Welcome to The Modern Prince Readers’ Pages. The Preface, which guided you to this page, describes how I came to write The Modern Prince: Better Living Through Machiavellianism. It began as an idle thought. “How would Machiavelli write The Prince if he were alive today?” Because I spend a lot of time in airports and on planes, I have time to think and to type on my laptop. The Modern Prince became my airport hobby for a year.
These pages are an online extension of my book. They are a gift to my readers, and I hope they will help you enjoy and benefit from the book even more.
Each chapter in the book ends with a link to a page here that is related to that chapter. I hope you will visit these pages as you read the book.
They are designed to help you explore modern Machiavellianism in a variety of ways.
Wisdom is the knowledge of living correctly and well, knowing how to think and how to act in the situations that we encounter during this life. Machiavelli’s classic work, The Prince, is wisdom literature, because it was designed to teach the Prince of Florence how to conduct himself in life and how to deal with the situations that confronted him. My book - The Modern Prince - is wisdom literature too, because it was written to teach you ways of thinking and acting that will be of benefit to you.
I will let you be the judge of how wise the book is, but let me assure you that I take my job as an author very seriously. The Modern Prince and this web site contain my best writing and my best thinking. I hope you like them.
Writing a book is one way to disseminate wisdom, but there are other ways. Setting a good example for others to follow is probably the best way. Classroom teaching, seminars, and discussion groups are other ways. In these web pages, we will explore additional ways in which I have packaged my version of Machiavellian wisdom.
Here are some wisdom “packaging” techniques that I will share with you on this family of web pages:
Machiavellian Proverbs and Sayings
Wisdom is often packaged in clever little sayings that can be recalled at appropriate moments. This is one area where you can help me, by inventing your own Machiavellian proverb and contributing it via e-mail. An example of a Machiavellian proverb would be:
This means at least two things, perhaps more.
- Never give an opponent ammunition to use against you.
- Expect your opponent to be true to his or her nature. Clowns throw pies, rattlesnakes bite, and your opponent’s behavior will be a reflection of his nature.
“Inspirational” Posters and Desktop Backgrounds
Over the years I have worked for managers who put motivational posters on the wall, proclaiming something like “Every job is a self-portrait of the person who did it. Autograph your work with excellence!” or “The Bamboo which bends is stronger than the oak which resists.” These posters often displayed a lovely sunset with beautifully colored clouds. The message was usually superimposed over the clouds, suggesting that the message was from God rather than from my employer. The human ape learns best from repetition, so walking by those posters many times every day made their messages familiar, memorable, comfortable, and reasonable.
When I decoded the little sayings on those motivational posters, they usually meant “Work hard, do as you’re told, and don’t give us any crap.” They also suggested that my colleagues and I should be content with an inner, more spiritual reward, as opposed to the shallow, more material rewards that my employer always seemed to prefer for himself. This was the real message my employer was sending to me. (By the way, feel free to download a copy of either of these two inspirational posters if you like them. Click the image to enlarge it, then right-click to download. Frame them and place them on your desk. Send them to all your friends.)
Machiavellian posters and screen savers should have a little more meaning to them than all that corporate crap. Above left you see an example of a poster that delivers a Machiavellian message. The familiar inspirational “voice from the clouds” proclaims a familiar platitude, but the statement below it surprises us with a fresh interpretation of what human nature really includes. Machiavellian posters often have a surprise in their messages. At right, is another version of the Machiavellian wisdom poster. Instead of proclaiming a Machiavellian proverb, it instead decodes and presents in plain English the real message of the employer to the employee. We Machiavellians prefer our truths plain and unseasoned, without artificial color or flavorings. The ability to decode what our employers really mean is a critical skill for every employee.
Some of the twenty-eight Readers’ Pages will offer you a poster that illustrates one of the central points of that chapter. I hope the posters will motivate you to pursue your own personal goals in the most efficient possible way based on a realistic view of your world.
(Click either poster to see a larger version.) Then, if you wish, you may right-click and save the poster on your hard disk. These are suitable for framing and you may send them to your like-minded friends at no charge. I’d be interested in your comments on these posters or on any of the material you see on this web site.)
Machiavellian Fairy Tales and Parables
Here is an example of a Machiavellian parable.
The King’s New Robe
Once upon a time, a vain and foolish king ruled the people. Despite his vanity and low IQ, those around him fawned over him, kissing his butt and praising his lame policies as if they were brilliant and original. The king - a sucker for praise and approval - believed all of the fawning toadies who surrounded him, and he had no doubt that he was as brilliant as everyone said.
One day, the foolish king said to his Court Magician, “A wise king like me needs to be surrounded by wise people. Devise a method whereby I can instantly tell if the person who seeks to give me advice is as wise as I am.” The Court Magician, who was as big a scoundrel as the King was a fool, said, “I shall go to my laboratory in the tower and will return tomorrow with the solution to your problem, O King wiser than Solomon and brighter than the sun.”
On the next day, the Court Magician returned to the King and said, “Here, as you can see better than anyone, is a resplendent set of garments so beautiful that only you, O Great One, can wear them. Now listen closely, O Mighty Sovereign. These garments are magical because they are made from Wisdom itself, not cloth or leather. Though you can plainly see the garments, they cannot be seen by foolish or stupid people. To the fool, these garments are invisible. To the wise - who see the truth of all things - these garments are clearly visible!”
The Magician saw a maid polishing furniture in the corner of the room. “Come here, woman.” he commanded. “What do you see in my hands?”
The maid scurried to the Magician, startled at being acknowledged for the first time by a person of importance. “Why, nothing, Sir. Your hands are completely empty.”
The Magician beamed at the King. “So you see, Sire, the foolish and uneducated are unable to behold the magnificence of these garments. Because this garment is made from wisdom itself, fools - who are unable to see wisdom - cannot see it.” With a flick of his finger, he dismissed the maid as if she were a booger on his finger.
The King immediately stripped naked and put on the new and fabulous garments. He sent word that all of the members of his court should assemble immediately in the Great Hall. When they were gathered, the Court Magician appeared in a puff of smoke and explained the nature of the garments to the royal court. He assured them that any member of the court who could not see the King’s resplendent new garments would be summarily banned from the King’s presence and stripped of all rank. When the King entered, completely naked, members of the court applauded and praised his new clothing, gasping in astonishment at the beauty of the colors and design.
“But the King is naked!” exclaimed the maid, forgetting in her astonishment to keep her mouth shut and her eyes down. Those who heard her remark rolled their eyes and winked at each other. The poor maid, like all commoners, was far too stupid to behold the King’s grand new robes of wisdom.
The Court Magician was overwhelmed with orders for Wisdom Clothing from all the members of the royal court. Many gold coins were pressed into his ever-extended palm. No matter how many orders he received, the Magician delivered the new Wisdom Clothing the very next day to each who had paid him. Eventually the entire court was clad only in wisdom clothing. Everyone in the court ridiculed the common people, who walked around clad only in cloth and leather, not wisdom.
The Court Magician announced about this time that he had received magical summons to defeat a powerful dragon that was terrorizing a faraway country. He quickly left with all his belongings, vowing to return as soon as the dragon was dead.
“But they are all naked!” exclaimed the maid, over and over, to anyone who would listen to her.
“Even my maids need to be smarter than that stupid bitch,” said the King. “Get rid of her.”
So the elderly maid was frog marched to the back door of the castle and told never to return. Her fat husband and selfish children were furious with her for losing her palace job. It had provided them with a significant income and considerable status among the other peasants in the village.
“But they were all naked ... bare-ass naked, butt-naked, naked as newborn babes!” protested the sobbing former maid over and over as she dabbed her black eye with a cold cloth.
“You stupid cow,” said her peasant husband, who had never seen the King or been in the palace. “Do you think you are smarter than the whole court?”
He smacked her again and walked out of the room in disgust.
The lesson of this parable is: the one person who knows the truth is usually the only person who’s upset.
Or maybe the lesson of the parable is: delusion usually wins out over truth.
Or maybe the lesson of the parable is: maybe it really is all of them who are crazy, not you.
(Like this parable. Click here and print a copy.)
Machiavellian Book Reviews and
Recommended Reading for the Budding Machiavellian
As I stated in The Modern Prince, there are no original thoughts in that book or on these web pages. Instead, there are ideas that I have encountered here and there. I am a collector of intriguing ideas. I have repackaged some of them and connected them into a coherent, holistic view that is much more rational and much more believable to me than the ideas that I encountered in college or that I hear from our current, disappointing crop of national leaders. Where appropriate, I will include a review of one of the many books from which I gleaned most of these ideas. Every book that I will recommend to you is one that I consider to be a superb work, but none of them will appeal to all readers. If you are a reader by nature, I suggest that you use my review to help you decide whether or not to spend your valuable time reading them.
Personally, I think that my rewrite of The Prince is more useful to modern readers, but looking at the original may help you evaluate my work and think more deeply about these subjects. A link to a good, free translation of The Prince by Machiavelli and related (also free) material can be found at the bottom of each of these pages.
Machiavellian Movie Reviews
Like most Americans, I am a movie fan. Most of the movies that I have enjoyed are just Hollywood fluff, but a few of them provide provocative illustrations of the points made in The Modern Prince and in this web site. All of the movies I will recommend to you are, in my opinion at least, well worth the four bucks it would cost to rent them. These pages will include reviews of movies that illustrate or clarify the message of the chapter. And, my reviews will suggest to you the lessons in Machiavellianism to watch for in such cinematic jewels as Forbidden Planet, Blood and Wine, and The Shawshank Redemption.
Lessons in Machiavellianism from History
There are special moments in history that make the Machiavellian perspective so obviously useful. There are special lives that have been lived which illustrate the use of Machiavellian principles very clearly. I would like to share them with you. In some of these pages I will provide you with my insights into extraordinary moments of history and biography as illustrations of the topics of each chapter. What can a Machiavellian learn from the lives of such diverse people as Cleopatra, Sam Houston, and Bill Gates? The answer is: a lot. And, they are described in these pages.
My readers are a particularly intelligent group of people. Many of them are smarter and more insightful than I am, and the comments that I receive are occasionally very good. Read what others say about each chapter by clicking the Readers’ Comments link in that chapter’s page. You can also submit your own comments. They are not automatically posted. Your comments will be reviewed and perhaps edited for clarity of expression and thoughtfulness. If we edit your comment, we will send it back to you for approval. Don’t get your feelings hurt if your comment is not selected. Candidly, we hardly ever get email to the Advice Column. Isn’t anything wrong with you people?
Submit comments to Comments@MidasJones.com .
NOTE: Please know that MidasJones.com does not accept advertising or revenue of any kind from any source other than the sale of my own book, The Modern Prince (send gift copies to all your friends). If a product is recommended on these pages, then the basis for my recommendation is that I myself have purchased the item and have found it satisfactory. I would recommend the same thing to a relative or friend if he or she asked. For example, I recommend
- Books, like Sam Houston by John Hoyt Williams
- Websites, like Amazon.com, Wikipedia.com, BarnesandNoble.com, and others
- I also recommend and enjoy cheap scotch (brand doesn’t matter, just look at the price), the public library, your local community college, used book stores (never ever trade my book to a used bookstore), and Quaker Brand Grits.
I receive no income from the manufacturers, authors, distributors, and agents associated with these products or companies.