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Catholic Dictionary




The political philosophy of Niccolò Machiavelli (1469-1527) and of those who apply his principles in the government of civil society. It is a combination of treachery and intrigue, subterfuge and tyranny, and its substance is contained in Machiavelli's The Prince. The basis of political morality is expediency, where any means justify whatever is good for the State. Moral law and individual virtue must give way when the interest of the State demands it. Thus a ruler or legislator may continue to profess Christian principles as an individual while denying these principles in practice as a statesman.