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Machiavelli on Flattery
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Because there is no other way of guarding oneself from flatterers except letting people understand that to tell you the truth does not offend you; but beware: when every one may tell you the truth, respect for you abates.

Therefore a wise leader ought to hold a third course by choosing wise advisors..., and giving to them alone the liberty of speaking the truth to him, and then only of those things of which he inquires, and of none others;

but [and this is the crucial part] he ought to question them upon everything, and listen to their opinions, and afterwards form his own conclusions. With these advisors, separately and collectively, he ought to carry himself in such a way that each of them should know that, the more freely he shall speak, the more he shall be respected;

outside of these, he should listen to no one, pursue the thing resolved on, and be steadfast in his resolutions. He who does otherwise is either overthrown by flatterers, or is so often changed by varying opinions that he falls into contempt.

I've changed the words to sound more 20th century. Does it make you think of Our Beloved Leader in any way? Should the President have a Congress of wise persons [good luck] who advise and consent? Or mayhap a Cabinet of experts of whom he asks questions and to whom he listens.... the key is in choosing wise and informed advisors and in asking questions about everything.

Maybe Macchiavelli wasn't so dumb after all.

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