Machiavelli’s Advice For Nice Guys

Machiavelli was a 16th century Florentine political thinker with powerful advice for nice people who don’t get very far. His thought pivots around a central , uncomfortable observation: that the “wicked” tend to win; and they do so because they have a huge advantage over the “good”: they are willing to act with the darkest ingenuity and cunning to further their cause. They are not held back by those rigid opponents of change: principles. They will be prepared to outright lie, twist facts, threaten, get violent. They will also, when the situation demands it, know how to seductively deceive, use charm and honeyed words, bedazzle and distract. And in this way they conquer the world. It’s routinely assumed that a large part of what it means to be a good person is that one acts well. One doesn’t only have good ends; one is committed to good means. So, if one wants a more serious world, one needs to win people over through serious argument, not click bait. If one wants a fairer world, one has to judiciously and gently try to persuade the agents of injustice to surrender willingly, not through intimidation. And if one wants people to be kind, one must show kindness to one’s enemies, not ruthlessness. It sounds splendid. But Machiavelli couldn’t overlook an incontrovertible problem: it doesn’t work. As he looked back over the history of Florence and the Italian states more generally, he observed that nice princes, statesmen, and merchants always come unstuck. That’s why he wrote the book for which we know him today: “The Prince”, a short, dazzling manual of advice for well disposed princes on how not to finish last. And the answer, in short, is to be as nice as one wished, but never to be overly devoted to acting nicely, and indeed to know how to borrow, when need be, every single trick employed by the most cynical, dastardly, unscrupulous, and nastiest people who have ever lived. Machiavelli knew where our counterproductive obsession with acting nicely originated. The West was brought up on the Christian story of Jesus of Nazareth, the very nice man from Galilee who always treated people well and wounded up as the king of kings and the ruler of eternity. But Machiavelli pointed out one inconvenient detail to this sentimental tale of the triumph of goodness through meekness: from the practical perspective Jesus’ life was an outright disaster. This gentle soul was trampled upon and humiliated, disregarded, and mocked, judged in his lifetime and outside of any divine assistance, he was one of history’s greatest losers. The clue to being effective lies in overcoming all vestiges of this story. “The Prince” was not, as is often thought, a guide to being a tyrant; it’s a guide about what nice people should learn from tyrants. It’s a book about how to be effective-not just good. It’s a book haunted by examples of the impotence of the pure. The admirable prince- and today we might add CEO, political activist, or thinker- should learn every lesson from the slickest and most devious operators around. They should know how to scare and intimidate, cajole, and bully, entrap, and beguile. The good politician needs to learn from the bad one, the earnest entrepreneur-from the slick one. We are all, ultimately, the sum of what we achieve, not, what we intend. If we care about wisdom, kindness, seriousness, and virtue, but only ever act wisely, kindly, seriously, and virtuously, we will, Machiavelli warns us, get nowhere. We need to learn lessons from an unexpected source: those we temperamentally most despise. They have the most to teach us about how to bring about the reality we yearn for, but, that they are fighting against. We need weapons of similar grade steel to theirs. Ultimately, we should care more about being effective than about being nobly intentioned. It’s now enough to dream well. The true measure is what we achieve. The purpose is to change the world for the better, not reside in the quiet comforts of good intentions and a warm heart. All this Machiavelli knew. He disturbs us for good reason because he probes us where we are at our most self serving. We tell ourselves we didn’t get there because we’re a little too pure, good, and kind. Machiavelli bracingly informs us we are stuck because we have been too short sighted to learn from those who really know: our enemies.

Maurice Vega

100 Responses

  1. Whether you believe in him or not, one can not deny, Jesus is arguably the most influential man to ever exist.

  2. And today it’s the Democrats. Think about it.
    They are now turning into Leftists, vicious Leftists.
    Power, their only goal.

  3. Today’s leftists learned their ways from the leftists of the past, nazi germany and communist Russia, who between them slaughtered 300 million people, if not more.

  4. Interestingly in this animated video, whenever this English narrator mentioned "wicked ones", some pictures or illustrated characters pops out "from the Eastern countries" !
    If the Devil has a throne,, that throne would sit in London

  5. As a Christian, I’m repulsed by the idea that Jesus was ‘nice’. He was extremely harsh toward injustice and used colorful language when addressing hypocrites. He certainly taught that you must love your enemies as well as your friends, but as Jesus demonstrates on His own life, loving your enemies doesn’t often look like being ‘nice’. You can be both honest and righteous as well as a force to be reckoned with…and you should. Jesus early followers followed the same pattern.

  6. It's the principle of the matter. A good man will do good because he wants to. He knows the ways of the evil. It matters not. He's not going to do those things just to win. He would rather lose the battle but fight his way on his principles. Than to win by sinking to their level.

  7. How does it go?
    When fighting monsters beware becoming a monster? When you stare into the abyss, the abyss stares back at you?

  8. What can be accomplished in the direction of fairness & justice by unfair & unjust means? Machiavelli is short sighted

  9. The Best Guy Games; The Official List:
    Ring making, metalsmithing
    The Occult
    Poetry, rhetoric
    Historical games, ie, Civil War, Muskets, etc.
    Sword fighting, fencing
    Chivalry, opposite sex
    Hey, I can't help these fruitcake generations. They're (f'ing) really annoying though. These games are really heavy. It's hard to get your teeth in them…

  10. Jesus Christ was the polar opposite of a loser. You missed the part where he rose from the dead. Even death could not stop Jesus

  11. The devils advice. Only westerners could develop such sadistic ideas. ‘ jesus was a disaster’ emmm? yet 1.8b people believe in him.

  12. First of all with all my respect to all people and their opinion /point of views….. Be careful what you believe because it can be misguiding, as for me, I will trust in the Lord and as much as it is possible on my behalf….I will do my best to live in peace with all people. Now, some people just don't want to live in peace, so I believe they need to be disciplined, but now that I am a grown man and know better, I pray to God to be not put in that position to have to be the punisher…. With all due respect, like I said………….. God has been merciful to me so I must be merciful to others……may God help you, whoever put this video together and lead you in His righteous paths (peaceful thoughts)….

  13. The "nice person" critique narrative is an exaggerated extension of an artificial conceptualized aspect of the goodness of human nature. There is a solid thick line between being a "nice person" and a "pushover/coward" which most of these trending presentations try to erroneously tie together . Nice people are stronger and wiser than most, but they have limits that once crossed brings out the fighting hero ,the complete opposite action or reaction of a coward who truly needs help in the area self defense , development of bravery, etc. Nonetheless these notions of Alphas, Betas, that we have are fallacy. They are superficial linguistic tools i.e. dumb you down tools attempting to easily categorize the complex depths of an individual for the sake of conventionallity. These sorts of understandings are not good enough

  14. True about the trirants . Totally wrong about Jesus and what he achieved and when you view the meek and theirs works it's very opposite to what he's saying the outcome is continued vengeance in this broken world …
    Check William booth the founder of the salvos. meekness with a backbone.. He's one of millions of examples that over came tyrants with tanisity and good ..
    Tyrants will always raise up and good needs to stand up . But not fight fire fight with fire everything gets consumed then .be the water to put it out ..

  15. So Alonzo from training day was Machivellian when he says " To protect the sheep you got to catch the wolf, and it take a wolf to catch a wolf."

  16. The West wasn't brought up by the story of, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus was foist upon us forcibly, and it's been all down hill since then

  17. Jesus wasn’t nice he was about “his business.” Flipping over tables isn’t nice…He did all that he did for a reason

  18. "My Mother taught me, not to throw stones at others. My Father taught me, aim for their heads." – Ramsay Bolton, Game of Thrones.

  19. "A Harmless Man Is Not A Good Man. A Good Man Is A Very Dangerous Man Who Has That Under Voluntary Control." – Jordan Peterson

  20. Most women are attracted to assholes. Facts. They aren't into guys they can easily wrap around their finger, that shit won't last. Be a dickhead, ignore them, don't validate them and keep them guessing. Your belt will fill up with notches.

  21. Kindness and strong smart authority should go hand in hand, otherwise kindness turns into utter foolishness.

  22. Good people need to realize you don't need principles to perform good. And you can be literally covered in blood and hated by your peers,and be the absolute most good person in your society.
    Weakness is conflated with goodness by evil people.
    Evil is opposed to good.
    And so evil has been trying to make all the good people into pacifists. And they've been very effective at doing so.
    If good people believe any violent or aggressive act they perform is evil. Regardless of context,they are completely powerless when confronted by violence and subversive lies.
    Evil people refuse to stop their actions unless there is physical force imparted upon their person specifically.
    In order to stop them you must be willing to hurt them and those they love. Or their willingness to do so will put you at an extreme disadvantage.
    Good people need to once again find violence force and a reluctance to give undue kindness to their enemies.
    And realize it doesn't make them bad. It makes them good.
    The thing that makes good people evil and bad is the fact that they do nothing.
    If you wanna fuck a girl that guy will gladly start shit with you and attack you.
    If people are being oppressed raped and killed in the street in front of them, you'll see that they're really cowards. Big buff ruff and tuff cowards. Willing to attack their neighbors and their community.
    But unwilling to help them. Unwilling to risk his safety for anyone's sake except his penis's sake.
    A nation of cowards can only themselves. It takes strong brave men to protect each other, instead of degrading and harming each other like weakling cowards.

  23. Jesus Christ was no wimp. All of Jerusalem burned under his flame after his crucifixion. Jesus was the son of God, very different from human beings.

  24. I think a good example of a good guy that don't let others step on him is "The Good" (Clint Eastwood) character in the film "The good the bad and the ugly".

  25. I dont like how a lot of people act like Jesus's life was just a story or tale. The Messiah's life was predetermined by GOD to save mankind so everything that played out was meant to be as the scriptures foretold before his birth. Not trying to preach to yall, but I felt that had to be said

  26. In order for there to be peace, there has to be violence. I learned that. Sometimes people have to get a taste of their own medicen

  27. It's really difficult to not be nice to people when you see the intention behind their evil deeds. It's all tied down to insecurities, jealousy & fears etc.
    Remember, forgive but never forget that people are cunning & living inside the carnal mind.
    It's all about self interest, this is a harsh truth.
    To live well, we have to put ourselves first in order to save your own sanity.

  28. Tell me please, how did you put Stalin (as the bad) and the black man (as the … good you see) together ? How did you even get there ? What tf is in your twisted mind ?

  29. The bible tells us to be as innocent as a dove, but as wise as a serpent. While it's true that as christians we are supposed to exhibit attributes of the fruit of the holy spirit, we are also to be alert and know how to react when people make use of us or trample on our kindness.

  30. Omg. I cant explain how much I completly understand this!!! I used to be one of these all goody goody types and via meeting an ex who for a long while I judged at a 'tyrant' and 'narcisstic' and etc, eventually I realised, he was put in my life to show me what I lacked! He was a teacher to show me want I need to intergrate into my being. He was an incredible wake up call which at first I judged as the worst thing that ever happened to me. Now I understand it was the best thing. 😋

  31. this can be rlly be used for more than just nice guys. this rlly a how-to guide on how to be successful, how to be competent, and how to just get stuff done in general. if “you are ultimately what you achieve, not what you intend” doesn’t spark a fire in you, i don’t know what else would.

  32. Did Machiavelli give the recipe for not turning into what you've always fought against, in the process of doing all he prescribed?

  33. I think Nietszche’s idea of the overman entailed a truth evident in history: that great evil is sometimes necessary to realize great change

  34. How use this as a sick, fatally traumatized (CPTSD), inexperienced and gullible Aspergian against numerable authority people ganging up secretely, unlawfully, please?

  35. So, B E E V I L . . . in order to WIN – – that's what the School of Life is teaching now?
    I am shocked, appalled. Aren't you?

  36. This video doesn't just reject the ethics of Jesus, but also the ethics of Socrates, Kant, Buddha, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Gandhi, and virtually any and all systems of humanistic ethics.

  37. This video is recommending pure Barbarism.
    But upon reviewing some of the comments below, hardly anyone seems to notice.

  38. Right till the end, I thought this video was going to turn out to be a PARODY of certain far-right wing/neo-Nazi/Nietzschean/White Nationalist provocateurs (such as Jordan Peterson, the book "Might Is Right" by Ragnar Redbeard, or the book, "The Bronze Age Mindset," by Bronze Age Pervert ). But, no, it ended up being a sincere exhortation to cruelty, immorality, amorality, barbarism.

  39. So, in "Hamlet," Claudius & Laertes, who conspired to murder Prince Hamlet by treachery & deceit, were the wise ones? Lady Macbeth was the hero? King Lear's Machiavellian, murderous daughters, Goneril & Regan, were the right role models, not Lear's other daughter, Christlike Cordelia?

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