The Discourses by Niccolò Machiavelli
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Mostly discusses the benefits and management of a democratic state. A significantly more moral read than The Prince. Makes the argument that despite the sentiment popular in the 1500s, rule by the masses, while imperfect, is preferable to autocratic rule. It his belief that democracies that fail become anarchies, but current experience seems to point to oligarchy at best or tyrannies at worst.
Machiavelli spends a fair amount of time discussing how religion can help or hinder the democratic state. Interesting stuff worth considering.
His high-mindedness falls apart at the end though. He says it's acceptable to do anything to save the free state. So even a democratic Machiavelli remains Machiavellian.
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