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When we talk about modernity, a lot of people would say that it is new, contemporary, etc., wherein there are such transitions from the past to present events or situations. We contrast the things that exists now as modern to the things that existed before which is old or traditional. Modernization is a typical Western conception that sees history moving in a single direction and tends to assume that the changes that have transformed the West will be repeated elsewhere until “developing countries become more like their European models.
Clearly, all societies are feeling the effects of expanding technology, the trend toward secularization, the increased role of the state, and the growth of bureaucracy. Western history continues to demonstrate that the specific effects of such trends will be fundamentally affected by local conditions and customs, by social systems and economic organizations, by politics, and by deliberate choice (Chambers et al., 1987). This concept of modernity has its roots in the attempt to come to grips with the meaning and significance of the social changes occurring in Europe like the effects of industrialization, urbanization, and political democracy on essentially rural and autocratic societies.
This modernization affected the ideas of Niccolo Maciavelli which made him “The Father of Modern Politics”.
In light of the fact that during the ancient period up to the medieval or middle ages, the studies focuses on society, politics, religion and ethics. Since Machiavelli was not interested in high moral or religious principles, he freed political science or theory from the clutches of religion and morality because his main concern was power and the practical or political interests of the state (Political Science, n.
d.). In addition, Machiavelli was the first thinker who took an unequivocal stand in regard to the relationship between religion, morality and virtue on the one hand and politics on the other. He adopted a very clear stand about politics, religion and morality. He never denounced virtue, morality and religion. But what he emphasized is that the domain of morality and religion is quite different from that of politics and the prince must maintain it in his treat mental of politics.
Due to the reasons, scenarios, situations that had been mentioned in this paper, Machiavelli is indeed a modern political thinker. The setting that Machiavelli had during his time which is the era of principality does not become a barrier for his principles to become applicable in a lot of the circumstances in the modern era, particularly in the aspect of leadership. Some of Niccolo Machiavelli’s advice, standards and principles in the aspect of leadership approach or style were universal. Since some of this his principles specifically in the leadership approach was universal, it means that, his advice, arguments, and claims was applicable on whatever the setting will be. Whether a certain setting practices democracy, monarchy aristocracy/oligarchy, his principles of leadership, and on how a leader could maintain his power and deal with uncertainties without sacrificing the faith and trust of the constituents.
Machiavelli’s work is basically intended for the leaders in contemporary times since there is a greater role of the state or the government in the contemporary era. Machiavelli gave his ideas to the principles of leadership especially and specifically on how a certain leader should act in order for him to sustain, protect and maintain his power.
My claim is that, due to this circumstance, Machiavelli is a modern political thinker because his advice, principles, thinking ideas and criteria/characteristics that gave emphasis on how a certain leader should act and do his duty in a contemporary setting on which the state has a greater role. It had been mentioned in the work of Machiavelli the uncertainties that the prince may have experienced from a conspirator. Machiavelli implies that conspirators are full of jealousy and will do acts to discredit the prince. In addition, these kinds of people will not act alone by themselves. Machiavelli mentioned that the way for these conspirators to not act alone is by recruiting people who are also dissatisfied with the leadership and governance of the prince.
In contemporary times, the conspirator has more means to discredit a prince/leader. The utilization of technology specifically the usage of social media platforms is becoming essential in the different aspect of the lives of the people (Hudson, 2019). The conspirator in modern times has more means to recruit dissatisfied people to discredit a certain figure specifically a leader through the utilization of the modern technologies to spread information. In the contemporary Philippine setting the proliferation and utilization of online trolls became in trend and rampant (Cabañes & Cornelio, 2017). This implies that even the satisfied and neutral individual could be recruited to conspire and discredit a certain leader or figure in exchange of salaries and benefits. This is one of the challenges that can hinder or discredit the governance of a prince or a leader in the contemporary setting.
It was also mentioned in the work of Machiavelli that before the prince should uphold the endeavors of military, noble and ordinary people, he must sustain his power and strengthen his principality first. Machiavelli implies that the most important people in the principality are just the noble and other people. In contemporary times this claim of Machiavelli is very visible. The utilization of war in the contemporary times becomes irrelevant, because the priority in today’s generation is the competition in the sector of the economy (Bradford, 2005). The proliferation and progress of the economy of a certain country is the priority of every country in the contemporary times, not the invasion and expansion of territories therefore the claim of Machiavelli that the priority in the contemporary setting is the ordinary people and the noble or the so called ‘oligarchs’ in the contemporary time is relevant even until today.
The prince/leader should prioritize and uphold the interest and endeavors of the oligarchs/nobles because the advancement of a certain economy will depend on the monetary capabilities of a certain country (Cordero, 2018). On the other hand, the prince/leader should also uphold and protect the endeavors of the ordinary people, because these are the ones who elect them at the office to attain the powers that they have (Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d.). The normal/ordinary people and the oligarchs can have a conflict in many ways in contemporary times because of the exploitation activities of the oligarchs to the ordinary people. In this certain circumstance, the leader must show that the he is protecting his people against abusive exploitation and at the same time, a leader must also portray himself to the oligarchs that he is protecting their interest. This is a challenge to the prince to uphold and protect the endeavors of both parties without damaging or destroying the faith of one party to himself.
Machiavelli entails that a leader must have a heart of a lion and a mind of a fox. This principle of Machiavelli is one of the universal principles of Machiavelli that would be applicable in any setting. A leader or a prince must have a heart of a lion to cause fear and intimidation to uncertain subjects that can cause uncertainty in his governance/principality. In the principles of the mind of the fox, a prince/leader must have a brilliant mind to sense the danger and uncertainties that may endanger his governance/principality. This claim/principle of Machiavelli about the heart of the lion and mind of the fox, is one of the important elements that a certain leader must adapt in order for him to preserve, protect and uphold his constituents and territories. Another point of Machiavelli is the characteristic of a good prince. I will also have a claim that this principle of Machiavelli about the characteristic of a good leader is also universal and applicable in any setting or form of government in contemporary times. For Machiavelli, a leader should appear merciful, faithful, kind, religious, and upright.
To maintain and sustain the loyalty and satisfaction of the people, a prince must possess and act in accordance to those characteristics/principles. However, it also implied by Machiavelli that these characteristics/principles can be bended or twist if the urgent circumstance calls for it. A certain example will be about the image of a leader as being merciful. A leader at times must show that he is merciful to the circumstance/situation that is tolerable. If the situation calls for a certain leader to show that he can set aside his merciful characteristic, a leader must show it in order to serve as a lesson to all and in order for a certain leader to maintain the respect and the sense of compliance amongst the people. However, a leader must keep in his mind that, even he can show that he is capable of setting aside his merciful characteristic, he must not exceed in his limitations, and in other words he must set aside his merciful image in accordance and with the guidance of the law. Due to this, the prince/leader would be feared by the people and according to what Machiavelli said, it is better to be feared because it causes fewer problems than to be loved which can turn into resentment which could also be the way in order for a prince/leader to be expelled from the position.
Another principle that is universally applicable in the principles of Machiavelli is his claim that a prince should not idle in times of peace. The definition of peace can be used in a lot of situation and circumstances. This is the main reason why this claim of Machiavelli is universal and applicable in a different form of government, style of leadership and different settings. A certain example of this in the current times is the pandemic outbreak of the COVID 19 virus. A good prince/leader will always foresee the worst circumstance and be prepared for it. In addition, a great prince/leader must have already thought of the solution at the time ‘peace’ and not in the actual time when uncertainty is already happening. In the current example in the Philippine setting, President Duterte does not think like a wise prince, because he let this kind of uncertainty proliferate in the country by not being prepared and not foreseeing this kind of problem ahead of time.
In fact he cuts the budget for health by 10 billion pesos for 2020 (Aceron & Maglanque, 2020). This implies that he is not a good leader, because he became idle at the time of peace. Duterte only act when the pandemic COVID-19 had already reach the country by allocating a 3.1billion additional budget to combat and eradicate this pandemic outbreak (Olea, 2020). This is contemporary evidence that some of the leadership principles of Niccolo Machiavelli is universal. Although some of the points, claims, principles and ideas of Machiavelli is universal and applicable in any form or setting, the principality setting that is being mentioned in the work of Machiavelli is not appropriate in a lot of government style or setting in contemporary times including the Philippine setting.
Niccolo Machiavelli proposed the bad qualities or characteristics of a prince/leader. For Machiavelli, a leader is weak if he is changeable, foolish, weak, mean and uncertain. In connection to this in the Philippine setting, President Duterte seems to be inconsistent and less compliant with his endeavors for the country. Duterte had committed a lot of foolish mistakes such as the things that I have mentioned in the previous parts of this paper. An example is the late travel ban from China and the improper prioritization of what is important, in fact he also cut the budget for health by 10 billion as I have mentioned earlier. The president is also classified as weak by not insisting the rights of the country on the West Philippine Sea (Ranada, 2016). His submissive acts towards China, which puts the whole country at risks and uncertainty, are manifestations that he is changeable, foolish, weak, mean and uncertain. By possessing and manifesting these characteristics by being submissive to China, Duterte is endangering and making the independence, sovereignty and well-being of each and every constituent of the country and putting them at risks.
For Machiavelli if a certain leader possesses this kind of characteristic, the leader is vulnerable and not worthy to become a prince/leader. Machiavelli is trying to give advice to leaders specifically, the presidents of a certain country. This claim or principles of Machiavelli regarding the good and bad characteristics of a leader was universal and/or can be applied into every setting or whatever the form of government is.
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