On the Fundamental Inconvenience of Democracy

From the perspective of a leader, somebody who wants to hold onto power, it’s the worst form of government because it puts you at the greatest risk of losing power. 

Machiavelli was a very smart guy who by the way wrote The Prince in the hope of attracting employment.  He failed to get the job.  He was a little too nice, not quite tough enough. 


So most people who are familiar with Machiavelli are familiar with the views he expressed in The Prince.  Not so many people seem to have read his Discourses where he thought that the best form of government is a more republican form of government - that is a democracy in our modern terms - and I certainly agree that from the perspective of the folks on the street it’s far and away the best form of government. 

From the perspective of a leader, somebody who wants to hold onto power, it’s the worst form of government because it puts you at the greatest risk of losing power.  So in The Dictator’s Handbook we go well beyond Machiavelli’s understanding to lay out precisely what leads you to hold onto power and precisely what ties the hands of a democrat in trying to do the things that dictators also do. 

In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

Originally Poe envisioned a parrot, not a raven

Quoth the parrot — "Nevermore."

The Green Parrot by Vincent van Gogh, 1886
Culture & Religion
  • Edgar Allan Poe (1809–1949) is considered one of America's great writers.
  • Poe penned his most famous poem, The Raven, in his 30s.
  • Originally, the poem's feathered subject was a bit flamboyant.
Keep reading Show less

Your body’s full of stuff you no longer need. Here's a list.

Evolution doesn't clean up after itself very well.

Image source: Ernst Haeckel
Surprising Science
  • An evolutionary biologist got people swapping ideas about our lingering vestigia.
  • Basically, this is the stuff that served some evolutionary purpose at some point, but now is kind of, well, extra.
  • Here are the six traits that inaugurated the fun.
Keep reading Show less
Videos
  • Facebook and Google began as companies with supposedly noble purposes.
  • Creating a more connected world and indexing the world's information: what could be better than that?
  • But pressure to return value to shareholders came at the expense of their own users.
Keep reading Show less