The Prince 2.0: Applying Machiavellian Strategy To Contemporary Political Life 9811503524, 9789811503528, 9789811503535

This Pivot updates the ideas of the famous political philosopher from the Italian Renaissance, Machiavelli, for the 21st

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The Prince 2.0: Applying Machiavellian Strategy To Contemporary Political Life
 9811503524,  9789811503528,  9789811503535

Table of contents :
Acknowledgments......Page 7
Contents......Page 8
Chapter 1: Introductory Remarks......Page 10
Chapter 2: On the Objectives of Governments: Preserving the Sovereignty of the State......Page 15
Chapter 3: On the Objectives of Governments: Preventing Domestic Conflicts......Page 20
Chapter 4: On Human Nature and How to Control It......Page 29
Chapter 5: The Required Virtues of Political Leaders in Democratic Societies......Page 39
Chapter 6: When Is It Necessary to Entrust Governance to One Individual: To Save a Democracy and Its Principles......Page 45
Chapter 7: The Necessity to Entrust Power to One Individual: To Create a New State......Page 51
Chapter 8: The Required Qualities of a Prince......Page 61
Chapter 9: How Princes Ought to Be Perceived......Page 69
Chapter 10: Why Princes Are Becoming More Popular Today......Page 78
On Machiavelli and Machiavellianism:......Page 82
On the Management of Ethnocultural Diversity:......Page 83
On Lee Kwan Yew:......Page 84
Index......Page 85

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The Prince 2.0: Applying Machiavellian Strategy to Contemporary Political Life Jean-François Caron

The Steppe and Beyond: Studies on Central Asia Series Editor Jean-François Caron Department of Political Science and International Relations Nazarbayev University Astana, Kazakhstan

Surrounded between Europe and Asia, Central Asia has been neglected by many experts for a very long time. Many reasons may explain this situation, such as the language barrier and the fact that the region remained inaccessible for the most part of the 20th Century. However, this situation is clearly about to change in light of the growing interest of the academic interest for this region and the purpose of this series is to enhance the understanding of this region which is has always been at the crossroad of various civilizations. From a multidisciplinary perspective, this series examines the history of the region, its past struggles with colonialism and communism as well as the political and sociological challenges Central Asian countries are currently facing with the emergence of the new Silk Road and the strategic power shift in the region. It also proposes to render accessible to English-speaking readers the important oral literary tradition of Central Asia, which is one of the largest in the world. More information about this series at

Jean-François Caron

The Prince 2.0: Applying Machiavellian Strategy to Contemporary Political Life

Jean-François Caron Department of Political Science and International Relations Nazarbayev University Astana, Kazakhstan

ISSN 2524-8359     ISSN 2524-8367 (electronic) The Steppe and Beyond: Studies on Central Asia ISBN 978-981-15-0352-8    ISBN 978-981-15-0353-5 (eBook) © The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019 This work is subject to copyright. All rights are solely and exclusively licensed by the Publisher, whether the whole or part of the material is concerned, specifically the rights of translation, reprinting, reuse of illustrations, recitation, broadcasting, reproduction on microfilms or in any other physical way, and transmission or information storage and retrieval, electronic adaptation, computer software, or by similar or dissimilar methodology now known or hereafter developed. The use of general descriptive names, registered names, trademarks, service marks, etc. in this publication does not imply, even in the absence of a specific statement, that such names are exempt from the relevant protective laws and regulations and therefore free for general use. The publisher, the authors and the editors are safe to assume that the advice and information in this book are believed to be true and accurate at the date of publication. Neither the publisher nor the authors or the editors give a warranty, express or implied, with respect to the material contained herein or for any errors or omissions that may have been made. The publisher remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations. This Palgrave Pivot imprint is published by the registered company Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. The registered company address is: 152 Beach Road, #21-­01/04 Gateway East, Singapore 189721, Singapore

To my princess Marie-Gabrielle


This book is the result of my experience as a former political advisor at the Canadian House of Commons, as an observer of political life and as a political theorist. This probably explains my fascination for Machiavelli. I am therefore grateful to all the people who have played a role in these three aspects of my life. I am particularly thankful to Lucien-Pierre Bouchard, Roch Bouchard, Jocelyne Girard-Bujold, François Houle, Dimitrios Karmis, Gilles Labelle, Guy Laforest, Gabriel Loubier, Koula Mellos, Douglas Moggach and Marc-André Nadon. I am also thankful to my students whose constant questions about the usefulness of reading ancient classics have forced me to think of how “old ideas” are still relevant today by forcing me to connect them with contemporary examples. This book is the result of my efforts. I also wish to thank the people who have accepted to read and comment the previous versions of this project, namely Venera Caron, Jacob Dreyer, Bagnur Karbozova and Lie Philip Santoso.



1 Introductory Remarks 1 2 On the Objectives of Governments: Preserving the Sovereignty of the State 7 3 On the Objectives of Governments: Preventing Domestic Conflicts13 4 On Human Nature and How to Control It23 5 The Required Virtues of Political Leaders in Democratic Societies33 6 When Is It Necessary to Entrust Governance to One Individual: To Save a Democracy and Its Principles39 7 The Necessity to Entrust Power to One Individual: To Create a New State45 8 The Required Qualities of a Prince55




9 How Princes Ought to Be Perceived63 10 Why Princes Are Becoming More Popular Today73 Additional Readings77 Index81


Introductory Remarks

Abstract  Written in a time where democracy was not the norm, it may be difficult to understand the relevance of Machiavelli’s Prince today. This chapter seeks to explain how Machiavelli’s understanding of tyranny remains valid in a democratic context, especially for the sake of establishing a new society and for preventing a free society from collapsing. Keywords  Tyranny in a democratic context • Virtu • Prince

Written in a few weeks, Niccolo Machiavelli’s Prince is certainly one of the most misinterpreted books in Political Science. It is indeed unfortunate that many people have understood it simply as a treaty on how to keep power at all costs1 while many others have read it as an evil book that teaches rulers how to deceive others. Its aim is far more ambitious than these mere intents and must rather be interpreted as a treaty about the common good and collective freedom. While other authors who preceded him also emphasized these concerns in their works, Machiavelli’s ­originality 1  This is clearly Dick Morris’ short-sighted interpretation of Machiavelli’s book. See The New Prince: Machiavelli Updated for the Twenty-First Century. New  York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 1999.

© The Author(s) 2019 J.-F. Caron, The Prince 2.0: Applying Machiavellian Strategy to Contemporary Political Life, The Steppe and Beyond: Studies on Central Asia,




lies in the main premise at the core of his investigation which marked a revolution in the field of Political Science. Indeed, Machiavelli is the first political theorist who openly built his theory on the way human beings truly behave with one another, which played a major role in his understanding of the objectives that ought to be pursued by societies and in his advices on how societies should be ruled and organized. His intention to propose a new understanding of politics was famously claimed in chapter 15 of the Prince in which he wrote: It remains now to see what ought to be the rules of conduct for a Prince towards subject and friends. And as I know that many have written on this point, I expect I shall be considered presumptuous in mentioning it again, especially as in discussing it I shall depart from the methods of other people.

This is the reason why Leo Strauss has considered Machiavelli as the founder of modern political philosophy by stepping away from the ancient way of thinking of Plato and Aristotle in order to create a brand new assessment of politics by refusing to put morality at the center of his understanding of this type of collective action.2 This clear and explicit revolutionary desire on the part of Machiavelli has led many individuals to misinterpret his work. Granted: it is true that Machiavelli’s new approach has led him to celebrate immoral deeds in the sphere of politics, which is why common opinion now considers him as “a teacher of evil”3 whose Prince was written with Satan’s fingers4 and why his name is now a synonym of all diabolical actions. This interpretation is reinforced by the fact that many evil actions or dictators have been closely associated with Machiavelli. For instance, we know that Mussolini has sent a copy of the Prince with a handwritten note to Hitler5 and that Catherine de Médicis apparently read it before ordering the St. Bartholomew’s Massacre. This view on Machiavellianism has expanded beyond the world of politics and has led the business literature to define those who are willing to exploit

2  Leo Strauss, What is Political Philosophy? And Other Studies. Chicago and London: Chicago University Press, 1988, p. 40. 3  Leo Strauss, Thoughts on Machiavelli. Chicago and London: Chicago University Press, 1958, pp. 9–10. 4  Claude Lefort, Machiavel, le travail et l’œuvre. Paris: Gallimard, 1972, pp. 85–92. 5   Éric Weil, “Machiavel aujourd’hui”, Critique, Vol. 8, No. 46, March 1951, pp. 233–253.



and oppress others as having a “Machiavellian” personality.6 Such an appraisal is easy to understand, since Machiavelli did not hesitate to tell political leaders to kill their enemies and their family members or to execute their friends on the market square. His desire to rethink the way we ought to understand politics is also marked by his use of a new rhetoric, namely his notion of “virtu” that has nothing to do with the commonly used concept of virtue. While the latter refers to honesty, magnanimity and other similar higher moral actions, Machiavelli rather redefined the notion as being in part synonymous with immoral deeds. In this sense, and compared with ancient political philosophers, it is clear that Machiavelli’s work has marked a breaking point and that he has influenced his successors—such as Thomas Hobbes—who did not hesitate to advocate the same ideas about human nature. With Machiavelli, the desire to think of societies as a way to realize higher moral ends was abandoned in favor of more down to earth objectives that are in line with human passions. Immorality became for the first time a fundamental part of the way we must understand the foundation and the structure of societies. Despite these explicit calls to act immorally, it would however be a mistake to summarize Machiavelli’s conception of politics as being an activity that is exclusively limited to murders, treasons and attempts to usurp power. While his conception of “virtu” can mean that a Prince may have to kill a political enemy, it may also require a Prince to show mercy if this will lead to better outcomes for his society. This is why, it is important to go beyond Machiavelli’s theory of means as it is simply a tool at the service of a higher objective that ought to be sought by all societies, namely peace, order and a capacity to allow their citizens to remain free. This is why, the Machiavellian conception of “virtu” is amoral rather than immoral, as it is clearly exposed in chapter 15 of the Prince.7 If posing  Indeed, “Machiavellianism is included as one of the three personality traits collectively referred to as the ‘dark triad’. Within the management literature, scholars group Machiavellianism, narcissism and psychopathy together as the ‘dark triad’ given all three personality traits share the common thread of malevolence demonstrated within interpersonal relationships. An individual displaying Machiavellianism generally exhibits three interrelated values that drive behavior: (1) an openness to using manipulation to bring about desired results; (2) a distrustful view of others; and (3) prioritizing results above morality (i.e., the ends justify the means thinking)”, in Christopher E.  Cosans and Christopher S. Reina, “The Leadership Ethics of Machiavelli’s Prince”, Business Ethics Quarterly, Vol. 28, No. 3, 2018, pp. 276–277. 7  Machiavelli wrote the following: “It is essential for a Prince who desires to maintain his position, to have learned how to be other than good and to use or not to use his goodness as necessity requires” (chapter 15). 6



a moral action—like showing mercy or forgiving an enemy of the state— will be the best way to reach these state’s objectives, then the Prince should not hesitate to act morally. On the other hand, if an immoral action will be the best way to maintain peace, stability and civic freedom, then the Prince should act accordingly. These precisions about the nature of Machiavelli’s “virtu” are well known and have already been discussed at length by renowned scholars like Leo Strauss or Quentin Skinner. However, another source of confusion about Machiavelli’s book still has not been sufficiently addressed, namely the meaning of a “Prince” in our democratic era. Indeed, we can wonder what is the relevance of an autocratic figure in a world that now values shared-governance and an active citizenry. So, does it mean that the figure of a Machiavellian Prince is now anachronistic and that the only relevance of the book for political scientists of the twenty-first century solely lies with its understanding of the role of morality in politics and the objective that ought to be sought by politicians? As this book will suggest, this would be a mistake to ignore the contemporary relevance of the Prince since the concentration of power in the hands of one man can still be necessary in a democratic context. Machiavelli’s theory remains today as relevant as it was in 1513. Indeed, even if it now agreed by most scholars that Machiavelli’s preferred regime was a republic organized around a well-ordered constitution that favored the political involvement of the people, he nonetheless agreed that the rule of one man was an appropriate solution in the case of two exceptional circumstances.8 As it has been summarized adequately by Erica Benner,9 the first circumstance may be for the sake of establishing a new city, while the other scenario is when a free society is about to collapse. In this latter case, if an entrepreneurial ruler able to prevent this situation from happening ought to arise, then Machiavelli agreed that granting him with “an almost kingly power” may very well be the best possible option to envisage. But, like it has been argued by Raymond Aron, this form of tyranny should not be equated with those of Hitler, Mussolini or Stalin. It is rather a form of rule that resembles the one that was commonly given to ­dictators under the Roman Republic, namely a temporary power for the sake of preserving the state and its institutions.  This is especially clear in Book 1, Chapter 9 of his Discourses on Livy.  Erica Benner, Machiavelli’s Ethics. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2009, p. 407. See also Raymond Aron, Machiavel et les tyrannies modernes. Paris: Éditions de Fallois, 1993, p. 71. 8 9



One way that will allow Machiavelli’s interprets to have a better understanding of what a Prince can resemble today is to re-write this classic of political theory by offering new examples and relying on famous contemporary Princes who have acted in accordance with Machiavelli’s teaching. Instead of focusing on the now largely unknown figures of Cesare Borgia, Francesco Sforza and Agathocles, this book will rather refer to contemporary characters, such as Charles de Gaulle, Muammar Gaddafi, Lee Kwan Yew and Nursultan Nazarbayev in order to highlight the significance of today’s Princes, when they may be required and the kind of actions they ought to use. My hope is that this re-writing will be as faithful as possible to the original text in a way that will allow contemporary readers to have a better understanding of the advices Machiavelli gave more than 500 years ago and how they can now be applied through the use of political leaders that people of today are more familiar with. Jean-François Caron Nur-Sultan, July 2019


On the Objectives of Governments: Preserving the Sovereignty of the State

Abstract  The objective of all societies ought to be their independence and stability. In this perspective, rulers must take all necessary measures to ensure their country’s sovereignty even if it means resorting to immoral actions. Keywords  Foreign domination • Sovereignty • Independence

Many authors have talked about what ought to be the objectives of governments. However, the finalities I’m ascribing to political associations are rather different from the ones advocated by ancient political philosophers who were concerned about the nature of the best political regime as a way to realize a higher moral or philosophical aim. It is clear to me that this has led them to commit a fundamental mistake. Indeed, through their investigations, they have imagined states that were never seen in the past, that are not currently visible and will never exist in the future. Their idealism has led them to forget the true nature of human beings who are at the center of political associations and have, consequently, produced fantasies that are not helpful at all. The science of politics must rather be interpreted as a policy science where wisdom is replaced by craftiness in order to find concrete solutions that will allow societies to remain free of ­external © The Author(s) 2019 J.-F. Caron, The Prince 2.0: Applying Machiavellian Strategy to Contemporary Political Life, The Steppe and Beyond: Studies on Central Asia,




i­nterferences, peaceful and prosperous as well as insuring people’s freedom and happiness. In this perspective, the first imperative that rulers cannot ignore is to protect their state from foreign domination, which will mean that they will need to find solutions in this regard that will not expose its sovereignty, and coincidentally the freedom of their citizens, at the mercy of external forces. While it is clear that freedom means that citizens ought to be able to pursue their ends without being oppressed by others, it is also obvious that this cannot be possible when the state is subjected to another nation. Therefore, the quest for freedom also means that a state must keep its autonomy, independence and its capacity to give itself its laws, institutions and customs. Considering the anarchical nature of the international order, good intentions are unfortunately not an option for leaders who will have to rely on ways that will deter other nations from impeding their sovereignty. This has always been a reality of our world and this is why states and political leaders who are neglecting it ought to be severely criticized.1 Fulfilling this objective will inescapably imply resorting to actions that may appear immoral, such as relying on threats, betraying an alliance or an ally.2 This is why we can only praise a leader like Charles de Gaulle who has been able to make France one of the five great countries in the current world’s affairs after it had lost this status following World War II. Left in shreds after this conflict, General de Gaulle was motivated after his return to office in 1958 to make France a great power once again. One of the ways he found to achieve this goal was to give to his country the same military power as the Americans and the Soviets, namely the nuclear bomb 1  As Machiavelli wrote in his Discourses on Livy, “Present Princes and modern republics that lack their own soldiers for defense and offense ought to be ashamed of themselves (…) [must know] that such a defect is not through a lack of men apt for the military but through their own fault, that they have not known how to make their men military” (Book 1, Section 21). In the Prince, he argues that “the chief foundations on which all states rest, (…) are good laws and good arms” (Chapter 12). In his Art of War, he writes that “good institutions without the help of the military are not much differently disordered than the rooms of a superb and regal palace, even though adorned with gems and gold, when, not being roofed over, they would not have anything to protect them from the rain” (Introduction). 2  As Machiavelli wrote in his Discourses, “(…) for when the entire safety of our country is at stake, no consideration of what is just or unjust, merciful or cruel, praiseworthy or shameful, must intervene. On the contrary, every other consideration being set aside, that course alone must be taken which preserves the existence of the country and maintains its liberty” (Book 3, Section 41).



in 1960. For de Gaulle, developing this weapon of mass destruction was a way to ensure France’s security, and it is in this sense that we can understand his famous reply to the Russian ambassador in France who told him that France would remain quiet if the USSR would drop an atomic bomb on Marseille. He replied to the man that, if it was ever the case, they would for sure die together since France would also drop a similar bomb on Leningrad and Moscow. For de Gaulle, the dissuasion associated with the risk of mutual destruction was a form of retaliation that made the attack highly improbable, if not impossible, and was, as a consequence, a way to guarantee France’s sovereignty. The same can be said with Kim Jong-un who has made North Korea’s sovereignty virtually inviolable with his nuclear weapon program and its display of intercontinental missiles. With this deterrent force, any potential plans on the part of the United States to invade its territory and to replace its regime by a democracy are now null and void, as such an action would entail a retaliation by North Korea that might bring the world to a nuclear holocaust. Of course, many would probably argue that threatening other states with an indiscriminate weapon of mass destruction is highly immoral. But I would rather say that the raison d’état is far more important and that the preservation of a state’s independence does not depend upon moral principles, but can only rely on force.3 Moreover, the development of the atomic bomb by de Gaulle also served another purpose for France’s independence that was quietly threatened by the American giant that had been determining its foreign policy since 1945. De Gaulle was not denying the importance of fighting alongside France’s allies, but if it had to be the case it should have been for his countrymen’s benefice. This independence toward one’s ally comes with 3  The importance of preserving a state’s independence, even at the expense of immoral means of action, can be highlighted in Machiavelli’s recall of the Battle of Caudine Forks. Trapped in a valley by the Samnites, the Romans knew that defending themselves would lead to their certain death. Knowing that, their enemy made them an offer to negotiate a very unfavorable surrender, namely to go back to Rome without their weapons. Although that offer was inglorious and humiliating, the Romans knew that refusing it would have meant the entire destruction of their army and would have weakened their city and made it vulnerable to any kind of attacks for many generations. Accepting the Samnites’ offer was, on the other hand, allowing the Romans to heal their wounds and seek revenge. For the sake of insuring Rome’s independence, Machiavelli writes in his Discourses that “all considerations of justice or injustice, mercy or cruelty, nor glory or of shame, should be allowed to prevail” and that leaders ought to leave all these considerations aside and do whatever is necessary to “save the life and liberty of country” (Book 3, Sections 41–42).



the capacity to say “no” without having to suffer the consequences for this refusal. If a country’s sovereignty depends largely on the goodwill of another power, then this power has the capacity to force its ally to bandwagon with him, which might make its economic, military or diplomatic policies oriented toward the interests of this ally and not of its citizens. There is therefore no better ways for political leaders to ensure the sovereignty of their state than by having good arms that will not make them dependable on the goodwill of allies. The reason is simple: not only allies can use your dependency as a leverage in their favor—which will create a situation no less terrible than having been conquered by them—but also because you cannot rely entirely on their willingness to contribute to your defense if you are under attack. History has shown us numerous examples of states that backed up from their promise to other states. As long as an ally is at peace, other nations are always willing to uphold their word and promises. It is however quite another story in times of war. When it happens, allies are very often nowhere to be found and states will lose their independence and end up in political servitude. Making this mistake would be like relying on mercenaries for the state’s security. Having no deep reasons to risk their lives and interests for the sake of another entity, these individuals were very likely to run away from their contractual responsibilities at any time.4 Relying on the promise of other states that are perceived as allies was a mistake made in 1990 by Saddam Hussein when he made the ill-fated decision to invade Kuwait. A few days before the invasion, the former Iraqi dictator was told by the Americans—with whom he had developed close military ties during the 1980–1988 Iran–Iraq War—that they had no interest in conflicts between Arab states and that they were not associated with Kuwait. Saddam Hussein thought that he had the green light from the United States and 4  In the Prince, Machiavelli writes “Let me say, then, that the armies with which a Prince defends his state are either his own or are mercenaries, auxiliaries, or mixed. Mercenaries and auxiliaries are useless and dangerous. Any man who founds his state on mercenaries can never be safe or secure, because they are disunited, ambitious, undisciplined, and untrustworthy— bold fellows among their friends, but cowardly in the face of the enemy; they have no fear of God, nor loyalty to men. They will protect you from ruin only as long as nobody assaults you; in peace you are at their mercy, and in war at the mercy of your enemies. The reason is that they have no other passions or incentives to hold the field, except their desire for a bit of money, and that is not enough to make them die for you. They are all eagerness to be your soldiers as long as you are not waging war; when war breaks out, they either turn tail or disappear” (Chapter 12).



that his ally would simply issue verbal condemnation against this invasion and would not take active measures against Iraq, as it was the case under the Reagan and Bush administrations that headed off attempts by the Congress to impose sanctions for Iraq’s violations of international law during its war against Iran. His miscalculation of his ally’s real intent led to a colossal military defeat in 1991, a weakening of his regime throughout the 1990s until he was overthrown from power in 2003.5

5  Machiavelli is showing himself very skeptical about states and leaders being true to their words when it comes to international politics. He’s giving in this regard many examples of entities that turned their back from their allies in order to get an advantageous treatment for themselves and at the expense of their former partner. This is what he is implying in his Discourses when he is talking about the unreliability of coalitions. He writes: “In the year 1483 all Italy leagued together against the Venetians; who, being on the verge of defeat and no longer able to field an army, succeeded in corrupting Ludovico Sforza, governor of Milan, and concluded a treaty with him by which they not only recovered all the cities they had lost, but actually seized a portion of the principality of Ferrara. And thus, although they had been losers in war, yet they proved to be gainers in peace” (Book 3, Section 11). He emphasizes the same point in his Florentine Histories in which he wrote that “force and necessity, and not written treaty obligations, cause Princes to observe their faith” (Book 8, Section 22).


On the Objectives of Governments: Preventing Domestic Conflicts

Abstract  Alongside preserving a nation’s independence, rulers should also prevent domestic political chaos, which can take various forms, namely an opposition between social groups or between different ethnocultural groups. Maintaining peace, order and good governance will imply preventing the domination of one group over the others. Keywords  Common good • Civil disorder • Preventing domination

Preserving a nation’s sovereignty is just the first objective that ought to be sought by political leaders. But, independence will be of very little use if leaders cannot maintain peace and stability within their state’s borders. As history has shown us, domestic conflicts can cripple a state more than a war. This begs the question: What is the source of civil strife? This is what I will explore in this chapter. While many may have this romantic view of people being entirely dedicated to the common good and whose belonging to the same national community takes precedence over their own private interests, I must conclude that this is not a natural inclination of human beings. On the contrary, men are naturally selfish and will always give priority to what is good for themselves. This natural feature of men explains why they will tend to © The Author(s) 2019 J.-F. Caron, The Prince 2.0: Applying Machiavellian Strategy to Contemporary Political Life, The Steppe and Beyond: Studies on Central Asia,




unite with others only when they share common interests. As a result, groups are created and tensions between them will inevitably arise when their particular interests will clash with one another, which will become a source of instability. Therefore, the goal of Princes and political leaders is, firstly, to find ways that will keep these tensions under control and, secondly, to find mechanisms that will balance out people’s natural inclinations by finding ways that will lead them to favor the common good over their private interests. Being able to offset people’s natural instincts with this artificial devotion to the general interest ought to be the main objective of political leaders. The challenge is of course to find ways that will make this possible. Historically, the most dangerous opposition has always been the antagonism between the rich whose common desire have always been to command and to increase their personal wealth at the expense of the people whose common desire is simply to remain free and to protect their small property.1 Peace, order and good governance will only be possible when these two humors are kept under control. When one dominates the other, instability and disharmony between co-citizens will result from this situation. This is indeed how the destructive forces of ingratitude, hatred and envy between groups will arise. Such an imbalance must therefore be avoided at all cost by states and political leaders as this brings chaos and violence. The people’s capacity to preserve their personal freedom and their possibility to pursue their conception of happiness is fundamental in order to avoid political chaos and civil disorder. When this is no longer the case and people start feeling frustrated, societies will start seeing the rise of extreme discourses that will simply grow stronger and lead to further and more pronounced instability. This frustration can take many forms. For instance, the domination of the proletariat by the bourgeois has led the former to challenge the deep roots of their society and have established totalitarian regimes in which individuals—the bourgeoisie—were exterminated, while those who were supposed to benefit from a Marxist revolution—the workers—ended up living in a system of terror that led them with no personal freedom. Nowadays, we see in many advanced capitalist societies a significant rise in the anger of ordinary people who, for various reasons, have come to believe that the system is no longer working in their 1  Machiavelli wrote in the Prince that “In every city there are two different humors, one rising from the people’s desire not to be ordered and commanded by the nobles, and the other from the desire of the nobles to command and oppress the people” (Chapter 9).



favor. As a consequence, the foundations of Western societies are now being challenged by populist leaders who are promising to change things and to find solutions to people’s wrath. It cannot be discounted that some of them may actually be able to make the capitalist system more balanced and humane, thereby answering in a satisfactory manner the demands of people by making it more equitable. However, in light of their current proposals, there is no reason to be optimistic in this regard. The economic imbalances created mainly by capitalism in these societies have led to unbalanced political programs that will bring about—if they are ever applied—a growing frustration of other social groups (either the middle class or the rich). This cycle of political rage can only be stopped when political leaders are able to find balanced solutions that will allow every group in the society to feel like they can pursue their own conception of the good life by having an equitable and fair amount of financial resources as well as perspectives of climbing up the social ladder. The question is which humor is more harmful to the state’s stability? Is it the one of the people or the one of the nobles? While it has been common to see constitutional architects focused in the past—like in the United States2—on the necessity to prevent the people from posing a threat to the stability of the state and the freedom of their co-citizens, I believe that the focus should rather be on preventing the rich from acquiring too much influence. After all, we must realize that there is something fundamentally different between the rich and the common people: while the former are driven by an unquenchable thirst to satisfy their private interests and to always gain more and more recognition, the latter are for their part solely interested in not being dominated. This is why we need to be careful about the prospect of the rich being unchecked by the majority and less about the idea of empowering the common people. If one has to choose, I would say that it is always wiser to entrust with power those who are the 2  The Federalist Papers are very clear in this regard, especially in the No. 10 where it is written that “By a faction, I understand a number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or a minority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adversed to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community.” In The Federalist Papers No. 51, James Madison writes that the only legitimate source of authority is the people and that checks and balances must be implemented to prevent one group from harming the freedom of others. Nowhere are the Federalist Papers talking about the risk that rich individuals may end up acquiring the keys to power and manipulating the tools of the government to serve their own private interests at the expense of the common people.



less keen to abuse it and to violate other people’s freedom.3 This assessment does not mean that common people are inherently more altruistic and dedicated to the common good than the rich. It is simply because the former’s demands and expectations are simply lower than those of the latter and that as long as the political system is favorable to the preservation of their liberty, they will be able to make more balanced decisions than wealthy individuals. In a certain way, their dedication to the common good derives from their own selfishness and are not in themselves morally superior than the rich. But this was not the choice made historically by states that have always shown a negative appraisal of people’s capacity to govern a republic. On the contrary, the dominant vision of the people as a political agent has been one of ignorance and of an unrestrained desire to satisfy their private interests at the expense of the more prominent citizens when engaged in politics.4 But the Roman Republic shows us that this view is erroneous. Under this constitution, people were allowed to formally accuse magistrates who were suspected of having acted against the common good and their liberty. The main advantage was to make sure that the actions of the powerful citizens were constantly under scrutiny for any wrongdoing who had, in return, to behave in a way that was favorable to the people’s freedom. If the representatives of the people—the tribunes of the pleb—had the possibility to bring indictments against these people, this was also possible for the people themselves through formal assemblies. When only a limited number of individuals are responsible to determine the guilt of a statesmen who is accused of committing a sin against the common good, there is a high risk that they will collude with one another or that they will make their judgment based on a fear of retaliation against themselves or their family. On the contrary, when such a judgment is made by the citizens, the anonymous process makes them more prone to sanction a 3  Talking about the specific nature of these two humors, Machiavelli writes in his Discourses that “(…) I say that one should put on guard over a thing those who have less appetite for usurping it. Without doubt, if one considers the end of the nobles and of the ignobles, one will see great desire to dominate in the former, and in the latter only desire not to be dominated; and, in consequence, a greater will to live free, being less able to hope to usurp it than are the great” (Book 1, Section 5). In the Prince, Machiavelli writes the following: “In fact, the aim of the common people is more honest than that of the nobles, since the nobles want to oppress others, while the people simply want not to be oppressed” (Section 9). 4  In return, their lack of political involvement is often depicted as the evidence of their lack of ingenuity, initiative and care for the common good.



­ isguided magistrate since their personal vote will not be known to the m others and the power of the masse tends to neutralize the small groups of factious individuals whose vote may be influenced by personal enmities against the accused. This procedure also brought another advantage, namely the possibility to channel people’s frustration through a legal procedure. This played a major role in the pacification of the relation between members of the pleb and the patricians since the punishments imposed by the people were never seen as a private violence that would have led to endless personal vendettas.5 Moreover, we should ignore the warnings of the many writers who have tried to defuse the idea that people should not be directly involved in the lawmaking process. Their legislative capacities should not be mocked and they have the capacity to foresee good and bad outcomes, thanks to the hidden virtue that animates them.6 History has shown that under the right institutions, people have been able to distinguish between good and bad solutions. This was the case in Athens as well as in Rome for a very long period of time. The people’s incapacity to make decisions for the sake of the common good and in order to favor their private interests is not the result of their nature, but rather of them being cut out of the decision-­ making process by an elite that will not hesitate to start using the mechanisms of the state to serve their ends and to deprive the people of its freedom. 5  As Machiavelli writes in his Discourses: “On this incident one notes what is said above, how far it may be useful and necessary that republics give an outlet with their laws to vent the anger that collectivity conceives against one citizen; for when these ordinary modes are not there, one has recourse to extraordinary ones, and without doubt these produce much worse effects than the former. For if a citizen is crushed ordinarily, there follows little or no disorder in the republic, even though he has been done a wrong. For the execution is done without private forces and without foreign forces, which are the ones that ruin a free way of life; but it is done with public forces and orders, which have their particular limits and do not lead beyond to something that may ruin the republic” (Book, 1, Section 7). 6  As Machiavelli writes in his Discourses: “I do not know if I shall take upon myself a hard task full of so much difficulty [criticizing those who have mocked the capacity of the people to govern themselves] that it may suit me either to abandon it with same or continue it with disapproval, since I wish to defend a thing that, as I said, has been accused by all writers. (…) One sees that cities in which peoples are Princes make exceeding increases in a very brief time, and much greater than those that have always been made under a Prince, as did Rome after the expulsion of the kings and Athens after it was freed from Pisistratus. That cannot arise from anything other than that governments of peoples are better than those of Princes” (Book 1, Section 58).



When a way to balance these conflicting interests has been found, the second required element can emerge, namely to incite people to dedicate themselves to the common good. Indeed, the capacity to see the state as an instrument that allows the satisfaction of one’s ambition—whether on a personal level or at a group level—will lead to the development of a form of civic patriotism that every members of the society will be keen to protect at all cost. They must see the state and its institutions as the only tool that can prevent other people from taking away their freedom. When this is the case, you can rest assured that citizens will not hesitate to bear arms whenever this vivere libero will be threatened by either a foreign or a domestic enemy. More importantly, when a state is able to generate a sense of belonging to a free polity, this will be favorable to the development of a social bound that will unite all members of a given society. The strength of this patriotism I was mentioning previously cannot be neglected as it can outweigh any other petty and self-interested considerations and lead men whose interests are fundamentally in opposition to act together for the sake of the common good. In this perspective, the example of Manlius Capitolinus speaks for itself. After having saved the Roman Republic against the Gauls, he developed a taste for absolute power and generated conflicts between the people and the rich Roman patricians by taking sides with the former by canceling their debts. Fearing for their private interests, the nobles had him arrested and trialed for aspiring to kingly power. In a way that may sound surprising, the people did not do anything to defend him and rather welcomed his convictions positively. The people’s decision to side with the nobles can be explained by the fact that they knew that the momentaneous love Capitolinus was showing to them was a very unstable guarantee to their capacity to remain free in the long run, as they knew that he would have quickly become a tyrant and a source of oppression for every Roman citizens. This is why their support for the republican institutions prevailed.7 The need for this common devotion to a state is a necessity not only in states that are divided between different social groups, but also in states that are divided along ethnic or religious lines. As we have seen in the past, these sorts of division may threaten the stability of states, and leaders have to be careful to minimize their appearance. If not, they can very well lead to the splitting up of their country or to extremist options that will further exacerbate domestic instability. Therefore, the natural inclinations of 7

 see Discourses, Book 3, Chapter 8.



national or ethnic groups to favor their cultural interests over the common good must be counterweighted by a similar inclusive form of patriotism. In this sense, we must praise the Swiss for having been able to maintain political stability in a context of deep ethnocultural and linguistic diversity, while other similar states have been the victims of secessionist groups that have very often obtained their independence through violent means. When a state is facing this fate, it is clear that its leaders have failed at their task. Nowadays, many well-known states are suffering from political instability and are facing the risk of disintegration because of sub-national entities. This is the case with Canada and Quebec, Belgium and Flanders, the United Kingdom with Scotland or Spain with Catalonia. Therefore, we need to determine why some culturally divided societies have been able to prevent ethnic strife, while others have failed. In light of what has been said about the divide between social groups, it seems like the absence of a balanced concern for the interests of minority groups has led some of them to develop a feeling that is the opposite of what societies ought to have, namely what I call a sense of belonging to a free polity. On the contrary, some decisions have led members of minority groups to believe that the larger state in which their nation is incorporated is a threat to what is at the core of their identity and to their freedom. Unsurprisingly, when this rational love for a political association is no longer present, these groups’ gregarious sense of attachment starts prevailing over any other feeling. Therefore, political leaders have the responsibility to show ingenuity and to develop ways and means that will keep these potential secessionist groups calm and willing to remain incorporated within a larger state. When they fail at this task by making decisions that are detrimental to that common sense of belonging, they can only be blamed severely. If Switzerland can be hailed as a good case of peaceful harmony between various ethnocultural and linguistic groups, the actions taken by political leaders in other situations are rather more questionable, since they led their respective state to the brink of implosion. This was the case, for instance, with the former Canadian prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau whose actions in the 1980s caused a surge in the desire of many Quebecers to secede from the rest of Canada. Opposed to any kind of formal recognition of this Francophone people, his actions led to a steady rise in the support of secession in this Canadian province during his tenure as head of the government. His attacks on Quebec’s autonomy culminated in 1981 when he imposed a new Constitution that affected negatively the capacity of the Quebecers to legislate in linguistic matters: an element that has



always been of the outmost importance for this French-speaking people surrounded by more than 300 million English-speakers. Up until that point, many Quebec people had a strong sense of attachment to Canada as they say its political system was allowing them to self-determine freely and to protect their culture and language. Trudeau’s decision had a strong negative impact on this belief and fueled the desire of many Quebecers— who were until that time opposed to secession—to actually support that option. Following this unilateral decision on the part of Trudeau, Canada was plunged into a serious constitutional crisis that ultimately led to the 1995 referendum on Quebec’s independence that gathered the support of 49.4% of voters who opted for secession. The same can be said about the 2017 declaration of independence from Catalonia, which was the culmination of a similar infringement on this people’s collective freedom. Feeling that the future development of their nation required more autonomy than what it was attributed to them after the death of Francisco Franco, the Catalans through their parliament and then with a referendum asked the Spanish state to grant them more competences in order to fulfill their willingness to self-determine freely. While this was initially given to them in 2006, the autonomy was canceled four years later by the tribunals and further political attempts to grant them what they requested was later obstinately blocked by Mariano Rajoy, the former Spanish prime minister. This incapacity to successfully deal with the demand of the Catalans has led to a twofold form of radicalism. Firstly, up until that point, only an insignificant fraction of the Catalan population was willing to secede from the rest of Spain. But, this blockage on the part of the Spanish state that harmed the collective freedom of the Catalans led to a significant increase in support for secession in the region and to the current political tension that may degenerate in even further demands for independence, more important political problems and even violence. Secondly, what was perceived by many Spaniards as a failure to deal with the Catalan separatists has led to the creation and rapid growth of an extreme political party—Vox—that promises to preserve at all cost the unity of the country by abolishing regional autonomy in favor of a centralization of power in Madrid. The Spanish political agenda is now poised by two extreme forms of rhetoric that are fundamentally opposed to one another: a combination that may be harmful to the country’s future peace and stability. These two examples show that attempting to the collective freedom of peoples in a plurinational state is a recipe for instability and is therefore



counter-productive to the objective that ought to be sought by political leaders. They also illustrate the major mistake committed by the Canadian and Spanish governments. In light of the emergence of a nationalist feeling in Quebec and Catalan, these governments did not try to counterbalance it with an inclusive patriotic sense of attachment to Canada and Spain. They rather made the unwise decision to harm these nations’ collective freedom. In retrospect, these attempts ended up being counter-­ productive and simply saw a significant number of Quebecers and Catalans ceased to saw the larger country in which their nation is integrated as a political association favorable to the pursuit of their peculiar cultural interests. As a result, these actions increased the willingness of more Quebecers and Catalans to secede from Canada and Spain. It would have been much wiser to appease these nationalist feelings through the use of peaceful means of accommodation.8 Just like in the case or the opposition between the rich and the common people, it is important in situations of ethnocultural or religious diversity to have a favorable bias toward minority groups. Just like the common people, they are not interested in dominating the majority group, but are rather simply hoping not to be dominated and deprived of their right to profess their beliefs or to enjoy their self-determination. This is why it is fundamental to think about ways that will empower or effectively protect them from the possibility of being the victim of a tyranny of the majority. As a result, when they feel like the larger political association in which they are integrated does not harm their collective freedom, their gregarious sense of attachment to their nation can become subordinated to their rational attachment to their country that they will come to see as being favorable to their collective freedom. 8  This point is emphasized in the Discourses where Machiavelli wrote: “(…) when an inconvenience that arises either in a republic or against a republic, caused by an intrinsic or extrinsic cause, has become so great that it begins to fear to everyone, it is a much more secure policy to temporize with it than to attempt to extinguish it. For almost always those who attempt to allay it make its strength greater and accelerate the evil that they suspected from it for themselves. (…) I say, thus, that since it is difficult to recognize these evils when they arise—the difficulty being caused by the fact that things are apt to deceive you in the beginning—it is a wiser policy to temporize with them after they are recognized than to oppose them; for if one temporizes with them, either they are eliminated by themselves or at least the evil is deferred for a longer time. In all things, Princes who plan to cancel them or oppose their strength and thrust should open their eyes, so as not to give them increase instead of decrease, believing that they are pushing a thing back while pulling it along, or indeed that they are drowning a plant by watering it” (Book, 1, Section 33).


On Human Nature and How to Control It

Abstract  Since human beings are naturally selfish, rulers must find ways that will incite people to favor the general interest over their private concerns and to find ways that will allow them to coexist peacefully with one another. This can be achieved either through various institutional means or by instrumenting religion. Keywords  Human nature • Checks and balances • Corruption • Patriotism Limiting governance to the previously mentioned objectives that can appear unambitious compared with ancient political philosophers. It would indeed be nice to think of individuals as generous with others, naturally willing to sacrifice themselves for the common good and genuinely honest. Unfortunately, the hard reality is that men are greedy, ungrateful and are only interested to satisfy their own private needs irrespective of those of others.1 When they are deprived of this most profound desire, 1  Machiavelli writes in the Prince: “For it is a good general rule about men, that they are ungrateful, fickle, liars and deceivers, fearful of danger and greedy for gain. While you serve their welfare, they are all yours, offering their blood, their belongings, their lives, and their children’s lives, as we noted above—so long as the danger is remote. But when the danger is

© The Author(s) 2019 J.-F. Caron, The Prince 2.0: Applying Machiavellian Strategy to Contemporary Political Life, The Steppe and Beyond: Studies on Central Asia,




they will not hesitate to rebel against this situation and this will lead to the decay of the state: a consequence that would be the antithesis of what policy makers must uphold. In light of this feature of human nature, it is clear that any form of political life would be impossible and that intersubjective cooperation would only be short-lived if individuals had the possibility to give free rein to these behaviors. This is why the whole meaning of politics is to find ways that will allow human beings to favor the general interest over their private concerns and to find ways that will allow them to coexist peacefully with one another by developing a bound that unites them despite their differences. Although I already gave a glimpse of how this can be achieved in the previous chapter, it is necessary to be more explicit in this regard. This craftiness can take many forms. In democratic states where the decision-making process is not the prerogative of one individual, the main tool is certainly the use of institutions that will force individuals to consider the common good and the interests of others. Firstly, there is a need to think of mechanisms that will prevent one group from universalizing its private interests to the rest of the society. Many examples come to mind, such as the design of the American political institutions. The architects of the American constitution were indeed very much aware of the danger of giving too much power to one group of individuals and of the necessity to complexify as much as possible the decision-making process through a system of checks and balances and of separations of powers. By doing so, they came to the conclusion that different groups with diverging interests would have no choice but to negotiate with one another and to consider the desires of others. As a result, they thought that the policies resulting from this process would be balanced and would be favourable to the preservation of the liberty of the various groups. This was a wise course of action that is still as valuable as it was more than 200 years ago since history has constantly showed us that public interest can only be served when individuals are forced to sacrifice their own ambitions because of institutions acting like an invisible hand. Despite the uncountable interests on its vast territory, it is not surprising to see that the United States have become the superpower it is now. Shielded from the possibility of seeing one group close at hand, they turn against you” (Chapter 17). He also writes in his Discourses, “(…) it is necessary to whoever arranges to found a Republic and establish laws in it, to presuppose that all men are bad and that they will use their malignity of mind every time they have the opportunity (…)” (Section 3).



dominate and deprive other groups of their freedom, the American system has been able to avoid domestic corruption which has allowed its people to achieve such greatness on the international level. The American system was itself inspired up to certain point by the institutional design of the Roman Republic, which also made sure that the usurpation of power by one restricted group of individual would not be possible. Rome was indeed one of the first states to refrain from adopting one of the three pure forms of government, namely monarchy, aristocracy and democracy. In all these systems, the risks is high that either the king, the oligarchs or the mob will use the instruments at their disposal to transform the state into their own private business and to adopt laws and policies that would only be favorable to them. Such an institutional design can only lead to disagreements, political chaos, civil war and, as a consequence, either the dissolution of the state or its weakening. By combining all these three forms of governments into a mixed constitution, the Romans were able to avoid their inherent shortcomings. It is true that during its 500 years of existence, the Roman Republic was not deprived of domestic tensions between the Patricians and the Plebians, but these opposition between the arrogance of the rich and the desire of the common people to remain free were always kept under control by its institutions. In this sense, as realists, it is essential to accept social and political disunity as an essential and an inescapable feature of all human organizations. Societies that imagine human beings as they should be and who refuse to acknowledge how they are acting in real life are doomed to fail. It would indeed be nice if we could trust all human beings without hesitation, but, if it were the case, societies would not be necessary. As we know, this dream will only remain a pure fantasy insofar as human nature is immutable. The whole challenge is not to try to change it, but rather to find the best ways that will minimize as much as possible the chaotic impact of people’s selfishness on the interests of others. The role of political science is then to find ways that can balance the rivalries between social groups in such a way that will ultimately be favorable to the common good. But, the presence of counter-powers is just one part of the solution and, as it was stated before, it is also important not to focus exclusively on how to prevent a faction of the common people from taking over the political control of the state, but also to think of ways that will empower the people. The fact that current democratic institutions are focusing more on limiting people’s direct influence in the political sphere plays a significant role in the current dissatisfaction of people in many advanced capitalist



societies. Although the American political system has been historically able to maintain a balance between groups, it is now facing serious challenges. Indeed, it has become increasingly favorable to the private interests of corporations over the last 40 years, thanks to a tax system and an economic model that has affected the ways of life and prospects of the overwhelming majority of the American population. With more than 14,000 registered lobbyists in Washington (compared with only 175  in 1971), corporations have been able to give themselves tax exemptions by allowing loopholes in the tax code that now allows them to off-shore their profits in total impunity. In addition, numerous American companies have over the last decades outsourced their production in third-world countries, leaving the average American worker without a job and perspectives for his future and the one of his loved-ones. The result of this crisis of the American system that is now unduly favoring an ever-decreasing proportion of wealthy individuals—the contemporary Roman Patricians—is the outbreak of more extreme and populist political options: Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders being the most prominent examples in this regard. With the impression of having been left behind, the have-nots are now looking at their increasing lack of job security, their income stagnation, their increasing cost of living with a gloomy glance and have lost faith in the capacity of their representatives to effectively serve their interests. And they are prompt to leave aside their sense of moderation and to favor these populist leaders who are promising them to solve their problems and to give them back a say in the decision-making process.2 The same could be said about France that is affected by the same evils as the American society. This is why it is not surprising to see in this country a growing number of French people supporting extremist (namely Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement national and Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s Les Insoumis movement) or non-traditional political parties (President Emmanuel Macron’s La République en Marche) that are all promising to rethink the system and make it more attentive to the interests of those who have been abandoned by it in the recent decades. The recent disintegration of France’s traditional political parties and the emergence of grassroots groups (more recently the yellow vests) that are asking for a more direct input of the people into the decision-making process is the symbol of this bitterness of the less privileged toward a political class that has 2  As Machiavelli writes in his Discourses, this form of radicalism is the result of an extreme inequality (Book 1, Section 17).



rightly or wrongly betrayed their interests.3 One could say that time is pressing for these two societies that need to find solutions that will make the system more responsive to the needs of their increasing number of disillusioned citizens. In the case of the yellow vests, it is obvious that the protest of these individuals is a desperate attempt to be heard from the elites who, they feel, have ignored their interests, which can clearly be seen in their list of grievances.4 After all, leaders in advanced capitalist societies ought to pay attention to these protests that are still—but for how long?— taking place within the normal democratic spectrum. But when the socio-­ economic inequalities have reached a point of no-return, history has shown us that individuals prefer to start acting outside of the normal institutional structures and are resorting to violence: a phenomenon we have started to witness in the last years. If a new balance between their interests and those of the rich is not found in the near future, we should not be surprised to see a much stronger political reaction on the part of the former that could destabilize these countries that would tumble in an uncontrollable political chaos where extremism would become the norm. When such a situation arises, there are only two extraordinary possibilities: the best option being a monarchical solution—which will be discussed in another chapter of this book—and the worst an extreme form of democracy where the people is unafraid of taking revenge against those who have oppressed them for so long.5 Up to a certain point, the current frustrations of many people in advanced capitalist societies bear a lot of similarities with the situation that led to the decay and the collapse of the Roman republic which was caused by the economic inequalities between the Plebeians and the Patricians. From the first decades of the Roman republic, the question of land 3  As Machiavelli writes, the protests of the common people always are the results of their oppression or their fear of being oppressed (Discourses, Book 1, Section 4). 4  Among them, we can note a better form of progressive taxation as a way to make sure that the rich will pay more than what it is currently the case, an increase of the guaranteed minimal income, revising the salary of elected Members of Parliament, a protection of jobs located in France, an aggressive policy to recover the money lost, thanks to tax avoidance and the introduction of citizens’ initiative referendum. 5  As Machiavelli writes in his Discourses: “From all the things written above arises the difficulty, or the impossibility, of maintaining a republic in corrupt cities or of creating it anew. If indeed one had to create or maintain one there, it would be necessary to turn it more toward a kingly state than toward a popular state, so that men who cannot be corrected by the laws because of their insolence should be checked in some mode by an almost kingly power” (Book 1, Section 18).



r­ edistribution had been a source of tensions between these two groups, and the Patricians never acknowledged that their unlimited desire to possess lands was a source of impoverishment for the common people. When the Roman people tried to adopt a new Agrarian legislation that would have led to a redistribution of land, the nobles killed its main proponent, the Tribune Tiberius Gracchus, in the Roman forum and later desecrated the body of his brother who had committed suicide. By taking these extreme measures, the nobles appeared as enemies of the people and came to believe that the only way to correct the situation was through force. The rest is History: both the Patricians and the Plebeians ended up supporting their respective strongmen—Sulla and Pompey for the former and Marius and Caesar for the latter—whose only desire was to destroy the republican institutions and to become the sole leader of the Roman society.6 In fact, blinded by their frustration, the people choose to support individuals who presented themselves as their defender, but who were in reality thirsty for power. They never suspected for a minute that their support for these men would simply open the door to their own servitude. Such an outcome ended up being famously the case with the Bolsheviks who quickly established a totalitarian regime in Soviet Union. With regards to societies affected by deep ethnocultural diversity, there are other institutional and constitutional mechanisms that can play the same defensive role with regard to the preservation of people’s collective freedom and therefore prevent the state from being threatened with a risk of secession. For instance, with its division of sovereignty between various political entities, federalism allows minority nations to self-govern freely in 6  Writing about the problems with the distribution of lands in the Roman republic, Machiavelli says the following: “[this question] inflamed so much hatred between the plebs and the Senate that they came to arms and to bloodshed, beyond every civil mode and customs. So, since the public magistrates could not remedy it, and none of the factions could put hope in them, they had recourses to private remedies, and each one of the parties was thinking of how to make itself a head to defend it. In this scandal and disorder the plebs came first and gave reputation to Marius, so that it made him consul four times; and he continued in his consulate, with a few intervals, so long that he was able to make himself consul three other times. As the nobility had no remedy against such a plague, it turned to favoring Sulla; and when he had been made head of its party, they came to civil wars. After much bloodshed and changing of fortune, the nobility was left on top. Later these humors were revived at the time of Caesar and Pompey; for after Caesar had made himself head of Marius’s party, and Pompey that of Sulla, in coming to grips Caesar was left on top. He was the first tyrant in Rome, such that never again was that city free” (Discourses, Book 1, Section 37).



domains that are considered by their members as essential for their cultural survival. Since, the division of power is constitutionalized and that changing it usually requires the consent of the entities affected by the modification, it then makes it virtually impossible for a minority nation to lose its political autonomy. When these small nations are able to self-­ govern almost as independent state, it tends to be favorable to the overall stability of the federal state that they come to see as a structure that protects and values their collective freedom. This is, for instance, the case with Quebecers in Canada who are enjoying full autonomy over their educational system, social and linguistic policies, which contributes to make Canada one of the most decentralized federations in the world. With such a control over what is essential for their collective freedom, it is not surprising to see an ever-growing number of Quebecers have abandoned the secessionist option since the unfortunate mistakes committed by Pierre Elliot Trudeau in the 1980s that almost led to the disintegration of Canada. In other circumstances, the choice of consociational democracy can be another valuable institutional design that is favorable to people’s freedom. This form of power-sharing can be effective in societies that are fragmented along ethnic or religious lines, since it forbids one group monopolize the political power in its hands. Indeed, by giving a mutual veto among the groups involved in the institutional design, consociationalism forces them to negotiate with one another and to find consensual solutions to their common problems. This type of power-sharing is currently experienced in Northern Ireland and in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Despite the initial capacity of institutional designs to favor the peaceful cohabitation of various diverging interests within the same state (whether economically, socially, ethnically or religiously different), it is nonetheless important for individuals to remain vigilant and to foresee the possible imbalances that might arise between groups. This is why it is important for citizens to be politically engaged and to always keep an eye on what the groups with interests diverging from theirs and those in power are doing, because individuals will always try to alter the balance between groups in order to favor their private interests. When citizens are aware of this danger and keen to take measures as soon as they emerge, the corruption of their society can be avoided and their freedom can be preserved. Moreover, it is also important for these institutional and constitutional mechanisms to be adaptable when they are becoming biased toward one group, which ends up in the buildup of injustices for other groups and the growing sense of frustration on the part of the latter which might result in them



challenging the whole foundations of the society. Before the appearance of this political earthquake, institutions have the duty to adapt themselves in order to establish a new balance. Indeed, no institution can pretend to last forever. Their corruption is always pointing at the horizon because of man’s natural tendency to always find ways to favor their own private interests. Those either who are in a position of authority or who are able to influence policy makers will always try to find the weaknesses of the institutions to make them more responsive to what they personally wish. There is therefore a natural decline in all institutions that may appear at first as being perfect. This is why states have to be careful not to fall into the illusion that the current balance between diverging interests will last forever. They need to be aware of the possible worsening imbalance that may appear between the interests of one group over the other and to find ways to correct them before they become too significant. In this perspective, the constitutional or institutional design of multinational states needs to show such a flexibility when a minority group no longer feels that it is favorable to their collective freedom. When this is not the case, these groups may come to believe that they are subjected to a political arrangement that deprives them of their most important right. Living in this straitjacket may lead them to favoring more extreme and destabilizing options, such as a desire to secede. This has been the case with the Catalans in the recent decade who have not been able to change their Statute of Autonomy as they wished in order to increase their autonomy within the Spanish state. Up until this political blockage, the number of Catalans who were fighting for the independence of their region was rather unthreatening and was oscillating at around 15%. However, when the Spanish courts invalidated in 2010 an updated Statute of Autonomy that had been supported by an overwhelming majority of Catalans through a referendum, many of them felt like the current system was not flexible enough and no longer favorable to their collective freedom, thereby leading a significant number of them to support the breakup of their region from Spain. For many Catalans, the Spanish institutions are not impartial and unable to strike a balance between the interests of their nation and the rest of the country. For them, it looks as if they are prejudicial to their collective needs. This situation is in no way d ­ ifferent from a society where policy makers would only be concerned with ­satisfying the ambitions of the rich that are necessarily contrary to those of the poor. If this was the case, we should not be surprised to see



the latter to politically challenge of to develop contempt against the institutions of their state and the individuals ruling them, which would more than likely lead to the development of more extreme forms of political solutions. Although institutions can play a positive role in civilizing the destructive effects of people’s selfishness, there are other alternatives in this regard. A good education is one of them as it can accustom citizens to the importance of the society and the usefulness of its laws for the preservation of their own liberty.7 Religion is another solution. Indeed, when policy makers are confronted with a population that deeply believes in a religious dogma, they should not be afraid to instrumentalize these sets of beliefs in order to encourage their citizens to sacrifice their private interests to the common good. The use of religion can sometimes be far more formidable than the pressure coming from balanced institutions. For those who believe in this dogma, the fear of God’s wrath and eternal damnation may appear as a more convincing reason to restrict their selfish behavior. Even though priests and other ministers of religion do not carry weapon, they nonetheless possess the most powerful sword when they are preaching in a society where religious beliefs are vastly shared among the citizenry. When this is the case, policy makers should not hesitate to use religion as an instrument for appeasement or as a tool that will generate patriotism. This is precisely what has been done in Russia by Vladimir Putin who has been able to instrumentalize the Orthodox Church as a supporting tool of his policies which has helped him gain the support of his people. While it is true that the autorianism of President Putin explains in part the political stability of Russia, we cannot underestimate that his popular ­support is also largely voluntary and lies on the fact that millions of Russians are willing to support him based upon their religious beliefs. Indeed, at a time when Russia has become isolated from the rest of the world because of its expansionist policies, Russians are still supportive of their president. Despite the economic sanctions Russia had to face, which has had an impact on its population, it has become obvious that Russians are not willing to turn themselves against him and his regime. On the contrary, his supports have remained as strong as before. Through the support of the Orthodox Church and Kirill, its current Patriarch, that defends an idea of Russia’s exceptionalism and unique sets of customs that 7  On the importance of a good education, see Book 3, Section 31 of Machiavelli’s Discourses.



have nothing to do with Western values, Putin is able to justify his country’s actions in the eyes of its population that sees him as a “miracle of God” who is divinely inspired. By coinciding politics with religion, Putin can now convince his people of Russia’s mission to expand its influence and Orthodox values outside of its geographical borders and that the opposition coming from the West is not only politically motivated, but also against God’s will. In a country such as Russia where the Orthodox Church, which is the most trusted institutions (more than the courts, mass media, the military, the police forces and the government), is supporting the government’s actions through a rhetoric of divine will.8

8  The use of religion as a tool to establish order and to promote a sense of dedication toward the state is well documented in Machiavelli’s work. For instance, he writes in his Discourses: “Although Rome had Romulus as its first orderer and has to acknowledge, as daughter, its birth and education as from him, nonetheless, since the heavens judged that the orders of Romulus would not suffice for such an empire, they inspired in the breast of the Roman Senate the choosing of Numa Pompilius as successor to Romulus (…). As he found a very ferocious people and wished to reduce it to civil obedience with the arts of peace, he turned to religion as a thing altogether necessary if he wished to maintain a civilization; and he constituted it is that for many centuries there was never so much fear of God as in that republic, which made easier whatever enterprise the Senate or the great men of Rome all together and of many Romans by themselves, will see that the citizens feared to break an oath much more than the laws, like those who esteemed the power of God more than that of men (…)” (Book 1, Section 11).


The Required Virtues of Political Leaders in Democratic Societies

Abstract  In their quest of maintaining their country’s independence and preventing domestic political chaos, rulers must display essential qualities, such as foreseeing potential civil unrests, preventing corruption and showing qualities that will inspire their citizens to show dedication to the common good. Keywords  Balanced decisions • Patriotism • Good customs

The previous chapter has emphasized the importance of good laws that can balance the various humors in a society, but we need to realize that the presence of sound institutional and constitutional mechanisms in democratic societies is far from being sufficient in order to prevent the domination of one group over the other. Good laws must be supplemented by good customs.1 Politicians are also instrumental in achieving the goal of peace, order and stability. As it will be discussed in this chapter, this requires on their part certain essential virtues, namely their capacity to 1  As Machiavelli writes in his Discourses: “For as good customs have need of laws to maintain themselves, so laws have need of good customs so as to be observed” (Book 1, Section 18).

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minimize the negative impact of false opinions on the public debate, by combating the corruption of people and by showing to their people their willingness to serve the common good. Democratic leaders also need to foresee the inefficiencies of the institutions and to reform them before civil unrest arises. Also, even though the common people are more naturally willing to make more balanced decisions than the rich (except in cases when they are dominated by the latter, which will result in more extreme decisions), their mind can nonetheless be poisoned by the unfounded radicalism of some individuals who would not hesitate to spread false opinions that might disrupt the peace between the various social/ethnocultural groups of a society. These demagogues can be highly effective at this task and it is important for democratic statesmen to have the capacity to fight their disruptive rhetoric.2 When people have to choose between a sensible argument and a demagogic one, the former will always prevail.3 But, people have to be exposed to this rational argument and it is up to political leaders to show them the proper way. It is their responsibility to make sure that the mass will remain healthy from a political perspective. This implies on their part the courage to contradict these demagogues and to face the consequences that may come with it. More fundamentally, statesmen must prevent the presence of corruption within the citizenry which must be understood as the unwillingness to play a role in the common good and the preservation of their state. Of course, in an era where hyper-individualism is the norm, this task is of the utmost importance. There are many ways to sustain these political virtues. One tool is the presence of a good education that can emphasize and reward the importance of certain qualities, such as tolerance, considerations for the needs of others or the respect for the institutions. As noted before, the 2  As Machiavelli writes in his Discourses: “The desires of free peoples are rarely pernicious to freedom because they arise either from being oppressed or from suspicion that they may be oppressed. If these opinions are false, there is for them the remedy of assemblies where some good man gets up who in orating demonstrates to them how they deceive themselves (…)” (Book 1, Section 4). 3  For Machiavelli, the capacity to make reasonable decisions is a shared feature of the people. He writes in his Discourses that “As to judging things, if a people hears two orators who incline to different sides, when they are of equal virtue, very few times does one see it not take up the better opinion, and not persuaded of the truth that it hears” (Book 1, Section 58). And “for a licentious and tumultuous people can be spoken to by a good man, and it can easily be returned to the good way” (Discourses, Book 1, Section 58).



i­nstrumentalization of religion can also be one of them as well as through the use of a rhetoric that consistently reinforces the importance of dedicating oneself to the common good, but also that the current laws are favorable to everybody’s freedom and that they should value them at all cost. We can of course think of other ways to motivate people to dedicate their self to the common good, such as honoring and rewarding those who have made this choice as a way to transform them into role models for others.4 The same logic applies to the broader notion of patriotism that I have previously described and which is particularly important for the stability of multinational states. Indeed, there is a direct correlation between the sense of attachment of members of national minorities to the broader state in which their nation is part of and their willingness to fight for the stability of this state. When this “federal spirit” exists, members of national minorities are not tempted to destabilize their state through secession. Of course, this comes with a tremendous responsibility on the part of political leaders, namely their capacity to develop and support a patriotic rhetoric that is not exclusive for members of the minority ethnocultural groups and is only the reflection of the history and culture of the majority group. In such a situation, members of the former group will feel estranged from it and it will not have any appeal on them in times of crisis. When a strong sense of patriotism is widely shared, people will not hesitate to defend their society against foreign and domestic enemies. In other words, they must instill a form of patriotism for the vivere libero that their society allows which will in return lead people to identify themselves with the general interest and be willing to sacrifice their self-interest for the sake of the common good, such as paying their taxes, obeying the government and even giving up their own lives when necessary. When such good customs are widely shared, people will develop a balanced mind and a willingness to compromise with one another. Even though such feelings will be the result of good laws and institutions, they will inevitably become part

4  Machiavelli writes in his Prince: “A Prince ought also be seen to support people of ability, and to honour the skilled in every art. At the same time he should encourage his citizens to perform their jobs peacefully, both in commerce and agriculture, and in every other field, so that people are not worried about increasing their possessions for fear that they might be taken away from them or about opening up trade for fear of taxes. The Prince ought to offer rewards to whoever wishes to do things like these which may bring honour to his city or state” (Chapter 21).



of a country’s customs and will positively affect people’s vision of the common good. As can be shown from the Roman example,5 we must conclude that good laws are not sufficient in themselves. Even though the Roman Republic emerged out of the fall of Tarquinius’ tyranny, the last king of Rome, people were immediately keen to maintain order and not to attack others’ freedom. This is due to the fact that the previous Roman kings all showed great virtues that were ultimately interiorized by the Roman people. So even when the head of the state became rotten, the trunk was still sound enough which is why the common freedom was not sacrificed when they had to think of a new political system. Because good laws had led to the development of the proper customs, the Roman people were quickly able to establish a new regime—namely republicanism—that was based on the willingness of maintaining peace, order and good governance. This was possible, thanks to the legacy of all the other kings of Rome who had all displayed, as mentioned by Cicero (De Republica, Book 2), civic qualities that led to the pacification of their selfish nature.6 However, it was no longer possible to save the republic from collapsing during the power struggle that opposed Caesar and Pompey because of the overall corruption of the Roman people at the time.7 When the customs became corrupted, even the best laws and institutional designs were no longer sufficient to prevent the fall of the Republic.

5  Machiavelli writes about the hierarchical importance of good customs and good laws: “And where something by itself works well without law, the law is not necessary; but when that good custom is lacking, the law immediately becomes necessary” (Book 1, Section 3). 6  For instance, as it is famously recalled by Cicero: “[Numa Pompilius, the second king of Rome] divided up among the citizens the land which Romulus had won by conquest, giving each man a share, and showed them that by the cultivation of their farms they could have an abundance of all manner of possessions without resort to pillage or plunder. Thus, he implanted in them a love for peace and tranquility, which enable justice and good faith to flourish most easily, and under whose protection the cultivation of the land and the enjoyment of its products are most secure. (…) and by the introduction of religious ceremonial, through laws which still remain on our records, he quenched the people’s ardour for the warlike life to which they had been accustomed. (…) He also established markets, games, and all sorts of other occasions for the gathering of large numbers. By the institution of such customs as these he turned toward benevolence and kindliness the thoughts of men who had become savage and brutish through their passion for war” (De Republica, Book 2, Section 14). 7  See Machiavelli’s Discourses (Book 1, Section 17).



In this perspective, just like the virtuous kings of Rome, democratic leaders also need to display qualities and attitude that will inspire everyone to show dedication to their society. Some of them have already been discussed in this chapter, but I will add that the most pivotal of these virtues is certainly their unwavering probity. They need to show to their people that they are the ultimate incarnation of dedication to public service and not individuals who are simply using their political influence to increase their personal wealth. On the contrary, they need to lead the way and always treat with the utmost respect the state’s resources. For instance, Charles de Gaulle was very keen to let people know that he was paying for his consumption of electricity in his private quarters at the Élysée Palace and that he was paying for the food offered to his family members when they were visiting him and his wife on weekends. When leaders are seen in such a way by their population, they can avoid being seen as rulers who have extravagant behaviors at the expenses of the people’s common wealth. On the contrary, this inspires admiration on the part of the people and their subsequent willingness to imitate them. Finally, it is not only the leaders’ responsibility to always make decisions that will be balanced and be favorable to the specific interests of all social/ ethnic groups, but it is also their task to foresee the growing dissatisfactions or some groups in a society that, if they remain unanswered, may ultimately lead to civil unrest or some form of political extremism. Just like a disease, it is easier to cure such potentially explosive situations in its early stage than when the metastasis has invaded the body’s vital organs. Just like people who should always be attentive to the changes to their body, political leaders should also be in tune with their society and should not ignore signs that may be the tip of what could very well become a serious illness in the future. In this sense, one great flaw on the part of a Prince would be his incapacity to feel the anger or frustration of one social group, which would let the Prince unprepared for the chaos that would result from it. This is precisely a blame that can be addressed to Charles de Gaulle in 1968 when the country was threatened at first by a student uprising that quickly spread to other parts of the French society. Indeed, in his end of the year speech to the nation, he famously declared in December 1967 that, after years of turmoil and contrary to other nations, France had achieved tranquility and could be seen by other countries as an example of political efficiency. But, de Gaulle was neglecting to see the upcoming problems of his nation: economic prosperity was weakening; inflation was increasing at a dangerous rate; commercial trade was in the



red; after years of growth, unemployment was on the rise and was specifically affecting young professionals. Moreover, de Gaulle did not see that the mentality of young people was also evolving in a way he never imagined. They were more individualistic than their elders, less conservative on social questions, more critical against capitalism, consumerism and authority. De Gaulle never saw the potential for a larger crisis when students took to the streets in May 1968 after the police forces had evacuated the university and arrested student leaders following a peaceful protest. This sparked a series of events that transformed this student protest into a quasi-insurrection—after many trade unions went on strike—and, finally, into a major political crisis after leading politicians (especially members of the Communist Party) evoked the creation of a provisional government. In the course of a couple of days, France went from being an appeased society to a troubled one threatened by extreme forces that would have profoundly changed its nature according to a sectarian perspective. Even though de Gaulle ultimately showed enough virtuosity—which will be discussed in a following chapter—to regain control of the situation, it must be admitted that it was the result of his lack of vision about the frustrated and emerging forces of his society of the time. If he would have showed more sensitivity to their needs, he may have been able to avoid this tension that could have carried extremists to power who may have caused harm to the freedom and possessions of those adhering to a bourgeois way of life.


When Is It Necessary to Entrust Governance to One Individual: To Save a Democracy and Its Principles

Abstract  Allowing one individual to rule a society with an almost kingly power may be useful and necessary when a free society is about to collapse. This can be seen from the examples of Abraham Lincoln and Charles de Gaulle whose actions have a lot in common with those that were once given to Roman dictators. Keywords  Charles de Gaulle • Abraham Lincoln • Dictatorship

While good institutions and good customs can limit the natural tendency of human beings to favor their private interests to the detriment of the common good, there are however situations when relying solely on these mechanisms is simply not the best course of action. When such situations do happen, it may be necessary to entrust power to one individual. This is precisely what this book is about: even though a republic where the power is shared ought to be the scenario societies should strive for,1 there may be 1  In his Discourses, Machiavelli writes: “(…) for it is seen through experience that cities have never expanded either in dominion or in riches if they have not been in freedom. And truly it is a marvelous thing to consider how much greatness Athens arrived at in the space of a hundred years after it was freed from the tyranny of Pisistratus. But above all, it is very

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exceptional situations when this option should not be entertained. In the following pages, I will try to explain why this might be the case. The most obvious case when democratic societies should not hesitate to rely on a Prince entrusted with full political powers ought to be for the sake of saving its core principles from collapsing. When such a society is on the brink of civil war or of disintegration, it is in need of a providential man who will be the last hope for the protection of people’s freedom and for the restoration of a well-ordered republic. This needs to be said: this extraordinary need only arises when a society and its institutions have failed at finding ways to prevent this form of corruption and its people only have themselves to blame for having been unable to address the problem in its early stages. This last resort option obviously comes with a risk, as the providential man they are looking to may be animated by the sole desire of achieving his ambitions at the expense of the common good. Suspending the normal democratic rule of law is by no means something odd in the history of human societies. The ancient Romans were perfectly willing to suspend the normal political process in such circumstances and to give all powers to a single man—called a Dictator—whose mandate was to solve a political or military emergency. In the pursuit of his mandate, the powers of this man were almost unlimited, which made it look like a sort of king in a republic. However, the idea behind granting all powers to one man was not meant to transform the nature of the regime. On the contrary, the powers of the dictator were supposed to be limited in time and, after completing his task for which he was appointed, he was required to relinquish his powers and give it back to the Senate and the people of Rome. Throughout the existence of the Roman Republic, dozens of dictators were appointed when the city was facing civil unrest that was threatening its whole existence or external threats. That was notoriously the case with Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus who, following the terrible defeat of the Roman army at the Battle of Lake Trasimene, became the sole individual in charge of the situation at a time marvelous to consider how much greatness Rome arrived at after it was freed from its kings. The reason is easy to understand, for it is not the particular good but the common good that makes cities great. And without doubt this common good is not observed if not in republics, since all that is for that purpose is executed, and although it may turn out to harm this or that private individual, those for whom the aforesaid does good are so many that they can go ahead with it against the disposition of the few crushed by it. The contrary happens when there is a Prince, in which case what suits him usually offends the city and what suits the city offends him” (Book 2, Section 2).



when Hannbal’s army was at the gates of Rome and threatening it from destruction. Renowned for his military prowess and political genius, he was deemed the only one able to protect Rome at a moment the city was facing its worst crisis. Because of his military and political skills, he was able to regain control of the situation. Firstly, he managed to convince the Roman people that the Gods were now favoring them and, secondly, knowing the strength of the Carthaginian army, choose to wore down Hannibal’s men in a long war of attrition, which included what we would now call guerilla warfare and a scorched earth policy. Although Verrucosus was ultimately sacked by the Roman senate whose members were rather expecting him to engage the enemy in a decisive pitched battle, he was nonetheless recalled by the senators after they realized that his strategy was the most effective against Hannibal. For the Romans, and as it was proven with Varrucosus, the genius of one man can sometimes be more effective than the wisdom of the multitude and this is why they allowed a temporary dictatorship for the sake of saving what is so fundamental to individuals. Although the word “dictatorship” now has a negative understanding in our democratic societies, there are nonetheless well-known situations when the Roman logic was applied in order to save representative governments from falling into chaos, civil war or tyranny. Charles de Gaulle comes to mind as a quintessential example of such a man whose personal actions managed to save France from political chaos in 1958 and 1968. After leaving the presidency of the Republic in January 1946, de Gaulle dropped out of sight and entered into what was called his desert crossing. However, in the mid-1950s, weakened by the loss of Indochina following the battle of Dien Bien Phu and by government instability,2 France faced a great crisis in May 1958 when members of the armed forces made a coup and took control of government buildings in Algeria after France had been left in a political vacuum and when it became clear that the one who was foreseen to form the new government—Pierre Pflimlin—was a supporter of allowing Algerians to get their independence. As a response to this coup, parliamentarians nonetheless elected Pflimlin as prime ­minister, which brought the tension to a climax. Indeed, the renegade members of the armed forces took control of Corsica and established a second Committee of Public Safety—following the one formed days before in Alger—and threatened to trigger “Operation Resurrection” which consisted in the deployment of four airborne regiments in Paris. It 2

 From 1946 until 1958, France had 24 different governments.



was finally called off at the last minute after the president of the Republic, René Coty, announced in front of a joint session of the National Assembly that he had asked “the most illustrious Frenchmen” to form a new government with the mission to save the Republic. This allowed de Gaulle to finally realize what he would have wanted to do after the war, namely to reorganize the political institutions of France in order to make its president the central authority figure. But, in order to do so, he required and was given by the parliamentarians the right to govern by decree and without referring to the National Assembly for a period of six months. This exceptional situation, which bears a lot of similarities with the powers given to dictators under the Roman Republic, was the only way at the time to preserve France’s stability, peace, greatness and its citizens’ freedom. Paradoxically, the price to pay was the temporary concentration of powers into the hands of one providential man who possessed the necessary qualities to fulfill this task, since the conventional democracy system of the time was simply exacerbating France’s problems. Therefore, it is easy to understand that the recourse to a Prince may be necessary for the sake of what ought to be the objectives of the state and this even in a democratic context, as highlighted in the case of General de Gaulle. Even though de Gaulle was seen by some of his contemporaries as a dictator,3 he did not use his powers at his disposal to harm public freedom (as he was asked by a journalist during a press conference in 1958, to which he famously replied “Have I ever attended to public freedom? I am the one who re-established them after the War. Why would I want to start a dictator’s career at the age of 67?”). This is why he cannot be compared with a man like Pisistratus who took away the freedom of the people of Athens that was given to them years before by Solon’s reforms. While de Gaulle was a Roman type dictator, the latter was rather an inglorious tyrant. In fact, quickly after having established new institutions that would guarantee France’s stability and greatness on the international sphere (through the implementation of the institutions of the Fifth Republic that were approved through a nation-wide referendum), de Gaulle quickly gave up the absolute powers he had been given a couple of months before

3  This was the opinion of François Mitterand, one of his fiercest opponents, who denounced the General’s personal tendency to govern alone in his essay Le coup d’état permanent. Paris: Plon, 1964.



and governed in harmony with the other political institutions of the Republic.4 The case of Abraham Lincoln is also a good example of the usefulness of relying on a Prince in times of turmoil. Prior to the American Civil War, Lincoln has shown himself to be a strong advocate or the republican order and of the necessity to preserve the integrity of the American institutions.5 Yet, after the start of the war, he did exactly the contrary and acted as a quasi-dictator.6 Indeed, he raised an army without the approval of Congress, suspended the Habeas Corpus, ordered the arrest of thousands of individuals who were opposed to the war and the backdoor methods used to guarantee the adoption of the Thirteenth Amendment that outlawed slavery.7 However, just like for de Gaulle one century later, Lincoln’s goal behind these morally dubious tactics excuses him,8 since they allowed 4  On many accounts, what de Gaulle did in 1958 was a “constitutional coup”. For Machiavelli, although this might be questionable, it is nonetheless excusable because of its consequences. As he writes in his Discourses: “A prudent Organizer of a Republic, therefore, who has in mind to want to promote, not himself, but the common good, and not his own succession but his (common) country, ought to endeavor to have the authority alone: and a wise planner will never reprimand anyone for any extraordinary activity that he should employ either in the establishment of a Kingdom or in constituting a Republic. It is well then, when the deed accuses him, the result should excuse him (…)” (Book 1, Section 9). 5  As a young politician, Lincoln gave a speech in which he said: “Let every American (…) swear by the blood of the Revolution never to violate in the least particular the laws of the country, and never to tolerate their violation by others. (…) Let every man remember that to violate the law is to trample on the blood of his father, and to tear the charter of his own and his children’s liberty. Let reverence for the laws (…) become the political religion of the nation.” See Abraham Lincoln, Speeches and Writings 1832–58. New  York: Library of America, 1989, p. 32. 6  Which is why he was criticized by numerous of his compatriots who thought of him as a tyrant, a despot or as an uncompromising dictator. The most famous of them being John Wilkes Booth who killed him before shouting “sic semper tyrannis”. 7  In order to secure the required number of votes he needed, Lincoln did not hesitate to offer recently defeated members of Congress federal jobs and money in exchange for their vote and deliberately lied to Congress about peace talks with the rebels. 8  As Machiavelli writes about Romulus who killed his brother Remus in his Discourses: “This should be taken as a general rule: that it never or rarely happens that any republic or kingdom is ordered well from the beginning or reformed altogether anew outside its old orders unless it is ordered by one individual. Indeed it is necessary that one alone give the mode and that any such ordering depend on his mind. So a prudent orderer of a republic, who has the intent to wish to help not himself but the common good, not for his own succession but for the common fatherland, should contrive to have authority alone; nor will a wise understanding ever reprove anyone for any extraordinary action that he uses to order a kingdom or constitute a republic. It is very suitable that when the deed accuses him, the



him to save the country from disintegration and allowed the slaves to become free. Lincoln’s capacity to act as such also shows that, just like the Romans with the dictators, the founding fathers anticipated the need for such extraordinary presidential powers in times of national crisis. This is how Lincoln thought of his actions and the powers given to him as president.9 These two examples help us to distinguish between a good and a bad dictatorship. In both cases, individuals will take measures that can be reprehensible from a moral perspective. On this point, there is nothing fundamentally different as leaders should not hesitate to act in ways that can be repulsive. But, in the latter case, these actions will not be favorable to the common good and people’s freedom. These individuals should therefore not be hailed with glory. On the contrary, individuals who will leave behind a good constitution, reinforce their state’s sovereignty, patriotism and people’s liberties ought to be praised even if this came at the cost of killing one’s brother—as it was the case with Romulus—or by bypassing the democratic process. Suspending the authority of democratically elected individuals or allowing a concentration of political powers into the hands of a Prince should not necessarily be seen as a threat for democracy and the start of a tyranny. It is, on the contrary, the last resort option in order to allow this system to survive when it is faced with tremendous dangers when its peace, order and freedom can no longer be guaranteed. In this sense, it ought to be allowed in our democratic societies. In this context, a Prince cannot be equated with the negative understanding of dictatorship which is all about personal glory, private accumulation of wealth and other types of actions that are detrimental to people’s freedom.

effect excuses him; and when the effect is good, as was that or Romulus, it will always excuse the deed” (Book 1, Section 9). 9  For him, the extraordinary measures he took during the Civil War were “constitutional [because] the public safety require[d] them” but the same measures “would not be constitutional when, in absence of rebellion or invasion, the public safety does not require them”. See Abraham Lincoln, Speeches and Writings 1832–58. New  York: Library of America, 1989, p. 460.


The Necessity to Entrust Power to One Individual: To Create a New State

Abstract  If allowing an individual to enjoy full powers may be necessary to prevent a democratic society from collapsing, it may also be required to do the same for the sake of creating a new state. However, in order to claim glory, such rulers must do everything in their power to create the necessary conditions that will allow their people to enjoy freedom. Keywords  Nursultan Nazarbayev • Lee Kwan Yew • Mustafa Kemal

If maintaining a democratic state may require extraordinary powers, establishing a new state may also necessitates the recourse to similar measures. This is especially the case when the customs that are as essential as laws for political stability are not present. This was notoriously the case in 1991 when the Soviet Union unexpectedly collapsed, which led to the creation of 15 new countries without any real democratic traditions, sense of patriotism and all facing enormous economic challenges as well as total social disorganization. At that time, it was not surprising to see many of these former Soviet Republics simply transfer the political powers in the hands of the men who were their Chairmen when the country disappeared. To a large extent, we can say that in such a transitional period, the concentration of power into the hands of one virtuous Prince was the best © The Author(s) 2019 J.-F. Caron, The Prince 2.0: Applying Machiavellian Strategy to Contemporary Political Life, The Steppe and Beyond: Studies on Central Asia,




course of action and that the establishment of a conventional democracy might not have been a wise option. Indeed, in the absence of a democratic culture and faced with the challenge of ensuring their people a job, safety and prospects for the future, the possibility to make quick decisions was a necessity. In the name of efficiency, full executive power was therefore a better choice than democracy in that period of turmoil. In retrospect, this path turned out to be rather successful with regard to the establishment of peace, prosperity and people’s happiness. The Kazakhstani case appears in this sense as a good example. Indeed, in December 1991, a majority of the people living in this newly independent state were distressed at the idea of no longer being citizens of the Soviet Union and many people feared that this state would not survive. In fact, Kazakhstan was not even keen on gaining its independence as it was the last Soviet Republic to declare its sovereignty. Moreover, Kazakhstan was faced, just like the other post-Soviet states, with hyperinflation, an incapacity to pay wages and pensions—mainly because of a lack of available rouble being held back in Russia by the Moscow central bank—as well as a lack of knowledge and experience with free-market economics. But, the main risk for Kazakhstan at the time was not the threat of a foreign invasion, but rather of internal implosion. Indeed, Kazakhstan became one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world as it became the home of two national groups—the ethnic Kazakhs (who formed at the time a bit less than 40% of the global population) and the ethnic Russians (who represented about 36% of the entire population in 1991)—as well as more than 100 ethnic and religious groups. Alongside the aforementioned economic and social challenges that the country had to face, they were simply not Kazakhstani patriotism at the time of independence. It needs to be mentioned that this ethnocultural diversity was a serious threat to the integrity of the state. Indeed, Kazakhstan was facing a serious threat of ethnic feuds between the Kazakhs and the ethnic Russians. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, many individuals, like author and dissident Alexandr Solzhenitsyn and right-wing politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky, voiced the opinion that the Northern part of the country ought to be annexed to Russia. At the same time, many ethnic Kazakhs, who remembered the harsh treatment their parents and grandparents had to endure from a Moscow-based power,1 advocated the idea 1  Between 1928 and 1934, around 1.5 million Kazakhs died during the Holodomor. As if this genocidal policy was not sufficient, later policies, implemented mainly by Nikita



that only ethnic Kazakhs should enjoy full political rights in the newly formed republic. In this sense, the establishment of new laws and a new constitution was only a cosmetic solution to these problems. The long-­ term stability of the country required the development of the required customs in order to prevent a sense of disengagement and lack of care for the common good from taking over. Through his personal qualities, its first president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, proved himself as an efficient leader during that difficult transitional period. Without offering to his population any short-term solutions to their problems, he was skilled enough to efficiently communicate with his people by emphasizing their collective virtues of a population accustomed to harsh living conditions and by interacting with them directly as often as possible as well as showing them that he himself experienced the same living conditions as them. But, his actions did not remain purely symbolic. If it would have been the case, he would have been kicked out of power and his state would have collapsed very quickly. Fearing that remaining in the rouble zone would not be favorable to the economic development of Kazakhstan in the short run and would ultimately result in a lack of state’s sovereignty over the control of its budget and interest rates, he worked for months in total secrecy for the introduction of Kazakhstan’s currency. This proved a very good strategy when Russia pulled out of the rouble-­ zone agreement in the fall of 1993. Only four weeks later, the newly Tenge bills, that had been secretly designed months before, were printed in Great Britain and flown to Kazakhstan, thereby saving the country from further economic problems. Moreover, despite the fear of severe ethnic strife between its numerous ethnocultural groups and the absence of a Kazakhstani patriotism in 1991, it must be admitted that the country can now be perceived as a multicultural success story, thanks to its president who has stubbornly opposed his countrymen who were favoring an ethnic conception of the nation. Of course, this opposition and his tendency to press an agenda of radical Khrushchev, had the effect of marginalizing the Kazakhs in their homeland. More precisely, at the beginning of the 1960s, the Soviet authorities decided to resettle hundreds of thousands of Slavs in Kazakhstan to cultivate its “virgin lands”. As a result, the proportion of Kazakhs reached a historical low of 29%, which of course facilitated the Russification process in the region, and Russian became the lingua franca in the areas of administration, politics and economy, thus transforming Kazakh into a marginalized language. As a consequence, ethnic Russians became overrepresented in highly skilled, well-paid jobs, while Kazakhs experienced difficulties accessing quality education and high standards of living.



reforms have led many to say that he was acting in an undemocratic and dictatorial manner. While this might arguably be the case, the end result speaks for itself 25 years later: the Kazakhstani people are enjoying high standards of living in comparison of other countries of the region and has been spared violent ethnic conflicts, contrary to its neighbors. Indeed, Kyrgyzstan has seen violent ethnic clashes between the Kyrgyz people and ethnic Uzbeks, while Tajikistan experienced a violent ethnic and religious civil war during the 1990s. In retrospect, the concentration of power into the hands of one Prince might have been the optimal solution for Kazakhstan in 1991 when it was unprepared to face its independence following the unforeseeable collapse of the Soviet Union. Lee Kwan Yew, the founding father of Singapore is also a good example of a virtuous Prince without who was able to transform this territory into a well-developed and stable metropolis. Its GDP per capita is currently one of the highest in the world, which is quite a feat considering Singapore’s lack of natural resources—including drinkable water. This ideology of “economic pragmatism” is largely attributable to Lee Kwan Yew who has also been able to maintain peace and order in his country2 despite its deep ethnocultural and religious diversity, to create a strong patriotism3 and to make his country one of the less corrupted in the world. This is why individuals who have established a new state with good laws and good customs must be praised and celebrated for their achievements: achievements that may not have been possible through a conventional democracy. The societies that have been lucky enough to have these individuals must thank their lucky star for this heavenly gift. But this glory depends on one specific condition: these individuals should not instrumentalize their power as a way to enrich themselves and their family, but should rather focus on transforming their people into citizens and to establish the required customs that will eventually make possible the transformation of this kingship into a stable republic. In light of history, the list of such individuals is rather short as most Princes who have established or inherited through the help of fortuna a new state have mostly chosen to  Singapore reached the eighth position of the 2018 Global Peace Index.  Achieving this objective was a significant challenge for Lee Kwan Yew. As he said: “Remember, when we started, we were not even one society, never mind a nation. We were several different separate societies brought together under the British, an accident of history. Our loyalties and roots were in different parts of China, India and the Malay archipelago” (Han et al., 1998, p. 133). 2 3



transform their state into kleptocracies4 or into a family business as it is was the case in Haiti with the Duvalier family that has plundered the country’s wealth.5 Moreover, they should avoid transforming their rule into a cult of personality that presents them as the sole defender of the common good. It should be their goal in the course of their time in power to find ways that will gradually allow the people to become integrated within the country’s governance in such a way that they will slowly but surely start thinking of the laws as their own and not as rules that are imposed on them by an enlightened ruler. In other words, the grip of the guiding hand of the founding Prince must loosen up with time. When this capacity to self-rule is not cultivated, the establishment of a self-governed republic will never be possible. These societies must operate a transition from a charismatic form of legitimacy to a rational-legal one, otherwise those who could become citizens are rather condemned to remain simple subjects, which of course comes with a risk. It is indeed easy to understand that if founding Princes are gifted with the necessary virtues and qualities to govern their state, it does not mean that it will be the case for their respective successor. In these cases, if power ends up falling in the hands of non-virtuous leaders who would transform the state into a tyranny, all of what these Princes have done for their state and its people would simply be wasted in the course of a few years. Princes who would be unable to achieve this objective would not be able to claim glory, but would rather suffer enduring infamy and the blame of not granting their population with the greatest possible gift, namely their freedom. Glory is an honor that will take its meaning only once a leader has left office and will be granted if the Prince did not leave behind him a fragile corrupted state where people are denied 4  Machiavelli himself was skeptical about the prospect of ever seeing such Princes. He writes in his Discourses that “One can draw this conclusion: (…) where [the citizens are not] corrupt, well-ordered laws do not help unless indeed they have been put in motion by one individual who with an extreme force ensures their observance so that the matter becomes good. I do not know whether this has ever occurred or whether it is possible; for it is seen, as I said a little above, that if a city that has fallen into decline through corruption of matter ever happens to rise, it happens through the virtue of one man who is alive then, not through the virtue of the collectivity that sustains good orders. As soon as such a one is dead, it returns to its early habit (…)” (Book 1, Section 17). 5  As Machiavelli writes in his Discourses, there are two ways of governing that ought to be condemnable: those who are posing actions that will be harmful to the society’s peace and customs and those who are ruling only for their own benefit (Book 1, Section 9).



of their most basic liberties and only care about their personal interests.6 This is the reason that made the Roman Republic so successful. Although its last king was corrupted, his six predecessors took great care in fostering the proper societal customs. Because of that, when the most important organ became sick, the rest of the body was able to fight it off and resist the spread of the disease. This is also why individuals like Cesare Borgia and Mustafa Kemal are admired by many of us, while Agathocles is an infamous example of a Prince who may have acquired power in his lifetime but fell short of receiving glory. Borgia and Agathocles were both able to bring peace to their respective society—Romagna for the former and Syracuse for the latter—through the use of immoral methods. Indeed, after his father Pope Alexander VI gave him his kingdom, Cesare Borgia realized that he had received a poisoned gift since his new land was controlled by corrupted masters who had abused their subjects by depriving them of their lands and who had encouraged lawlessness in all its forms. In order to impose its ruling, Borgia sent one of his friends, Remirro de Orco, to whom he gave full powers to pacify and unite his new kingdom. However, the means used by Remirro were so harsh, that Borgia feared to become associated with them, which would have led him to be hated by his new subjects. Borgia had him arrested and executed the day after Christmas 1502 on the public square of Cesena, which left the population satisfied.7 Contrary to Borgia, Agathocles rose to power by himself from poor and lowly origins. At the time, Sicily was partly occupied by the Carthaginian army and Agathocles, as military commander of Syracuse made a secret deal with Hamilcar, the Carthaginian general, that would have led the island to become a vassal state to the North African empire. Agathocles called for a meeting of the Syracusan Senate during which he ordered his soldiers to kill all the senators and the other nobles who were present. But, instead of surrendering the city to Hamilcar, Agathocles choose to resist him and even managed to bring Carthage to its knees by imposing on this powerful city a peace agreement that granted him kingship over the whole island of Sicily, after 6  For Machiavelli, establishing a new state where the proper customs necessary for the establishment of peace, order and good governance are lacking is the required pre-condition for achieving glory. As he writes in his Discourses: “And truly, a Prince seeking the glory of the world ought to desire to possess a corrupt City, not to spoil it entirely like Caesar, but to reorganize it like Romulus. And truly the heavens cannot give man a greater opportunity for glory, nor could man desire a better one” (Book 1, Section 10). 7  Prince, Section 7.



which he ruled his new state without any civil unrest and any foreign threats. However, even though Borgia eventually failed to remain at the head of his state, he nonetheless deserves to be hailed with glory contrary to Agathocles. Yes, the capacity to maintain peace, order and good governance matters, but it is not the sole objective that Princes should seek. The pursued end of their governance, namely their willingness to initiate a political process that will eventually lead to a republic (whether it will work or not), matters as well. This was the case with Borgia (even though he failed at this task), but not with Agathocles. The same judgment applies to Mustafa Kemal, the father of modern Turkey. Faced with the challenge of creating a new nation out of the ashes of the Ottoman Empire after World War I, his task was Dantesque. Indeed, the population was largely illiterate, extreme poverty was very often leading to violence, the territory had been ravaged by the War of Independence of 1919–1923 and the country was plagued with political instability from individuals—namely Sheikh Said—who opposed the Kemal’s policies on secularism. This situation led him to impose harsh anti-democratic measures, such as the closing of newspapers and political parties deemed subversive. But, this concentration of power had the primary objective of laying the required foundations of republicanism, namely by establishing Turkish nationalism which was done through the creation of a new national identity (articulated around one language, shared values and a common history) and through state-­ controlled policies that allowed the different parts of the country to be interconnected together. Moreover, in the course of a decade, his policies allowed him to modernize the largely obsolete Turkish economy by undertaking different initiatives that ultimately saw the country’s gross national product to increased five-fold. But what makes Kemal worthy of glory was his genuine attempt to introduce multi-party democracy in 1930 after he came to the conclusion that his people had interiorized the necessary customs and attitude that would have allowed a smooth transition from authoritarianism to democracy. Unfortunately, this attempt proved unsuccessful after it became apparent that there was no national consensus about common values, which made it impossible for leading the different factions of the country to settle their differences in a peaceful manner.8 8  To quote Andrew Mango, Kemal’s biographer, this failure can be explained in the following way: “Parliamentary democracy requires agreement on essentials—on the nature of the



The same cannot be said with many other leaders, such as Muammar Gaddafi or Mao Zedong and his successors, who must all be considered as inglorious Princes who used power either to serve their private interests or to establish a regime that is denying people their most basic freedom. In the case of the former, after seizing control of Libya in 1969, he established a corrupted regime that aimed at enriching himself and his family and became famous for his horrific record of human rights violations which made him despised by his own population until he was killed in 2011. This legacy can still be felt today almost ten years after his death. Indeed, Libya is now a failed state embroiled in violence and torn by an endless civil war. Because of his own corruption, Gaddafi contaminated his society and destroyed all the required elements that might allow state institutions to function peacefully in a democratic way, which has led to the development of various factions divided along tribal, regional, political and religious lines. In the case of China, even if Mao and his successors have been able to respectively impose peace in China after his victory in 1949 after decades of civil wars and develop their country economically, the Chinese communist party and its leaders have all failed to reach glory. Mao’s version of communism led to the development of a totalitarian regime and to one of the worst classicide in human history that killed millions of individuals. Nowadays, people’s most basic freedoms are still being violated. Such an outcome of a newly formed state is the antithesis of what we ought to hope for. If fear ought to be used for the sake of political stability, it cannot however be at the expense of people’s freedom. Even though Lee Kwan Yew cannot be compared to these two tyrants, his legacy still runs short of glory for two main reasons. Firstly, despite having established all the required customs for the establishment of a democracy, Singapore remains until today a soft despotism that has been ruled without interruption by Yew’s People’s Action Party since the country’s independence with very little room for the opposition. This hegemony is explained in great part by the party’s control over the media, labor state and of society, whose rulers are to be chosen by free ballot. In the absence of such agreement, party politics become a battleground for conflicting ethnic, religious and local groups, clans and tribes. There was no agreement on essentials in [Kemal’s] day. (…) More could not be expected in his lifetime” (Mango, 1999, p. 536). As Machiavelli writes in his Discourses, his genuine unsuccessful attempt to establish a democracy ought to be recognized. For him, those who have tried but failed to give good laws to a new city merit some excuse (Book 1, Section 10).



unions and the public administration. Secondly, there are reasons to fear that the state paternalism that has been so efficient at increasing all of Singaporeans’ living standards—irrespective of their ethnicity, religion or social class—might potentially lead to a situation that could hamper the establishment of democracy in the future. More precisely, this model makes it so that Singaporeans know that they owe their living conditions to the government’s efficiency organized around a “father knows best” paradigm and so far they have been willing to accept trading-off some of their liberties for the material advantages associated with it. The most important sacrifice being their fear of offending the regime that feeds them so well. This sentiment comes however with one very important risk, namely their growing lack of interest in public affairs and their inclination to solely prioritize their private interests. So far, the economic situation of Singapore does not look threatened, but if this were to change, the government would then have to make tough choices that would have a negative impact on segments of the population. Having lost their interest for public affairs, the main risk that could emerge from this situation would be a violent selfish reaction from those who would be affected by these austerity measures. This reaction would be the normal result of individuals not being acquainted and sensible anymore to the common good but only to their private interests. Although this risk remains theoretical, it is nonetheless a possibility and is a direct result of Lee Kwan Yew’s legacy, which is why he cannot be hailed with the same glory as other Princes. It can be said that this feat is the result of Yew’s decision to make Confucianism a central aspect of his country’s customs. Indeed, deference to authority is a central feature of this Chinese tradition according to which only a few people are said to be qualified to rule and to deliberate in public affairs. Finally, the need for a Prince can also apply to cases of states transitioning to democracy, especially in cases where there is no guarantee that a newborn democracy will survive and mature into a stable republic because of a lack of proper customs. The time for these proper customs to develop will of course determine the length of a Prince’s dictatorship. As I have already said, creating new institutions are simply not enough; leaders must inculcate new fundamental attitudes that will generate support for these institutions. For instance, leaders must change people’s mindset regarding the role of the armed forces and of security services that should be placed under civilian’s control and be seen as being at the service of the people’s protection (and no longer for their repression). They should also be pragmatic and cultivate the importance of reconciliation with those who used



to serve the former authorities as a way to ease as quickly as possible potential internal tensions. A good example is South Africa that chose in the first years of its post-Apartheid regime to allow the leader of the opposition to have the title of Deputy President. In this perspective, Nelson Mandela whose main priority after becoming president of South Africa was—alongside the creation of democratic institutions—a genuine desire to promote national reconciliation. Through his leadership and his notion of the “Rainbow Nation”, he was not only able to favor a spirit of forgiveness and reconciliation between the Black and White populations (which was essential for long-time peace in this country), but he also prevented what had happened in other post-colonial African countries, namely the exodus of rich White elites. Without a doubt, this most certainly prevented South Africa to fall into a civil war between Black and White and also helped to establish a mentality among the South African population that even though democratic decisions lie upon the rule of the majority, the process should nonetheless be respectful of the rights of the minorities. Without this belief, there is a great chance that the country would have fallen into chaos.9

9  However, we must remain conscious that if Mandela can be praised for his capacity to deliver this miracle, he was nonetheless unable to deliver another one in the form of good government and of shared prosperity. Indeed, South Africa is plagued with serious corruption problems and by profound economic inequalities that traps the vast majority of Black South Africans into utter poverty up to a point where the country is now one of the most unequal in the world (even more than under the Apartheid regime).


The Required Qualities of a Prince

Abstract  Rulers must display necessary virtues if they wish to guarantee their country’s independence and prevent domestic chaos. More precisely, they must do everything in their power to control fortuna and should not hesitate to resort to immoral actions if they will be favorable to the political objectives they ought to pursue. Keywords  Fortune • Amoral actions • Charles de Gaulle

Allowing an individual to concentrate political power into his own hands in order to save a democracy from collapsing or to establish a new state cannot be a prerogative within the reach of everyone. When such an option becomes a necessity, it ought to be a last resort option, meaning that the choice of the one who will concentrate power must be decisive since any failure on his part might result in the collapse of the democratic system, the submission of the nation to a foreign force or an irreversible violation of people’s freedom. Many of these required qualities have already been mentioned previously, such as the capacity to develop proper institutions and customs in the case of newly founded states as core elements that will contribute to lay the future foundations of a well-functioning democracy. But in such © The Author(s) 2019 J.-F. Caron, The Prince 2.0: Applying Machiavellian Strategy to Contemporary Political Life, The Steppe and Beyond: Studies on Central Asia,




circumstances where the new political entity is still weak and vulnerable at the slightest difficulty, the Prince must display more qualities. One of them being his capacity to control the forces of fortuna. A lot of people like to believe that their lives are governed by chance or by some divinity over which they have no control whatsoever. Those who hold this belief can never pretend to hold the office of a Prince in any society. In fact, while it is true that there is always a part of fortuna that individuals will never be able to control, it is a mistake to believe that human beings are deprived of free will and that they cannot control the course of actions. It is precisely this quality that virtuous Princes must have. Fortuna can be compared to a great natural force that destroys everything in its path, like flooding during springtime in a city located at the bottom of the mountains. When nothing is done to stop this outburst of nature, all yield to its violence and nothing can resist it. But, what appears to be an unpredictable natural phenomenon that we cannot prevent is simply false. On the contrary, it is fundamental for individuals to foresee the possibility that flooding may happen when the snow will start melting and, in this perspective, build in advance a dam and other infrastructures that will allow the city’s inhabitants to divert the flow of water and to remain safe from the violence of Mother Nature. In the political sphere, this is even more important in the case of a new state. Being an unreliable force, fortuna must therefore be mastered and kept under control in an uncompromising and cold-hearted fashion. Nursultan Nazarbayev’s decision to secretly ask his close advisors to plan the introduction of Kazakhstani’s own currency in 1992–1993, while openly trying to remain into the rouble zone with Russia is a good example in this regard. When Moscow suddenly decided to abandon the project, Kazakhstan already had a backup plan that allowed it to effectively overcome this economic disruption, thanks to the capacity of his president to envisage a worst-case scenario. If he would have decided to blindly trust his Russian allies, his country would have ended up facing a deep economic crisis that may have led to its collapse. Virtuous Princes who are facing the challenge of creating a new state cannot afford the luxury to leave anything to chance. If they were to do so, their country would be lost at any political twitch and nothing would be able to save it—until it has the proper customs and institutions. On the contrary, they need to always have multiple irons in the fire in order to never be taking off guards by contingencies.



Moreover, recent history has shown us that the creation of a new state by means of secession can be very tricky for these new entities. A lack of international recognition of their independence as well as an incapacity to effectively deal with the inevitable economical transitional period following secession can transform that dream into a non-viable political project that will result into isolation and a reduction of the people’s living conditions. This is why those who are aspiring to lead these new states must also think of all possible scenarios and prevent their foreseeable outcomes from harming their project. If the case of Catalonia’s declaration of independence in 2017 can be seen as the example that should not be followed, the one of Quebec in 1995 is on the contrary a good case-study of political leaders who have been able to display actions that would have made the independence of this Canadian province a success. Indeed, in the months that preceded the vote, its Premier Jacques Parizeau traveled abroad and was able to gain France’s diplomatic support (and of Latin America countries) who all pledged to recognize the new state if the outcome of the vote was positive. He was also able to protect Quebec from economic instability through a plan—called Plan 0—that allowed the province to have enough financial liquidities for the first two years following independence, which would have allowed it to operate without any pressure from Wall Street. Finally, he was also able to convince 100 well-known unionists’ personalities to openly recognize Quebec’s independence in the immediate aftermath of the referendum. It must however be admitted that despite their best efforts, leaders will never be able to fully control fortuna and its ill-effects. While virtuous Princes should try to control it as much as possible in order to prevent misfortune from harming them and their society as well as displaying all their ingenuity to influence the events and make them favorable to their projects, there is always a part of it that will elude to the most virtuous Prince. For instance, the misfortune of illness can also prevent virtuous individuals who have the capacities to save their country from civil unrest from doing so. While it is true that we can, up to a certain point, essentially through physical activities and healthy eating habits, have a relative control over our health, there is always a part of it that will remain out of our control. Lucien Bouchard is a revealing example in this regard. On the eve of Quebec’s second referendum on independence in October 1995, Bouchard was leading the sovereignist Bloc Québécois at the House of Commons of Canada and was a key player in the secessionist strategy led at the time by Jacques Parizeau. This healthy man who had never been sick



before was indeed seen by many as a providential man with a proven record of being a skilled negotiator who would have been able to successfully haggle over the terms of an eventual secession. Without his support to the cause, polls were clearly showing that a majority of Quebecers would not have voted for independence. Without notice, he was struck by a streptococcus—commonly known as the flesh-eating disease—that eventually cost him a leg. For days, he was held in a coma between life and death and the possibility of his passing was envisaged with a gloomy eye by the leader of the sovereignist movement who had so far done everything in his power to make sovereignty a credible option. But, because of one uncontrollable faith of destiny, all this plan would have been useless if Bouchard would have succumbed from his rare and unpredictable disease that affects less than 1 out of 100,000 individuals. Being able to control fortuna is only one of the few qualities required by a Prince. In light of what has already been said regarding human’s nature, maintaining peace, order and good governance in a political association requires the capacity to step away from what morality usually dictates. Those who have refused to follow this path have all failed at their task as the leader.1 As I have stressed out in the previous pages of this book, in order to fulfill the objectives of governance, political leaders rather need to favor actions that do not conform with what morality dictates.2 This willingness to act in such a way is what characterizes what I call a virtuous ruler. Cesare Borgia’s decision to kill his lieutenant Remirro de Orco was a virtuous action even though it was a highly dubious decision from a moral perspective, since it allowed him to pacify his new kingdom. Murder is of course the most extreme example that can be used in this regard, but there are other actions that Princes ought to use. One of them is their capacity to secretly plot in order to achieve their aims: a quality that can only be hailed in order to save a republic from collapsing. More specifically, when a virtuous individual dedicated to his country feels that this threat has become a genuine possibility, he needs to use all means at his disposal to ensure that the course of events will be favorable to him—in other words, to make sure that fortuna will be as much as 1  Machiavelli writes in the Prince: “A man who wishes to act entirely in a virtuous way is soon destroyed among so much that is evil in the world” (Section 15). 2  About the subordination of morality to the objective of government, Machiavelli writes the following: “that a Prince, especially a new one cannot do all those things for which men are praised, being often forced, in order to maintain the state, to act contrary to honesty, friendship, kindness, and religion” (Section 18).



­ ossible on his side. In this perspective, one can only think of Charles de p Gaulle who was wise enough to see the imminent collapse of the French republic and virtuous enough to erect himself as the sole alternative to salvage France’s place in the world. Months before his return to power in the spring of 1958, his support with the French population was very weak, not to say inexistent. He was seen by an overwhelming majority of his countrymen as a man of the past. However, he turned the situation around in the course of only a couple of weeks. Convinced that the Fourth Republic was about to fall apart, thereby bringing France and its people to a risk of chaos of unknown proportions, he took the opportunity to distance himself from a military incident at the border of Tunisia and Algeria which led to the killing of more than 70 civilians—including a dozen of children—in the Tunisian village of Sakiet Sidi Youssef. For many influential and respected parliamentarians as well as journalists of the time, this well-needed public outing made him appear as the voice of wisdom and a potential political savior. From that moment forward, he got connected or reconnected with other political leaders and focused on seducing them. He also simultaneously delegated the responsibility to his close associates to prepare the ground for a possible return to power. This is how a man called Léon Delebecque, who was working for Defense Minister Jacques Chaban-Delmas, a “Gaulliste” worthy of trust,3 was given the mandate to channel the anger of Algerians toward de Gaulle and to forge alliances within the French army stationed in this territory, namely generals Massu and Salan. His strategy proved highly effective. In fact, the members of the Committee of Public Safety created after the already-mentioned coup in Alger were all sympathetical to de Gaulle and openly called for his return to power. Following this tour de force by the army that challenged the democratic foundations of France, de Gaulle publicly announced that he was ready to assume the powers of the Republic. The attitude displayed by de Gaulle is therefore a prime example of how virtuous political leaders can guide in their favor the course of actions and then exploit it to their advantage. With his strategy, de Gaulle went from being seen as the man of the past to the only one able to solve the political problems of this country. If he would have relied solely on fortuna, maybe he would never have been able to gain power and to make France the respected power it is now. But, in retrospect, we now know that this stroke of luck that 3  During the war, de Gaulle promoted Chaban-Delmas to the rank of general at the age of 29: the youngest French general since the Napoleon era.



brought him back to power at a moment when he was no longer perceived as a potential ruler had been artificially created by himself and those working surreptitiously for his cause. At the end of the day, this strategy paid off and France was its biggest beneficiary. Knowing how to deceive people, to use them as allies before striking against them, is also a quality that political leaders ought to use when the stability or survival of their states requires it. Coming back to de Gaulle, his return to power and being able to modify France’s constitution as a way to give back to the country its former greatness would have been completely useless if he would not have been able to control the unrest in Algeria that was mainly caused by the army and influential members of the French political elites who believed that it was possible to keep Algeria within France. Following their coup in May 1958, they thought that de Gaulle was supporting their vision and played a major supporting role in his taking up of power. However, this placed de Gaulle into a dangerous cross-fire, since he was aware that his political survival was tied up to them while also knowing that a majority of French people was in favor of granting Algeria its independence. Being in this uncomfortable political situation, de Gaulle knew that he needed to gain time in order to ensure as long as possible the support of the military until he would be strong enough to impose his will without posing any risks to the country’s stability. His choice was to willfully blind both camps by being equivocal in his appraisal of the situation. His famous “I’ve understood you” speech to the crowd gathered in Alger immediately after being appointed the head of the government is a quintessential example of this manoeuver. In a vague discourse in which he made no promises, both those opposed and in favor of Algeria’s independence thought de Gaulle was planning to defend their interests. Momentarily, this allowed the army to return to its barracks while he was establishing the country’s new constitution—applying the golden rule that it is always better to temporize a tension instead of trying to extinguish it in precipitation. For months, de Gaulle kept using a double language until the fall of 1959 when he felt that the French people were overwhelmingly willing to negotiate Algeria’s independence and opposed to the political role that the French army had been playing since the May 1958 coup. When the opponents of Algeria’s independence realized that they had been betrayed by the man they trusted, it was too late. De Gaulle had his policy approved by the people through a referendum and cut all ties with those opposing him by dismissing them from his government and his party.



A similar example of a ruler who had used a rhetorical ambivalence at a time of crisis was Pierre Elliot Trudeau in 1980 during the first Quebec independence referendum. A few days before the vote, the outcome was still uncertain and there was a genuine possibility that Quebecers may have voted to secede from the rest of the country. Trudeau knew that the support for Quebec’s secession was not entirely conditioned on a profound hatred against Canada and that the reason many individuals who were willing to vote “yes” in the upcoming referendum was in part due to the fact that a lot of Quebecers were dissatisfied with the orientation he had given to Canadian federalism. He knew that a promise for a decentralization of the regime and more political autonomy would more than likely lead them to change their vote. Less than a week before the referendum, he said in a speech that he and his colleagues would not interpret a negative vote for secession as a sign that everything was fine with the political system, but that it would rather be interpreted as a desire for change and constitutional change. Many Quebecers who were tempted to vote for secession viewed this opening on the part of the Canadian prime minister as a promise that he would give their province a special treatment within the state which would have led to an outcome akin to political independence—but without the consequences of a break up with Canada. This provoked a swing in the electorate and the “yes” only obtained 40% of the votes. However, the change Trudeau had in mind was very different and rather consisted in what has already been described, namely the imposition of a new constitution without the approval of the Quebec National Assembly with changes that impacted the province autonomy. If the rhetorical ambiguity used by de Gaulle did not harm France’s, the result was different for Canada. By wanting to obtain an immediate victory, Trudeau ultimately weakened the Canadian state by infuriating numerous Quebec nationalists who turned their back on Canada. For more than 20 years, the country had to suffer the aftermath of Trudeau’s decision which culminated in a second referendum on secession that was this time almost won by the secessionists. Again, even though I am running the risk of repeating myself, what ultimately matters is the long-term stability of a country. In this sense, short-term victories should not be privileged if their consequences may outweigh their benefits. If this logic is not respected, an action that can be interpreted as being virtuous in other circumstances is simply to be avoided.



Blackmailing individuals may also be used by statesmen. This can take the form of what the Russians called a “kompromat”.4 This compromising material against someone may serve as a way to control his actions and to force him to act in a certain way. This highly immoral mean of action will be considered as a virtuous decision insofar as it serves the national interests. The best-known example to date is the alleged kompromat the Russian government has on Donald Trump which would explain why the American president has been so lenient with the master of the Kremlin by even going as far as contradicting reports from his intelligence agencies. For the sake of the argument, let us assume that this is true and that Vladimir Putin has damaging information about the American president that would, if they were ever revealed, lead either to his impeachment or to a more than likely defeat in his bid for reelection. This would mean that Russia would be able to control the most powerful man in the world and force President Trump to act in ways that are advantageous for Russia and detrimental to his own country’s interests. Of course, this form of political extortion would be all but moral, but in the realm of politics it would definitely be praised as a virtuous action.

4  A kompromat is a technique used in Russian and in other post-Soviet states which refers to compromising information about a politician, a businessman or any other public figure that is used to damage his reputation or threatens to be used against these people. Sex tapes with prostitutes, videos of these individuals using drugs or giving a bribe are traditional methods of entrapment.


How Princes Ought to Be Perceived

Abstract  It is of the utmost importance for rulers to be perceived as individuals who are solely animated by the desire to serve the common good. In order to do so, they must show great care in the way their actions are perceived by their people as well as not hesitate to resort to morally dubious behaviors. Keywords  Common good • Justice • Fear

As the protector of the political stability of their states, Princes should always appear in the eyes of their citizens as the incarnation of all the virtues required to this end. As I have mentioned previously, they must show that their devotion to the state is not motivated by a willingness to enrich themselves or their relatives. In this perspective, they must not hesitate to strike against anyone who is seen as having acted against the interest of the people, even against their friends or family members as it was the case with Nursultan Nazarbayev who took measures against two of his sons-in-law. One of them was fired from his position of chairman of the country’s most important state-owned company after employees of an oil firm in the city of Zhanaozen were fired after going on strike because of unpaid wages and for better working conditions. The conflict reached its climax when the © The Author(s) 2019 J.-F. Caron, The Prince 2.0: Applying Machiavellian Strategy to Contemporary Political Life, The Steppe and Beyond: Studies on Central Asia,




police forces opened fire against the protesters and killed at least 16 of them. As a result, Nazarbayev openly criticized his son-in-law for not having been able to solve the crisis peacefully and on time, for having ignored the workers’ demands that were justified as well as for having allowed the company under his direction to illegally dismiss the employees. For Nazarbayev, this difficult decision against the father of his grandchildren from a personal perspective was nonetheless a necessary decision for the sake of maintaining the country’s stability and the only way to appease the workers.1 Alongside the aforementioned qualities that Princes ought to have, it is also fundamental for them to always flee from situations that may lead people to think of them as a heinous and despicable ruler. This necessity applies to both autocrats and democratic leaders. Many factors may cause that impression, such as his incapacity to protect a group’s freedom by favoring the private interests of another group. Such a behavior would make him look partial and those who would be the victim of this lack of judgment would hold this against him and would end up hating him. This is why it is very important for a Prince to always remain a neutral figure who is never trying to unduly favor the interests of one group, but rather trying to find middle-ground solutions between them. To be more precise, all his decisions must appear like they are strictly motivated by the desire to serve the common good and not his private interests, the ones of his family or of a specific social group within the society. In the same vein, when a Prince has to crack down on the actions of certain individuals, it must always be interpreted by his co-citizens as a way to serve the superior interests of his nation. The fear he inspires in this regard must be understandable for his subjects who must be fully aware that trying to favor interests that are contrary to the common good will inevitably lead to consequences. On the other hand, when political reprisals are seen by the people as having no foundations other than the Prince’s desire for personal revenge or to enrich himself, this is when he starts being despised by his people can only despise him. If the latter situation were to prevail, it is very likely that the members of this society would try to overthrow this Prince. Indeed, in such a situation, the individuals would fear that they could become the victims of the Prince’s wrath without being able to 1  This example has a lot in common with the already-mentioned example of Cesare Borgia who had his lieutenant Remirro de Orco executed, which was seen as the only way to appease the people of his newly given principality.



­ nderstand why it is the case. When this feeling of uncertainty dominates, u these people are unsure whether they will still be able to enjoy their freedom tomorrow, in a week or in five years. When this is the case, taking actions against the Prince becomes an option with all the political unrest and uncertainty that comes with it. On the other hand, when a Prince is consistent in his way of punishing people, individuals can fully understand what kind of behaviors they ought to show and the ones they should avoid. It is indeed difficult to plot against a ruler who appears to be solely focused on bringing fame to his society and strengthening its independence from potential external oppressors as well as its people’s freedom. Although his people may sometimes disagree with his policies, he remains nonetheless admired because of his inflexible desire to pursue these objectives. This is rather entirely different for the second type of rulers whose used of state’s power to pursue their private interests can only make them appear as despicable individuals. In light of what has been argued in the previous chapter, the leader must be aware that resorting to immoral actions should not be an easy decision to take, since there is always a huge risk that it might backfire against him. For instance, when the citizenry witnesses a violent act from his part, the Prince needs to make sure that it will unequivocally be seen as a decision that is admittedly harsh, yet necessary for the common good. If it is not the case, the action may lead the Prince to be perceived as a despicable ruler who is generating aversion on the part of those he is governing. This is why it needs to be emphasized that immoral actions must be used very wisely and always as a last resort option when all other conceivable means have failed.2 The cases of Vladimir Putin is illuminating in this regard who appears in the eyes of his population as a virtuous leader whose reprisals have always appeared motivated by the desire to serve the common good, especially with regard to the treatment of Russian oligarchs. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the transition to market economy, a handful of young men emerged out of the blue during the Yelstin era and managed to build, in the course of only a few years, incredible fortunes. With the help of the government, they were able to seize control of the 2  About resorting to immoral actions as a last resort option, Machiavelli writes the following in the Prince: “Yet, as I have said above, a Prince should not to turn away from the good if he can avoid doing so, but, if it is truly necessary, then he should know how to set about it” (Section 18).



Russian economy and hid their wealth outside of Russia, which made them hugely unpopular with the Russian population who saw them as the prime reason for the economic turmoils and less than stellar living conditions they had to experience. Despite being directly responsible for his election, Putin did not want to be their puppet and chose to subjugate them. In light of their negative perception on the part of the Russian people, Putin took control of their respective empire by having the courts file against them for embezzlement, corruption and for not reimbursing state’s loans. Even though some of these oligarchs—namely Boris Berezovsky—tried to challenge Putin politically, their efforts did not have any effects among the Russian people who rather saw Putin as a just Prince whose government did not hesitate to take actions against people who were thought as crooks who were making their lives miserable. However, it is true that it might sometimes happen that the interests of the common good imply him having to implement harsh decisions that would negatively impact different groups in a society. In such a situation, a Prince ought to behave in such a way that these individuals would nonetheless support him and his policies despite being directly affected by them. This can be done in multiple ways. Firstly, a Prince can rely on his mastery of the art of rhetoric by trying to convince his people of the necessity to adopt a certain path that is deemed necessary for the common good and future of the society. Indeed, there is nothing more harmful for a Prince to be seen as an uncertain, pusillanimous and irresolute ruler. On the other hand, people cannot but admire individuals who are showing a clear and convincing vision for the future, who are courageous and firm. However, this option is not without challenges. While people can recognize and admire the qualities this requires, a Prince who would choose this path would nonetheless link his name to an unpopular initiative, thereby weakening his control over his population. Consequently, the Prince needs to be cunning as a fox and find ways to remain seen as an individual whose only concern is the well-being of his state. When he is no longer seen as such, there are risks for himself and the society as a whole. In this perspective, a Prince can simply disengage himself from the decision by letting a third party—whom he can later fire or criticize if it raises problems within the population—in charge of making the difficult choices.3 This strategy 3  Machiavelli writes in the Prince: “Among the best ordered and governed kingdoms of our times is France and in it are found many good institutions on which the liberty and security of the king depends. Of these, the first is the parliament and its authority. The person



allows him to appear in the eyes of its people as an objective and fair referee who cares about the common good and who is not afraid to punish those who have threatened it by creating instability. In this sense, semi-­ presidentialism is by far the democratic system that can best serve this end. Indeed, in this regime, the Head of State—who is usually elected through direct universal suffrage—has to nominate a prime minister who will be in charge of domestic policies and day-to-day governing. The constitutional arrangement of the French Fifth Republic—which was established by de Gaulle after he took power in 1958—helps to preserve the image of a president who is above party lines and who is the protector of people’s interests. But, this is usually simply an image, especially when the prime minister comes from the same political family of the Head of State. There is no doubt that in such a situation, like it has been famously said both by Jacques Chirac and Nicolas Sarkozy, the prime minister simply executes what the president has decided. However, when a decision made by the latter and implemented by the former leads to chaos and risks of social chaos, the Head of State can always cancel the measure and blame the prime minister who is technically in charge of defending it in front of parliament. On the other hand, the president must not hesitate to take for himself all the benefits associated with a decision that is being well received by his citizens. I wish to emphasize the fact that being seen as someone dedicated to the common good and as someone who is animated by pure motivations simply needs to be a well-kept image. The idea is that if the required virtues for the upholding of a harmonious and peaceful life within a political

who founded the kingdom, knowing the ambition of the nobility and their boldness, considered that there needed to be a way to control them. On the other side, knowing the hatred of the people, founded in fear, against the nobles, he wished to protect the people. However, he did not want this to be the particular responsibility of the king. Therefore, to take away the criticism which the king would face from the nobles for favouring the people and from the people for favouring the nobles, he set up the parliament which would be one who could beat down the great and favour the lesser without the king being blamed. You could not have a better or more effective arrangement, or a greater source of security to the king and kingdom. From this, one can draw another important conclusion, that Princes ought to leave affairs which may upset some people to the management of others, and keep those which will make people happy in their own hands” (Section 19).



association come from the top, it will inevitably contaminate positively the rest of the citizenry who will model their behaviors based upon them.4 Princes can also create a social consensus around a difficult decision, thereby making it impossible for any group to criticize it. This strategy was implemented by Lucien Bouchard who, after having survived his unexpected illness, went on to become Premier of his province. Indeed, following his rise to power as prime minister of Quebec in 1996, Lucien Bouchard was faced with a serious deficit and the prospect of seeing his state’s credit being downgraded by credit rating companies. He had no choice but to impose severe budgetary cuts. Knowing that a unilateral decision by the government would lead many groups to go on strike and to block what were necessary reforms for the common good and the sake of future generations, he rather informed all of them about the seriousness of Quebec’s economic situation and invited them to a forum in which all actors of the civil society were invited to discuss together and to agree on what had to be their respective sacrifices. Cuts were imposed only after an agreement was found between these actors who went on to support the government in its efforts. By doing so, Bouchard was smart enough to know that being binded with their signature, economic and social actors would be partners of the government, which had the direct consequence of distancing the population’s anger from the government. At the same time, he also announced that Quebec’s Members of Parliament would take a pay cut and that he would live in a small austere room next to his office rather than residing in the luxurious Premier’s house inhabited by his predecessor. We may mistakenly draw from these considerations that a Prince should always strive to be loved by its people. This might be the best course of action when the society is not facing any problems. But, such a condition never last forever and when unrest arises a Prince or rulers in a democracy 4  Regarding the importance of cultivating an image of a virtuous ruler, Machiavelli writes in the Prince that “Men judge generally more by the eye than by the hand, because everybody can see you, but few come in touch with you. Everyone sees what you appear to be, but few really know what you are, and those few dare not oppose the opinion of the many, who have the power of the state to defend them. In the actions of all men, and especially of Princes, which it is not wise to challenge, one judges by the result. For that reason, let a Prince have the credit for conquering and holding his state, the means will always be considered honest, and he will be praised by everybody. This is because the common people are always influenced by what a thing seems to be and by what results from it. In this world only the common people matter when their minds are firmly made up” (Chapter 18).



have no choice but to make a harsh decision. This is why striving solely to be loved may backfire against them and why there is a need for their power to lie on another feeling, namely the necessity to be feared. In other words, rulers must be aware that difficult decisions must always be perceived by the citizenry as being at the service of the common good. This is especially the case when rulers have to strike against an individual or a group of people. If those who are witnessing this action are to believe that this decision is fair in light of the general interest of the political association, then they will learn themselves the necessity of remaining within the margins of what the society considers to be an acceptable behavior that is favorable to the common good. They will draw themselves the conclusion that the society does not tolerate certain conducts. As I have said previously, since individuals are animated by desires and motivations that are inherently dangerous for the common good, it is important to find ways that will limit their willingness to act as such. Fearing a punishment for behaviors that may lead to unrest or violence within a society is something that people must feel at all cost. This method was cleverly used by de Gaulle in 1968 during the student crisis. After the most important labor union—the General Confederation of Labour (CGT)—had joined the students by going on a general strike,5 the situation quickly escalated into a quasi-civil war and the perceived threat of a collapse of the government and its replacement by a popular government. Violent riots took place in Paris and in other regions of France that led to deaths. Opposition leaders and the French Communist party openly defied de Gaulle by calling for his resignation and the creation of a provisional government. De Gaulle’s prime minister, Georges Pompidou, later confessed that a revolutionary act was at the time a seriously entertained hypothesis. In light of this threat to France’s peace and stability, de Gaulle had no choice but to act. His decision was to resort to fear. Without anyone seeing him, he left the presidential palace and boarded a helicopter which almost immediately after taking off stopped transmitting its positions and flew under the radar. This first led the members of the government to go into a panic which quickly spread among the population who asked themselves what France would look like without de Gaulle at its head. Moreover, a photography of the president meeting with the commander of the French armed forces stationed in Germany was efficiently leaked to the press as a way to show that de Gaulle was ready to 5

 Which resulted in more than 10 million workers going on strike.



resort to the military in order to reestablish peace and order. This planned decision according to his son-in-law was a way for de Gaulle to show to its people—and mainly to those who were opposing his regime by advocating for a form of popular government that would have been instrumentalized by the communists—that he would not hesitate to use non-political ways and means of actions for the sake of the common good.6 The students and the opposition leaders were frightened by the prospect of a military intervention that broke their fighting spirit. His gamble paid off: those defending law and order came out reinvigorated by his speech and quickly showed its support to the aging general with a rally in the streets of Paris that gathered more than one million people. De Gaulle’s government also emerged stronger from the anticipated legislative elections a few weeks later. In fact, never in the existence of the French Republic since 1792 one single party received so many votes. However, Princes must avoid being hated. Such a feeling of disgust will appear when rulers will strike against people inconsistently or for reasons that are not connected whatsoever with the general interest. This was notoriously the case with many contemporary dictators whose actions led them to be overthrown and, most importantly, could not prevent their society from falling into chaos, such as Idi Amin Dada or of Muammar Gaddafi who both displayed during their reign indiscriminate murderous schemes against their population, which led to civil wars and them being toppled from power.7 This kind of hatred—which is more akin to terror and arbitrariness—is an emotion that tends to destabilize civil order. Of course, other famous dictators, such as Stalin, were able to escape this fate and to remain admired by their population who, contrary to Amin and Gaddafi, were not seen as murderous tyrants. This is because Stalin 6  Prior to his radio broadcast, the government had made it known that troops were on stand-by just outside of Paris: an information that had been broadcasted by various radio channels. 7  As Machiavelli writes in the Prince: “Therefore a Prince, so long as he keeps his subjects united and loyal, ought not to mind the criticism of cruelty. By making an example of a few people, he will be more merciful than those who, through too much mercy, allow rebellions to arise, from which follow murders or robberies. These are likely to injure the whole people, while those killings which are commanded by the Prince only affect the individual” (Chapter 17). He adds about the dynamic between being loved and being feared the following: “Men are less worried about offending one who is loved than one who is feared. Love is preserved by the link of gratefulness which, owing to the weak nature of men, is broken at every opportunity for their advantage; but fear preserves you by a fear of punishment which never fails” (Chapter 17).



was seen by his population as being unaware of the repression that was taking place in the Soviet Union at the time of the Great Purge—even though he was intimately involved in the terror. When Stalin realized that it was needed to put an end to the killings, he did not hesitate to blame Nikolai Iezhov, the head of the secret police, for the excess of the purges and had him arrested and executed for crimes against the Soviet people. The propaganda machine was so effective, that Stalin was able to distance himself from what appeared to be in the eyes of the population as a mass crime from a state official who went rogue without the leader’s knowledge.8

8  It is worth noting that the Great Purge was known in Russian historiography as Yezhovshchina (meaning Yezhov’s doings) and that Yezhov was portrayed by Soviet propaganda as an enemy of the people.


Why Princes Are Becoming More Popular Today

Abstract  Nowadays, a lot of Liberal democracies are facing serious domestic political chaos that has been instrumental in the emergence of strong populist leaders. While this situation should force us to understand the reasons for their successes, it may also lead us to consider that the time may be right for a Prince to take control and save these societies from degenerating into tyrannies of the few. Keywords  Economic inequalities • Instability • Common good

When we look at the world around us, there are reasons to be surprised by the resurgence of Princes in a period of history where many of us thought that democracy was a well-established and shared principle among nations. Indeed, in most Western democracies, we are now witnessing individuals who have taken the front stage with simplistic and populist ideas and who have dynamited their political system, in some cases by offsetting the traditional opposition between the left and right. It is clear that things have come together in such a way that time has probably never been more favorable than today for the emergence of a new Prince. However, these talented individuals who know how to appeal to people’s desires and expectations are not prime examples of what Princes ought to be. We must © The Author(s) 2019 J.-F. Caron, The Prince 2.0: Applying Machiavellian Strategy to Contemporary Political Life, The Steppe and Beyond: Studies on Central Asia,




on the contrary regret their emergence as they are the symbol of the decay of our liberal democracies. The appearance of these anti-system men is a clear sign of our institutions’ incapacity to face the social problems of these societies that are associated with a clear failure of political modernity: a situation that should force us to collectively reflect on the reasons of this failure. If we want to be fully honest with ourselves, in light of how the world is organized today, it is difficult to have a positive assessment of this period of human history. Indeed, while Modernity has promised us an equal right to pursue our conception of the good life (right to pursue happiness), the empirical hurdles that a very vast majority of people are facing make it impossible to enjoy this most fundamental form of freedom. The old promise of higher education allowing people to have access to well-paid jobs in their domain has been betrayed. Nowadays, most young educated people are facing the prospect of either unemployment or a low-wage job in a domain that is completely remote from their field of study. On top of that, many of them are starting their career with an incredible amount of student loan which will undermine their capacity to pursue what makes them happy, such as starting a family. But, this first disillusion is only the tip of the iceberg of their continuous impoverishment. As members of the middle class, they will indeed be the primary victims of measures of fiscal austerity which has become so much à la mode. They will be the ones asked to support the system by paying numerous taxes that will simply transform them into individuals who are not living a free life, but who are simply rather surviving. Their only chance to experience a kind of freedom is through credit, which will of course only result in even less liberty. For the millions of people facing this situation, it seems like there is no reasonable hope of getting out of this vicious circle, which only tends to create a growing frustration: a frustration that is only exacerbated by the indecent way of life of the privileged who have been able with time to take control of the superstructure and to make it work in favor of their private interests, which is famously the case with the Koch brothers in the United States. This contributes to the fiscal suffocation of the members of the lower and the middle classes, since the oligarchs have been able to find ways to avoid paying their fair share of taxes, thanks to legislative subterfuges and political indulgence. The intertwining of the power of finances with politics was clearly shown after the 2008 crisis when those responsible for the crisis were saved and pardoned by the political elite. This situation could not illustrate in a better way how the financial oligarchs have



managed overtime to take control over the legislators and those running Liberal democracies. For instance, the top 0.1% of worldwide earners, namely bankers and hedge-fund managers, have gained more since the 2008 economic crisis than any other groups despite being responsible for the financial collapse of capitalism. The bailout of General Motors by the American government allowed for its part the company to impose lower wages and pensions to its employees, while its managers’ assets remained unaffected. Moreover, over time, societies have lost control over capitalism, which only intensifies people’s frustration with the current state of things. Modernity promised us individual and collective autonomy over the development of ourselves and of our societies. Nowadays, many of us probably feel like we have gone back in a situation of heteronomy where the norm is dictated to us from an invisible leviathan over which we are simple subjects. This is why economics has liberated itself from the world of politics and has now come to dominate the latter. States are now purely in a reactive mode and are caught off guard as soon as the market plunges or when companies decide to outsource their production in another country. Not only politicians have become powerless when such a situation occurs but the whole political realm has been subjugated to serve the market’s interests. Nowadays, when legislators and those ruling the state are not simply serving the private interests of financial oligarchs, they are acting like mere accountants who are not governing but are rather managing their society as if it was a company. It is no wonder that the body politics has fallen ill and has lost the support of the people who now feel under the oppression of a system they cannot control. The fact that those who are criticizing this current state of affairs are doing it outside of the conventional channels comes as a clear evidence of their marginalization and of the failure of institutions to meet their demands. An anti-system logic now dominates industrialized Liberal democracies whether through mass protests like those of Occupy Wall Street, the 15-M Movement in Spain, Nuit Debout in France and the Yellow Vests or with anti-system politicians who quickly emerged out of nowhere. These new individuals on the political horizon who all like to highlight their normal background all share a common rhetoric that is emphasizing the same topics, namely people’s impoverishment and the state being led by lobbies and other occult economic interests. They now appear in the eyes of many as refreshing, since they are finally “talking the truth”—unlike conventional politicians of the old guard who they have



sent into retirement—and are promising what appears to be innovative measures that are appealing to those who have been the victims of the system. For those left on the sidelines, they are providential individuals who will finally solve the problems they are facing. Although these individuals have the right diagnosis about what is wrong with our societies, their solutions are on the other hand inappropriate because of their propensity to exacerbate even more the existing divisions in their respective society. They are the flaming missiles of a frustration that can only ignite civic unrest, instability and to the establishment of a form of popular dictatorship like the one we have seen during the twentieth century that was detrimental to people’s freedom if they ever manage to gain power. There is a need for a different sort of man: an individual who will be able to gain the people’s support and to take measures that will bring a profound reform of the economic system in the domestic as well as on the international spheres. The goal is to make it more equitable and to allow the people to have a better control over it. Of course, such a man will need exceptional skills as the rich will inevitably feel threatened by these actions. This individual will therefore require pacificatory qualities by being able to manoeuver like a high-wire walker between the demands of the people and the fears of the rich. Because his role does not consist in igniting a revolution that will bring instability and unrest, but rather reforming what is inadequate without throwing the baby out with the bathwater. This is why this person will bear the task of changing the customs and the people’s mindset in advanced capitalist societies by emphasizing the importance of moderation and equity, namely that the distribution of honors and wealth be made in a proportional manner so that capitalist societies could become more balanced with a strong middle class whose members could serve as the buffer of common sense between the extreme forces of the contemporary plebs and nobles. In light of the current situation, who would refuse to listen to such a man who could bring back peace in our lands when we all know that the present political situation can only lead to chaos? The door is now open to any virtuous man willing to prevent today’s greatest tragedy, namely the evil of social chaos and the collapse of a political system whose core principle ought to be people’s freedom and happiness.

Additional Readings

On Machiavelli and Machiavellianism: Aron, Raymond, Machiavel et les tyrannies modernes. Paris: Éditions de Fallois, 1993. Benner, Erica, Machiavelli’s Ethics. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2009. Benner, Erica, Machiavelli’s Prince. A New Reading. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013. Cesa, Marco (ed.), Machiavelli on International Relations. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014. Cosans, Christopher E. and Christopher S.  Reina, “The Leadership Ethics of Machiavelli’s Prince”, Business Ethics Quarterly, Vol. 28, No. 3, 2018, pp. 275–300. Danoff, Brian F., “Lincoln, Machiavelli and American Political Thought”, Presidential Studies Quarterly, Vol. 30, No. 2, 2000, pp. 290–311. Giorgini, Giovanni, “The Place of the Tyrant in Machiavelli’s Political Thought and the Literary Genre of the Prince”, History of Political Thought, Vol. 29, No. 2, 2008, pp. 230–256. Lefort, Claude, Le travail de l’œuvre Machiavel. Paris: Gallimard, 1972. Mansfield, Harvey C., Machiavelli’s Virtue. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 1966. Martigny, Vincent, Le retour du Prince. Paris: Flammarion, 2019. McCormick, John P., “Machiavelli and the Gracchi: Prudence, Violence and Redistribution”, Global Crime, Vol. 10, No. 4, 2009, pp. 298–305.

© The Author(s) 2019 J.-F. Caron, The Prince 2.0: Applying Machiavellian Strategy to Contemporary Political Life, The Steppe and Beyond: Studies on Central Asia,




McCormick, John P., Machiavellian Democracy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011. McCormick, John P., “Machiavelli’s Inglorious Tyrants: On Agathocles, Scipio and Unmerited. Glory”, History of Political Thought, Vol. 36, No. 1, 2015, pp. 29–52. Pocock, John G. A., The Machiavellian Moment: Florentine Political Thought and the Atlantic Republican Tradition. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1975. Raimondi, Fabio, Constituting Freedom: Machiavelli & Florence. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018. Skinner, Quentin, Machiavelli. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1981. Skinner, Quentin, Liberty before Liberalism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998. Strauss, Leo, Thoughts on Machiavelli. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 1958. Strauss, Leo, What is Political Philosophy? And Other Studies. Chicago and London: Chicago University Press, 1988. Valadier, Paul, Machiavel et la fragilité du politique. Paris: Éditions du Seuil, 1996. Viroli, Maurizio, Machiavelli. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998. Viroli, Maurizio, How to Read Machiavelli. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008. Viroli, Maurizio, Redeeming the Prince: The Meaning of Machiavelli’s Masterpiece. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2013.

On the Management of Ethnocultural Diversity: Caron, Jean-François, Être fédéraliste au Québec: comprendre les raisons de l’attachement des Québécois au Canada. Québec: Presses de l’Université Laval, 2016a. Caron, Jean-François (ed.), Unité et fragmentation des sociétés multinationales: regards croisés sur la Catalogne, l’Écosse, la Flandre et le Québec. Québec: Presses de l’Université Laval, 2016b. Gurr, Ted Robert, “People against States: Ethnopolitical Conflict and the Changing World System: 1994 Presidential Address”, International Studies Quarterly, Vol. 38, No. 3, 1994, pp. 347–377. Horowitz, Donald, “The Challenge of Ethnic Conflict: Democracy in Divided Societies”, Journal of Democracy, Vol. 4, No. 4, 1993, pp. 18–38. Kymlicka, Will, Multicultural Citizenship: A Liberal Theory of Minority Rights. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995. Norman, Wayne, Negotiating Nationalism: Nation-Building, Federalism, and Secession in the Multinational State. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006. Tully, James, “Cultural Demands for Constitutional Recognition”, Political Philosophy, Vol. 3, No. 2, 1995, pp. 111–132.



On Charles de Gaulle: Ayache, Georges, Le retour du Général de Gaulle, 1946–1958. Paris: Perrin, 2015. Dogan, Mattei, “How Civil War was Avoided in France”, International Political Science Review, Vol. 5, No. 3, 1984, pp. 245–277. Fenby, Janathan, The General: Charles de Gaulle and the France He Saved. New York: Skyhorse, 2011. de Gaulle, Philippe, Charles de Gaulle, mon père. Entretiens avec Michel Tauriac Vol. 1 & 2. Paris: Plon, 2003 and 2004. Jackson, Julian, A Certain Idea of France: The Life of Charles de Gaulle. London: Penguin, 2019. Mitterand, François, Le coup d’état permanent. Paris: Plon, 1964. Peyrefitte, Alain, C’était de Gaulle. Paris: Gallimard, 2002. Roussel, Éric, De Gaulle, 1946–1970. Paris: Gallimard, 2012.

On Nursultan Nazarbayev: Aitken, Jonathan, Nazarbayev and the Making of Kazakhstan: From Communism to Capitalism. London: Continuum, 2009. Aitken, Jonathan, Kazakhstan and Twenty Years of Independence. London: Continuum, 2012.

On Mustafa Kemal: Hanioglu, M. Sükrü, Atatürk, An Intellectual Biography. Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2011. Mango, Andrew, Atatürk. London: John Murray, 1999.

On Lee Kwan Yew: Beng-Huat, Chua, “Arrested Development: Democratisation in Singapore”, Third World Quarterly, Vol. 15, No. 4, 1994, pp. 655–668. Han, Fook Kwang, Warren Fernandez and Sumiko Tan, Lee Kwan Yew: The Man and His Ideas. Singapore: The Straits Times Press, 1998. Singh, Bilveer, “Singapour: maintenir l’équilibre entre la prospérité, la croissance sociale et la démocratisation graduelle”, Revue internationale de politique comparée, Vol. 18, No. 1, 2011, pp. 105–122.


A Agathocles, 5, 50, 51 Agrarian legislation, 28 B Borgia, Cesare, 5, 50, 51, 58, 64n1 Bouchard, Lucien, 57, 58, 68 Bourgeois, 38 See also Bourgeoisie Bourgeoisie, 14 C Caesar, Julius, 28, 28n6, 36, 50n6 Catalonia, 19, 20, 57 Cicero, 36, 36n6 Common good, 1, 13, 14, 16–19, 16n4, 23–25, 31, 34–36, 39, 40, 40n1, 43n4, 43n8, 44, 47, 49, 53, 64–70 Consociational democracy, 29

D De Gaulle, Charles, 5, 8, 9, 37, 38, 41–43, 43n4, 59–61, 59n3, 67, 69, 70 Dictator, 2, 4, 10, 40, 42, 43n6, 44, 70 F Federal spirit, 35 15-M Movement, 75 Flanders, 19 Fortuna, 48, 56–59 Fortune, 28n6, 65 See also Fortuna; Misfortune Franco, Franciso, 20 G Gaddafi, Muammar, 5, 52, 70

 Note: Page numbers followed by ‘n’ refer to notes.


© The Author(s) 2019 J.-F. Caron, The Prince 2.0: Applying Machiavellian Strategy to Contemporary Political Life, The Steppe and Beyond: Studies on Central Asia,




H Hannibal, 41 Hobbes, Thomas, 3 Hussein, Saddam, 10 J Jong-un, Kim, 9 K Kazakhstan, 46–48, 47n1, 56 Kemal, Mustafa, 50, 51, 51–52n8 L Le Pen, Marine, 26 Lincoln, Abraham, 43, 43n5, 43n7, 44 M Mandela, Nelson, 54, 54n9 Marius, 28, 28n6 May 1968, 38 Mélenchon, Jean-Luc, 26 Misfortune, 57

P Parizeau, Jacques, 57 Patricians, 17, 25, 27, 28 Patriotism, 18, 19, 31, 35, 44–48 People, 1, 2, 4, 5, 8, 13–21, 14n1, 15n2, 16n3, 17n6, 25–29, 27n3, 31, 32, 32n8, 34–38, 34n2, 34n3, 35n4, 36n6, 40–42, 44, 46–49, 51–53, 55–57, 59, 60, 62n4, 63–71, 64n1, 67n3, 68n4, 70n7, 71n8, 73–76 See also Plebeian; Poor Pflimlin, Pierre, 41 Plebeian, 27, 28 Pompey, 28, 28n6, 36 Poor, 30, 50 Proletariat, 14 See also Workers Putin, Vladimir, 31, 32, 62, 65, 66 Q Quebec, 19–21, 57, 61, 68

N Nazarbayev, Nursultan, 5, 47, 56, 63, 64 Noble, 14n1, 15, 16n3, 18, 28, 50, 67n3, 76 See also Patricians; Rich Nuit Debout, 75

R Rajoy, Mariano, 20 Religion, 31, 32, 32n8, 35, 53, 58n2 Rich, 14–16, 15n2, 18, 21, 25, 27, 27n4, 30, 34, 39n1, 54, 76 Roman republic, 4, 16, 18, 25, 27, 28n6, 36, 40, 42 Rome, 9n3, 17, 17n6, 25, 28n6, 32n8, 36, 36n6, 37, 40, 40n1, 41 See also Roman republic

O Occupy Wall Street, 75 Orco, Remirro de, 50, 58, 64n1

S Samnites, 9n3 Secession, 19, 20, 28, 35, 57, 58, 61


Sense of belonging to a free polity, 18, 19 Sforza, Francesco, 5 Singapore, 48, 48n2, 52, 53 Skinner, Quentin, 4 Soviet Union, 28, 45, 46, 48, 65, 71 Stalin, 4, 70, 71 Strauss, Leo, 2, 4 Sulla, 28, 28n6 T Tiberius, Gracchus, 28 Trudeau, Pierre Elliot, 19, 20, 29, 61 Trump, Donald, 26, 62


V Verrucosus, Quintus Fabius Maximus, 40, 41 Virtu, 3, 4 W Workers, 14, 26, 64, 69n5 Y Yellow vest, 26, 27, 75 Yew, Lee Kwan, 5, 48, 48n3, 52, 53 Z Zedong, Mao, 52