Antonio Gramsci – The Modern Prince: Brief Notes on Machiavelli’s Politics

The basic thing about The Prince is that it is not a systematic treatment, but a “live” work, in which political ideology and political science are fused in the dramatic form of a “myth”. Before Machiavelli, political science had taken the form either of the Utopia or of the scholarly treatise. Machiavelli, combining the two, gave imaginative and artistic form to his conception by embodying the doctrinal, rational element in the person of a condottiere, who represents plastically and “anthropomorphically” the symbol of the “collective will”. In order to represent the process whereby a given collective will, directed towards a given political objective, is formed, Machiavelli did not have recourse to long-winded arguments, or pedantic classifications of principles and criteria for a method of action. Instead he represented this process in terms of the qualities, characteristics, duties and requirements of a concrete individual. Such a procedure stimulates the artistic imagination of those who have to be convinced, and gives political passions a more concrete form.