Since love and fair can hardly exist together, if we must choose between them, it is safer to be feared than loved. – Niccolò Macchiavelli, The Prince
Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli (3 May 1469 – 21 June 1527) is an Italian historian, diplomat, philosopher, a political thinker, and a writer based in Florence during the Renaissance.* He worked for many years as an official in the Florentine Republic, with responsibilities in diplomatic and military affairs. He was a founder of modern political science, and more specifically political ethics. When the Medici had returned to power (1512), he was tortured terribly and held no longer a position of responsibility in Florence. After one year, when he retired from public life he wrote his most famous work, The Prince (1513), which explains how to gain and maintain his power.
The name Niccolo Machiavelli is widely used with political deceit, cynicism and the ruthless use of power. The Italian Renaissance writer called his most famous work, The Prince, a handbook for statesmen.
The Prince celebrates the 500th anniversary of what is still considered as one of the most influential political essays in Western literature. There is actually nobody in history had more influence on modern affairs, on politics than Niccolo Macchiavelli. The book has had a long and chequered history and the number of controversies that he has generated in his book is indeed surprising.
Before he wrote the book, he was a diplomat in Florence and found himself in the middle of all political negotiations within that period. Florence was a city state occupying and controlling by a avery small portion version of very chaotic Italy, surronded by other city states; they were allies on Tuesday, enemies on Wednesday, and then allies again on Thursday. The situation was currently changing, and you did not know who your friends were. So you could not trust anyone. So they had to be clever.
Machiavelli actually indicates two crucial things in his work: Firstly, that if there is an ethics in The Prince at all it has not been specially moulded by Machiavelli. It is merely an expression of the practical ethics of his times. Secondly, Machiavelli is not concerned over much about ethical nuances. Even though a Republican, he does not mind dedicate his book to the conquering Prince. And in both the Discorsi and The Prince, the Duke Valentino is as much his ideal ruler as the those from Republican Rome.
Today, “Machiavellianism” is a widely used negative term to characterize unscrupulous politicians of the sort Machiavelli described in The Prince. The book itself gained enormous notoriety and wide readership because the author seemed to be endorsing behavior often deemed as evil and immoral.
But the point is to understand how his work relevant and infulential is it today? With no doubt, it is one of the most important books and it is really useful on how to guide the comtemporary reality. Its basically about power; how to get it and how to keep it. In this context; ”you need me”, he says, ”because I know the secrecy of Power.” Was Macchivelli right? Should we all learn how able not to be good, is it to be better to be feared than to be loved?
The intention of the book was to guide politically ambitions leaders. From the mind of Machiavelli, it is more important to play the game well, rather than to be good. That ideas lead people to commerate him as powerful, devicious, inferious, manipulatve,and even cruel. And its all because of the Prince. Its about power; how to get it and how to keep it.
Even a leader with high ideals can quickly realise that politics is a warfare. Today many leaders perhaps Obama, David Cameron and Angela Merkel are the politically animal by nature. They are very Macchiavellian. It’s in their DNA. They don’t need to read the Prince. They understand how loads of power cooperate. So if you are in the position of Power, you have to play a game. The dynamic doesn’t matter, whether it is a dictatorship or democracy.
From my analysis, we have seen that The Prince carries in it an ethics of political convenience. It does not preclude morality, virtue or Christian values entirely but allows them only when opportune. Otherwise it sanctions in cold blood, massacres, deception and betrayal given that the state benefits from this. This ethic is entirely moulded from political conveniences and is subservient to the political dimension in The Prince.