There are different ways for a leader to govern his people. History will show us the evolution of how government was practiced in the different parts of the world from the earliest day up to the present. The manner that it is carried out varied from one place to another, and is oftentimes either agreeable or otherwise. Such differences can be viewed in the early Chinese government and the government of the Renaissance Europe. Such differences can be examined using the literatures The Prince and Chinese Maze Murders.
Niccolo Machiavelli’s lived in Europe at the time when its cultural achievement is at its peak until its ultimate downfall. That time was greatly characterized by political instability, invasion, fear, high cultural achievements and intrigue. Thus, when he created the philosophical piece The Prince, he was basing it greatly on the current status of his political environment. He provided an insight on how the Prince should act in order to perpetuate the power needed to govern the people.
According to Machiavelli, in order for the Prince to maintain superiority over a newly acquired land, he must do certain measures. He claimed that the Prince could either choose to “the first, destroy their political institutions; the second to go to live there yourself, the third is to let them continue to live under their own laws, make them pay you, and create an administrative and political elite who will remain loyal to you” (Machiavelli, 1988, pp. 17-18).
The first one would render the people powerless, thus avoiding the possibility of insubordination; the second was to directly oversee the activities so that the Prince will know firsthand what is happening, while the third is to let the people live by their own laws, which was actually just a bogus one just to give them the illusion of sovereignty. This may be done by appointing friend in the government post so that the prince could maintain a friendly atmosphere, he may also gather intelligence of the people who was had and would benefit on the past and present governments, respectively, so that he would know whom to watch out for.
In keeping the people’s loyalty and making them adhere to authority, Machiavelli claimed that economic and political rewards must be granted. However, he must not at all times do this because “a ruler cannot seek to benefit from a reputation as generous without harming himself” (Machiavelli, 1988, p. 37). He actually felt that a ruler is better feared than loved and that “among all things a ruler should try to avoid, he must avoid above all being hated and despised. Generosity leads to your being both” (Machiavelli, 1988, 37-38).
He favoured fear because it would prevent the challenging of the ruler’s authority. He warned against being hated by the people, however, only when it would appear beneficial in the perpetuation of power. He saw that such characteristic would be helpful in keeping peace among the people and better implementation of laws. He also proposed that a new army under the prince control be created so that sovereignty will be upheld. He actually argued against a standing army because these could often lead to servitude to tyrants in the pursuit of their own interests.
It can be derived from his statements that it was actually better to arm the citizens because their fear and love for the ruler will make them defend him in times of need. The Prince portrayed a self-serving government wherein the ruler’s main goal was to remain powerful, which subordinates the cause of the people. It was suggested how the ruler could keep the people in the dark and keep them not progressive so as to prevent them from raising arms against the authority.
On the other hand, on the Chinese Maze Murders, perpetrators of unlawful deeds are persecuted publicly such that they remain as examples to the people, thus warning them not to do the same. The good thing about the processes employed by Judge Dee in the book is that he subject every complain to trial and would even provide a choice on whether the case should be pursued or not as shown in the case forwarded by the Governor’s widow wherein he said “I shall study it carefully.
It is my duty to warn you, however, that I keep an open mind as to the potent of the secret message” he warned that it could either harm or favour the widow, which in any case he would take appropriate steps. He then asked if the complainant “want me to keep the scroll or take it back and withdraw your claim” (van Gulik, 1957, p. 67). Judge Dee did not use manipulative powers in the same way the Prince did. Unlike the later, he did not focus on making the people blinded of the real scenario; in fact he did the total opposite.
In solving the crimes, he was able expose the reality in the issues that were in question. In a way, it was like empowering the people because they are able to have their cases subjected to trials providing justice to be served. In Chinese Maze Murders, laws are applied accordingly with the help of the magistrate. People adhere to the law because they know that there are consequences of doing otherwise and not because they fear the one implementing it.
The character of the book was able to acquire power because of the people’s respect and trust in his capabilities to sort out things and get to the bottom of the issues. Although armies were employed, they were not the highest determinant on how the people reacted to the government, rather it was the law that bind them all that made the people act the way they did. In this literature, we can see how people view the authority of the Chinese government, there was strict implementation of the law and punishments were employed, thus the government has a strong hold or influence on the community.
The public exposure of the punishment made it clear to everyone that it was bad to commit crimes, in effect results to a more responsible citizenry. Moreover, the characters of these two books also differ in the sense that the Prince is actually an envisioned character produced by Machiavelli; he is not based on someone else’s personality, rather a figment of his imagined ideal ruler. He was characterizing a person that he wished would exist so as to govern over the then European government.
On the other hand, although Judge Dee was a fictional character as well, his character was inspired by the notable historical person Di Renjie (Wikepedia, 2010). We can see the big differences between the then government of China and the Renaissance Europe in these two highly acclaimed pieces of literature. We can see one, which tries to keep power within the ruler so as to be able to govern the community, while the other allowed for the implementation and execution of laws. If carefully analyze, it can be seen that actually, both of this can really make a government that is under control.
However, in one of them, it can be seen how the people are undermined and that selfish interest is favoured. If I were to choose to live in one of these governments, I would prefer the one in China because it shows that there is a vision for the people’s progress and empowerment. Although the implementation of the laws were strict, I would rather have that form of government than to be kept under the control of one leader who believe that empowerment of the people could lead to the toppling of the government.
I believe that government feared because of its law is a lot better than one that is feared because of its ruler. References: “Judge Dee”. 2010. Wikepedia the Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved May 1, 2010. <available at> http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Judge_Dee Machiavelli, N. 1988. The Prince. UK: Cambridge University Press. Van Gulik, R. 1957. Chinese Maze Murders. USA: University of Chicago Press.
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