Machiavelli The Prince - Essay Example

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Machiavelli "the Prince" Machiavelli’s ‘The Prince’ is lauded as one of the first treatises on modern political philosophy by many but also hated by many as a Bible of evil for politicians and tyrants. On first reading, this literary work might seem practical, to the bone, even at the cost of ethics and morality, as far as the exercise of political power is concerned…
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Download file to see previous pages And it is a reminder that there is nothing such as good power and bad power but only power and its necessary evils. Machiavelli starts his book with a broad categorization of “principalities there are” (21). He (Machiavelli) has further classified principalities into hereditary and new and also mixed ones (21). And he has made a distinction between republics where people are governed by people and principalities where the ruler is a prince and also made it clear that this book is all about principalities, and not about republics (21-22). The author (Machiavelli) has then gone on to elaborate upon the difficulties faced by princes in ruling principalities in establishing their power and glory. The basic principle, or rather non-principle, that Machiavelli sets for such a prince is to achieve his ends by all means, irrespective of ethics or morality. But this is a kind of reverse argument, philosophical spoonerism. For example, Machiavelli has suggested that if a new territory is annexed to a kingdom held by a prince, to be on the safer side, the prince has to take two major steps- “the one, the family of their former lord is extinguished; the other, that neither their laws, nor their taxes are altered, so that in a very short time they will become entirely one body with the old principality” (25). In this statement, Machiavelli has prescribed cold-blooded murder of the innocent family members, including children, of the conquered ruler. Throughout the text, such unethical and immoral prescriptions abound and this was the reason why social analysts and observers despised Machiavelli while tyrants and politicians loved them. For, Machiavelli’s advices that “it is much safer to be feared than loved,” and “it is unnecessary for a prince to have all the good qualities … but it is very necessary to appear to have them,” have enough vice in them to make him look like a professor of evil (90, 95). But by exploring the underlying satire and philosophy of this text, it can be seen that Machiavelli was simply drawing attention to the real nature of power and to the prevailing obscenities and inhumanity associated with it. An example of this anti-‘Machiavellian’ character of Machiavelli, as an author, can be glimpsed in the following statement among many made by him. He (Machiavelli) has said: Let a prince have the credit of conquering and holding his state, the means will always be considered honest, and he will be praised by everybody; because the vulgar are always taken by what a thing seems to be and by what comes of it; and in the world there are only the vulgar, for the few find a place there only when the many have no ground to rest on” (96). Critics of Machiavelli seem to be haunted by the same issue of distinction that Machiavelli points to- the difference between what really is and what is presented as real (84). On certain occasions, Machiavelli himself has provided clues to this method of narrative. When he (Machiavelli) said, “it is necessary for a prince wishing to hold his own to know how to do wrong, and to make use of it or not according to necessity”, it is rather a policy statement of the author himself (84). He (Machiavelli) do not shy away from the unpleasant truths. It can also be seen that, though rather fatalistic, Machiavelli’ ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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