Machiavellian Axioms (Part 1)

“There is no other way to guard yourself against flattery than by making men understand that telling you the truth will not offend you.”

Machiavelli Niccolo, The Prince

Preface

A collection of Machiavellian reflections in the form of axioms that I have put together for contemplation and comprehension. The axioms follow no particular order.

Axioms

1. As knowledge grows, so does your irritability. The shrewd are habitually the least forbearing.

2. You will never take back what you said, but you always have time to consider it before you utter it.

3. The talkative are the easiest to deceive and persuade.

4. Use insignificant social events to practice cunning for significant ones.

5. Do not exhibit your disdain for someone, disguise it in courtesy.

6. Speak courteously of your enemies, because that is to be commended, and the best vengeance to triumph over jealousy is excellence and aptitude.

7. Punish your foes with your success and let that be their malice.

8. One’s good fortune is another’s adversity.

9. Courage towards your adversaries is admirable. Do not fight to win, then, fight to triumph in a valiant fashion.

10. A self-aware person points out his flaws with consideration, a discreet person triumphs and conquers everything, even superstars.

11. Succeed a dozen times over, but be vigilant not to fall flat once.

12. Tell them what they want to hear and dissimulate what you have done.

13. Spite will detail every inferior thing and not one virtuous one.

14. Good sense is shielded on every occasion. There is much verity in this keen contradiction: the half is larger and more substantial than the whole.

15. Know how to cast a spell over people, for it is more beneficial than goods.

16. If your adversary has nothing to lose, do not oppose him in war.

17. Familiarity brings about scorn, shun away from intimacy when dealing with people.

18. Familiarity is indecency in disguise, the sacred commands respect.

19. There is much prowess in restraint and reservedness, for where there is intricacy and depth, there is confidential profundity.

20. Fools are easy to convince, and if you are easily persuaded, you’re utterly foolish. Fools persist harder in their folly when they are in the wrong.

21. Never argue with a fool, instead disregard them and steer clear.

22. An enemy has much to prove, thus it is more prudent to request a favour from your enemy than your friend.

23. The more you say, the more ordinary you seem to be and the less in power.

24. Have an air of natural nonchalance in everything that you do and maintain a certain stand-offishness among people to shun away from closeness.

25. Do not give people the opportunity to discern what you did or about to do.

26. While fools talk about what they did, the prudent pretend what they have done.

27. Utilise bluff to throwing people off your path.

28. Contradictory or artificial objects of desire are means of deluding people from reading your original motives.

29. Never disclose your motives in words, stir confusion through false sincerity.

30. Honesty is an edgeless device, it is probable to displease more than please.

31. Resist the temptation to react in anger, for you will give people the reaction they hoped for.

32. Discernment of reality is more substantial for people than actual reality. Power is a game of appearances, what seems to be is more real than what is. Leverage this verity to your choosing.

33. Do not become preoccupied with trivial matters, this is a deficiency in greatness.

34. Do not tether your repute on one distinct shot, the cons outweighs the pros.

35. Pass over disliked tasks to other people, and you take care of what is sought-after.

36. Do not be the messenger of bad news. Let everything that is good come immediately, and everything unpleasant allusively.

37. Know how to give commendation, it is a method of prudently publicising your good manners to the ideal people in your vicinity.

38. Fill the void. Find a person’s insufficiency and utilise it to your benefit. It is the most successful kind of constraint and force.

39. Identify solace in everything you do. There is freedom and condolence in adversity, remember this.

40. Too much courtesy is a kind of duplicity, do not be delighted by it. They utilise meaningless words as their way of bestowing acclaim.

41. Promising nothing and everything is much the same. Promises are a form of ambush that only fools will fall for.

42. Real politeness is a duty but pretentious courtesy mainly in immoderate doses, is a form of deceit. This is an utterance of reliance, not of civility.

43. People yield to their success, and not to other people. They commend you in anticipation and not in gratitude, because your significance to them is how well they can utilise you for their merit.

44. Do not take things too solemnly, expressly if they do not concern you or are consequential. Remain cool in times of disruption, steady and stoic.

45. The prudent find virtue in everyone, because they know the price of doing things competently. Learn to acknowledge and value others.

46. If you can unfasten and set aside what doesn’t matter, you have plenty to be grateful for.

47. Fools are of great merit to the wise but of no good to the practical. To the wise, they serve as lessons and warnings.

48. Know when to intercede with your excellence, for this is the way to good fortune.

49. Leave people discontented and wanting more when recompensing them, for they will be left craving more in anticipation.

50. Anxiety and fear arise following purpose’s demise.

Further Reading

  1. Baltasar Gracian: The Art of Wordly Wisdom
  2. Robert Greene: 48 Laws of Power
  3. Niccolo Machiavelli: The Prince
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