The Prince Paper

This essay has a total of 1049 words and 5 pages.


The Prince





The Prince
Niccolo Machiavelli's The Prince examines the nature of power and his views of power are
still somewhat in existence today. I'll discuss this in this essay, emphasizing the
following theses. Machiavelli discusses power over the people, dictatorial power, and
power with people, shared power. While it is possible for power with to attain greater
prevalence in society, it will not completely eliminate power over. In The Prince,
Machiavelli discusses two distinct groups of people, the political elite, including nobles
and other princes, and the general public. Today in the United States, the first group,
the political elite, includes political leaders, religious leaders, business leaders and
the leaders of strong lobbying groups. The composition of the general public has changed
little from Machiavelli's time.


Machiavelli concentrates on relations between the prince and the political elite. He
claims that ambition and dictatorial power drive most nobles and princes. A prince must
act with dictatorial power in order to maintain his position. Machiavelli assumes that
shared power will not be effective with nobles, since "whether men bear affection depends
on themselves, but whether they are afraid will depend on what the ruler does"
(Machiavelli, p.60-61). Since the nobles are unforgiving and greedy it would be dangerous
if not downright suicidal for a prince to rely on their good will.


Equally important, Machiavelli states that a prince, a political leader, has different
concerns than the general public. For a prince personal actions, which would be considered
immoral or unvirtuous, may save lives or help the prince's country. In this way a prince
is not immoral, but instead acts with a morality different in nature from the general
public. Machiavelli gives several examples of this. Miserliness is considered a fault.
Yet, a miserly prince "will come to be considered more generous when it is realized that
his revenues are sufficient to defend himself against enemies that attack him, and to
undertake campaigns without imposing special taxes on the people" (p.56). Likewise,
starting a war is considered an immoral act by many. Yet, a prince should not allow
troubles "to develop in order to avoid fighting a war for wars can not really be avoided,
but are merely postponed to the advantage of others" (p.11). Avoiding war may cause more
suffering among the people than starting war. For example, many believe that World War II
could have been avoided, saving tens of millions of lives, had England and France not
pursued a policy of appeasement towards the Germans.


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