Anyone in politics, academic or otherwise, is unlikely to be unfamiliar with the legendary Italian philosopher Machiavelli. You've almost likely heard of Machiavelli or "Machiavellianism". Many people debate whether he is notorious or famous. Still, one thing is certain: his theories on statecraft and politics are widely read and recognised in the practice of realpolitik.
Niccolo Machiavelli was an Italian philosopher who worked as a diplomat for the Republic of Florence in Italy. For a variety of reasons, he is regarded as the first modern political theorist. His art demonstrates the impact of European cultural norms, and the Renaissance had a significant influence on him.
Machiavelli produced a well-known book, "The Prince (1513)", which is still widely read today. It is addressed to France's Governor, Lorenzo de Medici, and was composed by Machiavelli in order to gain his favor and a place in the administration. Another of his well-known works is Discourses on the First Ten Books of Titus Livius, generally known as Discourses on Livy.
In psychology, Machiavellianism is a term that refers to the ability to be manipulative, to act deviously, or to someone who attempts all possible means to achieve power. The term has a negative connotation, and it is one of the three personality qualities known as "The Dark Triad", along with Narcissism and Psychopathy. However, Machiavellianism is employed in a somewhat different sense in Politics.
Machiavelli's two writings, The Prince and Discourses on Livy, include opposing views on how governments should conduct. In most situations, The Prince is recognised as Machiavelli's true political theory, and intellectuals frequently observe "Duplicity" in his work. Rousseau has also said that Machiavelli's ideas, according to his two writings, are contradictory.
In his book "The Prince", Machiavelli presents two sets of behavioral standards: one for the king and one for the common people. In other words, the general population should adhere to and obey the standard notion of morality. The Prince or ruler, on the other hand, has only one moral goal to pursue: the interests of his state. As long as it serves the interests of his state, the king can defy traditional morality.
It's worth noting that the perspectives of experts are as conflicting as his work. In his book 'The Myth of the State', Ernest Cassier, for example, characterizes Machiavelli as a scientist and refers to him as the "Galileo of Politics".
Quentin Skinner argues in his book The Foundations of Modern Political Thought that Machiavelli accepted divergence from traditional morality only as a last option, assuming a favorable stance for him. He goes on to say that Machiavelli recommends "that the Prince ought to do good if he can, but must be ready to commit evil if he must".
Methodology of Machiavelli
There is considerable agreement among thinkers that Machiavelli was a realist. It can be attributed to the fact that Machiavelli used empirical techniques to conclude his political theory. He employed the historical approach, as did Aristotle. His method might be described as a hybrid of realistic and historical approaches. His technique is not based on hypothesis, but rather on the observation of facts drawn from history. His practical approach, backed up by history, distinguishes him as a political thinker rather than a political theorist.
Many detractors, however, argue that Machiavelli's method was not historically based. He utilized history in the same way that he used his observation to demonstrate or support a conclusion he had made without any historical reference... Insofar as he had a technique, it was observation guided by shrewdness and common sense."
Machiavelli on Governments and Politics
Politics, according to Machiavelli, is not the conclusion of the "happy life". Instead, he sees politics as a means of acquiring power, retaining it, and expanding it. He felt that this might be accomplished by utilizing the abilities that a Prince may create within himself.
Ethics was the basic block on which politics was conceptualized during the Greek tradition. However, Machiavelli said farewell to linking ethics and politics and, in reality, separated the two. As a result, he was the first thinker to distinguish politics from ethics.
He divides governments into two types: ideal governments and realistic governments. According to him, the Republic is the ideal form of government, but it can only exist if the people are moral. A Monarchy, which he suggests for wicked people, is the second-best and maybe more practicable form of administration. It is important to mention here that monarchy was widespread in Italy throughout Machiavelli's historical period.
Politics, he claims, does not adhere to the same traditional ethical principles. It's worth noting here that, in the case of the republican government, which he proposed as the finest form of government, ethics played a significant role. However, because most people were not virtuous, a republican government was out of the question, and only a monarchy could control them. As a result, rather than being concerned with moral norms of behavior, a Prince should be concerned with sustaining and maintaining his state.
Thoughts on Statecraft by Niccolo Machiavelli
As previously said, Machiavelli was a divisive character due to his ideals. Indeed, Machiavelli's instructions to the "Prince" (Ruler) on the subject of Statecraft have been a cause of dispute.Statecraft may be defined as an art, method, or strategy used to govern the affairs of the state. Statecraft, according to the Oxford Dictionary, is the skillful handling of state affairs.
The larger definition of Statecraft encompasses not only the administration of state affairs, but also the management of external challenges that a state encounters in an international realm. Among Machiavelli's works, two novels deal primarily with the subject of Statecraft: "The Prince", which was released posthumously, and "The Art of War", which is also extensively read to grasp his concept of Statecraft.
On Human Nature Machiavelli's position on human nature is critical to understand since it explains his proposals to the Prince for directing the state. Humans, according to Machiavelli, are greedy and opportunistic by nature. He claims that humans tend to act in their own self-interest. His perspective on the nature of humans is primarily negative.
Men, he claims, seek protection but lack the strength to protect themselves. They look to the state for security, and the government protects them from both internal and external disputes and competition. Humans, according to Machiavelli, are also possessive of property. "Men are more likely to forget the death of a parent than the loss of their fortune", he adds in Prince.
Machiavelli also encouraged the monarch to take the proper procedures to defend women's honor. He believes that if the populace is guaranteed that their lives, property, belongings, women, and families would be safeguarded, they will be naturally devoted to the monarch.
Regarding the State
Machiavelli saw the state as superior, to which all people must submit. He desired for Italy to be a powerful nation-state. The objective of the formation of the state is to control the selfish purposes of human nature and to construct a powerful country that protects its people's property. He would have favored an Italian republic only if the people were virtuous. However, because the Italian people were corrupt, monarchy was the only alternative left.
Machiavelli supported monarchy in the absence of a republican government only for the sake of its people. States can also be classed as normal or perverse. There is civic virtue and a sense of patriotism in a normal or ideal state. However, he was concerned about the state of Italy at the time and witnessed corruption. In such a circumstance, Machiavelli has no choice but to propose a powerful Prince who can control his public's selfish interests and construct a strong state.
He gave the Prince instructions to ensure the state's strength. He proposed a strong force made up of soldiers from within the state. According to him, a strong state and a strong ruler should have the proclivity to grow and achieve greater power. He stated that laws are important in upholding the state's mission, and that if necessary, terror may be used to ensure smooth administration.
The highlight of Machiavelli's ideas is statesmanship. He sees the Prince as someone whose primary goal should be to sustain the state while also enforcing strict regulations. Virtue is instilled in the population by the laws enacted by the ruler.
When a state is corrupt, a monarch will construct a strong state and promote its people's moral character. As a result, a statesman is not only the ruler, but also the maker of laws and the architect of society. A good Prince, he says, is never afraid to make bold judgments quickly. Uncertainty and delay can be detrimental to the state.
Machiavelli's Prince isn't scared to use harshness. Compassion is unquestionably preferable to cruelty, but if brutality leads to an ordered system, he should not be hesitant to use it. In reality, he advises that if a Prince must be harsh for the sake of his realm, he must do so with vigor"Men should be treated nicely or crushed because they seek revenge for minor injuries but cannot for major ones".
It is claimed that Machiavelli believed in "End Justifies Means". He believes that a Prince's first concern should be the preservation of his state. He should ideally be honest and ethical, which is only feasible when individuals are virtuous. However, because they are not, a Prince can even utilize shameful tactics to pursue a noble objective, knowing that the public would forgive him once they observe the hopeful consequences of reaching the end. In contrast, it is argued that Machiavelli meant that a ruler is assessed by his people through their judgment, and that if a Prince
This phrase is being used to excuse the employment of immoral methods to achieve so-called moral purposes, drawing our attention to the never-ending argument over means and ends theory. Using the same example, Machiavelli is criticized for permitting "dirty hands" to have a role in politics.
Machiavelli's moral ideas are commonly misunderstood. He proposed a dual moral norm because he believed that politics had its own moral standards. He did not reject traditional morality; in fact, he felt that ordinary persons should adhere to ethical behavior. According to him, if ordinary citizens do not adhere to morals, the entire purpose of the state's existence would be undermined. Only the Ruler/Prince had the authority to deviate from traditional morality for the sake of his State. In fact, he proposes that the Prince obey morals as much as possible and only deviate from them when absolutely necessary.
The morality of a ruler, on the other hand, is found in the maintenance of his state. He claims that a Prince with virtuous behavior would have higher legitimacy, and hence suggests that the Prince follow the moral code of conduct to the greatest extent feasible. If deviating from conventional morality is absolutely necessary, he should do so for the good of his state. And even if he deviates from morality, he must seem to be moral.
"It is excellent to appear kind, faithful, humane, genuine, devout, and to be so; yet, you must have the mental disposition to be able to turn to the opposite traits when necessary... A Prince... must not veer from what is right if at all feasible, but must be capable of doing evil if forced to do so ".
A prince should be feared, not admired. He believes that males are more worried with harming the terrified person than they are with hurting the one they love. "The connection of love is one that men, wretched beings that they are, destroy when it is to their benefit to do so", he continues, "but fear is strengthened by a dread of punishment that is always effective".
"A Prince must know how to make good use of both the beast and the man".
There are two ways to fight: through the rule of law and through force. Laws should be powerful enough to deliver justice, but a Prince can also employ force to prevail if necessary. On the subject of how a Prince should maintain his word, Machiavelli advises that the Prince should be loyal to his word if the conditions are normal. However, if deceit is needed to reach greatness, he should not be hesitant to utilize it.
He suggests that the Prince be both a Fox and a Lion. A fox cannot defend itself in the face of wolves, and a lion cannot defend itself in the face of traps, but a fox can recognise traps and rescue itself, and a lion can terrify wolves. The Fox is used to represent cunning, and the Lion is used to represent power. According to Machiavelli, a Prince should be both a Fox and a Lion, in the sense that he should be aware of the conditions that need action and choose to act accordingly. A lion can be courageous, but not every situation can be handled by bravery. Similarly, Prince should be fearless (Lion's Trait) while also knowing when and how to act deftly to solve a problem (Fox's Trait).
A good Prince should also be mindful of his opponent's strength. He should have a good understanding of battle and its methods. In addition, he should preserve secrecy in some governmental matters. Even if he does not honor his word, a Prince should color himself with compassion and kindness in order to obtain the public's approval.
Machiavelli has been said to be a contemporary thinker. It was most likely because he based his proposals on human behavior rather than any surface legislation. In the book 'Theories of Political Systems,' William T. Bluhm referred to him as the "Father of Behaviouralism". He disregards divine law, which was the order of the day during Machiavelli's time.
Machiavelli provided advice on a variety of topics. From considering human nature to be bad and corrupt to erecting a barrier between ethics and politics. In the case of a ruler and regular citizens, he saw ethics and politics through different lenses. His ideal Republican kind of government could not be realized, thus he proposed a tyrannical ruler of a king to manage wicked people.
Statecraft has been a major focus of his thinking. He is almost generally read for his views on the art of war and politics. Machiavelli has left an indelible imprint on the world of politics. He promoted "power politics" and the growth of authority. "Men are more likely to forget a parent's death than a loss of riches", he says in Prince. Regardless of the criticism leveled against his ideas, Machiavelli's contributions to political science cannot be overlooked and need our entire attention.