Does Machiavelli advocate immoral means in politics and war?

1487 Words6 Pages
Niccolò Machiavelli’s ‘The Prince’ is an explanation to rulers on how to take power over other lands and how to control them, often at times advocating a disregard for all moral and ethical rules. It was this work that gave rise to the term ‘Machiavellian’, for in it he describes the sly and sometimes brutal maneuverings necessary for political success . In this essay I will examine whether Machiavelli truly promotes ‘immoral’ means in politics and war, determine if there is actually an amoral or even moral approach present in ‘The Prince’, and contrast Machiavelli’s moral and political understandings against earlier European views. In ‘The Discourses’ when speaking of the clashes between the Roman aristocracy and the plebeians Machiavelli’s sympathies are evidently on the side of the common people. He continually defends the people against the accusations of fickleness and unpredictability; stating that the custodianship of public freedom is safer in the hands of the plebeians than that of the upper class. Machiavelli states that the people are “wiser and more constant than a prince” . Therefore it is intriguing to read the contrast presented in ‘The Prince’ where we hear little of such convictions. In this work Machiavelli states that the common people are preoccupied with only one thing- their own self-interest. He says that men are “ungrateful, fickle, deceptive and deceiving, avoiders of danger, and eager to gain. As long as you serve their interests, they are devoted to you” . According to Machiavelli’s theory on human nature, it is mans pure self-interest that allows them to be easily controlled, by coercing them through manipulative and sometime violent means. He states that attempting to rule over people by honourable means would only lead to a ruler’s downfall, as an honourable ruler is always surrounded by “unscrupulous men” . Machiavelli states that “a
Open Document