Donald Trump – Meet Nicola Machiavelli

 By Shlomo Maital

   In 1513 an Italian politician and scholar named Nicola Machiavelli, living in exile on his farm, wrote a slim book, “Of Principalities”, which became known as The Prince. The book summed up Machiavelli’s 14 years of experience in the fraught political wars of Italian city-states and Medici rulers. In it, Machiavelli writes,

  • “it is much safer to be feared than loved”,
  • “people should either be caressed or crushed”, and
  • “the new ruler must determine all the injuries that he will need to inflict” and
  • “must inflict them once and for all.”


       Wow. I read this in a New York Times book review by Jennifer Szalai, reviewing Patrick Boucheron’s new book Machiavelli: The Art of Teaching People What to Fear, written originally in French.

       Now, US President Donald J. Trump is not an avid reader. I truly doubt he has read The Prince. But he doesn’t need to. Trump has applied every single political maxim in this amazing book, written 500 years ago.   The same issue of the New York Times that carried this book review, also reported how Trump is purging his inner circle, and crushing his foes, ensuring far far fewer people listen in on his phone call conversations with world leaders. Trump lovingly caresses his supporters, like criminally-convicted Roger Stone, and viciously attacks and purges his opponents, like Lt. Col. Vindman. His Attorney General is his waterboy.

     National Football League teams each have a playbook. President Trump has one, too, unwritten, and it is amazingly similar to that of Machiavelli. It has two plays only. Crush foes. Caress friends. Trump’s world is binary.

     As Boucheron concludes: “If we’re reading [Machiavelli] today, it means we should be worried.”

     I am. Because we are not just reading Machiavelli. We are living him. And maybe, as his Republican cult-followers chanted in the House of Representatives, during his State of the Union speech: for four more years???


p.s. this is blog # 1,600. Thanks for reading them.