The argument of I 6 is massively unsatisfying and, I believe, meant to be. To summarize, the heading asks "whether a state could have been ordered in Rome that would have taken away the enmities between the people and the Senate." The answer turns out to be both yes, and no. Yes, in that history shows it's possible, NM himself gives the examples of Sparta and Venice, both of which not only did it but lived longer than Rome. And in I 5 he says that reason could lead one to choose either mode (i.e., an equally strong case can be made for either) whereas if we look to the end, Venice and Sparta win. Rome does not win in any mode, not via reason and not by historical example. No, in that he asserts that if "you" (the legislator/founder?) make such a choice, you don't really solve any problems, you just trade one set of inconveniences for another. The argument here goes: to remain small and quiet, you can't use the people in great things, which means no wars and no imperialism. Then if necessity compels you to expand, you won’t be able to handle it, and will be ruined. As happened to both Venice and Sparta. So why not just decline to expand? How often is expansion strictly necessary to survival? The cases would seem to be rather rare whereas NM presents it almost inevitable. You might say that this is the lynchpin of his entire teaching. Or rather, what comes next. He implies that this “necessity” might not be so necessary after all when he says that, if you have a choice, choose the “honorable part”. That is, the necessity to expand may always arise (doubtful, but let’s take his word for it for the moment) but how you respond to that necessity is your choice. The “honorable” choice is to choose to order your city so that it can keep what it takes. In other words, NM here defines (in effect) theft as “honorable” in his first use of that adjective in the Discourses. Now, in the deeper Machiavellian sense, theft is not honorable because it is criminal or devious but rather because to take and hold implies self-sufficiency and strength. But it’s still a choice. Why make that choice? And, to repeat, the choice is stark. It’s a choice between concord and longevity on the one hand and enmity and brevity on the other. (Remember than in I 2 he calls the three classical “good” regimes “bad” because of the brevity of life in them whereas now he is pushing too to choose Rome DESPITE its brevity.) We are pushed to make the seemingly obviously bad choice: tumult and an early political death. Indeed, his depiction of the opposite, of Sparta or a Sparta like state at its best is extremely attractive. He calls it “the true political way of life and the true quiet of the city.” Such a city will not oppress anyone and not be so strong that anyone fears it. But NM rejects this as a “middle way.” Since necessity will compel you to expand, you will have to choose. Not to choose whether to expand, that will simply happen. You have to choose whether to order your republican so that it can hold acquisitions or not. The “honorable” choice is yes. And to do it effectively, you need to use the people in war. So you have to do what Rome did and not what Sparta and Venice did. But choosing the people, you choose tumult and a short life. The very choice of the people led to the Gracchi and to Rome’s ruin! So, in sum, the argument is weak and I believe is meant to appear weak. Yet it can be said to be the basis on which he builds the entirety of his teaching. So what is really going on? First, this is all part of the effort to establish the authority of Rome to get the reader to keep reading. He has to overcome all these traditional objections, above all Augustine, and 1,000 years of tradition that has made Rome seem bad to everyone. He needs to refute that, to reestablish Rome as an authority. That entails some BS on his part. He can’t tell the truth early on about Rome’s defects. He will supply that information as we go and provide correctives. But we are not ready for it yet. First we need to accept Rome as the model, if only provisionally. He will explain to avoid Rome’s defects, including how to make the choice of the people not lead to ruin. Note two seemingly minor details. First, when going through the reasons, as noted, Venice and Sparta win on outcomes (ends) and by reason it’s a tie. Rome does not wni at all, except insofar as NM elects himself its spokesman. He says that he will make the case for Rome in his own name, whereas he leaves it to nameless “others” to make the case for Sparta. Machiavelli CHOOSES Rome. Second, in summing up this chapter and making his most outrageous arguments, NM says (seven times) that he merely “believes.” I.e., he is indicating that on some level his choice is NOT based on reason but on something else. Will, perhaps? He is choosing, and forcing us to choose, against classical political philosophy. Why? Because “To many things reason does not bring you, necessity brings you.” This is a very curious sentence. How could something be both necessary and unreasonable? Would not reason direct you toward the necessary? In fact, is that not the basis of pre-Socratic natural philosophy (as depicted in, e.g., The Clouds)? Phenomena which the city ascribes to the gods are in fact owing to a perhaps hidden but discoverable natural necessity? NM appears to reject that too by setting up necessity and reason as antagonists. Perhaps he is here merely dismissing classical or traditional reasoning. But I think it is more than that. He is rejecting the classical idea of the beneficence of nature. You can’t choose a sterile site and let natural necessity do its work because that is not enough. Nature will abandon you. TRUE necessity is the need to confront and overcome nature. The “true political way of life” is the classical best regime, the regime based on reason. To pick out only one detail, Aristotle says that the best regime must be small, everyone should know everyone, or close. Obviously this is not possible in a great empire. By choosing Rome, Machiavelli has silently rejected Aristotle. But more than that, he has rejected the rule of reason as the classics envisioned it, as the quiet life in accordance with nature. He has chosen, against the classics, in favor of acquisition and techne. This is the core of his choice of the people over the great or the aristocrats. The classical strategy failed because it was based on a mistake. NM indicates this through another one of his hidden metaphysical statements: “but since all things of men are in motion and cannot stay steady, they must either rise or fall.” Xenophon explicitly says in the Memorabilia that Socrates rejected both pre-Socratic extremes—that everything is always in motion and that nothing is ever in motion—presumably in favor of a mean. NM rejects that mean, at least for the human things. Based on this mistake, classical philosophy made the tactical mistake of allying itself to the great and trying to live quietly, paying only as much attention to practical politics so as to protect itself. This failed and it was conquered by the people through Christianity. A revived philosophy needs to choose the people and get out there into the world, make a case for the people, be their true friend and ally, and help them.