Free «Machiavelli’s Prince» Essay
Based on Chapter XVII of Machiavelli’s Prince and on the notorious facts of world history, I shall say that for a governor (a head of the state, or the prince, to put it Machiavellian way) the first priority is to fulfill the strategic aims of the state politics. I’m not saying the ends justify the means, but in order to achieve a visible result, the ruling person must resort to different means, and that sometimes includes harsh measures and unpopular decisions.
A good and vivid example of such approach to political matters is Cesare Borgia, mentioned by Machiavelli. We can also think of one more illustration to a notion of a successful and decisive governor – the first Russian emperor, Peter the Great. He is well known for his innovations and transformations introduced to the old-fashioned and ineffective economy of the Russian state. Having travelled around Europe, he had perceived a number of developments and experimental projects and hurried to try them in his own country. Of course, such zeal could not have been like by everyone, and the new course met much opposition. However, even Peter’s contemporaries admitted that Russia made a large step forward during his rule. Naturally, this success required some sacrifice, such as a reputation of a loyal and kind master.
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In general, the wish to be a kind and loyal master is for a governor a selfish wish, for when he desires to be loved by his people he doesn’t think about the people but about himself only. A ruling person must avoid cheap populism and introduce laws necessary for the strategic purposes of the state. Being loved by the people of the country is nothing more than a pleasant bonus, but in no case an aim to pursue. In addition, one has to remember that humans are gregarious creatures who live by the natural laws of power and hierarchy. If the top of this hierarchical pyramid is weak and unable to impose strong influence, then the whole society structure will delve into chaos, and this will certainly not result in loyalty towards the governor.
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Machiavelli is perfectly aware that the main necessary condition of realization of political power in a way that could possibly please the sovereign is consent among the citizens. He literally adjures a ruler in any way not to incur on himself antipathy of the people: «contempt and hatred of citizens - these are the things a sovereign must more than all fear». To conquer the loyalty of people – here lies his task. It is required from the governor to «take measures so that the citizens always and under any circumstances need him as a head and as a guidance.
If people are alienated from him, at that rate the state appears doomed and the people are most certainly plunged in the ocean depth of anarchy and disorder. How to obtain from citizens so that they operate according to the will of the sovereign and that his power in a country (city) is carried out normally? According to Machiavelli, such power is carried out normally, if citizens fully obey a sovereign, either by love for the prince or by fear before him. From the point of view of Machiavelli, the best of all, certainly, «when people are afraid and love simultaneously, however much love badly gets along with fear, therefore if it is necessary to choose, it is more reliable to choose fear and support it under the threat of punishment, which it is impossible to scorn».