The book of The Prince was written by Niccolo Machiavelli in 1513 and was intended to criticise the tradition of humanist government ruled by the prince. The author made use of the book to advance his agenda of power, leadership and the proper way of navigating the political landscape. The book looks into the issue of politics of necessity and urges the leaders to strive to realise the balance between force, guile and fear. Some people view The Prince as the handbook for the gangsters. However, I disagree with this claim. This essay will refute the claim that The Prince is the handbook for the gangsters and will do this by giving an analysis of how the book has played a vital role in educating people how the government should function and why centralised power is necessary for establishing a state that will operate efficiently.
The proponents of the claim that The Prince is the handbook for the gangsters states that the book encourages the rulers to eliminate their enemies, and allies ruthlessly and avoid to being too ethical if they intend to win and remain in power for as long as they want. Machiavelli's work of The Prince indicates that he was a great admirer of the Cesare Borgia, a cruel ruler and believed that as a leader one should be feared and not loved as this would help in ensuring such a leader succeeds. He claims that "my view is that it is desirable to be both loved and feared; but it is difficult to achieve both and, if one of them has to be lacking, it is much safer to be feared than loved" (Machiavelli, 1532). This group claim that The Prince is the handbook that supports the tyrants because Machiavelli uses it in advocating for the concepts of ruthlessness in the use of political power, cynicism and political deceit the idea that later came to be known as "Machiavellism."
According to the anti-Machiavellism, his work of The Prince was only focused on advancing his Ideology of what the political leaders should do to continue staying in power. In his statement of "Never attempt to win by force what can be won by deception," it is clear that Machiavelli did not care for morality (Machiavelli, 1532). Basing on this statement, it seems like his book was indeed a handbook for political gangsters who do not have the interest of those they serve at heart, but all they care for is to be in power. Spin claimed that Machiavelli was, in fact, a supporter of dictatorial leadership and not its apologist (Amelia, 2008). At the same time based on his stand on the issue of winning and holding on to power and the means he suggested to be used to achieve this, the Elizabethan view Machiavellism as evil. It is for this reason that the Cardinal Pope placed it among the list of banned books in Elizabethan England because it was fostering moral and political corruption. The work of Machiavelli of The Prince that he dedicated to Medici can be seen as a masterpiece that was aimed at fooling the prince to believe it is valid and follow it which would have eventually led to his failure a scenario that would have acted as the best revenge for Machiavelli on the ruler. Fortunately, it appears like the prince never was interested in reading the book.
These claims that the book of The Prince is for the gangsters or the tyrants is misplaced, invalid and does not make any sense because a critical analysis of the book reveals that the book is indeed a warning against the vices of using power for selfish gains at the expense of the citizens. Machiavelli was a realist, and his writing was in line with the political methods of that time and is still relevant even in the modern political world five hundred years after he wrote it. The Prince is an outstanding leadership masterpiece that provides valid advice on what leaders ought to do to be effective, how governments should function and the reason why it is necessary to have a strong political power that is centralised for the effective functioning of the state. The claim that Machiavelli is an advocate of the ruthless utilisation of power for ones selfish interest of clinging on power is misunderstood because the book tries to expose the concept of politics of power and warn leaders against it. At the time of writing this book, Italy was going through a stage characterised with great struggle and uncertainties. The prince was explicitly written to act as a wake-up call to the state to remind those in power that they had a responsibility of eliminating such doubts using any tools at their disposal to restore calmness and stability of the country (Machiavelli, 1532).
The author of the book of The Prince adopted the realistic approach in handling the political matters and rejected the use of the conventional, traditional morality in guiding the political action. The author took this approach because he believed that a state that functions more effectively could be established if the leaders could realise that human nature is corrupted and use this realistic view in guiding political actions. According to King (2013), Machiavelli looked at politics as a field that has its moral logic that could at times be regarded in politer societies as reprehensive. To run a government efficiently sometimes requires the rulers to set aside the moral ethics that are conventional and adopt those that are pragmatic and reasonable for the well being of the state. The author does not pretend to give a political theory that is systematic but instead makes use of the past events that he discovers through studying history and realistic observations to describe the human nature and use it to establish a set of principles, aphorism and maxims to guide the prince on how to live in the disloyal world.
After the misfortunes that the state of Florentine had experienced Machiavelli a true patriot despite being in exile after being convicted for taking part in the conspiracy that led to the fall of the state, he strives to seek for the cause of the misfortunes and remedy that will see the country recover. By coming up with realistic political rules, Machiavelli believed that his state could be transformed into a republic that is stable, just and able to protect itself from foreign invasions (Chadwick, 2008). The primary objective of the book of The Prince was not to advocate for dictatorial leadership but to advice the prince so that he can be able to eliminate the corruption from the already weakened state and rebuild it back to a "strong, united, effective, morally regenerated, splendid and victorious Patria" (Machiavelli, 1532). However, the author makes it clear that for this transformation to take place, the prince who is in charge of governing the state must be possessing public spiritedness, civic sense, honour, loyalty, courage, skill and strength. At the same time, he reminds the leaders that in some situations cleansing of the state from illness such as corruption requires the rulers to set aside the moral logic and adopt alternative measures that could be useful in eliminating the vices that in most cases will be seen as evil, cruel, treacherous and ruthless (Patrick, 2014). Though such actions could be seen as immoral, it is for the greater good of the state and justifiable because the end justifies the means.
The argument by the anti-Machiavellism that Machiavelli is evil and an advocate of moral and political corruption is baseless and should be looked at again to ascertain the reality from the book. In the book of The Prince, the author has decided to take a realistic approach on the matter and considering how corrupt human race has become he warns the rulers such as Prince Medici from choosing to lead a life similar to that of a private citizen. Machiavelli argues that because the rulers are statesmen the code of conduct of the life they lead should never be identical to that of private citizens or else they will not succeed in their leadership endeavours (Babington, 2009). The author claims that the world is full of people who are "ungrateful, fickle, dissembling, anxious to fear danger, and covetous of gain" (Machiavelli, 1532). In a world like this one where people have deviated from how they are supposed to live the rulers ought not to cling on Christian morality if they want to be on the safe side or else they might end up in grief. While supporting the concept of Machiavelli Poggioli states, "because he said politics has to find its ethics and its values, disentangling politics from religion and other sets of values" (Poggioli, 2013). By basing on this reality, Machiavelli advises the prince to learn survival means and also tells him that he should instead be feared than loved if he wants to build a glorious and great state.
The book of the prince has been perceived as a book for the gangsters advocating for immorality, evilness and political corruption. However, a critical analysis of the book indicates that the book is indeed advancing the concept of morality. The author used the book to expose the corrupt nature of humanity and advice the ruler on how to be effective leaders in propelling their states to a level where they are stable and able to protect themselves from foreign invasions. This book is best suited for those people in leadership and students aspiring to be future leaders because it is based on reality and the principles that are brought forward by the author are valid even in the current world. To succeed as a leader, one must realise that politics has its own values and ethics different from Christian morality and he or she should differentiate between statesman life and public life.
Amelia W. (2008). "Machiavelli's Daring 'Gift', 'The Prince' has elicited admiration, fear and contempt." The Wall Street Journal. [Online] Available at: [Accessed Nov 9, 2018]
Babington D. 2009. "Tim Parks on Learning to Love Machiavelli." Reuters. [Online] Available at: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-books-parks-idUSTRE5883GN20090909
[Accessed Nov 9, 2018]
Chadwick I. 2008. The municipal Machiavelli. Oxford University Press.
King C. (2013). "Machiavelli's the Prince: The Ultimate Guide to Power".
Italy Magazine. [Online] Available at: [Accessed Nov 9, 2018]
Machiavelli N.(1532). The Prince. Antonio Blado d'Asola
Patrick S. 2014. Machiavelli: Still Shocking after 5 Centuries. The National Interest. [Online] Available at: https://nationalinterest.org/commentary/machiavelli-still-shocking-after-five-centuries-9126
[Accessed Nov 9, 2018]
Poggioli S. (2013). "At 500, Machiavelli's 'Prince' Still Inspires Love And Fear". National Public Radio. [Online] Available at: [Accessed Nov 9, 2018]