Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527) is one of the most ambiguous political scientist of the history. Some used to qualify him as being immoral because of his promotion of force and deception to protect a State. However, according to the researchers that have analyzed his works, he is “the restorer of the Roman conception as civil wisdom […] and the founder of the theory of modern republicanism based upon this conception” (Viroli, 1). He is also considered as “the first writer to move way from the paternalism of traditional society, towards something closer to our own notions of democracy” (Cohen, 33). Who is he in reality? What are his major goals? These are some of the questions that I will try to answer. Machiavelli was born in Italy. At this time, Italy was a wealthy, cultural, and politically stable country. It was divided into communes or oligarchies governed by princes or elite. Cities that choose another political system were rare but used to exist; one of these was Florence from which Machiavelli is rooted in.
[...] One of the rare point in which Guicciardini does not follow Machiavelli is that he could not “adopt openly the anti-Christian statecraft” as Machiavelli does. He preferred to stick to the accepted and permitted ways of thinking of this time. It clearly appears, in this dialogue, that Guicciardini is very respectful of Machiavelli's work because, as we have seen, most of his ideas are the echo's of Machiavelli's ones. To conclude, Machiavelli is the first major European writer to encourage political freedom and consider it as a real virtue. [...]
[...] Concerning the religion, prince is higher moral than no moral at all; Machiavelli heralds the tactics of the emerging secular societies in redefining their relationship with the moral authority of the Church” (Cohen, 37). Also, when necessary, prince has to do evil. Machiavelli states, in The Prince, that is as well to seem merciful, faithful, humane, sincere, and religious and also to be so; but you must have the mind so disposed that when it is needful to be otherwise you may change to the opposite qualities [and] do evil if constrained” (Cohen, 37). [...]
[...] However, Machiavelli was not influenced by the medieval philosophers who believed in that power has to be distributed according to religion among popes or emperors. He believes that “power is available to all and any who are skilful enough to size (Cohen, 43). Once again, we see how Machiavelli is really concerned with political freedom. Thomas Hobbes and Nietzsche agree with Machiavelli idea that men is only political in “being a lover of power and reputation” (Cohen, 43). Machiavelli considers that masses are necessary for the spread of democracy, while Nietzsche thinks that most people need a hero or a superman to rule them. [...]
[...] According to Sumberg, was probably Machiavelli who led Montesquieu to ancient Rome's religion” (125). There is no mention of Machiavelli in this essay, because he was highly prohibited at that time. In this speech, Montesquieu comes at the same conclusion as Machiavelli about the necessity for princes to respect religion, even if it somehow silly. Both of the authors agree on the benefits of using religion as a mean to enhance power and convince people. Another point of agreement relates to a critic made by Machiavelli on the King Ferdinand of Spain: this latter expelled all Jews and Muslims who refused to accept baptism in 1942. [...]
[...] Machiavelli seek some conditions under where republics best prosper: “when town dominates country; when a large middle class exists; when popular power is institutionalized, and when there is a plenty of civic spirit” (Cohen, 41). Also, his conception of political liberty is important to consider here. be a free people means for Machiavelli not to depend on the will of others and to be able to live under laws to which citizens have freely given their consent” (Viroli, 5). Accordingly, an individual is free only when he or she depends on law only, and this political liberty is possible only under a republican political system. [...]
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