Politics = The Ethics of Public Life featuring Niccolo Machiavelli

Throughout history, the concept of power, money and character have played off of one another. Where do your morals and values line up?

Abraham Lincoln considered this when he said “nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”

Since time immemorial, power has tested a leader’s character. During the Renaissance, Niccolo Machiavelli famously meditated on the amorality of how power is exercised in his book “The Prince,” written as a guide for his patron, the Florentine statesman Lorenzo De Medici.

Many of the great rulers and leaders have used their power to achieve prosperity for their people, creating laws that brought stability to a civilization and raising living standards. Many other leaders abused their power in the name of some visioned future or to simply gain more power. They brought war, misery, genocide and famine….speaking truth to Lord Acton’s axiom that power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Here are some powerful and relevant Niccolo Machiavelli Quotes:

“The first method for estimating the intelligence of a ruler is to look at the men he has around him.”

“Never attempt to win by force what can be won by deception.” 

“It is much safer to be feared than loved because …love is preserved by the link of obligation which, owing to the baseness of men, is broken at every opportunity for their advantage; but fear preserves you by a dread of punishment which never fails.” 

“Men in general judge more by the sense of sight than by the sense of touch, because everyone can see but few can test by feeling. Everyone sees what you seem to be, few know what you really are; and those few do not dare take a stand against the general opinion.” 

“Everyone sees what you appear to be, few experience what you really are.”

“Men in general judge more from appearances than from reality. All men have eyes but few have the gift of penetration.”

“A sign of intelligence is an awareness of one’s own ignorance.”

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