Machiavelli died nearly 500 years ago, but his name lives on as a byword for cunning, duplicity, and the exercise of bad faith in political affairs. 'The murderous Machiavel', as Shakespeare called him, has never ceased to be an object of hatred to moralists of all persuasions, conservatives and revolutionaries alike. Edmund Burke claimed to see 'the odious maxims of a machiavellian policy' underlying the 'democratic tyranny' of the French Revolution. Marx and Engels attacked the principles of machiavellianism with no less vehemence, while insisting that the true exponents of 'machiavellian policy' are those who attempt 'to paralyse democratic energies' at periods of revolutionary change. The point on which both sides agree is that the evils of machiavellianism constitute one of the most dangerous threats to the moral basis of political life.
So much notoriety has gathered around Machiavelli's name that the charge of being a machiavellian still remains a serious accusation in political debate. When Henry Kissinger, for example, expounded his philosophy in a famous interview published in The New Republic in 1972, his interviewer remarked, after hearing him discuss his role as a presidential adviser, that 'listening to you, one sometimes wonders not how much you have influenced the President of the United States but to what extent you have been influenced by Machiavelli'. The suggestion was one that Kissinger showed himself extremely anxious
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Publication information: Book title: Machiavelli:A Very Short Introduction. Contributors: Quentin Skinner - Author. Publisher: Oxford University Press. Place of publication: Oxford. Publication year: 2000. Page number: 1.
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