The Bunny Prince – Machiavelli in Bunny Form?

In Monty Python and the Holy Grail there is a scene in which an adorable, white, fluffy, rabbit murders a whole group of men with his bare teeth. I always looked at this scene as purely fictional, that was, until Floppy came into my life.

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Floppy was the obese, manipulative, very fluffy, school bunny that my family took home on various school vacations. During his time with us, Floppy was able to gain control over each of my family members. He was able to get what he wanted, and at points he had us all quaking in fear. Yet, despite all his manipulations, we couldn’t bear to not take him home for subsequent school breaks.

Looking back on my time with Floppy, I began to realize just how smart he was. And after reading “The Prince” by Niccolo Machiavelli, I started to wonder if Floppy had taken tips for how to be an effective ruler from Machiavelli himself.

An effective leader should always have war on his mind.

Floppy’s world revolved around hunger; he always had food on his mind. Even in times where there was no hunger he would be scheming on how to secure more food. After he had finished eating a massive amount of kale, he would continue to scrounge for more. He would break into the food bag by gnawing at the plastic, and he would always make us feel obligated to feed him more. If we didn’t, we dreaded the bad mood it would bring.  

An effective leader should appear to be kind and civil, yet he should be able to dispose of these qualities when necessary.

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Floppy in his lair

At first glance, all you saw was an adorable, overweight bunny. He happily twitched his little nose, lovingly sat by our sides while we pet him, and appeared relatively humane. However, Floppy was quite the actor. He had the whole “lovable rabbit” act nailed down (although occassionaly he really was just a peaceful rabbit.)  When Floppy wanted something (most likely food) he would turn into a different creature.

An effective leader “ought not to fear the reputation of being mean” and “ought to inspire fear in such a way that, if he does not win love, he avoids hatred.”  

My family and I lived in fear of Floppy. Once while trying to get him out from under the coffee table, he lunged at my face and growled a fearsome rabbit growl. However, he had successfully made his point, and I never again tried to tell him where he could or couldn’t sit. Floppy struck a precarious balance between being evil, yet not being evil enough for us to kick him out of the house. Sure, he would bite my leg, but then he would twitch his nose so sweetly. Sure, he managed to heave a fifteen-pound book of the bookshelf with nothing but his rabbit teeth, and he mauled much of my homework, but afterwards he would hop around so joyfully it made me smile. Floppy knew that he could be ruthless when necessary, in order to show us his dominance and in order to get food. He also understood that if he was horrible all the time, we wouldn’t take him home with us anymore. To make up for some of his cruelty and to make us forget about his past actions, Floppy would allow us to pet him (although he probably hated every second of it.) So although we feared Floppy, we still had positive feelings toward him, though I wouldn’t call those feelings love. Floppy was able to make us feel “reproach without hatred.”  

An effective leader should create a situation where he is needed by his subjects.

Floppy made us feel like we needed him in our lives. Although it is hard for me to admit, Floppy did provide me with some joy. When you pet a rabbit this causes oxytocin to be released in your brain, making you happy. Part of the reason we kept taking Floppy home on vacations despite all of his antics was because of this happiness he instilled in my family.  

An effective leader should watch out for flatterers.  He should also be careful of who he trusts. 

Floppy didn’t care if you told him how fluffy and adorable he was. You could give him kale, love, and shelter, and yet he still would barely trust you. He trusted my mom more than anyone, and he would DSC_0145follow some of her instructions (such as the fact that he should take a bath), though only after careful consideration. Floppy found it best not to rely on people, he took his search of food upon himself, and if he failed, he would merely terrorize one of us until we gave him some food.

It may seem like I’m exaggerated the abilities of Floppy, but I truly believe that Floppy was somewhat of a political genius. After all, he was able to get my whole family wrapped around his finger (paw?).

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3 comments

  1. caitstew12 · October 16, 2014

    Frankly, this comparison was surprisingly successful to me. As I began reading (because of the excellent draw of Monty Python) I had no idea in what direction this blog article intended to go. It was a pleasure to read though. This personal anecdote effectively and humorously conveyed a somewhat abstract notion by Machiavelli that advices a prince on how to not (at least initially) fail in the political atmosphere. The one paragraph that was the weakest to me however was the one that drew the connection between the bunny and a prince always with a mind towards war. Would floppy have really gone on the attack if kale was not received in a timely fashion? Maybe he would have, but does this war really compare to the type of war Machiavelli intended? The final conclusion that Floppy was a political genius, however, I felt was well supported. This contradicted my initial feelings before I read this persuasive piece.

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  2. mkweihs · October 16, 2014

    I really enjoyed reading your blog post as it was on the one hand, very easily to read and on the other hand very humorous. Moreover, it was kind of a different and creative approach to Machiavelli’s work which illustrates in a very understandable way the principles which he is using throughout his sometimes difficult essay. Therefore, you really contribute to the understanding of the reader and due to the relation to our daily lifte, every reader might find an access to the concepts. As you have also mentioned at the end of your blog post, your text seems sometimes very exaggerate the ability of the rabbit and undervaules that of you and your family which is makes your argument implausible sometimes. Of course, this was intended, but maybe a little bit less of this exaggeration would have let your blog post appear more serious. Nevertheless, I really appreciate your creative approach and enjoyed getting to know your dominant rabbit.

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  3. gretandr · October 19, 2014

    Your post was extremely clever and well-structured. You went above and beyond to connect The Prince and Machiavelli in many different ways. Every one of these ideas was very engaging and humorous. Come on, who doesn’t like bunnies? – great way to draw the reader in. I also liked how you researched and linked the information about oxytocin… nothing like science to back up your argument, right? Floppy’s character development is strong in connecting the reader with the message of the post. My only suggestion to improve the post would be to elaborate on your conclusion in a way that leaves the reader in a position to think and wonder.

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