Governing countries and states properly has been a difficult task from the beginning of time. In every country there will be people to who are unhappy and will disagree with your rule, causing your system to fail. So, century after century, people have tried new ways to make their politics suffice everyones needs. However, the art of politics is a complicated and challenging issue that will always be needed to be dealt with. There have been many ways in which people have preached their ideas on politics, but none were better than those of Niccolo Machiavelli.
Born in 1469, Niccolo was adamant in creating a master plan for seizing and controlling power. He voiced these themes on what it takes to be a prince of a state in his magnificent book, The Prince. In his book many themes were expressed in order to fulfill the role of a prince. These themes ranged from human nature to military force and most importantly virtue. Machiavelli believed that the state is the highest achievement of man and one should love the state more than his own soul. Being the perfect prince is clearly a difficult task, but if done correctly, it can be very rewarding.
Machiavelli also believed that human nature does not change. In general Machiavelli thought people were ungrateful, selfish, and insincere people, who only care about themselves. Therefore the government must take account for mans true nature and use his qualities for its purposes. Machiavelli also explained that a ruler who intends to be successful must be prepared to do bad things when necessary. He must sometimes caress, sometimes hurt, sometimes forgive, and sometimes punish. This requirement must override all moral judgments, and when making the decision, the ruler must act without hesitation.
Hesitation would project false wisdom Another, and probably the most important concept of political success is the idea of virtue. Virtue means strength, intelligence, and courage, the necessary qualities of any human being. Machiavelli felt that the quality of virtue was found in some of the worlds most important leaders; Moses, Cyrus, and Romulus to name a few. Governments ruled by an individual depends upon this leaders virtue. Without it, the political success will crumble. Aside from virtue there is fortune or fate as we sometimes put it.
Although Machiavelli feels that the quality of virtue is necessary for a states success, chance or luck also has an affect. He feels that in life no matter how much intelligence and strength you have, there is a part of life in which you have little or no control over. Virtue being a powerful quality, Machiavelli saw its potential to build a defense against fortune. However, fortune is inconsistent and variable so, you must treat it like a woman. Machiavelli states, and I quote, fortune is woman, and it is necessary, if you wish to master her, to conquer her by force.
His point is that when you encounter fortune, you must approach it aggressively. Machiavelli said that the ruler must be able to imitate both the lion and the fox. He is saying that the qualities of a ruler must show the bravery and strength of a lion, but also, the slyness of the fox. These characteristics are imperative for a new ruler especially. That way he can get the respect from the people right away. An example of one ruler who showed both the qualities of a lion and a fox was Septimius Servers, a Roman emperor from 193-211 A.
D. Another quality of a ruler should be that he is both loved and feared. In actuality, it is almost impossible to be both those, so it is better to be feared. Love can lose effectiveness because of human nature. When something conflicts, love can easily be overcome for ones own private interests. And fear on the other hand is maintained by the dread of punishment, which is always present.
Machiavelli made it very clear why it is better to be feared than loved. Another quality of a prince is that it is better to be considered merciful than cruel, but mercy must never be misused. Machiavelli declared that the art of war was the subject of most importance to the ruler. A prince can be attacked in two ways: internally, by conspiracies, and externally, by enemies.
A prince can defend himself from external attacks by having good armed forces and good friends. He can defend himself from conspiracies by avoiding hatred. Machiavelli also stated that no prince should disarm his subjects or else he will have to resort to mercenary troops. This would mean you would have to depend on the help of foreign countries. These mercenaries are not fighting for their country so they dont care whether they win of lose. They are in it for the money so they are not reliable.
Machiavelli says the only way to have security is raising troops within the country. They would be loyal soldiers who would be defending their home and families. He also felt it was necessary to study history. This way he can focus on successful rulers victories and defeats and analyze them for his own well being.
Alexander the Great studied and imitated the rule of Achilles and went on to become one of the most successful rulers ever. Machiavelli felt that these were necessary means in becoming a successful ruler. He also felt fortifications had little importance, stating the best fortress is to be found in the love of the people. In Niccolo Machiavelli The Prince, we have read numerous aspects of becoming an effective and successful ruler. He focused on all aspects of life and discussed each in great detail. He studied human nature, fortune, military tactics, virtue, and personal qualities of past rulers and analyzed why each ones rule collapsed.
He found out the ruler with both the lion and the fox qualities, he was able to have a successful rule. Machiavelli was creating some sort of machine that would be able to conquer fortune, human nature, conspiracies, battle, and the test of to time to rule a politically unified Italy. The themes in The Prince have changed views on politics and leadership to this day.