POLITICAL THEORY – Niccolò Machiavelli


We’re often appalled by how sly and dishonest many politicians are, but we shouldn’t be. In moods like this we need to remember and read the works of Niccolo Machiavelli. A late 15th century political advisor and political theorist who argued that we shouldn’t think that politicians are imoral and simply bad for lying and dissembling and maneuvering. A good politician, in Machiavelli’s remarkable view, isn’t one who’s friendly and honest and kind. It’s someone, however occasionally dark and underhand they might be, who knows how to defend, enrich and bring honor to the state, which is also an extremely important goal. Being nice may well be a virtue in general, but what citizens most need from their rulers is effectiveness, which may well call upon some darker arts. Once we understand this basic requirement, we stand to be less disappointed and clearer about what we want from our politicians. Niccolo Machiavelli was born in Florence in 1469. His father was a lawyer And so Machiavelli received an extensive formal education and got his first job as secretary for the city of florence But, soon after his appointment Florence exploded politically And expelled the Medici family who’d ruled it for 60 years And suffered decades of political instability and turmoil As a consequence, Machiavelli experienced a series of carrier reversals. Over just a few decades, he went from being an important diplomat to a semi-successful general, to an enemy of the state – tortured and then exiled when he Medici returned to power. Although Machiavelli was rather a failed politician, he can be remembered as a truly great man because of the two works – THE PRINCE, and THE DISCOURSES. In them he addressed a central problem of politics: it is almost impossible to be both a good politician and a good person in a traditional christian sense. Machiavelli proposed that the overwhelming responsibility of a good prince is to defend the state from external and internal threats. To stable governance. This means, he must know how to fight but more importantly he must know about the reputation and the management of those around him. People should neither think he is soft and easy to disobey. Nor should they find him so cruel that he disgust his society. He should seem unapproachably strict ,but reasonable. When Machiavelli turned to the question of whether is was better for a Prince to be loved or feared? He wrote that while it ‘ll be theoretically wonderful for a leader to be both loved and obeyed. a Prince should always err on the side of inspiring terror. For this is ultimately what keeps people in check. Machiavelli christian contemporaries had suggested that princes should be merciful, peaceful, generous, and tolerant. They thought that being a good politician was. in short, the same as being a good christian. But Machiavelli argued differently. He asked his readers to dwell on the incompatibility between Christian ethics and good governance And particularly referred to the case of Girolamo Savonorola. Savonorola was a dominican friar , a fervent idealistic christian, who’d briefly come to be the ruler of Florence in 1494. He’d come to power promising the city of God on earth.He preached against the excesses and tyranny of Medici government. and even managed to rule Florence as a peaceful, democratic, and relatively honest state. However, Savonorola success couldn’t last because,in Machiavelli’s view, itwas based on the weakness that always attends being good in a christian sense. it was not long before his regime became threat to the corrupt Pope Alexander. whose henchman captured and tortured Savonarola. Hung him in the center of Florence and burnt the body before the eyes of a vengeful citizenry. This, in Machiavelli eyes, is what tends to happen to the nice guys in politics. Rather than follow this unfortunate christian example, Machiavelli suggested that a leader would do well to make judicious use of what the called virtu (VIRTUE). Machiavelli concept of virtu for politicians involves wisdom, strategy, strength, bravery, and when necessary, ruthlessness. In fact at one point Machiavelli uses the deliciously paradoxical phrase ‘ Criminal Virtue’ to describe the necessary ability of leaders to be cruel in the name of the state , and yet, still good as leaders. Machiavelli provided some criteria for what constitutes the right occasion for bit of criminal virtue. Any violence must be strictly necessary for the security of the state. ; it must be done swiftly, often at night – counsel Machiavelli, and it should be repeated too often lest the reputation for mindless brutality builds up. Machiavelli gave the example of his contemporary, Cesare Borgia, Whom he admired as someone who knew how to be tough, but not too tough that we might question the criteria Machiavelli used. when Cesare conquered the city of Cesena, he ordered one of his mercenary, ramirida okow, to bring order to the region which ramiro did through swift and brutal ways – Men were beheaded in front of their wives and children; property was ceased; traitors were castrated. Cesare then turned onto okow himself and had him sliced in half and placed in public square. just to remind the town’s people who the true boss was. but then, as Machiavelli approvingly noted, that was enough blood shed. Cesare moved on to cut taxes,imported cheap grain, build a theater, and organized a series of beautiful festival to keep people from dwelling on unfortunate memories. The catholic church banned Machiavelli work for 200 years because of the force with which he had argued that being a good christian was was incompatible with being a good leader. but even for atheist and those of us not politicians, Machiavelli’s insights are important he writes that we can’t be good at (or for) all things Not only because of our limited ability and resources but also because of conflicts within moral codes. some of the fields we choose; if not politics then perhaps business or, family life may require what we evasively called ‘difficult decisions’. By which we really mean ‘ethical trade-offs’. we may have to sacrifice neo-christian visions of kindness for the sake of practical effectiveness. We may have to lie in order to keep or relationship afloat. We may have to ignore the feeling of certain employees to keep a business going. And that, insists Machiavelli, is the price of dealing with the world as it is, and not as we feel it should be. The world has continued to love and hate Machiavelli in equal measure for insisting on focusing our attention on the uncomfortable tension between two things we love and always want to have together but perhaps can’t – effectiveness and kindness. And Niceness.




Comments
  1. In other words we should seperate church and state described by Jesus " render unto Ceaser's what is Ceaser's what is Ceaser's and unto God what is God's"

  2. There is a subscribe button for a reason man I am so annoyed at this I cannot watch no more, take your damn buttons off your screens people, fucking god dammit eyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy

  3. Who needs school when you have Assassins creed teaching you everything you know just meet the characters and read their database it tells you everything

  4. My problem w/ this discussion is that it's always an either/or comparison of Christianity (as it was then) to politics (as it was then). But the human experience as a whole includes many ways to organize ourselves. Being a "perfect Christian" or an occasionally psychotic person/ruler are not our only 2 choices. Humans are born absolutely helpless. From birth to death we depend on each other. Competition & dominance/submission are sometimes necessary, but we are a species that has co-operation as it's foundation. We die, or live badly, if we're completely isolated. I think what we're seeing through these writings & events is a battle between two groups who were equally ruthless & cruel, and cared only about WHO was going to control the masses w/ "secret police", fear based policies, and a general plan to keep the masses from trusting themselves or each other. Both groups were made up of people who would be assessed as mentally ill these days – all either side could see or care about was having absolute control over as many people as possible. Both groups wanted to take free will/choice/freedom from the masses & enforce their will on them. Both groups wanted to possess all wealth, in any form; neither group believed that the masses should own anything, not even their own bodies. By now it should be easy to see that they were basically two bullies fighting over who's allowed to steal all the lunch money from the other kids & that trying to decide which bully is better is just silly. As a species, we do seem to like to have one person, or a small group of people, who make decisions for us. Maybe discussing how to make sure mentally ill people don't end up as the people making choices would be more productive. We have 1,000's of examples of different ways to live together if we look all over the world and through all human time – examining them all and cherry picking the best options for each aspect of human life and society is a luxury we have now that they did not have then. We could find the best way to set up education, to produce and transport food, to deal with the mischief people will always get into, etc. As a species, we need to learn to see that there are multitudes of options to choose from for any problem/issue, instead of always thinking in an "either/or" way.

  5. The English version of Machiavelli's 'The Prince' is available for listen in full on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IdRxHTih-28 You're welcome.

  6. This is counterproductive to righteous rule.

    Essentially he's saying that a good ruler is both good and evil, but the greatest rulers such as David, Solomon and Muhammad were some of the greatest leaders of all mankind.

    This is what tupac was trying to warn us in 96 just before the establishment killed him.

    He put out that album Killillumanti dealing with Machiavelliansim and how modern day government's use his philosophy to suppress the masses of the population through tyranny, fear, and terrorism.

    Eventually through these sinister and manipulative tactics you force people to surrender to the hegemony of it's ruler who will then display some quasi pretensions 'criminal virtue' appearing to be self righteous all for the sake of stealing their trust.

    This is no different than modern day social media and instant gratification whores on Facebook or instagram where people pretend a role they aren't in real life for the sake winning the trust and good will of the people.

    Eventually this phony use deception, illusion, and manipulation to win over the hearts of the people.

    I won't lie European theology, political stratagems and philosophy at eye bay seems dolly but when you delve deep in you will see it's cynical nature

  7. When I searched for Radicalism and Machiavelli, this video was in the top running two. Machiavelli was Radical and included societal figures to defeat the notion of patriarchal structures. And, would really like to see how Radicalism and detrimental state of living in exile can be brought more in the equation.

  8. If you're a fellow Filipino, do you think that our current president acts like how he is today because of this so called "criminal virtue"?

  9. The Prince was writen as political satire and dedicated to the Medici family because he knew that if anyone actually followed the advise he wrote the people would turn against them eventually. Machiavelli thought that Cesare Borgia was a 'fortunate' fool and did not admire him in the slightest.

    It seems Machiavelli fooled these idiots at the school of life…

  10. Did Machiavelli even read the Bible?God was loved and feared. Blessed Israel but also punished them when they have sinned. Even Jesus, preached about heaven and also a lot about hell.

  11. "Chanakya" was more superior than Machiaville. Just dare to read and accept the facts about him too.

  12. Winston churchill who had killed millions of indian bengalis by shifting their food supplies in europe where this food was wasted and rottened is considered as a good politician . So ultimately killing 7 lakh revolutionaries brutely he was defending his state and these bloody white devils talk about justice and social issues of those nations today whom they had exploited earlier !!!!!! What type of hypocrisy is this ???? . These whole video is on the philosophy of a ruthless imperial military general and a bogus politician of europe !!!!

  13. How would this be done without contradiction within the application of this ideology and with ones personal code of both conduct and honor?

  14. In short, if you want to keep a grip on what you have and gaining the things you want, do what's morally wrong?

    Why not just acting like we want if we think it's okay? I mean, we all have opinions on how to live properly and well, but for me the belief that my view or any other view is in a way better objectively is plain ridiculous.

  15. when we look at history, we see that merciless, immoral, lying leaders were winners, so this actually proves M to be right… However the problem is that most of these leaders tend to put their own interests before their countries

  16. Errrbody who be watching Game of Thrones is looking for tips like these to be ruthless and political, rather than being entrepreneurial and creating new value in business. This is how empires fall.

  17. Donald Trump is the prime example of a world leader we need. Unscrupulous and unafraid to say what needs to be said.

  18. The reason the mad cesre Borgia cut taxes imported grain and built a theatre was to distract pacify the masses, and take the attention off him because he continued with his murderous torturous killing sprees fxxking evil Borgias

  19. So trump!
    Regardless if you like him or not you have to respect the guy. He is the least likely candidate but he is proven to be strong, brutally honest and doesn't take shit. He has no fear and defends our borders. Say what you will but he's doing all the right things from the Prince. Most respect him…look how much CNN talks about him. They are threatened.

  20. You really jump right in your deference to machiovelli, somewhat undermining the reception of any objective facts.

  21. The difference is that some people lie for the benefit of the state. But most politicians lie for the benefit of themselves

  22. Consequently, the conflict between political and religious dividing, is also delinquency the human faith.
    However, the political and religious composition with dividing issues, principles the behavior of human morality and important human rights is also human dignity, nevertheless a good political system need to consider compliance with this issue.

    A) ) Is keeping your goals alive, fight to win the heart and mind of the people.
    B) monitor, observer and check between control, power and abuse of power.
    C) Ruthlessness is necessary in the battle fighting with enemy to win. However, respect human dignity and forgiveness is necessary to make peace with enemies in long-term solution…

    Consequently, the conflict between political and religious dividing, is also delinquency the human faith.
    However, the political and religious composition with dividing issues, principles the behavior of human morality and important human rights is also human dignity, nevertheless a good political system need to consider compliance with this issue.

    A) ) Is keeping your goals alive, fight to win the heart and mind of the people.
    B) monitor, observer and check between control, power and abuse of power.
    C) Ruthlessness is necessary in the battle fighting with enemy to win. However, respect human dignity and forgiveness is necessary to make peace with enemies in long-term solution…

    Watch videos: 
    1) "Machiavelli – A Deep Scrutiny of his Philosophy and Tactics"
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=sP9VKJaqiN8

    2) "Machiavelli: Biography, Quotes, The Prince, Human Nature, Beliefs, Facts (2000)" https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=_A-UCkmldnk

    3) Machiavelli – The Prince
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=share&v=TYLMS2Sh1aM

  23. Consequently, the conflict between political and religious dividing, is also delinquency the human faith.
    However, the political and religious composition with dividing issues, principles the behavior of human morality and important human rights is also human dignity, nevertheless a good political system need to consider compliance with this issue.

    A) ) Is keeping your goals alive, fight to win the heart and mind of the people.
    B) monitor, observer and check between control, power and abuse of power.
    C) Ruthlessness is necessary in the battle fighting with enemy to win. However, respect human dignity and forgiveness is necessary to make peace with enemies in long-term solution…

    Watch videos: 
    1) "Machiavelli – A Deep Scrutiny of his Philosophy and Tactics"
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=sP9VKJaqiN8

    2) "Machiavelli: Biography, Quotes, The Prince, Human Nature, Beliefs, Facts (2000)" https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=_A-UCkmldnk

    3) Machiavelli – The Prince
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=share&v=TYLMS2Sh1aM

  24. what these 1,356,527 viewers know about political theories?  wouldn't be better to present this movie in the jungle, to the monkeys, for example?  your 1,356,527 viewers will vote for Obama or SOMETHING like him  anyway…. 🙂   LGBT's coming!…

  25. Machiavelli was right: Authority must always come from above. Now that more and more citizens are waking up to the fraud that is Judeo-Christianity, authority must come from well trained, and well educated sources, based in rational science, and not in VooDoo. The new globally connected media, that shares gigabites of information, world-wide within seconds, has empowered the masses like nothing previous in history. Tomorrows leaders must be the masters of all forms of media exchange, all forms of advanced technology.

  26. Churchill is suppose to be a good leader? Have you heard his opinion of Hitler and Mussolini before WW2? He was supporting them, look it up.

  27. I see efficient Angela and Obama at the begining of the video where you say "we're all appalled at how sly and dishonest politicians are"….. BUT I see no trump….

  28. This perfectly explains Christians overwhelmingly voting for Trump. Although he isn’t a moral man, he is effective and balanced.

  29. I now am sure that Machiavelli was the best non-divine human on Earth and will always be……thanks Machiavelli very much.

  30. The narrator is presenting his case on the premis that niceness is the same thing thing as genuine morality. He stated at the end that life is wrought with "difficult decisions", which he says are usually ethical tradeoffs, and as an example he said that it may be necessary to offend an employee in order to maintain a company… as jf that is somehow Machiavellian. That kind of thing can't be compared to legitiment ethical tradeoffs and moral decisions that involve, say, "husbands being beheaded in front of their wives". Of course Machiavellian philosophy would be justified if the only thing that was being sacrificed was "niceness" and political leaders simply needed to be pragmatically "unkind". That's totally reasonable because leaders can't keep from offending people. But Machiavelli called for bloody brutality, for goodness sakes. It's not the same thing. The narrator is doing the whole discourse a disservice by watering down Machiavelli's real political philosophy and changing the premise of his theories from subversion and brutality to simple "unkindness" and a lack of consideration for people's feelings.

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