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The Prince- Review.docx

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University of Toronto Mississauga
Political Science
Mark Lippincott

The Prince Statesmanship & Warcraft Machiavelli believes that good laws follow naturally from a good military. His famous statement that “the presence of sound military forces indicates the presence of sound laws” describes the relationship between developing states and war in The Prince. Machiavelli reverses the conventional understanding of war as a necessary, but not definitive, element of the development of states, and instead asserts that successful war is the very foundation upon which all states are built. Much of The Prince is devoted to describing exactly what it means to conduct a good war: how to effectively fortify a city, how to treat subjects in newly acquired territories, and how to prevent domestic insurrection that would distract from a successful war. But Machiavelli’s description of war encompasses more than just the direct use of military force—it comprises international diplomacy, domestic politics, tactical strategy, geographic mastery, and historical analysis. Within the context of Machiavelli’s Italy—when cities were constantly threatened by neighboring principalities and the area had suffered through power struggles for many years—his method of viewing almost all affairs of state through a military lens was a timely innovation in political thinking. Goodwill & Hatred To remain in power, a prince must avoid the hatred of his people. It is not necessary for him to be loved; in fact, it is often better for him to be feared. Being hated, however, can cause a prince’s downfall. This assertion might seem incompatible with Machiavelli’s statements on the utility of cruelty, but Machiavelli advocates the use of cruelty only insofar as it does not compromise the long-term goodwill of the people. The people’s goodwill is always the best defense against both domestic insurrection and foreign aggression. Machiavelli warns princes against doing things that might result in hatred, such as the confiscation of property or the dissolution of traditional institutions. Even installations that are normally valued for military use, such as fortresses, should be judged primarily on their potential to garner support for the prince. Indeed, only when he is absolutely sure that the people who hate him will never be able to rise against him can a prince cease to worry about incurring the hatred of any of his subjects. Ultimately, however, obtaining the goodwill of the people has little or nothing to do with a desire for the overall happiness of the populace. Rather, goodwill is a political instrument to ensure the stability of the prince’s reign. Free Will Machiavelli often uses the words “prowess” and “fortune” to describe two distinct ways in which a prince can come to power. “Prowess” refers to an individual’s talents, while “fortune” implies chance or luck. Part of Machiavelli’s aim in writing The Prince is to investigate how much o
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