Two Princes

Unlike Machiavelli’s The Prince, Antoine Saint-Exupéry’s Le Petit Prince isn’t usually on reading lists for policymakers and international relations scholars. But it should be.

Appeared in: Volume 10, Number 2 | Published on: October 6, 2014
Jakub Grygiel is the George H.W. Bush Senior Associate Professor of International Relations at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.
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  • Machiavelli was always a republican at heart before he was a strategist in mind. I severely doubt that he so totally disparaged the Burkean ideals of organic social development and social capital- and friendship- as Professor Grygiel argues he did. He never wrote on his political sociology, focusing instead on his political science, but I would argue he understood EXACTLY the virtue and trust that an enduring social order requires. Professor Grygiel is brilliant and this is a brilliant piece in that it creates an important dichotomy for modern liberal thinkers to deal with; however, I think Machiavelli is the wrong figure to be on the atomic side of that dichotomy (though the word play about two princes is genius.) I think Hobbes would be a better fit for that.

    • RCPreader

      My thoughts exactly!

    • Yes. What is friendship worth unless there’s a commitment in it? And what is commitment, unless you pledge your entire life? And what can ask you to pledge your life, except the state? The civic bond is a kind of friendship. Not the soppy one of the Little Prince, but a more adult and lasting kind.

      BTW, even Hobbes was not that gloomy. He said ‘seek peace and pursue it’, which is a tail of a longer biblical saying that amount to the opposite of ci vis pacem etc. Human nature is basically OK, it’s just put in a context that makes d1cks of us all.

  • Corlyss

    “In the end, the latter has a truer sense of life and of happiness.”
    In the end, the latter will be crushed and brushed aside by the former.

    • Xenophon

      Perhaps. But brute force has not always won wars

      • Corlyss

        Who mentioned wars?

        • Xenophon

          I was using ‘wars’ in a general sense. as in “brute force might win battles, but it alone does not win wars”

  • arnold

    I got halfway through the article and had to wonder if the author read the same “The Prince” that I did. Machiavelli made a big distinction between the common man and the nobility. It was the nobility he saw as being “ungrateful, fickle, pretenders, evaders of danger, greedy for gain” not men in general.

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