Niccolò Machiavelli, the 16th-century Florentine political advisor and philosopher, has been credited with founding the modern "realist" school of international relations, the modern conception of the state, and even modernity itself. What he is most famous for, however, is founding a new approach to politics that emphasizes deception and effectiveness over virtue and morality. In his best-known work, The Prince, he advises the politically ambitious to eschew genuine virtue for the mere appearance of it and to accept that the aims of a true leader justify his means, whatever they may be. "For a man who wants to make a profession of good in all regards must come to ruin among so many who are not good," he writes. "Hence it is necessary to a prince, if he wants to maintain himself, to learn to be able not to be good."
This Machiavellian willingness to be "altogether wicked" is difficult to square with some of what we in the modern world he helped create have made of Machiavelli. Perhaps most peculiar, and most telling, of all is the steady stream of self-help and advice manuals for everyday living that claim to have been inspired by him. There is What Would Machiavelli Do? The Ends Justify the Meanness, one of a number of Machiavellian guides for business success. There is also The Suit: A Machiavellian Approach to Men's Style; The Princessa: Machiavelli for Women; A Child's Machiavelli; a slew of (largely self-published) Machiavellian tracts on picking up women; and, most recently, Machiavelli for Moms.
These books find their model primarily in The Prince, a work claiming to dispense advice for princes — not office pushovers, frumpy dressers, playground wimps, and dateless sad sacks. Machiavelli does venture some advice for mothers in the Discourses on Livy, in which he applauds Caterina Sforza's parenting, though it is hard to imagine that today's self-help gurus would share his admiration for her. After conspirators trying to take the city of Forlì kill Sforza's husband and capture her and her young children, she promises to betray the fortress to the conspirators if they release her, and she leaves her children with them as collateral. Machiavelli writes, "As soon as she was inside, she reproved them from the walls for the death of her husband....And to show that she did not care for her children, she showed them her genital parts, saying that she still had the mode for making more of them." That is Machiavelli for moms, though this story is not mentioned in the recent parenting guide. How then has Machiavelli, proponent of every kind of deceit, been domesticated, becoming a modern American sartorial consultant, business guru, and family therapist?
The process has been gradual, spanning several centuries — it began, in fact, with the first great American Machiavellian, Benjamin Franklin. Machiavelli's value for European geopolitical strategy was recognized almost immediately, but it was Franklin who realized that, although Machiavelli had largely been understood as an advisor to the rulers of great states, he was in fact a philosopher for losers. He wrote books about power and the men who had succeeded or failed to seize it, but men who are busy seizing and holding power rarely have time to read books. We are most receptive to Machiavelli when we are young and lowly, or when we have been brought low by some setback, and, in both cases, Machiavelli instructs the weak. But Franklin recognized, too, that Machiavelli speaks to the ambitious among the weak, those who are not satisfied to remain low, and this made him useful to Franklin in particular and to Americans in general.
Machiavelli still has much to teach the lowly and ambitious, but some of the more recent attempts to apply his insights to American life today have missed the point. In order to benefit from the useful lessons Machiavelli can teach us about succeeding in America, we need to identify exactly what those lessons really are. To do so, we would do well to re-examine Benjamin Franklin's approach to employing Machiavellian methods to get ahead in America.
FRANKLIN'S CIVIC MACHIAVELLIANISM
The American situation as Benjamin Franklin saw it in the 18th century was particularly ripe for Machiavellian losers. The period was marked by relative social equality, an observation Tocqueville would echo a half-century later. As Franklin wrote in an advertisement to potential immigrants in 1782, "The Truth is, that though there are in that Country few People so miserable as the Poor of Europe, there are also very few that in Europe would be called rich: it is rather a general happy Mediocrity that prevails." This happy mediocrity prevailed in part because of the availability of land, but also because members of the English aristocracy were disinclined to leave their estates and move to the American colonies, leaving the new world to be populated by lower gentry, small farmers, and tradesmen. The relative absence of aristocratic hierarchy in turn meant that ambitious but poor men like Franklin might rise by their own wits. Here, however, another central feature of the American situation stood in their way: Colonial Protestants looked down on worldly ambition, deeming it sinful to grasp after wealth and position, though to actually possess either or both was a mark of God's grace.
Franklin felt this contradiction acutely from childhood. The clever "youngest son of the youngest son for five generations back," Franklin seemed destined for a life as a small tradesman by virtue of his father's lowly station, but he decided early on that he was cut out for something more princely. In his memoirs, The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, he wrote, "I was commonly allowed to govern," and "I was generally a leader among the boys." Despite his natural talents, however, his father's narrow means permitted him only two years of schooling before he was apprenticed out to various relations. The error of a society that privileges birth and wealth over ingenuity is a great theme of the Autobiography — Franklin introduces us to many "ingenious" acquaintances whose literary, scientific, and political talents are either underused or entirely squandered for lack of routes by which to advance in public life. Franklin's own father, a tallow chandler with 17 children, exemplifies the problem of the early 18th century: "[H]is great excellence lay in a sound understanding and solid judgment in prudential matters, both in private and public affairs. In the latter, indeed, he was never employed, the numerous family he had to educate and the straitness of his circumstances keeping him close to his trade."
Josiah Franklin was too pious to struggle against this fate, but his son was less concerned with divine disapproval. Social disapproval was the greater danger in his view, since "my indiscreet disputations about religion began to make me pointed at with horror by good people." To escape this situation, he ran away from Boston in 1723 at the age of 17. Upon his arrival in Philadelphia, however, Franklin discovered that, although the city was less established and more open than Puritan Boston, he now had to contend with a new politically dominant sect of anti-worldly Protestants, the pacifist Quakers. The Christian virtues they honored — humility, piety, honesty, diligence, charity — were not entirely conducive to the substantial political ambitions of the penniless and doctrinally skeptical printer's apprentice, just as his ambitions were not palatable to them.
This gap could be bridged by the judicious application of Machiavellian advice, which proved to be a useful solution to Franklin's dilemma. The Prince offers two complementary approaches to virtue for those seeking to rise to power: The first is to understand what passes for virtue in the society one wishes to rule and learn to affect the appearance of those virtues. The second approach is to reformulate virtue itself. The first is advice for ambitious private men; the second is for founders. Franklin to some extent occupied both posts, but since new foundations are rare, it was the advice about cultivating the appearance of virtue that Franklin focused on injecting into everyday democratic life. "Everyone sees how you appear," Machiavelli counsels his prince, "few touch what you are." This advice is true for the prince vis-à-vis the people because he stands at a distance from them, but it is also true for the democratic individual because he is so easily overlooked by them. Where he does appear in public, then, it becomes imperative that he make a good impression, since few men will have the time or ability to investigate beyond appearance and reputation.
Franklin therefore set out to make a good impression. Chronically disputatious, Franklin discovered early that this disposition "seldom fails to disgust, tends to create opposition, and to defeat every one of those purposes for which speech was given to us." His solution was not to change his own views to accommodate others, but rather to adopt the pretense of modesty when arguing by acquiring "the habit of expressing myself in terms of modest diffidence; never using, when I advanced anything that may possibly be disputed, the words certainly, undoubtedly, or any others that give the air of positiveness to an opinion; but rather say, I conceive or apprehend a thing to be so and so." He "put on the humble inquirer and doubter" in order to be inoffensive enough to win others over to his views and projects, thereby increasing his "power to do good."
The trick is not only to put on the appearance of virtue where its reality is absent, but also to ensure that one's real virtue appears where it exists. When he first opened his print shop, Franklin "took care not only to be in reality industrious and frugal, but to avoid all appearances to the contrary." He made a great show of his diligence, staying late at his shop, avoiding being seen at "idle diversion," dressing simply, and carrying his supplies home loudly in a wheelbarrow. These tactics caught the notice of more established neighbors, who praised the upstart Franklin to one another, building his public credit and expanding his business. It was not because Franklin was such a great man that he could get away with these deceptions, but because he was such a small one; in a society of relative equals working for their living, everyone was too absorbed in his own affairs to pay more than cursory attention to the private activities of his neighbors.
This general inattentiveness does not mean, however, that a democratic man will never be resented. On the contrary, The Prince offers this warning to the ambitious: "For in every city these two diverse humors are found, which arises from this: that the people desire neither to be commanded nor oppressed by the great, and the great desire to command and oppress the people." Franklin perhaps wished to rule (though he would probably have preferred "govern" to Machiavelli's "oppress"), but no people, then or now, want to feel as if they are being ruled. For evidence of this, we need only look at Franklin's older brother, James Franklin, who resented Benjamin for continually upstaging him "before his people" with his superior wit and financial success.
Here, too, a certain degree of dissembling is required to keep one's talents and aims out of sight. Intellectually, Franklin was a giant — self-taught in four languages, rhetoric, philosophy, and the natural sciences. Prudent investing in addition to his successful business won him substantial wealth by middle age. But displaying his full height would only make him enemies among those of average stature, so he learned to convey his own cleverness by attributing it to others, winning their goodwill without provoking their jealousy. When an eminent politician had a book Franklin wanted to read, he asked to borrow it, flattering the man's discernment in purchasing it. When he set out to undertake public projects like the financing of libraries and hospitals, he deferred the credit for these projects to established Philadelphians so as to assuage their resentment of being shown up in civic-spiritedness by a young nobody. Franklin was so confident that his foundational role would be remembered in the end that he refused even to take out patents on his inventions.
At some point, however, we must ask: How was he able to hide his substantial ambition in plain sight for so many years under such flimsy guises as modesty and diligence? And how could he be bold enough to recommend so openly that we do the same? If everyone took his advice seriously, would not all genuine virtue disappear into false shows of humility and other tricks of reputation-building? Franklin's life suggests otherwise: The self-discipline required to sustain the appearance of virtue inevitably instills habits of actual virtue. If we are to believe his accounts of his evening and weekend self-education, his thrift, and his demanding exercise regimen, it is entirely possible that Franklin never had a moment's leisure until his retirement from printing at the age of 42 — at which point he threw himself into politics and science until his death.
In the end, humility was the only virtue Franklin really faked. As a Machiavellian prince in his own right, Franklin sought to devalue humility as a virtue. All men are already vain, and it is their vanity and craving for social approbation that launches them into civic life, where their fortunes become entangled with those of their cities and countries. As he wrote in his Autobiography:
Most people dislike vanity in others, whatever share they have of it themselves; but I give it fair quarter wherever I meet with it, being persuaded that it is often productive of good to the possessor, and to others that are within his sphere of action; and therefore, in many cases, it would not be altogether absurd if a man were to thank God for his vanity among the other comforts of life.
In this respect, the Autobiography is the foundation of all subsequent American self-help literature because it unseats religion as the sole provenance of virtue, identifying instead esteem-seeking self-interest as a more effective and reliable source of virtue. Having ascended to the pinnacle of Philadelphia society and gained the notice of the world with his scientific and diplomatic achievements by the time that he sat down to compose his Autobiography, Franklin followed Machiavelli in using his book as a vehicle by which to reformulate virtue. By example and argument, Franklin tried to detoxify ambition and thereby free Americans to strive.
Franklin's broad purpose in setting these examples was to defend self-interest against the claim that it is simply selfishness. Self-interest is a more reliable goad to virtue and the common good than Protestant piety, he thought, because, in a commercial democracy in which no one is wealthy or powerful enough to undertake great public works on his own, the pursuit of self-interest is inextricably social. It requires winning the goodwill of others at every turn; under the conditions of equality, a single man's ambition is impotent without cooperation. But if, as Franklin devilishly put it, Americans are to "thank God" for our vanity, we must ease our suspicion of ambition and permit "ingenious men" to get ahead, even if this opens the door to a few frauds and hucksters.
Despite adopting Machiavellian means, Franklin aimed at softer and more finite ends. Franklin has not come down to us as a Cesare Borgia, Machiavelli's ideal ruler, although Franklin in fact ruled for nearly four decades as a kind of prince — both politically, in the colony and then the state of Pennsylvania, and intellectually, in the international world of science and letters. We might even say that, as "the first American," he designed the pattern for success which we now take to be distinctly American. But we hardly resent him for all of his achievements; instead we honor him. And is this not proof of his most ingenious trick?
He was ultimately a defender of American egalitarianism, but egalitarianism with space for democratic ambition. The Prince recasts virtue as not what is good, but as what works, and Franklin modified this approach to make virtue work in a democratic society. The martial ends at which Machiavelli's virtue aims are too bloody and cruel for Franklin, who was interested in the tamer ends of a robust civic life and material ease. And, unlike Machiavelli, Franklin was never an outright enemy of Christian virtue, which was far more valuable to him than it was to Machiavelli. He sought only to modify it for the sake of liberating and channeling ambition toward economically and civically useful ends. Aside from its problematic suppression of pride, Christian virtue largely aided Franklin's ends by sustaining civility and softening social life; Franklin's own famous list of virtues borrows far more extensively from Protestantism than from Machiavelli's martial political vision. But even there we see his dissembling Machiavellianism: Piety is absent from Franklin's list, as it is too indirect a route to the improvement of one's conduct and social standing.
In The Prince, the options are either to rule or be ruled. For Franklin, the trade-off is not so stark. One cannot rule by "one's own arms," or at least not by them alone. He shows the ambitious that the advantage and recognition they seek require a combination of self-discipline, self-fashioning, and outright compromise with others, since public recognition to individuals in a democracy comes almost wholly from their participation in common undertakings. As Franklin recognized, everyone is driven to an extent by vanity and self-interest, and everyone is distrustful of anyone who wishes to rule over him. An ambitious man in a democracy, therefore, must become a robust Machiavellian, masking (at least to an extent) his ambition in order to thrive in a social order that will always be characterized by some suspicion of upstarts and a strong resentment of rulers.
"A GOOD VILLAIN"
Franklin's Autobiography was a bestseller in the 19th century, and while its American brand of Machiavellian leadership gained traction with men, some enterprising women came to recognize the potential that Machiavellianism held for improving their rule of the domestic sphere. Charlotte Perkins Gilman's Benigna Machiavelli, a serial novella published in Gilman's radical magazine the Forerunner in 1914, suggested that the lessons of The Prince could work for the ambitious but disempowered in any milieu.
The novella follows the schemes of Benigna, a clever girl improbably descended from the canny Italian himself (though Scottish ancestry rendered her surname "MacAvelly"), who discovers from her childhood reading that "good people" are never smart enough to defend themselves from villains. "If bad things happened, they practiced patience, endurance, resignation, and similar virtues; if good things happened, they practiced modesty and magnanimity and virtues like that, but it never seemed to occur to any of them to make things move their way." Good people are never saved from the nefarious schemes of villains by their own intelligence, but only by "some special interposition of Providence," which is a more reliable defense in fiction than in life. Determined to rescue virtue from impotence by bolstering it with craftiness, Benigna resolves to become "a good villain," an appellation that perfectly encapsulates the entire American project of domesticating Machiavelli from Franklin to the present.
Benigna is clever and capable but limited, as a child and a female one at that, in a family dominated by an overbearing, frequently drunk father who bullies her good-hearted but passive mother (appropriately descended from Quakers). Her small-town New England neighbors are less oppressive but no more enterprising, constantly overlooking simple ways to improve their situations. Benigna is naturally more qualified to govern her family and town than anyone else, but she is in no position to do so openly. Instead she must rule — or, as she calls it, "manage" — them indirectly, by manipulation and co-option, to imperceptibly direct their bumbling efforts toward useful ends. Though they would resent being commanded, Benigna discovers that most people possessing Machiavelli's second "humor" actually do desire to be led by someone competent: "With the children...I found that the thing they liked best of all was somebody who said, 'Let's do this' and 'Let's play that.'"
Gilman's story reads remarkably like a small-scale fictionalization of Franklin's Autobiography, as Benigna adopts nearly all of Franklin's tactics for civic improvement. She forms associations, defers credit for her undertakings to more established people to win their support, and asks for favors instead of doing them for others. The narrative contains the same step-by-step instructions for social interaction and self-discipline as Franklin's Autobiography — even including a list of virtues (though one strongly inflected by the maxims of turn-of-the-century psychology) — all derived from the same Machiavellian principles of maintaining a conscious distance between appearance and reality, and preventing the beneficiaries of one's projects from feeling that they are being ruled.
But Benigna's projects are much narrower and more domestic than Franklin's: She convinces her classmates to cooperate to replace a teacher's watch, tricks her antagonistic father into planting a flower garden for her mother, persuades a neighbor's wandering hens to lay for her, and, in a final coup, starts a boarding business in her home. These accomplishments may seem insignificant compared with creating a colonial union or even establishing a public library, but Franklin would nonetheless approve. As he wrote in his Autobiography, "Human felicity is produced not so much by great pieces of good fortune that seldom happen, as by little advantages that occur every day."
Benigna outdoes Franklin, however, in her insistence on receiving no recognition for her achievements:
I tried my best not to seem clever....At first just to keep from being punished and disliked, I did it, and then as I grew older and began to see what I might do with my life — why then it was absolutely necessary. You see, if people think you are "a schemer," as they call it, they are suspicious, and it makes it harder. My ambition is to be, to seem to be, that is, just like other people, and to do things, wonderful things, without ever being suspected of it.
Franklin deferred credit only where it was useful for getting something done, believing he would be recognized eventually, when his achievement would no longer be resented. Benigna, on the other hand, is willing to endure more lasting oversight, in large part because her goal — the reform of her family and the delicate management of her difficult father — is always too tenuous to risk being discovered. Just as Franklin's calculated appearance of virtue wins the real admiration of his neighbors, Benigna's schemes and deceptions result in the real improvement of her family. Although her youth and sex prevent her from ruling openly, they also shield her from suspicion, allowing her to rule more successfully.
Gilman's feminine Machiavellianism is both more devious and more private than Franklin's; "so much of my life was inside," Benigna remarks. She maintains a divide between her appearance and her true aims — and who is more useful a guide on the question of double natures than Machiavelli, who suggests that "one needs to be a fox to recognize snares and a lion to frighten the wolves"? It is not that women are unable to rule openly — Benigna acknowledges that they have long found means to do that, mainly from youth and beauty — but that their open dominion often does not result in lasting success. Upon studying the historical fates of women known for "this wonderful power," Benigna concludes that "this attraction of theirs really is like honey — they only succeed in being eaten, after all." Any woman "planning for life, a long life" must cultivate cleverness and stealth.
This lesson is all the more true because the most difficult problems Gilman presents are in the home, the correct management of which fosters the happiness of everyone in it. Benigna worries that her sister is "likely to have her whole life ruined for lack of pleasant home conditions" when the girl plans an ill-advised elopement to escape their brutish father. Behind Benigna's assiduous self-discipline and scheming is the goal of a placid family life, which she finally attains by temporarily expelling her father, arranging a useful occupation for her mother, finding a suitable husband for her sister, and finally meeting a kindred spirit — her cousin, the aptly named "Home MacAvelly" — to marry. The project of making a happy family is a great undertaking for one who is not a prodigy of science and politics like Franklin but one who, like Benigna, is merely a "prodigy in common sense."
In Benigna Machiavelli, all the tricks and stratagems that Machiavelli offers for conquering states and founding empires are pressed into the service of putting down a "domestic tyrant" (as one thwarted suitor calls Benigna's father) and creating harmonious order in a single home. No state politics, and almost no civic life beyond the family, exist here. But just as Franklin's scheme to maintain the appearance of virtue fostered real thrift and discipline, Gilman's application of Machiavelli yields true virtue as well; the "altogether wicked" Machiavelli becomes a veritable crusader for family values.
Gilman's approach to self-improvement sat midway between Franklin's personal opacity and the therapeutic-confessional style of most contemporary self-help. Although her other writing did not shy from confession, while under the influence of Machiavelli at least Gilman admitted that perfect sincerity is an unreliable route out of misery. Since Benigna Machiavelli, however, the study of Machiavelli has largely been usurped by serious scholars who have no time for the pedestrian concerns of mere amateurs like Franklin and Gilman and, if Suzanne Evans's recent Machiavelli for Moms is any indication, the genre of self-help has been all but purged of good villainy and abandoned to the influence of literary sincerity.
Wielding both a history Ph.D. and maternal dominion over her family, Evans appears particularly well suited to return the scholars' serious Machiavelli to the more quotidian difficulties of child-rearing. Moreover, her subject — the "effective governance of children" — involves perhaps the last sphere in which open rule is still permissible and even desirable. If ever there was a principality that required a cunning and unscrupulous ruler, it is surely the kingdom of children.
Despite these points in her favor, however, the publication of a preview of her argument in the Wall Street Journal last April was met with almost unmitigated outrage. Readers found the prospect of manipulating children into obedience hardly distinguishable from outright abuse. Have Americans lost their taste for domestic Machiavellianism?
It quickly becomes clear, however, that it is Evans herself who cannot quite stomach Machiavelli. She is not too cruel, as her critics allege, but rather too sincere and soft-hearted. Machiavelli for Moms opens with some promisingly tough talk — Evans will show you how to make your children "[n]ot just 'well-behaved,' but really and truly obedient and good." That's more than even Machiavelli claimed. But the bluster immediately collapses into an earnest account of Evans's struggles to blend her recalcitrant family after a second marriage, to recover her career after having children, and to keep her new husband from philandering. All throughout her "experiment" with Machiavellianism, she worries that she is not really up to the task of parenting at all.
While honest confession and self-doubt have their place in life, or in church, they have no place in Machiavellian advice. Machiavellian rule requires confidence — or, crucially, the appearance of confidence — a point which is lost on Evans. Most of her schemes fail outright. She applies Machiavelli's advice in favor of dishonesty by lying to her daughter about a dead kitten and regrets it when her daughter discovers the truth. While one lesson from this incident could be to lie more carefully, the lesson Evans draws from it is as milksop as they come: "In the end, the question of whether honesty is always the best policy when it comes to raising our kids is one that parents must decide for themselves, based on their own personal value systems and their own equally legitimate parental ends." In the end, her method, such as it is, probably owes its few successes more to operant conditioning than to Machiavelli.
Evans's main error is to drop the thread that runs from Franklin to Gilman and through a handful of the more recent offerings in the Machiavellian self-help genre — irony. Franklin's irony is subtle, Gilman's is less so, and some of the recent contributions are downright outrageous. Claudia Hart's A Child's Machiavelli is a picture book containing such unflinching distillations of The Prince as, "If you wanna give presents to people, make sure it's other people's stuff," and, "When you take over some place, kill off everyone who's against you, pronto, then act really nice to everyone left." In the business-advice book What Would Machiavelli Do? The Ends Justify the Meanness, Stanley Bing recommends at one point that readers emulate the Roman emperor Caligula by embracing insanity. Even the pseudonymous author of The Suit, the most perspicacious and practicable advice manual of this crop, steers clear of all earnestness in his delivery.
For Machiavellians in a democracy, a little artifice is vital. The desire to rule — to get a corner office or dominate the playground or wear bespoke suits — is baldly undemocratic. Both those who desire to rule and those who desire not to be ruled stand united against the writer of Machiavellian advice, since even those who desire to rule do not desire to be ruled by such a writer. With everyone against them, democratic Machiavellians must defuse their readers' hostility through humor or risk being run out of town before they can ever make their pitch for the necessity of "good villains." Such appears to have been Evans's fate.
In Franklin's hands, Machiavelli became a useful corrective to democratic suspicions of ambition and enterprise. Although we now have little objection to praising ambition as "drive" or "passion," we still value humility and balk at egregious displays of self-aggrandizement. So long as democracy's ambivalence toward rule remains, we are still largely living in Franklin's social world, where the desire to govern is both necessary and suspicious.
But the failure of Machiavelli for Moms points to a different way that Machiavelli may be useful for us now. Both Evans and her antagonists seem to hold it as a self-evident truth that scrupulous sincerity and honesty — both toward one's children (or neighbors or coworkers) and about oneself — are the road to self-knowledge and good social relations. But Machiavelli begs to differ. Democrats already incline toward self-absorption in their pursuits of happiness. Machiavelli, as channeled by Franklin, Gilman, and even the author of The Suit, demonstrates why we must attend carefully to other people's desires in order to attain our own. These accounts suggest that the diligently insincere pursuit of the appearance of virtue might issue more reliably in its reality than incessant self-scrutiny and soul-searching. In the era of the overshare, Machiavelli suggests that if you want to get ahead, you may want to reconsider spilling your guts. Indeed, a real Machiavellian would probably spill someone else's guts.
To mark the 500th anniversary of The Prince this year, many serious scholars will undoubtedly be holding forth on Machiavelli's continued relevance to political thought and statesmanship. But perhaps we would do better to consult the very 21st-century medium of crowd-sourced internet reviews for evidence of his particular relevance to us. The Amazon.com customer reviews for The Suit are remarkably split between extreme lovers and haters of the book. The one-star reviewers speak in a single voice: I'd rather wear a potato sack than follow this elitist, outmoded, deceitful advice. The five-star reviewers speak uniformly in a different voice: This is a sophisticated and witty guide to menswear whose advice will set me above the run-of-the-mill slobs of my milieu. And here, let us recall, is Machiavelli's voice: "For in every city these two diverse humors are found, which arises from this: that the people desire neither to be commanded nor oppressed by the great, and the great desire to command and oppress the people."