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Niccolo Machiavelli is one of the very few authors to assign a positive role and political value to the theme of social conflict. Although not repudiating this principle, in the Discourses Machiavelli seems to distinguish between a form of conflict that is moderate and positive and another form that is violent and extreme, ultimately leading to the ruin of Rome. In his more mature work Florentine Histories, the tone changes and the distinction becomes less consistent. Moreover, analysis of the institutional results of conflict is enriched by novel elements, revealing Machiavelli's attention to the economic causes and motives of social struggles. While in the first model crisis and power are counter-posed to one another, in the second they are inseparable and this couplet becomes the key to a theoretical understanding of Machiavelli's political thought.
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Keywords: Agrarian Law; Machiavelli; class struggle; common good; conflict; crisis; economics; factions; fortune; freedom; history of Florence; history of Rome; humours; parties; power; taxes; violence; virtue; war

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: CURAPP and Marie Curie Fellow, Universit√© de Picardie Jules Verne (Amiens), Facult√© de Philosophie, Sciences Humaines et Sociales, Chemin du Til, 80025 Amiens Cedex 1, France., Email: [email protected]

Publication date: 01 January 2009

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