Other Quotes

These are the quotes from other authors and sources used in this book, but not those from Niccolo Machiavelli. Quotes from Machiavelli are displayed on another page. In the book, quotations from The Prince are shown entirely in bold.

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“The great politicians, it is said, begin by cursing Machiavelli, declaring themselves anti-Machiavellians, just in order to apply his standards sanctimoniously.”

— Antonio Gramsci, The Modern Prince, 1959

We are much beholden to Machiavelli and others, that write what men do, and not what they ought to do. For it is not possible to join serpentine wisdom with the columbine innocency, except men know exactly all the conditions of the serpent; his baseness and going upon his belly, his volubility and lubricity, his envy and sting, and the rest; that is, all forms and natures of evil. For without this, virtue lieth open and unfenced. Nay, an honest man can do no good upon those that are wicked, to reclaim them, without the help of the knowledge of evil.

— Francis Bacon, The Advent of Learning, 1605

“Machiavelli is the complete contrary of a Machiavellian, since he describes the tricks of power and “gives the whole show away.” The seducer and the politician, who live in the dialectic and have a feeling and instinct for it, try their best to keep it hidden.”

— Maurice Merleau-Ponty, In Praise of Philosophy, 1953

“Most people are hamstrung by things like affection for fellow employees, honesty, desire to appear to be a ‘nice person,’ and other crippling limitations not suffered by the truly powerful and successful. This book will attempt to eradicate those impulses in you…”

— Stanley Bing, What Would Machiavelli Do?

“(every state is) made up of a combination of nations, in which many snares, much deception, many vices enter into every department of life: in which you have to put up with the arrogant pretensions, the wrong-headedness, the ill-will, the hauteur, the disagreeable temper and offensive manners of many… it requires great prudence and skill for a man, living among social vices of every sort, so many and so serious, to avoid giving offence, causing scandal, or falling into traps, and in his single person to adapt himself to such a vast variety of character, speech, and feeling.”

— Quintus Tullius Cicero, Commentariolum Petitionis

“The art of using moderate abilities to advantage wins praise, and often acquires more reputation than actual brilliancy.”

— François de La Rochefoucauld, Moral Maxims (No. 162)

“Preach the need for change, but never reform too much at once… Too much change is traumatic and will lead to revolt.”

— Robert Greene, 48 Laws of Power: 45

“That everything is fine today, that is our illusion.”

— Voltaire, On the Disaster at Lisbon

“…you can’t keep an organization together without patronage. Men ain’t in politics for nothin’. They want to get somethin’ out of it”

— George Washington Plunkitt, A Series of Very Plain Talks on Very Practical Politics, 1905

“The wisdom of the few may be the light of mankind; but the interest of the few is not the profit of mankind nor of a commonwealth.”

— James Harrington, The Commonwealth of Oceana, 1656

“The best rewards are those which are generous and predictable, so that the people may profit by them. The best penalties are those that are severe and inescapable, so that the people will fear them. The best laws are those which are uniform and inflexible, so the people can understand them.”

— Han Fei Tzu, Sec. 49: The Five Vermin

“Rulers do not implement their decisions directly, but must rely on several intermediate layers of administration. Most models of democracy… implicitly assume that the policy chosen at the top level will be implemented efficiently… In reality there are numerous problems and constraints at the stage of policy implementation, and the top-level decision-makers should look ahead and take these into account when designing their policies.”

— Avinash Dixit, Democracy, Autocracy and Bureaucracy, Princeton University, 2009

“In democracies and in autocracies, bureaucrats are agents of the top-level policymakers. This brings the usual moral hazard and adverse selection problems… problems facing the ruler may involve both moral hazard (some or all of the bureaucrat’s actions are unobservable) and adverse selection (bureaucrat has private information about the productivity and his own caring).”

— Avinash Dixit, Democracy, Autocracy, and Bureaucracy, Princeton University, 2009

“If you are not cautious in your undertakings, if you do not hide their true aspect, then traitors will arise… Smash their cliques, arrest their backers, shut the gate, deprive them of all hope and support.”

— Han Fei Tzu, Sec. 5: The Way of the Ruler

“Crush your enemy totally… a feared enemy must be crushed completely. If one ember is left alight, no matter how dimly it smolders, a fire will eventually break out. More is lost through stopping halfway than through total annihilation: The enemy will recover, and will seek revenge. Crush him, not only in body but in spirit.”

— Robert Greene, 48 Laws of Power: 15

“In politics, the most lethal wounds are inflicted from the rear.”

— Dick Morris, The New Prince, Chapter 16

“Perennial solutions include: …threatening their jobs…cutting their budgets… firing their favourite employees so that they have to work harder and feel guilty while doing so.”

— Stanley Bing, What Would Machiavelli Do?

“It is hazardous for the ruler of men to trust others, for he who trusts others will be controlled by others”

— Han Fei Tzu, Sec. 17: Precautions Within the Palace

“If nature has denied you some quality, resolve to assume it, so as to appear to be acting naturally. Although nature has great force, yet in a business lasting only a few months it seems probable that the artificial may be the more effective.”

— Quintus Tullius Cicero, Commentariolum Petitionis

“The permanent bureaucracy…is dedicated to a single mission: To change nothing….They are neither liberal nor conservative. They are in favour of things as they are. In pursuit of that mission they are canny, shrewd, ruthless, and conspiratorial. They infiltrate the ranks of those who want change with the goal of destroying them. They use delay and details to overwhelm new ideas and to force a continuation of the status quo.”

— Dick Morris, The New Prince, Chapter 15.

“Among all the qualities there is none of greater force in gaining fame and reputation with a people than to listen to the complaints and supplications of the poor, and avenge their injuries.”

— Bishop Stephen Gardiner, quoted in A Machiavellian Treatise, 1555

“Despise the free lunch. What is offered for free is dangerous – it usually involves a trick or a hidden obligation.”

— Robert Greene, 48 Laws of Power: 40

“Power and violence are opposites; where the one rules absolutely, the other is absent. Violence appears where power is in jeopardy, but left to its own course it ends in power’s disappearance… Violence can destroy power; it is utterly incapable of creating it.”

— Hannah Arendt, New York Review of Books, Feb. 27, 1969

“History is written by the winners.”

— George Orwell, As I Please, 4 February 1944

“The two handles are punishment and favour… Stick to your objectives and examine the results to see how they match; take hold of the handles of government carefully and grip them tightly.”

— Han Fei Tzu, Sec. 7: The Two Handles

“The enlightened ruler controls his ministers by means of two handles alone: punishment and favour… Those who act as ministers fear the penalties and hope to profit by the rewards.”

— Han Fei Tzu, Sec. 7: The Two Handles

“Some consultants… are simply vending machines… If you hire one of these consultants, you better make sure somebody else is providing the creativity, because they sure won’t be… Hold onto your wallet when you deal with consultants.”

— Dick Morris, The New Prince, Chapter 38

“If the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.”

— New Testament, Matthew XV, 14

“To take no account of internal strength but rely solely upon your allies abroad, which places the state in grave danger of dismemberment.”

— Han Fei Tzu, Sec. 10: The Ten Faults

“Use selective honesty and generosity to disarm your victim. One sincere and honest move will cover over dozens of dishonest ones. Open-hearted gestures of honesty and generosity bring down the guard of even the most suspicious people. Once your selective honesty opens a hole in their armor, you can deceive and manipulate them at will. A timely gift – a Trojan horse – will serve the same purpose.”

— Robert Greene, 48 Laws of Power: 12
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