Machiavelli Supplement for 2/8 and 2/9

The following New York Times article was published in 1994, entitled “Gangs: Machiavelli’s Descendants.” The piece describes life for today’s gang youth, exemplifying the social hierarchy, price of admission, and violence at the heart of these organizations. One thing is absent from the article, though – an explanation as to why/how these gangs are “Machiavellian.”

Gangs: Machiavelli’s Descendants – New York Times

Click below for assignment details. (Due Friday, 2/10)

Your assignment is the following:

  • Read Don Terry’s New York Times article, alone or with a partner. Even if you prefer to read alone, feel free to discuss the content with those around you once you finish.


The title of Terry’s article calls modern-day gangs “Machiavelli’s Descendants,” though he doesn’t reference Machiavelli in his writing. Your job is to explain this connection using both modern-day examples – found in Terry – and Renaissance examples, found in Machiavelli.


In one, cohesive written response, do the following:

1)   Craft a topic sentence that states the connection between contemporary gangs and Machiavelli’s political theory.


2)   Find two quotes from The Prince. Both should communicate ideas about leadership/power that you see reflected in Terry’s description of gang culture.


3)   In each of your two well-developed paragraphs, cite your quote, explain Machiavelli’s idea in your own words, and explain how gangs embody this idea (using specific examples from Terry).


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