The Prince Essay

The Prince Essay

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“All the states, all the dominions, under whose authority men have lived in the past

and live now have been and are either republics or principalities.” In Machiavelli’s, The

Prince, timeless keys to a successful principality are examined. The keys are understanding

human nature, respecting that nature, and reaffirming that successful leadership can exist

in the same fashion yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

     Machiavelli’s perspective of human nature is founded on the principle that people

in general don’t want their culture changed by an outside influence. Machiavelli

demonstrates in the book that the nature of people is to defend who they are. When “the

prince” attempts to change their culture in any way the subjects will do any number of

things to crush this attempt or even change the leadership. If a prince uses force to try to

change people this will lead to hostility, because as Machiavellis says, “they remain,

defeated, in their own homes.” This underlying fact will lead to a rebellion of some sort.

One way this rebellion can happen is when a powerful foreigner invades the principality.

The now “defeated” people will join this powerful foreigner, in hopes that their culture

will now be respected, to dethrone the prince. When the prince tries to use force to

control the people it only creates enemies. Machiavelli explains this aspect of human

nature when he writes, “he harms the whole state by billeting his army in different parts of

the country, everyone suffers from this annoyance, and everybody is turned into an

enemy.” On the contrast if a prince allows the people to keep their customs Machiavelli

states that the people will remain content when he writes, “For the rest, so long as their

old ways of life are undisturbed and there is no divergence in customs, men live quietly.”

Another natural tendency of people comes with freedom. Once they have had a taste of

freedom, they virtually cannot live without it. This feeling of control over one’s life is a

quality that once molded is nearly impossible to reshape. Machiavelli asserts this idea

when he writes, “a city used to freedom can be more easily ruled through its own

citizens...than in any other way.” The same tendency lies in the control that the prince

gains over the people in the principality. Once the prince has control he finds that gi...

... middle of paper ...

...ook” Mao used

positive reenforcement to oil the gears of one of the worlds strongest super powers. Mao

didn’t try to use force and change the culture in China rather he persuaded the people into

having great national pride. This pride enabled Mao to control the people also build a

strong military and defend his land. In China Mao did and still today, decades after his

death, have a hand in every aspect of Chinese life. Both of these leaders project how

timeless Machiavelli’s ideas truly are.

     The first rung of the ladder to a successful principality is the understanding of

human nature. A nature that values consistency over forced change and an atmosphere of

control over one’s self instead of someone blatently controlling another. Through this

understanding of human nature can a prince hold his power. Once he holds this power the

best way to keep it is by providing defense for the people whom he has power over.

These ideas were present in the infamous reigns of Hitler and Mao. Machiavelli is correct

there are either principalities or republics, and I have come to the conclusion I prefer the



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