The Prince Rules to Govern By
Background • 1513 – written • Published: 1532 • Context: political upheaval in Florence • A stable state is a perfect state • A prince must do anything possible to create a stable state, BUT he must not be hated! • Fear is okay • "It is best to be both feared and loved, however, if one cannot be both it is better to be feared than loved."
Beliefs • Separate politics from ethics • Offer practical advice • “Ends justify the means” • “Free will” vs. divine intervention. • Men of action – good rulers – will make things happen for their subjects • Have Good laws and a Strong military
Military Power and Defense • “Self-sufficiency” comes through strong fortifications, loyal army, good morale • No need for mercenary forces • Native forces are ideal • Importance of War • Always be prepared • Know your territory • Study great military men (successes and failures)
Spending Money • Be frugal • Defense is expensive. If you run out of money, you will need to tax your people.
Human Nature • Man will always seek self-preservation • Prone to selfishness, deceit, and greed • Man wants to acquire things • We admire virtuous traits, but we rarely try to embody them • Sense of obligation is a hard bond to break • People are changeable
The Prince as a Man • Don’t worry if people don’t like you, but . . . • Avoid a bad reputation • “It would be best to be both loved and feared. But since the two rarely come together, anyone compelled to choose will find greater security in being feared than in being loved.” • Put governing of your state as your top priority • Good governing is better than good ethics
Use of Fear and Cruelty • Peaceful commitments are not always kept • Fearfully made commitments are always kept out of fear • But don’t rely solely on fear. Eventually fear will turn to hatred • Cruelty leads to respect and attention amongst the troops • Example: Hannibal’s army never mutinied because they were afraid of him.
Respect • The Prince’s conduct should command respect • Respect diminishes chance of internal struggle
Gaining Honor • To gain honor, you must accomplish great deeds • Conquer territory
Choosing Sides • Choose a side, don’t be neutral. • If your allies win, you benefit whether or not you have more power than they have. • If you are more powerful, then your allies are under your command; if your allies are stronger, they will always feel a certain obligation to you for your help. • If your side loses, you still have an ally in the loser. • It is wise for a prince not to ally with a stronger force unless compelled to do so.
Intelligence • Three types of intelligence: • The kind that understands things for itself- which is great to have. • The kind that understands what others can understand- which is good to have. • The kind that does not understand for itself, nor through others- which is useless to have. • “A prince must be able to recognize the good or bad in what another says or does.”
Making Good Decisions • Have wise counselors • Consider all opinions • Avoid changing your mind
Good Fortune (luck) • Fortune is never more than 50% of the outcome • Good Fortune can be other things, like lack of resistance • Adapt tactics to the circumstances instead of relying of fortune • “It is better to be impetuous than cautious, because fortune is a woman; and it is necessary, if one wants to hold her down, to beat her and strike her down." • Rely on skill (“prowess”) instead
Who did Machiavelli Admire? • Alexander the Great • The Romans • Cesare Borgia • Might have admired Saddam Hussein for his desire to acquire territory • Richard Nixon: a prince does not have to be trustworthy to still do great things
Who Did Machiavelli Despise? • Mercenary troops (they have no loyalty)
Is “The Prince” Relevant Today? • No. His world was smaller. He had fewer threats (France, Switzerland, Spain) • No. Use of threats is outdated. • “threats are more dangerous than deeds.” • No. We live in an era of laws. Change can occur without warfare (Gandhi) • Yes. His analysis of the psychology of human behavior is still true. • Clear rewards and punishments, opportunities and consequences