8/30/2019

A Makeover for Machiavelli

"Notwithstanding the author’s insistence that Machiavelli’s radical populism has been overlooked, one can find versions of this interpretation in seminal readings of The Prince (1532) and the Discourses on Livy (1531), most notably those of Antonio Gramsci and Louis Althusser.[1] What sets McCormick’s work apart is rather the swell of moral accusation that buoys it along, which he attributes to Machiavelli and directs at his own scholarly rivals. Unlike the clinical analysis of revolutionary class struggle developed by Machiavelli’s Marxist interpreters, McCormick stirs outrage at injustices perpetrated by the rich throughout history, converting Machiavelli’s often spare accounts of elite manipulation and abuse into vehement denunciations. Moreover, McCormick absorbs the ongoing interpretive debate into this moralizing narrative, alleging that Machiavelli’s true convictions have been suppressed by academics propagandizing on behalf of oligarchy—a scheme that McCormick himself is determined to unmask and expose."