POL 2108 A- Modern Political Thought I - Guy Côté - 03 Jan. 14
Most philosophers think there’s a human nature, whether it is that we’re all good or bad.
There is no single truth.
Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527) does not believe our human nature includes the desire
to be happy, unlike the early Greek philosophers likeAristotle or Plato. To him, if you have an
objective, any means to achieve said end is allowed. Morals have no relation. Unlike other
philosophers, he does not focus on what the objective should be, but the means.
He was very ambitious and wanted to be Prince Lorenzo de Medici’s advisor. He even
wrote a book about how to achieve your goals to get the Prince’s attention. Basically, he talks
about how to get from pointAto point B. To Machiavelli, B is a self-fulfillment of the state.
To him, the more ancient a historical text is about politics, the more truthful it is. He is
someone who wanted to restore the Roman Empire. The state can only fulfill itself if it became
like the Roman Empire. He admired the concept of fear. He thought that fear was the most
important. Citizens should be fearing the Empire, b/c if they fear the government, they’ll be more
likely to listen. In fact, if the government tries to relate or be likeable to its citizens, it’ll be
worse. The Prince should be feared, but not hated. This is then the problem that Machiavelli had
with Democracy. Since parties are always trying to be elected, and this involves being nice and
appealing to its citizens, the the parties are not doing what they should be doing, taking the
proper decisions for the Republic (read below).APrince cannot make the right decisions if he
keeps seeking love from his people. In the end, the Prince should be feared, not hated, but not
loved either. If he was hated, then people would disobey him and perhaps instigate rebellion or
leave. He couldn’t take his people’s property either or their women.
He even has a whole theory on religion. Church makes the promotion of a vengeful God,
in that if you don’t listen to him, you’ll be put in Hell. This fear keeps people obedient and keeps
order. So politically, he wants to put a similar system in the state. He sees religion as a scheme to
keep stability, order, and obedience. To him, religion is therefore the perfect example of an
organization that does this. Similarly, he wants the state’s military to fear the state as well, so
they’ll work for it better. For the Christians, God was love. For the Jews and o