FACT CHECK: ‘I Want To Overthrow It’ — Did Machiavelli Say This Quote About The Status Quo?

Trevor Schakohl | Legal Reporter

A Facebook post claims Italian Renaissance writer Niccolò Machiavelli said, “I don’t want to preserve the status quo; I want to overthrow it.”

Verdict: False

The Daily Caller found no evidence that Machiavelli made this statement. It may actually come from former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

Fact Check:

A diplomat and writer active during the Italian Renaissance, Machiavelli is widely considered the “father of modern political theory.” He is perhaps best known for his political treatise “The Prince,” in which he expounded his political philosophy.

Though Machiavelli discussed a variety of political subjects in his writings, there is no evidence that he authored the quote attributed to him in the Facebook post. The Caller found no record of the statement in “The Prince,” or in any collections of his other works.

“I can confirm that Machiavelli never wrote anything remotely along these lines,” Ross King, author of “Machiavelli: Philosopher of Power,” told the Caller in an email. “It’s directly contrary to his political philosophy, which is concerned with preserving the ‘status quo’ (an expression he never would have used — which makes the quote even more untenable).”

The expression may actually have originated with Gingrich, according to “Machiavelli for Mayors” author Ian Chadwick. Gingrich is quoted by The Los Angeles Times in 1991 as making this statement in response to criticism from other members of Congress.

Trevor Schakohl

Legal Reporter
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