Reaction to Machiavelli's The Prince

Reaction to Machiavelli's The Prince

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Machiavelli illustrates several key points in what it takes to be a "successful" Prince. In chapters 5-10, Machiavelli is giving us a true image of the coldhearted reputation he has carried throughout the years. He explains his ideas on taking over a "free" state or republic and how to conquer and rule with the peoples loyalty and respect.
Machiavelli argues in chapter 5 that the key to taking over a free state is initially to destroy it. By destroying the city, Machiavelli believes that the citizens will have no choice but to follow the direction of the new prince. He goes deeper to say that if a prince who occupies these cities does not destroy it, he risk the probable outcome of a rebellion. This rebellion is brought fourth by the tradition held by the citizens and the memories of the former way of government. The second step is to live there in person to establish loyalty and the third step is letting the people live by its own laws, but establish a small government who is loyal to you to keep it friendly. Chapter 6 gives us some insight on what Machiavelli feels leadership is. Leaders, he explains, are followers too in many ways. All leaders are imitating great rulers in history. A leader who really wants to achieve glory, does so by his own prowess, meaning by his own talent. Anyone can inherit a kingdom, but not anyone can rule it with natural leadership. This kind of leadership is what makes great leaders in history such as Moses or Cyrus. Chapter 7 explains that a leader should not try to buy his subjects. If a prince buys his subjects they will only temporarily be loyal. A prince needs to eliminate his enemies and do so all at once. Even if a prince does not succeed in ruling by his own prowess in his lifetime, he is still setting a good foundation for future princes which is just as important. Chapter 8 explains the level of evil that should be done in order to rise to power. He gives us clear insight of the pros and cons of obtaining power by evil means and how to use evil in ways of benefit. Machiavelli was a man of manipulation.

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My initial reaction to Machiavelli in reading these chapters, is that Machiavelli did have a keen sense of leadership and the citizens which he ruled. Although he may be considered cold hearted and unjust, I believe that in many roles of political leadership, a person will have to be cold in many areas of ruling. Machiavelli is a leader who understands the human mind. With this knowledge he has, he manipulates the people. I don't know if Machiavelli giving this knowledge to direct the obtainment of power, instead I think he is saying that in order to make a city/state work, the people must be loyal and respectful of its prince. If the people are loyal to their leader they will prosper and benefit mutually. If the city/state prospers so does the leader and he gains more power. So to me it seems like a cycle of you get what you want, and I get what I want, but only if you agree on my terms. The American take on democracy is the rule of the people, but most of the people in our country don't know the first thing about political leadership. Machiavelli understood the place of a prince and the place of his subjects and citizens. He knows what leadership consist of and how to obtain true power. He also knows that most common people do not, and they should be ruled over for their own good. Maybe I'm being too easy and optimistic about Machiavelli, but I do believe he gives sound advice based on his knowledge of how people work and think. Pain and evil are real and also necessary to in order to rule affectively. Machiavelli states that laying down a solid foundation is important in building a successful future for the city/state. It reminds me of a quote from the movie "Kingdom of Heaven"… "There will be a day when you will wish you had done a little evil to do a greater good." By doing evil and causing pain, it might be hurtful at the time, but in the long run, a good prince will be setting up a solid foundation for future successors.
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