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Boston Rob and his Machiavellian Ways

April 20, 2011

“You will find people are so simple-minded and so preoccupied with their immediate concerns, that if you set out to deceive them, you will always find plenty of them who will let themselves be deceived. (37)”

     It’s Wednesday night and once again I am anxiously awaiting tonight’s episode of Survivor. As I was sitting at my computer brainstorming ideas for my last blog, I realized that one of my all-time favorite characters, Rob Mariano or “Boston Rob”, was a perfect example of a Machiavellian. Rob has been in 4 seasons of Survivor and continues to earn his villainous reputation through his constant control of the game through controlling his fellow contestants. A central theme of Machiavelli in “The Prince” is that in order for a prince to be successful and maintain his power, the prince must use whatever means are at his disposal, and Rob does just that. Rob is known for his crafty, cunning, and tricky ways, as has been known to give many people his word (to keep them safe from being voted out), and then without a blink of his eye, he votes them out. At the same time, he makes it known that if you aren’t “with him” then you will get voted off. He uses fear as a means of control and as a way to make his fellow alliance obey.

     Also, Rob, like Machiavelli, acknowledges that a prince who keeps his word is generally praised by others, but realizes that if you look at history, there have been many successful rulers who have not. Knowing this, Rob always tries to portray to the rest of the survivors that he isn’t so crafty, cunning and tricky. For example, during the season of Survivor: All Stars, Rob had told fellow survivor Lex that if Lex could keep Rob’s love interest (and now his wife), Amber safe, he would “take care of him” in return. Lex followed through by keeping Amber safe, but during the next episode, the tribes merged and Lex was voted out, despite Rob’s previous commitment to him. Rob justified himself by saying, “Make no mistake about it Lex, but the word I gave you was that if I could take care of you I will. I’m sorry, I cannot.” Rob clearly used Lex for his own selfish means and then discarded him when he didn’t need him anymore.

     In addition, Rob agrees with Machiavelli by using his “warcraft” as the foundation of his game. In the current season of Survivor, he has installed a “buddy system” within the 5 other players of his alliance. This buddy system ensures that no one from his alliance is ever by themselves, and ultimately never in jeopardy of being swayed by the competing alliance to join forces with them. His alliance faithfully obeys because they know that if they show any kind of disloyalty, Rob will not hesitate to vote them out. It is this combination of smart tactical strategies, and his intelligent use of domestic politics, which prove that his “warcraft” is his groundwork for success. Rob believes that his ends justify his means, just as Machiavelli does. The following clip is a great example of how Rob plays the game. His quote, “Fear, basically, it’s a tough principle, but fear keeps people loyal. If they’re afraid they have something to loose, then they’ll do what you tell them to do,” shows that he follows Machiavellian principles.


Machiavelli, Niccolo. “The Prince.” Modern Political Thought: readings from Machiavelli to Nietzsche. Ed. David Wootton. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc., 2008. Print.

One Comment
  1. Georgia permalink
    June 1, 2011 2:09 AM

    This is such a good example of a modern day Machiavellian! I couldn’t agree more.

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