The Prince by Nicolo Machiavelli
Nicolo Machiavelli was a very controversial person - a famous historian, diplomat, and philosopher. One cannot argue the fact that he was a true genius of political thought. Visiting many countries, Machiavelli studied various forms of social and political organizations, dissecting their essential features, objectively comparing their capabilities in details. Studying the rich factual material, Machiavelli tried to resolve the important theoretical problems in politics, state control as well as military affairs. His most important and provocative book “The Prince” was written in 1513, but it was published only in 1532, after the author’s death. The works written by Nicolo Machiavelli should be analyzed in accordance with the time of his life.
First of all, this little book was written primarily to one person - Lorenzo de Medici, a Florentine prince, but much more people found it interesting and informative. In this work, the author describes the qualities, which the real rulers should possess. What is more, he gives many useful tips referring to the actual events of world history.
Nicolo Machiavelli considers a new prince as not just a person with a set of qualities; this man should not be just the perfect image. Machiavelli thoroughly and carefully builds a visible, vibrant and attractive image of the new sovereign.
In his book, Nicolo Machiavelli thoroughly examines the categories and concepts such as generosity and frugality, cruelty and mercy, love and hate.
Concerning generosity and frugality, Machiavelli notes that those rulers who sought to be generous spent all their wealth in an extremely short time. After depletion of the treasury, they were forced to establish new taxes, which led to human hatred. Therefore, Machiavelli advises the ruler not to be afraid of being mingy. At the same time, the author takes into account some possible situations where this advice is not helpful, but quite a harmful one.
Speaking about such qualities as cruelty and mercy, Machiavelli states that every sovereign wants to be compassionate, but not cruel. Vice versa, the other aspect is that in order to retain power, a governor has to be cruel. If a country is going to fall into a mess, a governor must prevent it, even if he has to inflict several massacres. Indeed, these executions will be an act of mercy for other citizens since a mess would have brought misery and suffering to them. “There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, of more uncertain in its success, then to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things” (Machiavelli, n.d., p. 43).
It is because of this part of “The Prince” Machiavelli was accused of calling for violence and promiscuity in the choice of the means. “The Prince” is a treatise on the role, place and value of the head of state, and, at the same time, this book was declared for the benefit of absolute monarchs and dictators. In his book, Machiavelli proclaimed a lot of intriguing thoughts, “it is much safer to be feared than loved, when, of the two, either must be dispensed with. Because this is to be asserted in general of men, that they are ungrateful, fickle, false, cowardly, covetous, and as long as you succeed they are yours entirely; they will offer you their blood, property, life, and children, as is said above, when the need is far distant; but when it approaches turn against you” (Machiavelli, n.d., p. 98). Machiavelli insists that prevalence of general public interest over private policy objectives is the core peculiarity of a good ruler.
In conclusion, it should be said that this book will be a useful source of information for those people who are interested in politic, history and international affairs. The readers should acknowledge that Machiavelli was not advocate of violence and hypocrisy, but a great researcher of political methods, decisions and spirit of autocracy.
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