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Political Theory - Essay Example

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Should the People Be Powerful or The Prince?: The Philosophies of Machiavelli and Marx Karl Marx, in 1848, called for a fundamental change in the way that societies are run, and he published his thesis and call to arms in a slender tome called The Communist Manifesto…
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Political Theory
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Download file to see previous pages The basis for Marx’ vision was that the ruling class, the bourgeoisie, was corrupting and oppressive to the people, and Marx envisioned a time when the bourgeoisie would be stripped of its power by stripping it of its property and society would be classless. Therefore, Marx essentially advocated that no one class would have power over another classs. On the other hand, Nicolo Machiavelli, in his book The Prince essentially advocated the opposite. Where Marx believed that power should be dissipated, Machiavelli believed that power should be strengthened, and his book showed rulers, called princes by Machiavelli, on how to do this. Machiavelli’s thesis was that a prince should be strengthened, therefore power should be aggrandized and this would be the basis for security in a nation; Marx’ thesis was that the proletariat, or the people, should be strengthened, so that those in power would be displaced and power would not reside in any one group or person. Both books are based upon these basic premises. Argument The main contrast between the principles espoused by Machiavelli and those by Marx is that Machiavelli champions a strong leader who may use any means possible to rule over the people, whereas Marx champions the power of the people, the proletariat, stating that they should be more powerful than the leaders. For instance, Machiavelli appears to condone cruelty as a means of living securely in a new country which has been conquered. He cites the example of Oliverotto of Fermo, who came into power through a criminal act. Oliverotto came into power by murdering his uncle, Giovanni Fogliani, then, after this treacherous act, rode through the town, laying siege to the governing council. Because of this act, he was feared by those currently governing, and Oliverotto was able to make himself a prince. To be sure, Oliverotto murdered anybody who would resent his rule and might injure him (Machiavelli, 1961, p. 39). Despite the fact that Oliverotto was treacherous and killed his own uncle, who was nothing but kind to Oliverotto, Machiavelli held this leader up as an example of a prince who used cruelty well. Machiavelli stated that cruelty used well is cruelty that “is employed once for all, and one’s safety depends on it, and then it is no persisted in but as far as possible turned to the good of one’s subjects” (Machiavelli, 1961, p. 39). On the other hand, Machiavelli considered cruelty used badly as cruelty that grows over time, and is not necessarily a one-time incidence. When a prince uses cruelty badly, he cannot maintain power; with cruelty well-used, a leader may enhance his position (Machiavelli, 1961, p. 39). Machiavelli further emphasizes that cruelty must be used initially when securing the country, and must be inflicted all at once (Machiavelli, 1961, p. 40). This section is not the only place where Machiavelli advocates cruelty for the leader who is trying to secure himself in power. He also states that it is better to be feared than loved. Specifically, he advocates making examples of people. To do otherwise would be a weakness for the leader, and would lead to disorder. Machiavelli states that it is necessary to be feared, as opposed to loved, as men are “ungrateful, fickle, liars and deceivers, they shun danger and are greedy for profit…when you are in danger, they turn away” (Machiavelli, 1961, p. 71). When a leader is loved, they will have a bond of gratitude. However, men having the nature that they have, will break these bonds at the first ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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