Machiavelli's "The Prince" and the "Art" of Governing


Machiavelli's "The Prince" and the "Art" of Governing
by Darius Kadivar

The first rule in Politics is Not about distinguishing between Good and Evil but Doing What is Right at the right time in order to take charge and remain in power and at best for the collective good of those who invested their trust in you and your policies. This is true regardless of which political system one lives in be it a Republic, a Monarchy, a Democracy or a dictatorship. Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli (1469 – 1527) author of The Prince a first major yet controversial study on the Art of Politics. With thoughts by Henry Kissinger, Gary Hart, Robert Harriman amongst others.

Documentary on Machiavelli's The Prince ( In 5 Parts)

Part I:

Part II:

Part III:

Part IV:

Part V:

Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli (3 May 1469 – 21 June 1527) was an Italian philosopher/writer, and is considered one of the main founders of modern political science.He was a diplomat, political philosopher, musician, and a playwright, but foremost, he was a civil servant of the Florentine Republic. In June of 1498, after the ouster and execution of Girolamo Savonarola, the Great Council elected Machiavelli as Secretary to the second Chancery of the Republic of Florence.

Like Leonardo da Vinci, Machiavelli is considered a good example of the Renaissance Man. He is most famous for a short political treatise, The Prince, written in 1513, but not published until 1532, five years after Machiavelli's death. Although he privately circulated The Prince among friends, the only work he published in his lifetime was The Art of War, about high-military science. Since the sixteenth century, generations of politicians remain attracted and repelled by the cynical approach to power posited in The Prince and his other works.

Whatever his personal intentions, which are still debated today, his surname yielded the modern political word Machiavellianism—the use of cunning and deceitful tactics in politics. More Here






The Character of The Prince was based on a César Borgia and  Spanish-Italian condottiero, lord, politician, and cardinal who was a contemporary Leader of Machiavelli:

Orson Welles as César Borgia in 1949 film Prince of Foxes:

And Welles as the cynical Harry Lime in Carol Reed's Third Man (1949):

JR Ewing Tells Bobby how the world works:
(NOTE: To Watch Double Click Here) Dallas JR's Golden Rules:

The Price You Pay to Lead ( scene from Primary Colors):

JFK wanted movie "Seven Days in May" made :

Stephan Frye on The difference between the English and Americans and French in terms of Political philosophy and understanding of Democratic ideals and of Justice:

Restoration :

Intro to David Starkey’s remarkable story of King Charles II, who secured the restoration of the English monarchy in 1660 upon the end of Oliver Cromwell's Religious Theocracy. 

British Restoration VS French Revolution : 

Another interesting Take on the same topic from the view point of an Intellectual Bijan Abdolkarimi in Iran today and his take on the differences between the British Glorious Revolution (of 1688 and the British Restoration) which led to a Parliamentary System as opposed to the French Secular Revolution of 1789:

NOTE : Except the scholar makes a mistake by claiming that Charles Ist was not beheaded butreplaced by his daughter. I suppose he confused Queen Elizabeth Ist ( who succeeded to King Henry VIII, the latter having failed to have a son) with Charles II who was restored on the throne a few years after Cromwells death. Or was he thinking and or secretly hoping the same destiny for Crown Prince Reza'seldest daughter Noor ? ;0) Hee Hee ...

Sadegh Ziba Kallam Defends Reza Shah’s Legacy on IRI TV:


IRI deputy Mostafa Tajzadeh speaks about Freedoms under the Pahlavi Regime as opposed to life under the current Constitution ( He was arrested since):





pictory: Bakhtiar Denounces Bazargan's Provisionary Government in exile (1979)

Bakhtiar's Last public appearance as Prime Minister of Imperial Iran:

Pro Bakhtiar Demonstrations in Support of Maintaining the 1906 Constitution:

Abdol Ali Bazargan ( one of Bazarghan's son's) shares his outlook on Iranian History from an Islamic Perspective:

Part II

Bakhtiar's Lessons in Democracy:

Crown Prince Reza Pahlavi meets Diaspora journalists and activists in 1990 in Portland Oregon:


Bakhtiar's last Public Speech in Hamburg Germany (1988):

Bakhtiar in his last public appearance two years before his assassination advocates REGIME CHANGE based on RESTORATION of the 1906 Constitution

Restoring Partying:

Like UK's Charles II , Iran's RP II May Indeed Restore Partying ;0)

Recommended Reading:

GOOD READ: All You Need to Know About The Enlightment Philosophers

REZA's CALL: An Iranian Solidarnosc... by Darius KADIVAR

RESPONDING TO REZA's CALL: An Iranian Solidarnosc in the Making ...
 by Darius KADIVAR



Recommended Watching:

RESTORATION: Shapour Bakhtiar advocates Restoring the Monarchy

Shahzadeh Reza Pahlavi on Parazit

Mehdi Bazargan and the controversial legacy of Iran's Islamic intellectual movement 

DOCUMENTARY: Training of the Future IRI Political Elite ( ARTE TV)


Related Blogs:

RESTORING PARTYING: Noroozetan Peerooz ;0)

CASTING A KING: Shakespeare's Play On The British Monarchy

PRIMARY COLORS: Reza Pahlavi and Trita Parsi Take a Stroll Down The Political Lane ;0)

ROYAL FORUM: Explaining the Concept of a Constitutional Monarchy to a Staunch Republican

What does it mean to be royal? Charlie Rose interviews Jeremy Paxman on the British Monarchy

ROYAL RHINOPLASTY: Stephen Fry On The Imperfections of the Monarchy and Why It Should Be Preserved

HISTORY FORUM: Nader Naderpour on Iran's Constitutional Revolution and European Rennaissance (1996)

pictory: Bakhtiar Denounces Bazargan's Provisionary Government in exile (1979)


more from Darius Kadivar
Mash Ghasem

And thank you FG for the reminder

by Mash Ghasem on

that all interpretations are generational, informed and shaped by the specific expereince of each respective generation.

Your comments on the "information" factor, from late Soviet Union to IR, reminded me of Paul Virilio's " The Information Bomb"


Saudis might a lot more vulnerable than it looks. The King has already asked everyone not to kiss his hand anymore. Too little too late, or....?

Mash Ghasem

Greed sucks, the meltdown in Japan only the latest instance,

by Mash Ghasem on

All the nuclear stations currently spewing radio active waste from the site to Tokyo, to California, to Iceland, are GE built and at least 40 years old. Guess why they were chosen at first and why they're so disfunctional now: GREED.

The top two designers of the projecet resigned 35 years ago, because they said the  saftey features were inadequet and didn't want to be identified with the greed and sheers stupidity involved in such short-term profit seeking projects. As the radio active dusts arrives in Europe and possibly might pay you a visit in la Paris, you might want to reconsider your staunch positions.

Writing in full sentence is a virtue.

Exchanging one liners and pararaphs in tis virtual world is hardly "politics." As we've seen in Iran, N. Africa and else where real politics happens in the streets.

Storm the reality studios.



Machiavelli--not so timeless after all

by FG on

Machiavelli wrote over 500 years ago at a time when modern democracies did not exist.   His advice may indeed have suited a Renaissance Prince at the time who was sort of a mini-king in a tiny kingdom.

To suggest his advice as "good" for rulers of modern democracies is foolish--especially his most famous advice to rulers, "It is better to be feared than loved." 

Anyone can see that Iran's Khamenei believes (wrongly except for the short term) that Machiavelli's advice will work for him.  Probaby the American president who came closest to it was Nixon, culminating in Watergate.  You know how popular that made him. 

Any American ruler following Machiavelli's advice would be a one-timer.  We don't like it.   It also appears that Egyptians, Tunisians, Libyans and Iranians have no intention of putting up with fear-based rule these days and are confident they can oust such rulers.

Machiavelli's dictum could work well for dictators such as Stalin when it was still possible for a dictator to conceal how the other half lives while tyrannizing at home.  However, even by the 1980's moderrn technology such as the DVD and movies, so easily smuggled, were beginning to undermine popular belief in Soviet claims that life in Russia was so much better than life in the West and communism the "wave of the future."  

Information control was breaking down.  All Glasnost did was speed up a process which would have taken longer.

Khamenei is a slow learner.  He rigged the election and instituted "total" censorship based on a questionable presumption it would work as well for him as it worked for earlier dictators.  

Satellite TV, the internet, DVDs, cell phones, etc. blow a hole in all such efforts.  Whatever they pretend, even regime defenders like Reza can't really believe regime claims.  With imperial ambitions and needed both technogy and worldwide trade to fulfill them, Khamenei can't elimimate dangerous technology nor can he seal Iran up behind a Soviet-style Iron Curtain.  Iranians who travel, study or visit relatives abroad know what life is like elsewhere and what they are missing.  

What is the sole result of all regime propaganda?  Deep and wide public mockery--a sign of the growing contempt in which he and his regime is held.  I'd hardly call that "successful" rule or an example of how to survive.  I doubt it is what Machiavelli intended in his most famous advice.  So, as in warfare, different strategies for different times when the pace of social and technological change speeds up. 

Where in 1500 did one find the equivalent of succesful human rights/ democracy movements sweeping through the region?  Each tyrant who falls reduces the of fear and intimidation as a control mechanism for similar regimes elsewhere. The people's attitude becomes "If they can do it, we can do it."  When the most draconian regimes fall, their earlier choices leave them with no safe place to go.  

To stay in power now via Machiavelli's advice would require draconian bloodletting, a la Khadaffi.  In that case, unpopular rulers can expect similar "no fly, no drive" zones espciallly those--like Khamenei and Kadaffi--who are as disliked outside the country as inside.  Bahrain's excepion offers no hope for Khamenei unless he can find a Saudi Arabia of his own.

Three factors--not one--deter Libya style interventin against Saudi misdeeds n Iran--Saudi oil, Iran's feared ambitions and King Abdullahs's general popularity.  Unlike Khadaffi he has substantial legitimacy. His people would indeed rally around him. 

Whether Saudi monarchs will be as popular in a decade or two remains to be seen as change the forces of change influence the thinking of Saudi youth.

Darius Kadivar

MG Jaan in Politics it's Not the Conversation that matters ;0)

by Darius Kadivar on

It's Winning the Argument : 


And Clearly You Lost this one ...


javid shah


Hee Hee ... 


Shab Khosh Azizam ... 




Mash Ghasem

Here we go again

by Mash Ghasem on

Can't we have a grown up conversation here, like Mehraban, in full sentences, without any youtube, please.

Each generation has a different interpretation of ideas before them. Gramsci's is a 20th century attempt for working class organizing. We need a 21th century synthesis from all that has gone before, not an easy task.

Mehraban jan, you're one of the handful that make this site tolreable. Abbas Milani  has  translated Modern Prince to farsi, Shahryar Novin. Not sure if it's online or not, I'll check. Antonio used to be called Nino by comrades,and  family members.

Nino's conception of civil society, popular culture, moral hegemony,... is as amazing as his life. His prison letters are highly recommended.

Baharan Khojasteh Bad, Faravan Rsd Z Rah.

Darius Kadivar

Machiavelli's Prince is Not "Modern" ... He Is Timeless ... ;0))

by Darius Kadivar on

 Machiavellianism  not to be confused with Manichaeism :




Hee Hee ... 


Recommended Blog:


Words For Eternity ...


Thank you DK, Thank you Mash Ghasem

by Mehrban on

Mash Ghasem, I read your links and I feel compelled to post a bullet point in Gramsci's thinking here, as it maybe an important concept to the future of Iran.

[The distinction between political society (the police, the army, legal system, etc.) which dominates directly and coercively, and civil society (the family, the education system, trade unions, etc.) where leadership is constituted through ideology or by means of consent. ]

Although there may be many more distictions from where we are to where we need to be, this point is well worth considering.  


Mash Ghasem

The Modern Prince, and Art of Organizing

by Mash Ghasem on

Antonio Gramsci- The Modern Prince


"Drawing from Machiavelli,
he argues that 'The Modern Prince' – the revolutionary party – is the
force that will allow the working-class to develop organic intellectuals
and an alternative hegemony within civil society. For Gramsci, the
complex nature of modern civil society means that a 'war of position',
carried out by revolutionaries through political agitation, the trade
unions, advancement of 'proletarian' culture, and other ways to create
an opposing civil society was necessary along side a 'war of maneuver'- a
direct revolution- in order to have a successful revolution without a
danger of a counter-revolution or degeneration."