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Niccolo Machiavelli is one of the major political philosophers of our times. He was an
Essayist, dramatist historian, sketch writer, biographer, dialogist, writer of novellas and a poet. Machiavelli was born on May 3rd,1496, in a family of a Doctor of Law, in Florence Italy. In 1498 he helped to dispose of Giroiamo Savonarola and was appointed to the Second Chancery of the Republic. However he was jailed and tortured by the Medici family when the Spanish forces invaded Italy in 1512 . Finally he was appointed as the official historian of Florence in 1520. This was the very zenith of renaissance thought, and true to his times, he gave the world a groundbreaking political philosophy. His politician treatise is called “The Prince”. The philosophy he propounded resonant to this day with the modern political theory.
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The book was written when the Medici family ascended the throne over Florence. Hoping to gain their favour, he wrote the book about what he thought were the political views of the Medici family. The Medici family was not impressed, nor was the public at the book’s lack of remorse and moral conduct. As a result, accused of plotting against the royal family, Machiavelli was arrested and tortured for a short period of time. Over the years, The Prince has been thoroughly analyzed and criticized for its lack of moralities and empathy.
The purpose of the book is how a leader can utilize their will and determination and reap the fruits of their labour; if they are willing to do whatever means necessary to achieve their goal. The book teaches that virtue and the choices between good and evil are irrelevant in the long run; their topic is rarely touched. The core of Machiavelli’s teachings consists of the manipulation of others for power, thus teaching that virtue and moralities are not considered when aiming for a certain goal.
“The Prince” expounds the Machiavellian thought . His theory centers on Political conduct and application of power. This revolutionary theory has had its adherents and its critics, No other theory seems to generate such strong reactions. Some of the important ideas advocated by his political philosophy are as follows
- Advocates practicing successful statecraft through ruthlessness and amoral duplicity.
- Disassociating politics from ethics ‘End justifies the means”
- The most fundamental aspect of politics is “getting and keeping power and authority” Religion, morality, ethics have no discourse with politics. Unless they help in keeping power.
- “The Prince “Focuses on calculating the most effective way to achieve and maintain power by a politician.
- Machevialli advocates ruthlessness to achieve peace in the state “seditious people should be amputated before they infect the whole state.”
- The two essential elements necessary for successful political leadership are virtu and fortuna. That is, ‘force’ and ‘cunning’
The proof of the practical implications of this theory can be found all over the political spectrum. For the most part , an inquiry into the history of any dictator would reveal the workings of the basic Machiavellian principles.
1. Napoleon Bonaparte: Seized power at the end of French revolution. People’s blood and cries for Liberty , equality and Justice made room for and created a political vacuum in the place of monarchy. Napoleon neatly stepped into this vacuum. He seized power and eventually declared himself the Emperor. Napoleon used the basic Machiavellian principle of “getting and keeping power and authority”. The fundamentals of the French revolutions were forgotten the moment he achieved the power. He tried to maintain power through military might and political oppression.
2. Hitler: Similar to Napoleon, Hitler stepped into the vacuum of power and hope created in Germany at the end of the First World War. In an extreme display of Machiavellian traits he Grabbed power through generating hate by creating a common enemy and playing upon the nationalistic feelings of the German people. His complete disregard for morality and ethics to achieve and maintain power at all costs is truly Machiavellian.
PROS & CONS
Strength: In order for any leader to lead effective he/she must be intelligent and aware , in other words Machevelli’s “ virtu and fortuna are indeed two qualities that all leaders must aspire for.
The disassociation of politics and ethics generates oppressive regimes .lacking in compassion and uncaring of the population. The theory serves mostly the individual aspiring to attain and keep power, while uses the people as pawns.