Philosophy



Political Desire and the Idea of Murder in Machiavelli's The Prince


Charles D. Tarlton 

Abstract

Machiavelli's much advertised science of politics turns out, in the long run, to falter. Machiavelli's various stratagems for controlling political outcomes are workable a small percentage of the time at best. Unpredictability works continually against the theory of practical action. A large part of Machiavelli's adaptation to this deficiency is to turn at many crucial moments, to the unambiguous and startling clarity of murder as a political instrument. It is this central position of murder that helps to account for worrying guiltiness that sticks to The Prince despite many years of efforts to soften the book's message. In the final analysis, one might even suggest that a kind of erotic fascination lurks within the book's texture of murder.