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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The evolution of language - Machiavellian

The meaning of language evolves and the term Machiavellian is now used to describe politicians, and others, who engage in underhanded and manipulative behavior.

Niccolo Machiavelli's most famous work 'The Prince' was published in 1532. Although embodying a realistic and cynical approach to power, it was not an instruction book for self serving or gratuitous political manipulation. While it is certainly a primer on gaining and keeping power, most of the book offers critical lessons on the practicalities of governing.

Senator Obama promises us 'change' and Senator McCain offers 'reform'. The one that is elected will need to understand the realities that prompted Machiavelli to write these words:

"And one should bear in mind that there is nothing more difficult to execute, nor more dangerous to administer than to introduce a new system of things; for he who introduces it has all those who profit from the old system as enemies, and he has only lukewarm allies in all those who might profit from the new system."

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