Tuesday September 30, 2014

Machiavelli: The Prince of Paradox

Listen to Full Episode 53:59

Detail from "Portrait of Niccolò Machiavelli" by Santi di Tito.

Niccolo Machiavelli's name is synonymous with treachery and cunning. His most famous book, The Prince, was written exactly 500 years ago, and since then it's inspired political leaders around the world. It's been called a handbook for gangsters. Yet some scholars believe that it's a brilliant satire. IDEAS producer Nicola Luksic explores the case for both sides.

"It is safer to be feared than to be loved."

Niccolo Machiavelli wrote The Prince in 1513. Its power over the way we think about politics is as strong as ever. But was he a philosopher king telling politicians to push morality out of way? Or was he a brilliant satirist with a keen eye on the excesses of power?

Participants in the program (in order of appearance):

Clifford Orwin - Professor of Political Science, Classics at Jewish Studies at the University of Toronto, visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.

Michelle Clarke -  Assistant Professor of Government, Dartmouth College.  Forthcoming book on Machiavelli's republican politics.

Harvey Mansfield - Professor of Government at Harvard, senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford. Translator of Machiavelli's The Prince, and author of Machiavelli's Virtue; and Machiavelli's New Modes and Orders.

Erica Benner - Fellow in Political Philosophy at Yale. Author of Machiavelli's Ethics; Machiavelli's Prince: A New Reading, and is working on a forthcoming book Be Like the Fox.

Special thanks to Rick Mercer for narrating the works of Machiavelli for this documentary. We used Harvey Mansfield's translation of The Prince (1998).