Analysis of an ideal government Niccolo Machiavelli, the author of a well known political essay, The Prince, was a republican in Italy when his country was divided into city-states. He wrote this essay in prison, and tried to inspire the ruler to defend his country and maintain his power. Confucius, one of the greatest Chinese philosophers, wrote The Sacred Books of Confucius. In his essay, he taught his students how to be a virtuous ruler and how to set up a good example to govern his people.
They both had some different opinions about human itself, the character of a ruler, and the issue of the punishment of the disobedient. While Confucius believed a virtuous ruler should make a good example for his innocent people, and reform or educate them to be the greatest follower and to be loyal to himself, Machiavelli thought that since all humans are evil, Confucius s idea of setting up a good example for the people would not changed the basic character of human being instead an experienced ruler should be feared from everyone when he appeared to be faithful for them. In Confucius essay, he showed his love for all humans kind. He believed human nature can be good, that human beings are born with no given, definable nature at all and are therefore infinitely malleable. He stated that. the virtue of the prince is the wind, and that of the common people the grass.
The grass bends in the direction of the wind. (197). He compared human beings to the grass, who always follow their example or leader and go the same direction as he is. He viewed a human being as a natural creature whose nature could be explained causally in terms of impressions coming from the environment. By the meaning of the following, Confucius believed human nature also can be taught. It can be changed from evil t good, from dishonest to upright.
When his student asked him. what more shall be done for the people x He replied. enrich them! x His student asked again. and when they are enriched, what more shall be done x. educate them! x he replied without hesitation (198).
He truly believed people can be rectified by their ruler. They would have the same character or behavior as their ruler, their leader. In contrast, Machiavelli believed human nature cannot be changed. It is selfish and aggressive by nature. By stating. man in general that they are ungrateful, voluble, dissemblers, anxious to avoid danger, and covetous of gain; as long as you benefit them, they are entirely yours; ...
but when it[danger] approaches, they revolt x (184), he viewed ordinary people as inherently and thoroughly self-centered, seeking their own pleasure either through sensuality or personal glory if not simply to have a good opinion of themselves. For him, to be human is to be cruel, cheap, mean, jealous, possessive, lazy, exploitative. Love and seeming sacrifice for others are really forms of pretense, and are. held by a chain of obligation which, men being selfish, is broken whenever it serves their purpose x (184).
Therefore, he concluded that people cannot be trusted. A ruler. who has relied solely on their words, without making other preparation, is ruined x (184). During the time of peace, they will be loyal to you and obey your order.
But when the dangers come by or their profits are being threatened, they would betray you and put you in the worst situation before they would get into it. A prince should be feared by the people as Machiavelli said, . it is much safer to be feared than loved, if one of the two has to be wanting x (184). The way to govern the people s evil nature, Machiavelli believed, is not to change it but to control it through strict political, moral, or spiritual discipline. He believed that each individual required the organization of a society of law and order and unquestioning obedience to a strong ruler.
A true ruler, as Confucius believed, should love his people, keep faith with them, have good behavior and virtue. For him ordinary people are ultimately more important than either power or territory. The most learned and the most virtuous can aspire to positions of status, trust, and responsibility. For a ruler, he said. approach the people with dignity... and they will be respectful.
Show filial piety and kindness, and they will be loyal x (196). He believe a ruler should provide education for the people as well, and. promote those who are worthy, and train those who are incompetent; and they will be encouraged to cultivate virtues x (196). He stated that political power is charged with the responsibility to give ethical direction to members of society in the name of peace, security, protection, and human well-being.
While a prince needed to educated his people, he needed to set up a good example for them as well. He wrote. If a prince has rendered himself upright, he will have no difficulty in governing the people. But if he cannot rectify himself, how can he hope to rectify the people x (198) He believed that people are good followers, if the prince is good, they will be good; if the prince is bad, they will bad. He built the ideals of harmony, virtue, and filial piety to provide a stable foundation for the continuous ordering of social life through the generations. On the other hand, Machiavelli believed a prince should be feared by all the human beings other than loved by them and doing whatever he could to keep his power.
He needed to do anything, he must to avoid being weak and destroyed by the others. Since he regarded human nature as evil and selfish, he believed. it is much safer to be feared than loved x (184). Fear is to obtain your own power, but love is to rely on the power of the others. Don t let love, egotism and self-esteem threaten your power.
In doing things, one must think about consequences first, do something only if it can help you maintain your power and put you on the top. From his opinion, an honest prince will not last, for. he must have a mind disposed to adapt itself according to the wind[situation], and as the variations of fortune dictate, ... not deviate from what is good, but be able to do evil if constrained x (186). Those princes who pretend himself to appear to be good, faithful to his people and love his people, will gain the loyalty and obedience from his people.
To be a prince is to be cruel, for. it is impossible for a new prince to escape the reputation of cruelty... it is extremely necessary that he should not mind being thought cruel x (184). To maintain his power and to be the strongest, it is necessary to have all those evil characters to be aware of the others, to control them, or to destroy them without risking your own power. But hide those qualities in your mind, what you appear to be is to have. all mercy, faith, integrity, humanity, and religion.
x Because. everybody sees what you appear to be, few feel what you are, and those few will not dare to oppose themselves to the many... the end justifies the means x (186). The prince who would last, maintain his power and conquer the others, would be. judged honorable and praised by every one, x regardless of what he had done before. He would be considered as a winner, a true ruler.
Confucius believed killing and execution won t help the ruler to govern the country better. He stated. only if good men were to govern a country for one hundred years, would it be really possible to transform the evil and do away with killings. How true is the saying x (198)! Killing would not be the way to overwhelm the others.
It s not the way to maintain power and to make the others obey your orders. It would not rectify the people from evil to upright and be faithful to you. It only made the people see the prince had the character of cruelty, tyranny and oppression. He believed. the people may be made to follow but not to understand x (197).
They might follow your order by afraid of the penalty and try to do no wrong. But they won t submit willing to your order and trust you. By the time danger comes or your power being threaten, they will revolt against your penalty and your cruelty. But Machiavelli believed execution is necessary to carry out through the people, to gain the power and loyalty. A prince. must not mind incurring the charge of cruelty for the purpose of keeping his subjects united and faithful x.
If killing can help him to rule his people and secure his power, he might just do it regardless what the others think or hurt his reputation... He will be more merciful than those who, from excess of tenderness, allow disorders to arise, from whence spring bloodshed and rapine x (183). This kind of prince, for Machiavelli, is much smarter than those who tolerate the crimes and disloyalty carried on by some individual, to give them a chance to threaten his own power and to make the disorder of the community. If the prince tries to show his mercy and love for those people, he will. injure the whole community, while the executions carried out by the prince injure only individuals. x By killing one person to warn the others not to follow his actions and to make an example of the betrayer, makes the rest of people afraid of the penalty.
They will try their best to serve their duty, in order to avoid having this happen to them. Machiavelli believed it s worth to kill him. In my opinion, I think Machiavelli and Confucius are either too extreme or too tender. For Machiavelli s practice of government, the country might be well governed, the power might be maintained and it would be the strongest country. But the people would live in a difficult life, they will lose their friends, their family, their happiness, their trust for their ruler and always fear from the others. For Confucius ideal of government, the people might live in a happy life.
They will love each other, have virtue and be educated. But their country and ruler might be weak, unstable, and eventually it might be overthrown or destroyed by the others. If their theories were combined together, I believed it will make a perfect society, a perfect ideal government. For example, in ancient China, during the years of 190 AD, China was in chaos.
The country was divided into city-states. There was a ruler named Cao Cao who had the same character as Machiavelli described, who was cruel and feared while he appeared to be loved and faithful to his people. He managed to defeat the others and conquer the north side of China. There was another ruler named Liu Bei who was like Confucius s ideal ruler who loved his people and virtuous.
He, too, managed to conquer the west side of China. With another smart enough ruler, they divided China into three kingdoms. But nobody managed to defeated each other to conquer the entire country. Finally, there was minister became a true ruler with the character of Cao Cao and Liu Bei, who managed to defeat them and unite China. From this historical evidence, I believe a ruler with the qualities as Machiavelli and Confucius described will be a successful ruler. Now, let s pretend if either Machiavelli s pragmatic ruler who is cruel and feared by the people or Confucius s idealistic ruler who is faithful and loved by his people, managed to conquer the world and run the government as they described.
What kind of society we would have today Would it be as good as right now or even better I believe, the minister as I described above have both characters to run the government. We would have the perfect society.