From Inequality to 'Wonderful Equality': Society and Civil Discord in Machiavelli's Florentine Histories

Presented by
Dr. Mauricio Suchowlansky

Postdoctoral Fellow, Centre for Political Thought and Leadership and Lecturer in the School of History, Philosophy and Religious Studies, ASU

Tuesday, March 22, 2016 at 1:30pm
Lattie F. Coor Hall, Room 4403 (Fourth Floor)
ASU Tempe Campus
Free and open to the public

Eventbrite - From Inequality to 'Wonderful Equality'

In this lecture, Dr. Suchowlansky will argue that Florentine Histories (1520-1524) reveals Machiavelli’s abandonment of the binary political analysis emphasized in The Prince and the Discourses, in which the people stand in opposition to the nobles. The Histories engages in an analysis of major conflicts that, Machiavelli claims, shaped the history of Florence insofar as the social basis of warring parties defied any definitively binary conceptualization of city factions. Most crucially, he will suggest that Machiavelli’s history of the Florentines offers a sustained revision of Machiavelli's earlier interpretation of the nature of the popolo or people. The Florentine Histories proposes a critique of the positive characteristics of popular interests and agency evident in both The Prince and the Discourses on Livy, replacing it with a complex distinction among groupings referred to as the “ancient nobility,” “popular nobles,” and “the plebs.” Machiavelli’s Histories displays the Florentines, and the consequent disposition of the city’s institutions and authorities, as a random collection of dissociated individuals equally struggling for power. While an egalitarian ethos is certainly the main condition for the founding and maintenance of a republican system of governance, Machiavelli suggests that – as a result of the unequivocally similar ambition of all parties – equality is not an adequate basis to the problem of class interest or civil disorders.

About Mauricio Suchowlansky
Mauricio Suchowlansky is a postdoctoral fellow in the Centre for Political Thought and Leadership and lecturer in the School of History, Philosophy and Religious Studies at Arizona State University. He holds a PhD in Political Science from the University of Toronto, and BA (with Honours) and MA (with High Distinction-Herbert Quinn Medal in Political Science) degrees from Concordia University, Montreal. His articles and reviews appeared or are forthcoming in Intellectual History Review, Journal of Interdisciplinary History of Ideas, Canadian Journal of Political Science, Contemporary Political Theory, History of European Ideas and Renaissance and Reformation, among others.