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Political and Social Theory - Essay Example

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Introduction Political theories explain how the state is governed while social theories explain the behavior of human beings in the society. One of the most notable political and social theorists is Nicollo Machiavelli (1469-1527). His notable political theory is the prince written for Lorenzo Medici hoping Medici would take note and follow his advice…
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Introduction Political theories explain how the is governed while social theories explain the behavior of human beings in the society. One ofthe most notable political and social theorists is Nicollo Machiavelli (1469-1527). His notable political theory is the prince written for Lorenzo Medici hoping Medici would take note and follow his advice. According to Machiavelli, the only task for rulers is to maintain power and ensure success for government hence his famous quote that “the ends justify the means” (Machiavelli, 1996 p. 60). The end in this case is the success of the state and the ruler should use whatever means possible even if it means compromising his/her values or morals to achieve it. He advocates use of force, violence, deceit and political manipulation if it would lead to success. However, he clarifies that the government actions are not bound by the same values as of individuals thus while it uses all means possible, the subjects should be guided by moral values (Morgan, 2005). For him, it is better to be feared than loved since fear is constant and love is fickle. On social theory, he focuses on a single autonomous society and the individual in particular. He does not believe that human behavior is controlled by natural forces or by chance or luck. He believes in humanism, that is, individuals can control their own destiny and thus his theory is based on reality or the world as it is rather than an imaginary world (p 117). He asserts that humans are selfish and thus pursue self-interests and they are also ungrateful, liars, deceivers and greedy. Machiavelli’s theories can be applied to a practical situation in three ways which will be the main topic of our discussion. Firstly, it guides the leaders in the organization on how to make decisions that will help achieve success. Secondly, it guides the relationships within the workplace bearing in mind the nature of human beings. Thirdly, it helps to make rules or policy guidelines in the organization. The “prince” was a guideline to rulers by Machiavelli and depicted his political theory. According to him “the ends justify the means” and as such leaders can use any means to achieve their ends as what matters is the end (Machiavelli, 1996). The question that needs to be answered is what if the means is unjustifiable according to societal morals? To this, Machiavelli says it does not matter whether the means is moral or immoral provided the end is achieved. Furthermore, there are some moral means that lead to undesirable ends; for example, if you feel mercy for people and thus let them continue with their undesirable behavior it may lead to destruction thus it is better to correct the behavior using cruel means to achieve a desirable future end. To use cruelty and violence is thus more desirable than using mercy. Besides, according to social theory men are deceitful and ungrateful. They obey you as long as you serve their welfare and turn against you when it is to their own interest (Morgan, 2005 p. 118). What this means for the leader when making decisions in the organization is that they should only be concerned with what is best for the company and not for employees. For example, the manager can use punishment for employees who do not achieve their targets so that they can fear punishment and work hard leading to productivity. The manager can also reward employees as long as it will lead to them increasing productivity. However, for Machiavelli it is better to be feared than loved so in this case the use of punishment is more appropriate. If you continue giving individuals rewards so as to motivate them they will consider it a norm and the day you fail to provide the reward they are unsatisfied and their productivity declines. However, if they know they are going to be punished they will always work hard no matter the circumstances to avoid punishment. This proves Machiavelli’s statement that fear is constant but love is fickle and this is embedded in human nature (Rossides, 1998). The leader faces reality and stops imagining that workers will continue working hard even if they do not get rewards. Another way both theories can be applied to the workplace in guiding the relationship between employer and employee. For Machiavelli, leaders and followers do not exercise same values; the leader can use immoral means but the follower must be moral (Machiavelli, 1996). Furthermore, human beings by nature are liars, ungrateful and deceitful. This depicts an untrustworthy relationship between leader and followers leading to an impersonal relationship. The leader makes decisions and the followers obey without questions and are not supposed to break the rules. Respect for authority is called for if the company is to achieve success. Allowing the employees to have a personal relationship with the leader may make him weak and unable to control them. This is often a confusing issue in the organization; whether to be personal or impersonal and what this does to leader’s respect. Machiavelli is of the view that being free with employees makes the leader lose respect and thus become weak. The last way both theories can be useful is policy making. Using these theories means formulating rules and procedures to be used by employees in conducting their duties such that if one breaks them he/she is bound to be punished. A psychological contract is signed between the employer and employee stating the ends to be achieved and these must be achieved in whatever means (Von Dehsen & Harris, 1999). The role of the worker is to be productive while the role of manager is to ensure employees are rewarded accordingly. The organization thus sets targets to be achieved and do everything possible to make sure employees attain that target and disciplinary procedures are laid out for non-achievers. Though both theories are effective in ensuring that the organization achieves success they have some deficiencies. First, Machiavelli assumes that people are like machines to be pushed around when he advocates for using whatever means especially cruelty and violence to achieve ends. When people are forced to do things, they do them without morale and this may lead to decline in productivity. This is due to the fact that individuals have different personalities and would not acknowledge immoral means to achieve ends. Instead, they would revolt and force the leader to reconsider his decisions. Besides, Machiavelli focuses on individuals forgetting the power of social beings (Von Dehsen & Harris, 1999). Humans often unite for a single cause and if they feel their rights are being violated they will unite against the enemy and defeat him. The leader is therefore at a risk of being rejected by followers and in the end, the end will not justify the means. However, despite these shortcomings the theories still apply to the situation better. This is due to the fact that it is better to face reality and use punishment to achieve desirable results than wait and hope that by treating employees better will result in desirable outcome. The leader should shape the future of the company instead of leaving it to chance. To ensure productivity, the leader in any organization should use all the means at his disposal whether moral or immoral since “the ends justify the means.” Human beings are unpredictable and untrustworthy thus it is essential for the leader to stand firm and give direction to the company. He also has the authority to deal with errant behavior and ensure the end is achieved. This way, he will gain respect from employees making them follow whatever he says and ensure that productivity is achieved. Left to chance, employees may end up achieving the ends which were not intended for whether desirable or undesirable. It is essential for leader to set the direction and ensure it is followed for success. References Machiavelli, N (1996). Machiavelli and his Friends: Their Personal Correspondence. Illinois: Illinois University Press. Morgan, M.L (ed) (2005). Classics of Moral and Political Theory. 4th edn. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc. Rossides, D.W (1998). Social Theory: Its Origins, History and Contemporary Relevance. New York: General Hall, Inc. Von Dehsen, C and Harris, S (1999). Philosophers and Religious Leaders. New York: Greenwood. Read More
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