Machiavelli and Inequality

  • Faisal Baluch


Through a reading of the Discourses and the Florentine Histories, I show that Machiavelli leaves us with the conclusion that the move to a commercial republic creates both equality and inequality; economic inequality is a danger since it opens the people to corruption, while equality of status is also dangerous since it leaves politics in the hands of “men nurtured in trade” (F.H.I.39). Both the equality and the inequality create the conditions that can lead to the rise of populist leaders. From Machiavelli’s treatment of (in)equality I draw three conclusions: (i) a form of inequality that is neither class bound nor economic serves an important function in Machiavelli’s republic, (ii) Machiavelli offers us a structural understanding for the rise of characters such as Trump, and finally, (iii) Machiavelli’s writings do not just lift the veil to expose the actions of leaders, but also the weaknesses and vulnerabilities of the people. His realism extends to the people. This assessment of the people offers us a warning as to the dangers of populism.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Faisal Baluch
    • 1
  1. 1.College of the Holy CrossWorcesterUSA

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