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Political Philosophy and Machiavelli Essay

Nicolo Machiavelli is a well known philosopher of the Italian Renaissance from the sixteenth century. The return of the Medici family in Florence in 1512 forced Machiavelli out of office, and he wrote The Prince after retiring from the public. The Prince is one of his most famous works, it describes the means by which a new leader may gain and maintain power. His ideas can be applied to new rulers ranging from a new principal to a new president of a new country. While discussing his ideas for new rulers, Machiavelli says “Upon this a question arises: whether it be better to be loved than feared or feared than loved?

” (Machiavelli 98). If a ruler is not able to do both, it is better to be loved than feared. Machiavelli answers his own question through his ideas of what makes a successful ruler. He argues that a prince is much safer being feared than loved. Machiavelli says “… for love is preserved by the link of obligation which, owing to the baseness of men, is broken at every opportunity for their advantage; but fear preserves you by a dread of punishment which never fails. ” (Machiavelli 99). He says that being loved creates opportunity for being taken advantage of and being feared doesn’t fail.

Bringing fear to his people with cruelty would make them united and loyal. Most people who are fearful of any authority fear punishment, so they are more inclined to not cross the line of disrespect. Without a doubt, being loved is more desired from the people and has a greater value compared to being feared, even though the perks of being feared can make a leader successful. Since it’s better to be loved than feared, there are three important characteristics to have to ensure that the new people you’re ruling love you; these characteristics are being honest, having respect, and being protective.

Honesty is an important characteristic to have because the body of people you’re ruling and the way they act is a reflection of yourself. If you make honest and good behavior a key value, your people will do the same. If you don’t make honest and good behavior a key value, your people won’t trust that you are always doing the right thing and telling the truth. Machiavelli says, “Everyone sees what you appear to be, few experience what you really are. ” (Machiavelli 106). His quote shouldn’t be true if you’re an honest and truthful leader.

Machiavelli says in his quote that a leader does not show his complete self to everyone, that he displays an act of goodness to his people and only reveals what he really is to those who ask for it. Being an honest leader inside and out will only help gain your people’s trust and true love. This quote also ties into the one that reads “… it is unnecessary for a prince to have all the good qualities I have enumerated, but it is very necessary to appear to have them. ” (Machiavelli 250).

Machiavelli says that a leader must put on a false face to his people and pretend to have qualities that he does not actually have. It’s not acceptable to hide yourself from your people because if you say you’re going to protect them no matter what and you back out when something bad happens, your people will be disappointed and won’t have trust in you. A successful leader who wishes to be loved should be honest to his people for who he really is because it will give him respect. You can’t gain respect without giving respect.

Respect is one of the most important characteristics to have when being a leader because people always want to be in an environment where they feel valued. A leader isn’t going to be successful if their people aren’t happy and feel as if they aren’t important. If a leader is genuine with respect, his people will be more willing to give back respect and do as he says. Though, the truth is that it is important to give respect whether they feel the leader deserves it or not. As Machiavelli says, “A prince is also respected when he is either a true friend or a downright enemy.

” (Machiavelli 250). It doesn’t matter the relation you have with your leader, whether they’re a true friend or a downright enemy, you’re going to respect them just because they’re your leader. Your people may not like what you do, but you will be respected. It’s obvious that being respected out of actual love is the better than being being respected out of fear, and that good respect should lead to good confidence within the leader. The feeling of being protected is desired from a lot of people. If you’re a new principal, your students and staff want locks on doors and an officer nearby.

If you’re the new president of a country, your nation wants to know that they have a reliable and strong army fighting for and protecting the country. A successful leader should always be ready for whatever situations may come. Machiavelli says, “He who does otherwise, either from timidity or evil advice, is always compelled to keep the knife in his hand. ” (Machiavelli 61). A leader should always be ready for quick action if some situation should arise. Your people will love and admire you if they know you’re protecting them and is always cautious for quick problems.

It takes great courage and confidence to take full responsibility for your people’s safety and well being. Being honest, having respect, and being protective are characteristics of being a successful but loved leader that have applied to people from before Machiavelli’s time all the way up to present day. It’s easy to spot feared leaders such as Hitler apart from loved leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. Being loved not feared is better to be if you cannot be both because the people you’re leading actually like you for who you are and are willing to do what you say, they aren’t scared into doing it.

Martin Luther King Jr. led his people with the same respect they gave him, he was honest and true with his feelings, and he went above and beyond to change the world’s way of how they treated colored people to protect them from getting hurt and discriminated any longer. His people loved and admired him for who he really was, he didn’t hide anything. Martin Luther King Jr. was a successful leader because he was loved and possessed honesty, respect and protectiveness.


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