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The Prince is a political dissertation written by Machiavelli. It offers a political instruction on how to conquer local political rivals and take control and rule over them. The ultimate goal for the Prince was to acquire and rules over more land. According to Machiavelli, there exist two types of government, namely, hereditary and newly acquired governments.
The methods that were permissible for the Prince to attain his goals included use of his own arm, virtue, fortune, other state’s arms and inequality. Machiavelli views the first method as the best one since land acquired through own arms is easier to cling to after conquering it. He views virtue as being manly and strong.
Principalities that are acquired through fortune are not easy to persistently rule and control. As seen in the text, the Prince was not stable enough to rule for a long period of time. Machiavelli further backs up the use of evil to acquire principalities. He uses the example of Agathocles to explain how this can be achieved through ruling by fear (Machiavelli, 2004).
Machiavelli's Views on Republics Government
In the book, Machiavelli lays down the various types of principalities, different kinds of states and republics. According to Machiavelli’s opinion, republics are more difficult to govern as compared to hereditary governments. He suggests that rulers should avoid immoral and unethical rules and laws. In contrast, he counsels rulers to be stingy rather than generous, to exercise cruelty instead of being merciful and to break promises they make if maintaining such promises would mean hurting others within the same society.
With respect to rule by fear or love, Machiavelli suggests that it is better to be feared than loved. However, he further that this feared should not be instilled up to excessive extends which might turn out to be dangerous to the Prince (Machiavelli, 2004). In relation to the governed, the Prince should conduct himself in a manner that commands respect. This will help to reduce internal struggles as many people will be satisfied.
Machiavelli’s View on the Art of Warfare
Machiavelli views warfare as something that a ruler must exercise. He views the military as the source of protecting for any given government. Furthermore, the leader must spend money on warfare matter. He asserts that money must be on defending the state because it (the money) will eventually be lost. He argues that winning in a war is the most important thing and the means by which it is achieved do not matter (Machiavelli & Goodwin, 2003).
He mentions that it is sometimes worth listening to the solders/army instead of listening to the people. He further suggests that the only way the Prince may ensure loyalty from his solders is to have an in-depth understanding of military matters. He believes that perfecting and ameliorate the art of war should be the major focus for the Prince.
Wars are used to disarm other nations for easy conquering. An effective fight force thus comprises of armed soldiers and the Prince who understands them fully. The Prince should also understand its state territories. Ironically, he says that it is better for the Prince to be feared than to be loved.
Ideal Situation for the Prince
Machiavelli states that the Prince must possess the desirable qualities in order to be able to rule effectively. The Prince should have adequate knowledge concerning the military, liberality and frugality, be loved and be feared at the same time, trustworthy and must have both good and bad reputations. Of all these, knowledge on the military is the most important quality needed for the Prince to succeed. Similarly, the Prince should not abide by the rule of trustworthiness. The Prince should not listen to everyone, but rather a few whom he is sure of and trusts (Machiavelli & Goodwin, 2003).
In addition, the ideal condition for the Prince is to overemphasis on good qualities. Though it is advisable for a Prince to possess good qualities, this might not be possible always because at times he will be forced to work against them. A wise Prince thus should be willing to be a reputed miser rather than being hated for generosity.
In conclusion, Machiavelli recommends various ways of attaining control, some of which are very violent in nature while others are ethically and morally impracticable. In my view, however, Machiavelli’s way of thinking was only appropriate during his years when there were frequent wars and conflicts among nations.