Use of Immoral Means in Politics in The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  6
Wordcount:  1577 Words
Date:  2022-05-12

The prince is a sixteenth-century political discourse written by an Italian Niccolo Machiavelli. In chapter fifteen of the treatise, the author states that it is necessary for a prince wishing to maintain his position to know how to do wrong and to make use of it or not according to necessity (Home | Victoria University of Wellington). This quote means that too much goodness is likely to destroy a political leader, as the world that one lives and ply his political activities is not full of good souls but rather with cheeky and notorious people. Therefore, Machiavelli means that there exists no space for the saints in this world and therefore advice leaders not to be good always. He recommends that one need to be bad, immoral and do what other people consider as wrong when need be. This advice by Machiavelli is as a result of the non-existence of a fixed principle that coaxes one to always be good and thus people need to act based on the situation as morality is mutable and not carved in a stone.

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Machiavelli is known to have introduced an entirely new approach to the modern political science based on his concept on use of immoral means and also helped people learn that the use of immoral means is a necessary bit of responsible leadership. Therefore, this paper will focus on getting a better understanding of Machiavelli's idea of the use of immoral ways as the appropriate way of achieving a great political life as well as maintaining it.

For a better comprehension of his decision to moral misconduct, it is important to study how he perceived a perfect prince. However, to obtain the actual understanding of the originality of his political field, it is important to understand the intellectual and political framework attached to the Italian Renaissance. Upon his nomination as the second Chancellor of the Republic of Florence, the politics of Italy changed and the change was characterized by growth in humanist ideals influence. However, his experience with the foreign department of Florence alerted him of the weaknesses that were attached to the political system of Florentine. According to him, Florence lacked crucial elements of governance such as a powerful military that would rhyme with the powerful political leadership needed in Florence. As a result, he developed great objection towards the influence of the humanist's ideas on the political space by going against values such as virtuosity and Christian principles that were advocated by these humanist leaders.

It is also crucial to emphasize on Machiavelli's definition of fortune as well as a virtue as to acquire the needed instruments of analyzing his thought of a "perfect prince." In The Prince, he argues that fortune entails a force that is beyond the reach of regular people that is capable of putting a leader in a circumstance that is complex and unpredictable and that which might alter his success as well as affect the preservation of his position. He goes further to emphasize the role played by fortune in a political arena by attributing a feminine aspect to it. He claims that a victorious "prince" need not to ever rely entirely on fortune if he aims at succeeding despite having in record many men that have attained great achievement as a result of the forces of fortune. Thus Machiavelli insists that, it is necessary for one who wants to bring her down to beat and strike her down when it comes to fortune in women because he believes that fortune gives half the outcomes of the actions of a leader, and therefore when she is beaten and stricken, she will be in the position of exploiting the opportunity of controlling the remaining half to have a better self-reliance instead of depending on fortunes.

One of the ideals that have made Machiavelli popular is the introduction of a redefined version of virtue that was completely away from the humanist perspective that advocates for rulers developing and sustaining morals such as genuineness, honor as well as glory by strongly arguing that a prince need not to maintain the state by following such morals (McCormick 15). Additionally, he claims that if such morals are permanently attached to a political leader, then the qualities are going to boost the level of admiration towards the leader. However, Machiavelli is not interested in the usual hypothesis that exists in politics but rather is interested in the analysis and appreciation of reality and how a political leader has to handle it. Even though Machiavelli appreciates the need of seeking the conservation of political realism as well as the principality, his "prince" cannot thrive in both principality and politics if he has the reliance on the virtues that have been defined as "good" by Christianity. Therefore, Machiavelli believes that a man of virtue is one who prevent fortune from determining his fate and who despite entering into the political leadership, hold the appropriate virtues even if considered bad by others to maintain his authority. McCormick further states that it as a result of these ideals, that Machiavelli's writings ignited most of the complicated scholarly controversies.

In view of his thoughts and in reference to morality in politics, Machiavelli divorces all the virtues Christianity defines as being appropriate for a political leader because his innovation is anchored on the uniqueness of those qualities that he attributes to a man of virtues such as selfishness in the political space as the struggle for political power is about to happen. He is in the position that self-indulgence will create an avenue for chaos in politics (Ojong and Apebende 12). He is also against human evolution arguing that history is an unending process of deterioration and renewal and that only a few men of virtue who have an understanding and acceptance for reality in politics, are capable of rescuing the state from falling by demonstrating high levels of skills of leadership, determination and also if necessary act in a way that they are going to instill fear among people to maintain their authority as leaders. Ojong and Apebende, make it clear that Machiavelli did not completely oppose moral goodness as perceived by most scholars today but offers advice to both the political power seekers and the "prince" on how they can acquire and maintain the powerful positions despite the political interests of their friends and enemies.

It is possible to detect a Machiavellian influence in modern political leaders when one analyses the resolutions and actions of modern political leaders. Although most political leaders deny unethical means of resolving conflicts such as violence, it is clear that certain issues call for special ways of handling them so as to preserve the harmony of a country despite the actions that have made the contemporary world witness and continue witnessing abuse of power (Vittorio 10). This disregard of moral values by modern politicians is the same as Machiavelli's ideal that sometimes the "prince" ought to abandon moral values and act immorally if need be. With Machiavelli as one of the greatest political scholar to modern day conception of state that involves constitutional law in many modern states, his ideals brings about many controversies as to whether the Machiavelli's ideal is a conception that is in line with his Republican theory of freedom that is characterized by a belief of freedom as a state that gives an alternative to both the positive aspect as self-mastery as shown by Machiavelli, or to the negative aspect as a non-interference (Miguel 16).

The practice of Machiavellian's tactics was evident in many occasions of the administration of George W. Bush such as in the occasions of war on terror as well as the war in Iraq and Vietnam where Bush displayed a firm hand in the demonstration of his power at the rhetoric and the legislative levels. In those instance, the adoption of Machiavellian's concept of being both a fox and a lion to succeed as a "prince" was clearly seen.

Therefore, it is clear that most modern scholars have not concentrated on statesmanship but instead talk about those political leaders whose motives have been misunderstood thus making people suspicious of those they entrusted with government power (Zuckert 10). It is, therefore, appropriate to argue that Machiavelli achieved the title of the founder of modern politics despite Humanism being the main doctrine pursued in politics by bringing about a remarkable approach to the field of politics. This was because he knew that it was not the duty of the "prince" to consider fortune as the element of his politics but rather exploit his own virtue that he could control as the perfect prince would be one who takes his nation as the most crucial entity even if it calls for immorality.

Works Cited

Home | Victoria University of Wellington,

McCormick, John P. "Machiavelli's The Prince at 500: The Fate of Politics in the Modern World." Social Research, vol. 81, no. 1, Spring 2014, EBSCOhost. doi:10.1353/sor.2014.0002.

Ojong, K., and S. Apebende. "Morality and Politics in the Thought of Niccolo Machiavelli." Lwati: A Journal of Contemporary Research, vol. 7, no. 1, 2010.

Vatter, Miguel. "Republics are a Species of State: Machiavelli and the Genealogy of the Modern State." Social Research: An International Quarterly, vol. 81, no. 1, Spring 2014, EBSCOhost.

Vittorio, Hosle. "Morality and Politics: Reflections on Machiavelli's Prince." International Journal of Politics, Culture & Society, vol. 3, no. 1, Sept. 1989, p. 51.

Zuckert, Catherine. "Machiavelli and the End of Nobility in Politics." Social Research, vol. 81, no. 1, 2014, EBSCOhost. doi:10.1353/sor.2014.0010.

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Use of Immoral Means in Politics in The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli. (2022, May 12). Retrieved from

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