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This article argues that issues of war and foreign affairs predominate in Machiavelli's Florentine Histories, a work generally taken to be devoted to the internal politics of Florence. The well-known narrative of the rise and fall of Medici rule is in fact driven by a counternarrative of the rise of mercenaries such as Francesco Sforza to the point of becoming the true arbiters of Italian affairs. The Florentine Histories lays out the progressive disarming of Italian powers, details the rise of a corrupt system of foreign affairs dominated by mercenary arms and their attendant papal meddling, and urgently counsels statesmen to arm their cities with arms of their own. Seeking to reframe interpretive approaches in this manner, the article sheds new light on Machiavelli's teaching on the desirability of well-managed domestic discords as they relate to military preparedness.
The essay clarifies the relationship between Locke's political and his religious thought. To the extent that Locke's political thought is an outgrowth of a particular strand of Christianity, its claims to universality would be significantly diminished. Several plausible interpretations of his political thought rely on his religiosity. Others maintain that this religiosity was a façade. Close attention to Locke's analysis of the Hebrew text of Gen. 1:28 unambiguously points to a critique of the Bible on semantic grounds. Locke subtly argues that the wording of the Bible makes the interpretation of scripture by scripture alone impossible. The fact that Locke goes out of his way to critique the Bible refutes interpretations of Locke's thought that rely on his religiosity and reestablishes the universalist claims of his political thought.
Recent scholarship has linked the rise of the Progressive movement in America to the creation of an “administrative state”—a form of government where legislative, executive, and judicial powers are delegated into the hands of administrative agencies which compose a “headless fourth branch of government.” This form of government was largely constructed during the New Deal period. The influential legal theorist Roscoe Pound provides the paradoxical example of a Progressive who balked at the New Deal. While many commentators have concluded that Pound's opposition to the New Deal was based on a departure from his earlier Progressive thought, his opposition was in fact based on a consistent Progressive philosophy. Pound therefore provided a vision of an alternative administrative state, which would achieve the ends of the Progressive vision but without the means of the administrative state.
Simone Weil had an ambivalent attitude toward Marx. While she thought that the young Marx's celebration of labor had “lyrical accents,” she ultimately believed that Marx had neglected his own insights, embracing a blind worship of mechanization and a theory of history and revolution that was insufficiently attentive to the material conditions of workers. Marx, in her view, was insufficiently materialist and excessively wedded to a hierarchical model of science that maintained the domination of management. Weil and Marx's attitudes toward the dignity of labor and the necessary conditions for socialism are analyzed. The most significant cleavage between them is ultimately due to the differing manner in which they conceive of the relationship between thought and action. Through this comparison, the philosophical underpinnings of the two radically different conceptions of labor and its dignity as a human activity are explained.
The four books reviewed here illustrate the pervasive influence of Leo Strauss on contemporary studies of Plato. However, although the authors all acknowledge their debt to Strauss, they produce remarkably different views of Plato. Reading these books in conjunction with one another cannot help but make one wonder whether there is any longer, if there ever was, a “Straussian” sect or school.