Niccolo Machiavelli’s The Prince
Thesis: Great leaders are created from the perspectives of great leaders. The book by the author Niccolo Machiavelli, under consideration, is The Prince. Democratic events are the definition of study and debate. In most states around the world, politics is the avenue that people use to argue and gain state power, much as it was in the days of Machiavelli when he penned down the Prince. It is Machiavelli’s work that brought to light in the Western world the notion of politics and elected office. And the way people view politics has also contributed a lot to having negative connotations.
Machiavelli’s novel has used myriad examples of Italians as an example to the world of the people who carried out criminal political acts to achieve what they wanted without regard to due process or the law. The examples of such literary works are commonly known The Prince and the Life of Castruccio Castracani. Both have been contrasted and compared although the latter is not well the like the former. In the days of The Prince, perpetration of criminal activities to achieve political ends and power seemed to be a new terrible and normalized way of doing things (Parel 330). It did not matter how one got into power provided the end has justified the means. The same thing is comparable to the contemporary world where political leaders incite their subjects to violence, whip up their supporter’s emotions to side with them when they encounter difficulties as well as even committing crimes against humanity to protect and safeguard the throne.
Moreover, the contents within The Prince portray the princes as people whose aims in life is glory and survival. Regardless of the way in which they achieve that glory, what matters is that the princes get to enjoy such bounties of life. Machiavelli is often misunderstood for one of his famous quotes, “The end justifies the means” that he was advocating for wrong and evil ways of ascending to power. That notwithstanding the leaders who had come before such as The Prince in ancient Italy used the same script to attain and sustain their stay in authority. One way of doing that is by appointing loyal servants in different locations who serve the Kind with zeal and determination to the point that they will never tolerate any form of political dissent from the people who sought to dethrone the King. Another tactic was to establish a loyal and powerful army that would keep the enemy under control at any time. Anyone who dared to contradict the king would face the wrath of the king (TARLTON 417).
Comparing that with the current political leaders, it is apparent that most of them use the same tactics to muzzle the opposition and stifle any form of dissent although in a more sophisticated and subtle way. Leaders have silenced the media, civil society groups, their rivals and much more, either by frequent and unnecessary arrests to detention without trial and in most extreme circumstances, it would lead to death. That has resulted in the worsening and deterioration of the reputation of many political movements to the point that the citizens view politics as a dirty game. Their fears cannot be easily wished away since it’s something they have carefully observed and in many instances, the majority of the people have borne the brunt of the oppression and high-handedness of their leaders. Therefore, it’s undeniable that the actions of past leaders have profoundly influenced the way present leaders conduct their affairs as they govern their subjects (Gilbert, 28).
On top of that, Machiavelli through the book, The Prince, exhorts leaders to desist from abandoning constitutional order of leadership and resorting to absolute order. That has had an undesirable impact on the people since many of them perceive that act as oppression and authoritarianism. He further goes ahead to state that it’s better when a prince ascends to power through the support of the ordinary people than when the principality is a result of the aid of the nobles and influential individuals in the country or territory. During difficult times and the days of turmoil, the nobles who often will have deep sited and vested interest in the throne will most likely abandon the prince and even plot how to dethrone him from power. Pledging allegiance to the people often yields rewards since the people will side with their leader if he was friendly and more supportive of them (Plamenatz 157).
Machiavelli gives an example to support his argument that one’s stay in power is more secure when it is people centered and people supported. He refers to how Nabis, The Prince of the Spartans managed to defend and protect his government and country when they got attacked by the mighty Roman army and the Greece. Nabis, The Prince would never have achieved that victory with only the support of a few influential individuals at the top but with the full backing of his people.
The same principle should apply to the crop of current leaders who only cut deals with their elections financiers and business partners at the expense of the electorate who put them into such high offices. They do this with the aim of enriching themselves and their circle of business friends through rewarding them with lucrative tenders and swindling the public purse thinking that these high-profile individuals would stand by them in times of national turmoil.
Again, the author encourages current political office bearers to excise generosity on their people and restrain from showing open cruelty. Although in so doing, they should not give the people they lead and impression where that kindness is misconstrued as an exploitable weakness. Moreover, their competitors too might use that virtuous act of showing generosity to manipulate the prince and eventually oust him out of power Arieti, 381). Therefore, caution should be abundantly exercised.
Machiavelli has cited an example of Cesare Borgia of having been considered cruel, but that cruelty helped him to calm the Romagna, which eventually led to its restoration of peace, unity, and loyalty. The prince in this circumstance did not hide his firmness in the face of a glaring tension and rebellion. Therefore, to contain the possible fallout, he acted firmly and decisively at the elements who wanted to wreak havoc and destabilize his government and the entire country. Some may view that as being harsh and cruel at dissent. However, it helped salvage the situation which would have disintegrated beyond redemption. What would have followed is anarchy, rebellion, robberies, and murders.
The present-day leader’s world over need to emulate such example of Cesare Borgia by staying firm and undistracted especially when dealing with emerging issues such as terrorism and the militias which are threatening to tear many countries apart. To achieve that, they would have to desist from lenient to such deadly organizations which are hell bent to causing lawlessness in the world and rendering many nations ungovernable. Unfortunately, many heads of states have allowed individual interest take precedence and have sympathized with their cronies or relatives who have been found to be instigating and coordinating such sectarian attacks on the civilians and the. That will destabilize the country rather than unite it and create an environment for prosperity and progress.
Parel, A. J. “The Question of Machiavelli’s Modernity.” Literature Criticism from 1400 to 1800, edited by Jelena O. Krstovic, vol. 36, Gale, 1997. Literature Resource Center.
TARLTON, CHARLES D. “‘The deeds of great men’: Thoughts on the Literary Motives and Imaginary Actions of Machiavelli’s New Prince.” CLIO, vol. 29, no. 4, 2000, p. 417. Literature Resource Center.
Plamenatz, John. “Search of Machiavellian ‘Virtu’.” Literature Criticism from 1400 to 1800, edited by Jelena O. Krstovic, vol. 36, Gale, 1997. Literature Resource Center, originally published in The Political Calculus: Essays on Machiavelli’s Philosophy, edited by Anthony Parel, University of Toronto Press, 1972, pp. 157-178.
Arieti, James A. “The Machiavellian Chiron: appearance and reality in ‘The Prince.’.” CLIO, vol. 24, no. 4, 1995, p. 381.
Gilbert, Felix. “The Concept of Nationalism in Machiavelli’s Prince.” Literature Criticism from 1400 to 1800, edited by Thomas J. Schoenberg and Lawrence J. Trudeau, vol. 140, Gale, 2008. Literature Resource Center, Accessed 7 Sept. 2017. Originally published in Studies in the Renaissance, vol. 1, 1954, pp. 38-48
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