Machiavelli is a pragmatic and empirical thinker, an emerging philosopher of the Renaissance. The Renaissance, a period characterized by the intellectual vitality and rebirth, must have influenced Machiavelli on his ideas, and the emergence of modern scientific period must have also induced him to abandon medieval ideas that concerns governing man in moral terms. Hobbes, on the other hand, was influenced by Machiavelli, but he exemplified on the idea of social contract, an agreement and necessity for sovereign for his own vision of state called the Leviathan. Hobbes, as compared to Machiavelli, is more inclined to the scientific and mechanical way of ruling, while the latter is more politically persistent.
Given a choice on which type of government would I want to live in, I would choose Machiavelli’s idea of government.
I find Machiavelli very impressive on his ideas about his type of a ruler, fully detailed in his famous work, The Prince. Because he is a realist and a humanist, he differs so much with other classical and medieval thinkers who dwell on their own idealistic type of ruler: humble, morally good, intelligent, sympathetic, virtuous, etc. The fact that these kinds of descriptions are not really possible and realistic for a good ruler is exemplified by Machiavelli, and it is only fit that we should be disillusioned with these kinds of ideas. The kind of ruler that Machiavelli envisioned is the kind of ruler that impresses me: ambitious and crafty. In The Prince, he laid out the almost seamless and concise descriptions of a ruler: the combination of a fox and a lion, the fusion of craftiness and military genius, wary and devious to defend power, the one who would know the character of a beast to control what needs to be controlled. To be a leader, you have to assert a certain kind of power as a dominant tool, or else the state you’d be handling would be vulnerable and weak to political uprisings and essentially won’t work.
Although Machiavelli is undeniably refutable on his ideas especially with regards to issues of morality, (the idea that he prefers to use violence to a certain extent to extend the power of a ruler) nevertheless you cannot deny that he is also a practical philosopher to make us aware that we should not believe in the goodness of all people, and thus be doubtful on the motives of the people around you. Truly a realist, this can be applied basically in all regions of politics.
According the Machiavellian principles, the ruler must be entitled to do whatever he wants provided that it is for the satisfaction of the community. Power should be separated from morality, ethics and religion, and power is more prioritized. We thought that to do acts that are permissive as prescribed by Machiavelli can be considered as ‘ethically and morally’ heinous crimes, but this kind of consciousness is only deeply felt because the medieval thought of the dominance of religion still has its after-effects on people. I agreed with Machiavelli that even religion is a mere instrument of political domination and exercise of power, whether or not Man is aware of this. After all, Machiavelli stressed that the interest of the prince was to be identified with that of the community, and the “the thing to be left out of a consideration of politics was morality.” (Bronowski and Mazlish, 1975)
There is nothing wrong of Machiavelli’s idea of virtu – men and power in the sense of masculine force, as long as we’d use the political power and use it well, as long as we don’t engender hate and just induced respected fear. Machiavelli, for me, does not really advocate absolute power for he believes it would incur hatred. Machiavellian’s prince is not immoral, for me he is just pragmatic.
The problem in the government that Machiavelli envisioned are those people who think that a man can get by sitting calmly and be ignorant of other people’s capabilities to be wicked. The conflict will arise only if we study and hope for the ideal and neglect the real.