Moderate Machiavelli? Contrasting the Prince with the arthashastra of kautilya

Critical Horizons 3 (2):253-276 (2002)
Max Weber was the first to see that the writings of Machiavelli, when contrasted with the brutal realism of other cultural and political traditions, were not so extreme as they appear to some critics. "Truly radical 'Machiavellianism,' in the popular sense of that word,"Weber said in his famous lecture "Politics as a Vocation," "is classically expressed in Indian literature in the Arthashastra of Kautilya (written long before the birth of Christ, ostensibly in the time of Chandragupta [Maurya]): compared to it, Machiavelli's The Prince is harmless." In this article, I contrast Machiavelli's writings to those of Kautilya (c. 300 B.C.E.) and question why Machiavelli omitted the harsher aspects of political domination such as spies, assassination of enemies, and torture. Could it be that he was afraid to tell a prince about the harsher characteristics of tyrannical rule? If so, why?
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DOI 10.1163/156851602760586671
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