The End Justifies the Green
What do The Godfather, The Cat in the Hat, and Machiavelli’s The Prince have in common? According to Stanley Bing in this weekend’s Wall Street Journal, they are among the five books that offer the soundest advice for proper business etiquette.
Before your eyes roll too far into the back of your head, consider what Bing has to say about Machiavelli’s The Prince (1513):
Masquerading as a philosophical treatise in support of a strong senior executive, this book is actually a road map for ruthless narcissists — the kind who do very well because their primary concern at all times is Numero Uno. Machiavelli discovered a central truth that leads to business success: Moral concerns have very little utility in the day-to-day conduct of successful management. No, it’s not a nice book. It advises all kinds of pre-emptive murder and destruction of one’s enemies and, when necessary, of one’s friends. But an embrace of its world view has been at the center of virtually all executive success since the beginning of time. What Machiavelli did was to make the tactics of the big guys available to anybody who cared to consider them. A firm grasp of his tenets creates a business etiquette that is at once cool, polite, thoughtful, strategic and brutal.
On that note, Yale University Press would like ruthlessly to promote its recent edition of The Prince. Angelo M. Codevilla offers a translation uniquely faithful to the original and especially sensitive to the author’s use of verbal imprecision, including puns, double meanings, and the subjunctive mood. The translation is accompanied by three critical essays that explore some of the most important ways The Prince clashes with the other main branch of Western civilization, the Socratic and Judeo-Christian traditions.