<ul><li>Machiavelli, Italy and the Political Context ; </li></ul><ul><li>Republics, Princedoms and Troops ; </li></ul><ul><li>Politics, men and rulers ; </li></ul><ul><li>Conclusion. </li></ul>08/28/10
<ul><li>To begin, I would like to state that Machiavelli, is widely considered the father of modern political thought, he is studied rigorously by statesmen, politicians, students and businessmen. His theory on political realism is still used today, and it could be said that it represents the cornerstone for the US foreign policy. </li></ul><ul><li>Machiavelli was anti-utopianism; he perceived the political arena as a vile and cruel place only for the most powerful and cunning. Following his statement, only someone who acts as fox in order to avoid traps, and acts as a lion to strike with force, can survive. </li></ul><ul><li>Niccolo Machiavelli lived between 1469 and 1527, in a period dominated by territorial fragmentation, constant warfare between European kingdoms, in an age where rulers were bent on aggrandisement. </li></ul>08/28/10
<ul><li>The Italian political scene was in a constant state of turmoil, being under the regular threat of foreign powers, France, Spain, the Holy Roman Empire, being a permanent menace and a cause o political pressure, making politico-military alliances a matter of constant change. It was also a ages of national unification; France, Spain, England and Austria were on the way of becoming nation states. </li></ul><ul><li>He was born in Florence, attended the University of Florence and was instated in 1498 after the ouster and execution of Girolamo Savonarola, the head of the second Chancery and as secretary to the main foreign relations committee of the republic, called Ten of War. </li></ul><ul><li>He was a skilled diplomat who served the republic for over fourteen years. Although he was not given the title of ambassador, he undertook state visits in the name of Florence in France, Germany, and in the Papal State, as well as throughout the Italian Peninsula. </li></ul>08/28/10
<ul><li>His encounters helped shape his political thought and discourse, on which his analysis of the political leaders was based on, his large number of official reports being at the pillar of his future works, his best known being The Prince, Discourses on Livy, Florentine Histories and The Art of War. </li></ul><ul><li>That time’s political context was that of a divided Italy carved up by five principalities or princedoms with an ambitious French king, Louis XII bent on dominating them. It also was a period, in which the authority of the Papal State increased and expanded, becoming a formidable political entity. </li></ul><ul><li>Also the Spanish king, Ferdinand, trough an alliance with the Papal State and managed to gain a foot hold in Italy, annexing Naples. </li></ul>08/28/10
<ul><li>Machiavelli’s own fate was a misfortunate one, after the capitulation of Florence in front of the Spanish troops, the Medici Family was resorted to power, after being exiled, the institutions that comprised the republic were dissolved, and he was dismissed from his post in the Chancellery. He then was accused of conspiracy, imprisoned and tortured and then realised. </li></ul><ul><li>In this period he writes The Prince, as an advice and guideline to the new ruler of Florence, probably in an attempt to regain the public office, which he receives, but again looses after a short period of time, due to the sudden collapse of the Medici regime and re-establishment of the republic. Shortly after, he dies. </li></ul>08/28/10
<ul><li>In order to understand Machiavelli, we must first state that he divides the political rule into two big groups, Republics and Princedoms. For Machiavelli this division is very important, The Prince actually begins in the first phrase with this partition. </li></ul><ul><li>The Republic is the ultimate symbol of authority, and the proper way to rule. For him, the ‘rule of the people’ – their opinions, are very important, in the sense that The People are more capable of ruling than a prince would be. </li></ul><ul><li>This is because a Prince can become the victim of his vices and passions and despite how skilful or enlightened he may be, he would always end up being selfish, putting his needs and interests first. </li></ul>08/28/10
<ul><li>With regards to the rule of the people, they as well could fall victim to their vices, and make mistakes, but they are less likely to commit such errors, as they are all the time observed by others and by the law. </li></ul><ul><li>Another of Machiavelli’s statements is that good people created by good laws, this leading to his vision that people could temper their excesses and passions. </li></ul><ul><li>For Machiavelli history is cyclical, the state is always in a constant move towards either a republic or a princedom. </li></ul><ul><li>His advice towards the Prince is to use the knowledge he gives him in order to strengthen the state and eventually return it to a republic, to the rule of the people, the virtuous prince being the bridge between them, a sort of philosopher king of ancient times. </li></ul>08/28/10
<ul><li>When thinking about the troops, we start to see the Machiavelli view on human nature and the vices and virtues of man. </li></ul><ul><li>Machiavelli regards the use of mercenaries and auxiliaries as a very poor choice for princes, in the sense that they are not reliable and only seek glory and fortune for themselves. </li></ul><ul><li>In times of peace they represent a source of instability and economic drag, and in times of war they show cowardice as they are not interested in defending the prince, sometimes even betraying and leaving him in the hands of the enemy. </li></ul><ul><li>For Machiavelli such things must not occur. He thinks that the best defence is to use your own reliable troops, permanently ready to defend their home and willing to give their life for a virtuous epilogue and for a prince who shows strength, wisdom and great ruling skills. </li></ul>08/28/10
<ul><li>When it comes to politics, Machiavelli sees it as an art; his discourse is focused and defined after seeing the statecraft of Cesare Borgia. </li></ul><ul><li>He tells the prince that sometimes evil is necessary, that in order to protect the princedom and his rule, the prince needs to embrace not only the humanity but also the beast, he states that “a ruler… must know how to act like a beast, he should imitate both the fox and the lion, for the lion is liable to be trapped, whereas the fox cannot ward off wolves. One needs, then, to be a fox to recognise traps, and a lion to frighten away wolves. Those who rely merely upon a lion’s strength do not understand matters.” </li></ul><ul><li>As another very important aspect of his philosophy, he states in Discurses that ‘All men are bad.’ He describes them as being self-interested in the way they are constructed. </li></ul>08/28/10
<ul><li>As an analogy, in The Prince he argues that ‘They are ungrateful, fickle, liars, and deceives, they shun danger and are greedy for profit’; a virtuous prince must not leave things to chance and fate, he must plan ahead and act in accordance with human nature, he must be one step in front of his enemies, and as he later states ‘a ruler who wishes to maintain his power must be prepared to act immorally when this becomes necessary.’ </li></ul><ul><li>Another statement captured by Machiavelli in The Prince explains that ‘To preserve the state, he often has to do things against his word, against charity, against humanity, against religion. […] he should be ready to enter on evil if he has to’ . He must know when to keep his promises and when he must not. </li></ul><ul><li>What is more, if the context in which he made a certain promise is no longer valid, he must go against his word in order to protect his interest and that of the state. </li></ul>08/28/10
<ul><li>Also neutrality, for Machiavelli is another important issue, a virtuous prince must be cautious, but at the same time must not dwell on making a decision, he should always help an ally defeat an enemy, as a way in which he can further befriend him, raise his reputation and get rid of a threat. </li></ul><ul><li>He believes that a virtuous prince must not leave things to fate and chance, to fortune. Men cannot avoid them, but they must plan and prepare for them because they can be like a torrential river, but in certain respects they are still masters of our own destiny. </li></ul><ul><li>In Machiavelli’s discourses virtue is an important concept; it means ability, talent, wisdom, strength, cunningness, it talks about people that through their ability, personality, managed to impact and change history. </li></ul>08/28/10
<ul><li>After putting forward a great part of his views and philosophy towards politics, rulers and man I would like to provide a couple of arguments in defence of his view. The first is that, all men are self-interested and selfish, even when they are doing selfless things, they are social beings and do things either for personal status and reputations or in order to gain something in the future. </li></ul><ul><li>Secondly, the end justifies the means, if that means protecting your own interest or that of your people. This argument can be carried forward to the extent that a father must do certain things in order to protect his family or to take care of them. </li></ul><ul><li>Thirdly, as way of living your own life, it is always wise to plan ahead, and not live things to fortune and chance. You cannot, for example, choose the family, in which you are born, but you can, through work, skill, and ability overcome your status and succeed. We are all masters of our destiny. </li></ul>
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