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  • Writer's pictureAngelo Corbelli

The Machiavellianism BEHIND POWER

When we think about power, our minds often conjure images of shadowy figures wielding their influence over others for personal gain. This dark vision captures the essence of power struggles in its most feared form. Yet, amidst this realm of dominance, the question of whether it is better to be loved or feared as a leader looms large, leaving us wondering.


This is where Niccolò Machiavelli, a luminary of the Italian Renaissance, makes his appearance. His philosophy is grounded in stark realism, and encapsulated in "The Prince" a treatise that delves into the mechanics of politics with an honesty that is as refreshing as it is alarming. Machiavelli's observations, drawn from the Renaissance Italy, resonate far beyond power in his era. From global diplomacy to the everyday interactions between colleagues in the workplace, the principles he outlined—a keen understanding of human nature—continue to reveal the underlying currents shaping our actions and relationships.

Embracing Realism

At the heart of Machiavelli's discourse on power is the principle of realism. To Machiavelli, true power cannot be grasped by those in delusion or wishful thinking. Instead, it demands an assessment of oneself and the world at large. Realism, in Machiavelli's view, is about peeling away the layers of pretense to confront the raw truths of human nature and the social fabric that binds us.

We all wear masks, playing roles dictated by circumstance and society.

Recognizing this theatricality is not cynicism but a prerequisite for understanding the motives and actions of others and oneself.

Virtù and Fortuna

Another cornerstone of Machiavellian thought is the interplay between Virtù (skill or prowess) and Fortuna (luck or fortune). Machiavelli posits that while skill and determination are paramount, fortune can destroy even the best laid plans. However, true greatness emerges in the face of adversity. The most adept leaders are those who can pivot in the gusts of Fortuna, turning misfortune into opportunity.

Fear and Love

Machiavelli's most contentious assertion might be his belief that it is better for a leader to be feared than loved if one cannot achieve both. This statement often sparks debate, conjuring visions of ruthless governance. Yet, Machiavelli's rationale is grounded in a pragmatic assessment of human loyalty and motivation. Fear, he argues, is a more reliable lever of control than love, which is fickle and can evaporate in the face of self-interest.

Machiavellian Ethics in the Modern World

The question of whether Machiavellian strategies are ethical depends largely on one's perspective and definition of ethics. Consider, for instance, the practice of companies investing in employee training. At first glance, this appears to be a win win scenario: employees gain valuable skills and potential income boosts, while companies enhance their workforce's capabilities. Yet, a deeper analysis might reveal a Machiavellian calculus at work.

A company might engage in such practices not solely out of altruism but as a strategic move to navigate through the thicket of regulations and potential layoffs. By equipping employees with certifications, a leader—be it a director or manager—ensures the company's compliance and shields it from legal repercussions. This action, while beneficial on the surface, carries undertones of self-preservation and strategic positioning.

This example goes to show the subtlety with which Machiavellian strategies can manifest in everyday business decisions. The ethical dimension of such actions is complex, blending deeds with underlying motives of self-interest and protection.

the Machiavellian Undercurrents in Consumerism

Beyond the corporate sphere, Machiavellian principles can also be discerned in broader societal and consumer contexts. Consider the fast-food industry, epitomized by giants like McDonald's. The allure of affordable, convenient food masks a deeper strategy aimed at fostering dependency. The addictive nature of these foods is not unintended but a calculated component of a business model designed to ensure customer loyalty and repeat business.

Again this example illustrates how Machiavellian tactics such as leveraging human vulnerabilities to secure power or profit, are not confined to political realms but appear in our everyday life.

The Dual Edges of Machiavellian Wisdom

The principles articulated by Niccolò Machiavelli, remain as relevant today as they were in the corridors of Renaissance power. However, this enduring relevance comes with a caveat: the embrace of Machiavellian tactics must be tempered by a profound understanding of their potential consequences.

Understanding Machiavellianism is not an endorsement of cynicism or manipulation but an invitation to engage with the world with eyes wide open. It gives us the tools to decipher the motives and strategies that shape actions in politics, business, and social interactions. This knowledge, then empowers us to navigate these waters with greater awareness and to advocate for more ethical and transparent practices.


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Welcome to the blog, Angelo Corbelli is a Mechanical Engineering student at FIU with a passion for the aerospace industry as well as health and fitness.

Feel free to check out the rest of my website, where you can find an extensive collection of the projects I've had the opportunity to work on. You'll also discover a variety of images that provide visual insights into these projects.


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