SOMETHING ABOUT MACHIAVELIAN SUCCESS

Alberto Benitez
3 min readJul 19, 2023

Machiavelli did have seeks a tragic ending.

He may have been a lawyer, busy with the multitude of affairs of the thousands of merchants in Florence. If he had take that decision, his name would be unknown to everyone and “being Machiavellian” nothing would mean. Or he could have been a merchant, working to earn a fortune and like many of his acquaintances and friends, becoming a patron for poets, sculptors, painters over the years.

He never chose private life. He decidedly got into public service. And not as a mere job, not as an occupation from which he only got a few coins with which to feed his family. Not like one occupation that he would trade for another just for a better salary.

Machiavelli sought a dangerous occupation: working in the Office of the Ten, which for us would be the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. And he works hard to gain a position of influence. A position with which he could define the course of Florence, a position that allowed him to be part of the group that made decisions about who to make war with, how to make it, with whom to negotiate peace and how.

He put himself in the spot where he could be accused of treason. He competed and won the position for which he could be imprisoned and tortured for the misdeeds he committed. He obtained the position that made him responsible for the results of his decisions.

It can be believed that everyone, no matter who we are or what job we do, is responsible for our actions and decisions.

But it’s not like that.

Moral responsibility is empty. The only responsibility is legal. Moral responsibility is no more than a child dream.

Not in all jobs there is a way to hold ourselves responsible for our actions because not in all jobs there are the means to evaluate the decisions that are made, examine them, judge them and ultimately reward or punish them.

The results of work are always mixed, always subject to many rapidly changing circumstances and accidents. Part of the charm of sports is that in them failure or success is evident and crystal clear. But you have to see that all sports are wonderfully artificial activities. They are played in special spaces. With materials and clothes and artificial tools: created specifically for that purpose. Games are outside of real-time and space, such as religious ceremonies. When children play they interrupt the walk, make noise, break glass. Because the game is out of reality.

Machiavelli could have played games or engaged in menial work in which his responsibility would be no different from empty moral responsibility.

Instead he chose a job where they had the right to kill him if he did wrong.

But the point remains as to why he was not a patron. If he had worked to get rich, over time he would have made a good fortune and with it gained fame by sponsoring important jobs. Churches, palaces, squares. Paintings and sculptures. Monasteries, convents, universities. All these projects gave a lot of fame and were part of the good name of the dynasties and the great men in the Renaissance. Lorenzo was The Magnificent for his political actions but also and almost on pair for his actions of patronage and support for the arts and religion. Machiavelli himself thanked many, many times in private, in public and in his books for the support he received from these patrons, making those surnames remembered to this day. Patrons get people to love them.

Machiavelli instead had another trait, which is necessary for all citizens in a democracy.

He wanted to define the politics of his city. He not only had good ideas but he worked to make them come true. But he did not seek to have the authority to dictate them, rather he sought to be in a place that would allow him to discuss, evaluate, study the options and, in the end, make a decision among many, a decision that was thus evaluated, a decision that having been discussed it had been examined and criticized by many heads.

That is also being Machiavellian. Not to be loved Not being appreciated. But be responsible.

--

--