An analysis of niccolo machiavellis dissertation on lesser republics

machiavelli political thought pdf

But how are we to square this with his statements in The Prince? At times when ordinary Roman citizens wrongly supposed that a law or institution was designed to oppress them, they could be persuaded that their beliefs are mistaken … [through] the remedy of assemblies, in which some man of influence gets up and makes a speech showing them how they are deceiving themselves.

Machiavelli view on political power

Although there has been much debate about whether Machiavelli was truly a friend of princes and tyrants or of republics, and hence whether we should dismiss one or another facet of his writing as ancillary or peripheral, the questions seems irresolvable. Constitution came more directly from Locke and Montesquieu. Machiavelli's argument in The Prince is designed to demonstrate that politics can only coherently be defined in terms of the supremacy of coercive power; authority as a right to command has no independent status. Mansfield, Harvey C. Second, observing that all human beings harbor desires, that in seeking to fulfill our desires, we come into conflict, and that we thus constantly attempt to acquire more property in order to protect what we already have, he sees that human beings generally resist the rule of others and can be made reliably to obey only from fear. Concomitantly, a Machiavellian perspective directly attacks the notion of any grounding for authority independent of the sheer possession of power. The ruler who lives by his rights alone will surely wither and die by those same rights, because in the rough-and-tumble of political conflict those who prefer power to authority are more likely to succeed. As Machiavelli emphasizes at the end of Chapter 18 of The Prince, people ultimately judge politicians by the results of their policies—whether their government preserves their lives, families, property, and liberty. Indeed, this is precisely why successive French monarchs have left their people disarmed: they sought to maintain public security and order, which for them meant the elimination of any opportunities for their subjects to wield arms. Meanwhile, Machiavelli's enforced retirement led him to other literary activities. Few of the rest of us can see their inner motives. Whether it is any more plausible to hold out hope for the creation of more responsive republican institutions than to demand flexibility in the personal qualities of princes is not directly examined by the Discourses. Rahe, Paul A.

How is your Machiavelli different from theirs? Machiavelli reinforces the association of Fortuna with the blind strength of nature by explaining that political success depends upon appreciation of the operational principles of Fortuna.

machiavelli philosophy

Yet Machiavelli himself apparently harbored severe doubts about whether human beings were psychologically capable of generating such flexible dispositions within themselves.

This connects to the claim in the Discourses that the popular elements within the community form the best safeguard of civic liberty as well as the most reliable source of decision-making about the public good. This is the limit of monarchic rule: even the best kingdom can do no better than to guarantee to its people tranquil and orderly government.

machiavelli concept of power pdf

He emphasizes these harsh truths because he thinks that many of his readers have been able—or led—to forget them, and have suffered greatly as a result. He substantiates this assertion by reference to the observable realities of political affairs and public life as well as by arguments revealing the self-interested nature of all human conduct.

At the same time the people would be reminded of the heavy price to be paid by one who chooses not to obey the law. Changing events require flexibility of response, and since it is psychologically implausible for human character to change with the times, the republic offers a viable alternative: people of different qualities fit different exigencies.

Machiavelli on religion

Viroli considers, by contrast, the historical attitudes toward the Christian religion as manifested in the Florentine republic of Machiavelli's day. Machiavelli suggests that drastic measures may be necessary in order to reawaken the fear that initially convinced people to establish and obey a government led by their most virtuous citizens. Without exception the authority of states and their laws will never be acknowledged when they are not supported by a show of power which renders obedience inescapable. Discourses CW His two major works were, in other words, coherent. The problem is not merely that the ruler of a disarmed nation is in thrall to the military prowess of foreigners. Translated as Republicanism, Anthony Shugaar trans. The exception is his description of the Roman army, which lost its virtue, according to Machiavelli, when ordered to fight by the decemvirs who had denied the plebs any part in the government. Usually Locke and Montesquieu are spoken of in that light, so your thesis is pretty controversial, no? And The Prince speaks with equal parts disdain and admiration about the contemporary condition of the Church and its Pope CW 29, 44—46, 65, 91—

For example, the people can never be persuaded that it is good to appoint to an office a man of infamous or corrupt habits, whereas a prince may easily and in a vast variety of ways be persuaded to do this.

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Niccolò Machiavelli (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)