Dr. Ben Long
November 20, 2011
At first glance Machiavelli’s writings could be mistaken for evil, but in reality there are many good underlying points as to how to rule a nation with an iron fist. Machiavelli taught government as it is in fact, as opposed to, government as it should be. If there was a guide for modern politics and foreign policy The Prince would be the handbook. Even though it was written in 1513 it is as applicable today as it was in the age of such Renaissance tyrants as Cesare Borgia. Machiavelli’s book The Prince focuses on one major desire that every man wants Power. In this book Machiavelli enlightens his prince Lorenzo of Florence Italy how to get power and how to keep it because power is everything and without power one is nothing. Machiavelli’s historical examples are chosen to show that the most successful tyrants are frequently men of mediocre ability, who focus on power and are utterly ruthless in its pursuit. Hitler capitalized on Machiavelli’s examples. According to Machiavelli, in order to successfully govern a state one must be ready to deal with difficulties, keep friendships, and take over free states. In governing (a principality, however there are difficulties 18) difficulties such as rebellions are brought about by (the willingness of men to change one lord for another, believing thus to improve their lot 18.) But by (taking arms against their ruler 18) to try to over throw the rule, it all ends up (worsening their lot 18) because the same type of ruler is entitled to power. Machiavelli teaches that a prince should be like a (fox and a lion; for a lion is defenseless against snares, and a fox is defenseless against wolves. Hence a prince ought to be a fox in recognizing snares and a lion in driving off wolves 68) in order to become a good ruler Machiavelli thinks a prince should know when difficulties are about to take place inside a state and crushes them. When the Holy Roman Empire extended its power into Greece it was able to avoid such difficulties because they were sought out in advanced. Machiavelli states that difficulties are like “hectic fever: in the beginning the disease is easy to cure but hard to diagnose; having gone unrecognized and unmedicated, it becomes easy to diagnose but hard to cure 22.” If difficulties go unrecognized “they are allowed to increase until everyone may recognize them 22” like the roman empire foresaw difficulties one must deal with them before they get out of hand in order to keep peace in the state.
Another example that Machiavelli believed was that in order to preserve ones influence one must have close friendships. When King Louis first got in power in Italy he was strong but when he traded his friends for the church he became weak. By casting away his powerful friends “he did not realize that taking this step he was making himself weak by casting off his friends and those who had leaped to his protection 23” and this left the king with many difficulties. Machiavelli illustrates several key points in what it takes to be a "successful" Prince. In chapters 5-10, Machiavelli is giving us a true image of the coldhearted reputation he has carried throughout the years. He explains his ideas on taking over a "free" state or republic and how to conquer and rule with the people’s loyalty and respect. Machiavelli argues in chapter 5 that “there are three ways of keeping a free state 28” One should “first destroy it 28” By destroying the city, Machiavelli believes that the citizens will have no choice but to follow the direction of the new prince.” The second is to go live there in person 28” Machiavelli believed that if one goes and lives in a free state that he just destroyed the people will obey in fear of being persecuted. Lastly Machiavelli’s argues that the ruler should “let it continue to live under its own laws, taking tribute from it, and setting up a government composed of few men who will keep it