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We would all love to be perfect and be honest, but, hey, you have to break some eggs if you're going to make an omelet. Dear Shmooponauts: if you want to rule, you're going to have to lie. A lot. Maybe all the time.
Machiavelli gives us some metaphors about law versus force, and our animal side versus our human side. Basically the idea is this: don't be afraid to go a little wild. You're going to have to be a bit tricky and a bit scary, and that's okay.
We think Machiavelli would have liked the phrase "there's a sucker born every minute" because he thinks that most people are just sitting around, waiting to be lied to. He even gives an example of a lying pope: Alexander VI. Here's a guy whose job is to be religious and moral, but how does he succeed in life? By lying! Ta-da.
So, Machiavelli gives us the go-ahead to do the nasty stuff. But here's the thing: we have to seem to be innocent. And we need to know when we have to change our tactics.
Anyway, as long as you keep your kingdom prosperous and safe, people will say that you were a good guy—even if you say one thing and do another, like the king of Spain.