Many of today’s leaders and politicians aim and strive only for the goal self-success, expensing the government they work for, and the people who vote for them. I think it is easy for anyone to say that this, corrupted greed is illegal and morally wrong. In “The Prince, Socrates begins the trend toward the corrupt, ill-hearted politician, yet Machiavelli is the one to fully present it. Machiavelli, believing that the only way to keep his state safe and in order, tells the Prince that he “must learn how not to be good.” Machiavelli clearly illustrates that, in order to do what is best for his people, he must violate several moral and conventional principals.
For example, during 483 BC, the Athenian general and politician, Themistocles, realized that the threat of a Persian attack by sea was great; therefore he’d need a more tactic, forceful navy. When he addressed this concern to his governing democracy, they were unconvinced. Rather back down and potentially see his empire being destroyed, he lied. Themistocles told his assembly that off this small island of Aegina, the Persian navy had attacked several merchant and trade ships. This single lie convinced every member within the assembly, to cast a strong, more elite navy. Although one can argue that Themistocles’s morals were wrong for lying, his lie had proved right.
Another example of virtue or effectiveness is the 1864 debacle. President Abraham Lincoln believed that the only way to proclaim the United States’ Constitution’ 13th Amendment was to have the Congress push the action. Yet this was a problem, for Lincoln’s first term was coming to an end; therefore the Congress was undergoing the lame duck period; if Lincoln wanted this done, it had to be done now. Fortunately, Lincoln had plenty of operatives, who had bribed the outgoing Congress members. For promising astute positions, in turn, Lincoln would have their votes. As history shows, proposition was set by the Congress, and ratification was done by the states. Though Lincoln’s action led to the freeing of thousands of enslaved African Americans, many may argue that his action was unjust.
Machiavelli embraced realism while suppressing idealism. In “The Prince,” Machiavelli stated many controversial ideas, ranging from whether a man has power over his own fortune, or to let nature take his lead. Though one he did not address was his thought on what proper ethics and political ambition should be. Machiavelli looked passed the idea that man strives for honor and glory. He believed that these aspects were most prominent in strong leaders, favorably ones who strove for prudence, and virtue, believing that virtue is the essential feat for clean-hearted politics. Though not just Machiavelli believed that virtue and prudence should be a key feature in the common good, for Christian royalty strictly advised the same. In Machiavelli’s time, virtue over reliance was a prominent theme that was influenced by the so-called, “humanist commonplace.”
“The Prince” acts as a guidance handbook. Throughout the book, Machiavelli expressing his low interest in the words-and-no-actions, specifically calling out utopias and republics. Machiavelli states: “There is no such gap between how one lives and how one should live, that he who neglects what is being done for what should be done will learn his destruction rather than his preservation.” Here, Machiavelli clearly illustrates his version of political realism—talking only about the political, “effectual truth,” only for the purpose of pragmatic use. Though in the larger perspective, one can bicker over the fact that Machiavelli, and “The Prince” is less important, in comparison to other historical politicians. For example Rousseau, who is depicted for the theorization of the ideology of the French Revolution. Carl Marx and “The Communist Manifesto”; a man whose beliefs has built entire governments and is responsible for the transformation of global politics. In conclusion, human beings are selfish, greed-driven beasts; living only for the purpose to create self-fortune, and watching the world burn. In response to the prince, it is better for him to be feared than loved. Love is meek and shallow, while fear is deep and everlasting.
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