Power and Spectacle

Elias Neibart was a political theory and philosophy major at Emory University, and he wrote papers that dealt with how Machiavelli can help us understand our current political moment. An excerpt can be found below:

However, Machiavelli does not only suggest that rulers should appear to be good, he also recognizes that rulers can do certain things or create certain spectacles that have a tremendous impact on their constituents’ opinions and beliefs. For example, Machiavelli discusses the relationship between Cesare Borgia and Remirro de Orco. In this historical example, Borgia had recently taken over Romagna, a land that was “full of robberies, quarrels, and every other kind of insolence” (Mansfield, 29). Borgia wished to “reduce [the province] to obedience,” so he decided to give “the fullest power” to Remirro de Orco, a cruel man tasked with bringing order to the unruly province. De Orco soon gained a reputation for using “excessive authority” (Mansfield, 30). Though his actions were quite brutal, de Orco was successful in making the citizenry more obedient and law-abiding. Boriga soon realized that de Orco’s services were no longer needed, but he also noticed that de Orco’s cruel actions generated hatred for him amongst the citizenry. Borgia then decides to kill de Orco and place his dismembered body in the center of town for all to see (ibid).

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Elias Neibart

Elias Neibart is a graduate of Emory University in Atlanta, Georiga.