Political theorist Wendy Brown has argued recently that contemporary neoliberalism, with its relentless obsession on the economy, has all but undone the tenets of democracy. The focus on maximizing credit scores and capital has, over time, promoted a politics that operates beyond and below the institutional and electoral world, eroding not just the desire for democratic action but even our ability to imagine it. In light of recent politics, it seems we may have
reached the apotheosis of this depressing vision.
This book is meant to suggest one way of thinking past and out of the current moment, and it does so by looking to a perhaps unlikely figure: Niccolo Machiavelli. The book presents Machiavelli as an anachronistic thinker - a thinker who, deprived of his political community and public identity during his exile from Florence, originated a new approach to democratic theory and practice. In particular he immersed himself in the writings of ancient thinkers and looked to them as models for
understanding contemporary problems of corruption, conspiracy, and torture. This book's main contribution is a methodological one: it argues that the power in Machiavelli's work derived from this sort of anachronistic reading, which went against the grain of Renaissance thought. In turn it shows that if we
imitate Machiavelli's interpretive method in reading The Prince and Discourses of Livy, we can find in them solutions to the neoliberal problems Brown warns about.
Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
Number of pages: 176
Weight: 410 g
Dimensions: 242 x 164 x 18 mm
"Reading Politics with Machiavelli is an outstanding contribution to the recent wave of scholarship appropriating Machiavelli's political thought for the progressive reform of contemporary democracy. In particular, Schmidt investigates Machiavelli's writings for resources intended to revitalize democratic political culture in an age of neoliberal economics. Schmidt is an especially spirited interpreter of Machiavelli and perspicacious critic of
contemporary political affairs."-John P. McCormick, author of Reading Machiavelli: Scandalous Books, Suspect Engagements and the Virtue of Populist Politics
"Schmidt draws the reader into Machiavelli's conspiratorial embrace. He shows that the way Machiavelli asks (sometimes demands) to be read models a kind of politics that is not always evident in the content of his texts. By modeling a collective act of bucking authority-including the authority of the author himself, in this case-Schmidt shows how reader and author alike can engage in a democratic politics even in a text that appears at times to call for the
opposite. Machiavelli is famously tricky but Schmidt never lets him out of his sight; the result is a master class in how to approach a text, drawing radical conclusions even from the most reactionary of
forms."-James Martel, author of The Misinterpellated Subject