What is the relation between Marxist dialectics and Machiavelli's philosophy? I have read Lefort, and he seems good, but I was unsure if he was an academic playing games.
I would have to say that it is a stretch of the historical and philosophical imaginations to compare or relate Marxian Dialectics with Machiavellian Power.
Karl Marx's philosophy, specifically, his Dialectical Philosophy-(a.k.a. "Dialectical Materialism"), was the complete "antithesis" of Machiavelli's Prince or Supreme Ruler. Marx detested the consolidation of Power. be it singularly held power, such as State or Capitalistic Tyranny or the Power of the Bureaucratic or Capitalistic classes. Marx's "Dictatorship of the Proletariat", was a temporary phase within his Dialectical process that would ultimately lead to a Communist Utopia. The Dialectical revolution would have initially consisted of the complete eradication of traditional political (and especially Capitalistic) hierarchies, followed by the fulfillment of Universal equality and freedom. The radically anti-hierarchical, pro-Utopian philosophy of Karl Marx, was absolutely antithetical to Machiavelli's Prince.
400 years earlier, Nicolo Machiavelli, pioneered a Political Philosophy that "justified" the historical and sobering reality of power. Machiavelli, was the furthest thing from being a Political Idealist and probably would have scoffed at Marx's juvenile sounding language. The Prince, was the starting and ending point of the State; the citizens (or subjects) in a Machiavellian world, were of a secondary or even tertiary nature. While Machiavelli was an accomplished Philosopher and Writer-(though apparently, not a very good Politician or Diplomat), Dialectics, would have been viewed by him as "classically" related subject matter and not a contemporaneous subject matter. However, if such a Dialectically inspired fantasy, such as a Marxian Communist revolution or social transformation, showed early signs of success, Machiavelli's Prince would have crushed that early sign of success, "at the blink of an eye".