It might be down to the translation, but it looks like Niccolò Machiaveli had nothing on Lao Tse:-
Not praising the worthy prevents contention,
Not esteeming the valuable prevents theft,
Not displaying the beautiful prevents desire.
In this manner the sage governs people:
Emptying their minds,
Filling their bellies,
Weakening their ambitions,
And strengthening their bones.
If people lack knowledge and desire
Then they can not act;
If no action is taken
- Lao Tse, "Tao Te Ching"