In common parlance, use of the adjective “Machiavellian” implies a ruthless practice of politics where ends justify means and maintenance of power is the ultimate goal. Yet, a careful reading of “The Prince” and “The Discourses” leads to a more nuanced view of this political philosopher.
He certainly reflected 15th century Italy, populated by city-states that competed with each other in many realms. Interestingly, Machiavelli’s ruminations on human nature and governance can help to illuminate the peculiar politics of early 21st century America, nationally and locally.
A recent David Brooks column in the New York Times dealt with the frozen gridlocked government in Washington, D.C. This gridlock prevents the enactment of new programs or the adaptation of existing ones.
When it comes to successfully or unsuccessfully governing and managing communities, leadership decisions can make or break a city or region.
St. Louis has been cited as a city “that let greatness slip away over the 20th century.” That’s the contention of Colin Gordon, Professor of History at the University of Iowa, in his book, Mapping Decline…St. Louis and the Fate of the American City.