Machiavelli for Anarchists, Part 3 – Public and Private, Contracts of the Powerful and the Powerless

Machiavelli says in several places that it is important, in order to stay in power, that a ruler avoid being hated – and what this means in practice is quite unequivocal:

“It is perfectly possible to be feared without incurring hatred…if he refrains from laying hands on the property of his citizens and subjects, and on their women.”

Let’s consider what this means. One way to read it, a reading which has a certain ‘liberal’ flavour, is as saying ‘let people keep their own private, extra-political lives intact, and they will be content’. That is, it might be seen as recommending that the political realm be held back from interference in the ‘private’ sphere.

But this has a number of problems.

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