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Jeff Kennett: A Twentieth Century Machiavellian Prince?

by Tim Elliott

Dux of Tear 12, Trinity Grammar School, 1996

Almost five hundred years ago, a man wrote a book from which leaders and powermongers the world over have for centuries learned the art of obtaining and maintaining pure, absolute power. The Prince’s author, Italian Niccol√≤ Machiavelli’s immoral advocation of ruthlessness as encapsulated by his notorious fundamental philosophy “the end justifies the means”, has cast him alongside Hitler and Stalin in many people’s minds, as people of paramount evil. Jeff Kennett is one who, whether knowingly or not, owes much to the teachings of Machiavelli. Love him or despise him, he has ruled at times with unrelenting force and has won respect and admiration from many for doing so. “If you cannot be both, it is better to be feared than loved” wrote Machiavelli in 1514; Kennett’s triumph is that he has applied this theory successfully in a twentieth century democracy. [Read more…]