Can Machiavelli Be Defended By Strauss?

2213 words - 9 pages

Can Machiavelli be defended against Strauss's accusation of being 'a teacher of evil'?.Niccolo Machiavelli, arguably the world's most renowned political philosopher was born in 1469 in Florence. Entering the world of politics at the tender age of twenty-five in a tumultuous political period in Italy, Machiavelli started as a clerk. The playwright and poet went onto write some of the most ruthless political theories the world has ever seen, following several years of incarceration due to conspiracy charges. The making of Machiavelli's pragmatism as he stressed, came through his career dealing with diplomatic and military matters. Working with the new republic of Florence, Machiavelli ...view middle of the document...

Machiavelli's desperate attempt to return to politics failed and the Medici family soon became an enemy. [1: Leo Strauss (1958). Thoughts on Machiavelli . Chicago : University of Chicago press . p10.]The dedication of the prince alone shows Machiavelli's alliance to Lorenzo de' Medici. Soon overlooked however by the discussion he begins in Chapter One about the different types of states, how a ruler should acquire them and what difficulties said ruler may come across. Machiavelli first begins his observations on human nature and some of begins to write what is thought to be the most wicked political writing in history.Machiavelli is first seen as evil as he explains what a new principality must do to maintain his power after revolution. Machiavelli suggests rather than to exile or negotiate with the family of the overthrown, the only way to keep the power is to murder the family of the past prince. Because men will soon forget the death of family quicker than they forget what has been stolen from them. Furthermore a ruler has little option but to confirm to the people of his new domain as he is in debt to them. People will live peacefully if their old ways are undisturbed but those who stood against the prince should be dealt with harshly. Machiavelli described men as "thickle, liars and deceivers" Yet he so strongly wrote that a prince must be this to maintain power, whether Machiavelli was right or not his writing still remains as shocking five hundred years later as it did when it was first published. "It is much safer to be feared than loved because is preserved by the link of obligation which, owing to the baseness of men, is broken at every opportunity for their advantage; but fear preserves you by a dread of punishment which never fails." (Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince ) possibly one of the most iconic political quotes, Strauss almost perfectly predicted Machiavelli's effect on history. The use of Machiavellianism by dictators in the twentieth century saw the outcome of the harshest dictatorships in history. Yet has always left the question is it better for a dictator to be feared that loved. Hitler use of Machiavelli type dictatorship crafted one of the most ruthless leaders in history, by murdering his enemies in the night of the long knives and sending those who disagreed with him to their deaths at the gulags. Like Machiavelli, Hitler longed for Germanys pride to be restored by the use of harsh nationalism. Hitler indoctrinated the youth in Germany with the use of the Hitler youth. Making promises he knew he could not keep did not matter to Hitler as he did much to please them and they wouldn't be aware. Gestapo through the secret police struck fear into the people he loved. WW2 he used propaganda to make the people believe joining the war would help restore Germany's greatness.It is wrong for Strauss to solely call Machiavelli the teacher of evil. Dictators had been evil before the Prince had been written. Caligu...


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