunningly. The danger in thinking like Machiavelli is that you may find yourself leading with a sharp eye, protecting your turf, and making alliances, improperly. All of these can and should be done, if done according to Biblical principles. A leader ought to build bridges, he ought to look out for trouble ahead, he needs to consolidate powers. The danger is when he jettisons set Biblical principles in order to do so. Machiavelli encourages this. I cannot.

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