Machiavelli's "The Prince" Niccolo Machiavelli, a Diplomat Reaction Paper

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Machiavelli's "The Prince"

Niccolo Machiavelli, a diplomat in the pay of the Republic of Florence, wrote the Prince in 1513 after the overthrow of the Republic forced him into exile. It is widely regarded as one of the basic texts of Western political science, and represents a basic change in the attitude and image of government (Halsall).

Machiavelli wrote the Prince as a practical guide for governing. This goal is obvious from the first page of the dedication of the book to Lorenzo de' Medici, the ruler of Florence. The prose of the Prince is not abstract; it is simple and its logic direct. It is Machiavelli's desire to provide practical, clear advice.

Machiavelli is convinced that useful laws follow naturally from an effective military. His statement that "the presence of sound military forces indicates the presence of sound laws" explains the relationship between emergent states and war in the Prince. He reverses the traditional perception of war as a necessary, but not definitive, element of the emergence of states, and says that successful war is the foundation upon which all states are built.

Sir Frederick Pollock wrote that in Machiavelli we find "for the first time since Aristotle, the pure passionless curiosity of the man of science. We find the separation of ethics and politics; Machiavelli takes no account of morality" (Pollock).

Is the Prince Timeless?

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Yes. This book has long been considered a guidebook for those who are in power or who wish to have power. Through logical thought about politics and power, Machiavelli is the dependable source on how one should (or should not) lead and govern.

Machiavelli discusses, in chapter 17, whether it is better to be loved or feared as a leader. He indicates that all princes should strive for both, but that it is much better to be feared than loved. Many countries today use that same fear to control their populations.

Reaction Paper on Machiavelli's "The Prince" Niccolo Machiavelli, a Diplomat Assignment

Iraq's former dictator, Saddam Hussein, used fear to control Iraq for almost a quarter century beginning in 1979. The fear of the man had the whole country petrified, including many in his own administration. It was a "given" that any person who would assault Saddam Hussein, or anyone in his ruling class, whether verbally, in print, or physically, would be executed. Numerous proposals to establish an International Court and try Saddam Hussein for crimes against humanity were put forth. The U.S. House International Relations Committee described Hussein as one who has created an atmosphere of terror within Iraq and throughout the region, with his repeated violations of international law and human rights.

The people of Iraq were victims of arbitrary execution, torture, and elimination of the freedom of speech. These, of course, are the reasons why Saddam Hussein had been able to maintain his firm hold on Iraq.

When Kuwait was invaded by Hussein, he placed into action Machiavelli's statements that causes for stealing property are never missing, and those who live on ill-gotten gains are always finding cause to seize what belongs to others (Machiavelli).

In the politics of the Mideast, if Saddam showed any weakness such as love, rather than fear backed by the barrel of a gun, he would have been removed from power quickly. For absolute and despotic rulers then, around the world, it is much better to be feared than to be loved, just as Machiavelli might argue.

In the New Machiavelli: The Art of Politics in Business by Alistair

Mcalpine (Wiley, 1999), the author mines Machiavelli's the Prince for the timeless rules and stratagems that can help today's business rulers survive and prosper in the jungle of greed and treachery that is commerce. Alistair McAlpine enriches Machiavelli's text with scenarios from modern business, offering keen new insight into what motivates people (CiteULike).

You learn the reasons why loyalty is not a reliable factor in the workplace, why great power is held by the "little people" in a business, and why it is better to spread power than to centralize it. You also find out why you should never believe your own publicity. Forever, politicians have been trying to tell businesspersons how to go about their tasks. Both groups, however, learn from this shrewd commentary based on Machiavelli's timeless principles of dishonest practices (CiteULike).

Further proof of the timelessness of Machiavelli's book is yet another modern-day tome based on his understanding of human nature: Niccolo Machiavelli's the Prince: A 52 Brilliant Ideas Interpretation by Tim Phillips (Infinite Ideas, 2008) will not go into more detail. but, suffice to say that one reviewer says, "This title gives an interpretation of Machiavelli's work that is not a substitute for the original; its purpose is simply to illustrate the timeless nature of Machiavelli's insights by bringing them to life through modern business and political case studies."

Needless to say, the number of books, papers, articles etc. that reference Machiavelli's work as applicable to the modern day and timeless in nature, is large. but, let's look at a bit more of the original work for further proof of its timelessness, though no more should be necessary.

Machiavelli's claim, in chapter 18, that men lie so therefore anyone may lie, rings true today just as much as it did in his time. It is fair to say that today "most" people will fabricate a story if it is useful to them in their current situation to do so. In fact, this principle is so widely accepted that it is not necessary to use examples to prove it.

In examining the 20th century, one leader who has emulated the ideas of Machiavelli is Adolf Hitler, who understood the nature of the German people, which allowed him to eventually rise to power, by one vote. By exploiting the vulnerability of his comrades in the post-World War 1 era he appealed to their needs. Once in power he used the minority as an example that he should be feared, which at the same time allowed him to gain the trust of the majority. Hitler stands alone in history as being an individual who was able to justify horrid acts in the minds of his people -- the same people that formed an army and nearly succeeded in conquering the European continent. Hitler possessed the three keys of understanding, controlling, and defending, and as hard as it is to say, he was a successful leader in the 20th century.

Hitler projects 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 blatantly controlling another. Through this understanding of human nature a prince can hold his power. Once he holds 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 reign of Hitler.

For additional proofs of timeliness (and relevance) in the Prince, one could almost turn any page, eliminate the word "prince" and replace it with any synonym for modern-day man or woman to see the applicability of Machiavelli's visionary thoughts to our current times.

Management Theory

"Niccolo Machiavelli" Niccolo Machiavelli believed that people were motivated by self-interest when he wrote the Prince in 1513 as advice for the leadership of Florence, Italy. He recommended that leaders use fear, but not animosity and hatred to maintain control.

Its essential contribution to modern political thought lies in Machiavelli's assertion of the then revolutionary idea that theological and moral imperatives have no place in the political (or management) arena. "It must be understood," Machiavelli says, "that a prince (or executive)... cannot observe all of those virtues for which men are reputed good, because it is often necessary to act against mercy, against faith, against humanity, against frankness, against religion, in order to preserve the state (or profit margin)" (Machiavelli). With just a little imagination, readers can discern parallels between a 16th-century principality and a 20th-century president (or CEO).

Machiavelli presents no instant management theories, and no clever techniques for solving day-to-day problems. He deals mainly with broad strategies and to get value from his writing one needs to interpret it and make comparisons. The following examples show how certain passages in Machiavelli's writing bridge the seemingly huge gap between sixteenth century politics and twentieth century business:

Leadership. He dismisses luck and genius as the key to successful leadership and goes for "shrewdness."

Centralization vs. De-centralization. The colonial governor (read that CEO) must be carefully selected for his experience and loyalty, trained thoroughly in the state's (read that corporation's) way of doing things and made so familiar with "best practice" that however isolated from "head office" guidance he might be, the job will get done in a highly predictable way.

Takeovers. One either totally subjugates the original inhabitants (employees and shareholders) so that rebellion is unlikely and the cost of garrisoning (manning) the place reduced to a minimum, or -- and… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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