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Machiavelli is one of the political philosophers who lived during the renaissance. He was born in 1469 in Italy in the city of Florence. He is one of the individuals who developed modern political science. He wrote several pieces of literary works such as poems and plays. Besides this, he was also a diplomat and apolitical philosopher. Most of his writings reflected on the contemporary issues that took place in his society. For example, he wrote about the political ideas that he thought were good for his society.
The Prince is believed to be one of the best works he ever produced. The Prince was skillfully written, and it also has innovative thoughts. “The Prince is sometimes claimed to be one of the first works of modern philosophy, in which the effective truth is taken to be more important than any abstract ideal” (Machiavelli and Donno 34). The book also criticized Catholic and scholastic principles used during that time, in political and ethical issues.
The book focuses much on getting a new prince through alternative means apart from the hereditary process. Since Machiavelli is a political scientist, he sometimes advocates for the use of force and deceit. The political ideas that were developed by Machiavelli had a lot of influence on political leaders. Moreover, ‘The Price’ influenced protestant and catholic leaders. Many people have not been able to give a correct interpretation and analysis of Machiavelli’s ideas. Hence, they normally develop a negative perception of him. For example, such individuals contend that Machiavelli supported despotic and corrupt regimes.
Nonetheless, a critical analysis of his political principles shows the need for a community to use a patriotic and intelligent individual to rule their country. According to the book, the Prince should first serve the interests of his subjects and country, and then he can come up with ways of maintaining his political position. “However, following these ideas, the latter is harmful as it does not encourage democracy” (Musa 56). Democratic countries normally can develop faster.
Machiavelli’s Ideas of leadership
Many despotic leaders have used ‘The Prince’ as a political guide book, and they normally justify their actions based on it. Consequently, some philosophers thought that Machiavelli deceived and manipulated his subjects. Some of the political ideas that were put forward by Machiavelli are still useful today. According to Machiavelli, political leaders should try to come up with innovative ideas that can help them to shape the destiny of their countries. Scholars also argue that the initial U.S leaders adopted Machiavelli’s political thoughts. “Politics has changed over the years, and it is not the same as it was in 1513 when Machiavelli wrote his treatise The Prince, but main groundsills of the politics have remained the same” (Milner 134).
Consequently, we can still apply a number of his political ideas today. Many writers have also embraced most of his arguments, and people still find them relevant for studying modern political processes. “Machiavelli’s enduring contribution to political thought and practice is the remarkably resilient idea that politics involves the transcendence of ordinary moral principles so that political success can be achieved” (Musa 432).
“Some politicians and leaders who have found Machiavelli’s principles useful are Abraham Lincoln, Louis XIV, Cardinal Richelieu, Napoleon Bonaparte, and Benito Mussolini” (Machiavelli and Donno 123). However, we are not sure of how properly they understood Machiavelli’s principles. Machiavelli believed that leaders could get wisdom through observing and not understanding human nature. He stressed that leaders should observe how their subjects behave. “This knowledge can be used when leading the very same subjects by giving the leader the ability to anticipate” (Milner 234). He also supported the application of punishment and laws in government.
He contends that they are both important in maintaining order and peace in society. In his view, a prince should apply laws and punishments to facilitate the maintenance of order. Machiavelli also recognized the importance of morality, and this is also applicable in our societies today. A leader who has virtues is capable of acting without inhibition, and he should also be able to act with vitality.
From the above discussion, it is therefore evident that Machiavelli had some good political ideas that we can adopt in our society. His political thoughts require critical analysis so that they can be used effectively by various leaders. Nonetheless, some of his ideas that favored dictatorship cannot be practiced easily in the current century. As such, we should select and adopt his good ideas and discard the bad ones.
This is because the current society strongly advocates for democratic processes, and there is no room for dictatorship. Machiavelli also focused much on the fact that a leader should try to employ all the strategies that can enable him to acquire and sustain his leadership. Many prominent leaders have also benefited from his political thoughts, and some of them have also referred to his book, ‘The Prince,’ for political guidance.
Machiavelli, Niccolo and Daniel Donno. The Prince. London: Bantam Classics, 1984.
Milner, Stephen. The Prince and Other Political Writings. New York: Everyman Paperbacks , 1995.
Musa, Mark. The Portable Machiavelli. New York: Penguin, 1979.