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POL200Y1Y L5101 1
L15: The Prince II
June 30, 2009
•Finishing Ch 6: The Wholly New Prince
•Rulers + the People
•Ch. 10 + Fortification
•Transformation of Virtues + Vices
Today we examine one of the most important sections of the entire second half of the
course. Here he really tries to transition to the political philosophy of modernity from
Finishing Ch 6: The Wholly New Prince
•If you look at the examples of the wholly new prince, you see that these are the ideal
paradigms of princes (recall the 4). He says, in a rhetorical gesture, that fortune gave
these leaders only their first opportunity only by displaying its malignancy. These were
hardly pieces of good luck. These founders of wholly new principalities needed nothing
from fortune. If this is true then think back to the dedicatory epistle. Hence, this raises
the question of whether Machiavelli himself is a founder of a new order. He was beset
by the malignity of fortune (recall that he was born into a divided Italy). So it may just
be bad fortune, but what he is getting at is that the paradigmatic rulers recognized the
malignancy of fortune as an opportunity for greatness. Glory shines more brightly when
beset by obstacles! In chapter 20, Machiavelli says that fortune makes one surrounded
by enemies and dangers so that a great man can climb the ladder of glory (which is
provided by enemies). Nietzchean thought seems to originate here.
•In Book 1 chapter 26 of the Discourses, Machiavelli says that the new prince must
remake the principality in his image and undertake a complete revolution.
Rulers + the People
•Is it better to be seconded by the people or the elite?
•According to Machiavelli the conqueror MUST understand traditions of liberty as
well as political structures of those people - [Chapter 4]
oBut the difference is that a single prince made all of his subordinates
dependent on him. He has created loyalty among them if he has chosen his
subordinates wisely. But the more important factor is that the populace of such
territories will recognize a single ruler. Hence, the single ruler has the loyalty of
both nobles and people. He will have difficulty being attacked since the loyalty of
the people. They are hard to conquer since their loyalties are not divided. But once
conquered, they are very loyal. Once you kill the old prince's family, their loyalty
goes to you.
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POL200Y1Y L5101 2
oThe One, the Few and the Many.
oMachiavelli claims that kingdoms ruled by a monarch is different from
country ruled by nobles. Because the nobles have rank and property. The monarch
answers only to himself. This makes the people respect the nobles in their own
right. Hence the nobility can easily become the enemy of a single ruler trying to
establish undivided authority. The nobility will b speaking their own gain and
hope to benefit fro m the attack of an outside enemy. Hence within such a
kingdom you have a lot of disloyal possibilities. But such a kingdom is difficult to
hold because the nobles always provide an alternative base of authority to your
own. They can always provide leadership for an insurrection. They will always
have their own follower s to contest the prince's authority
oHence the key to ruling a prince is to gain the undivided following of the
populace and to suppress the nobility.
•Machiavelli maintains that the elite and the populace are opposed. They have
different life goals. Ordinary people chiefly want to be left along with security. They
want respect and to be left alone with their property. By contrast, members of the elite
have drives for power money and glory. Those drives threaten ordinary citizens and
destabilize regimes. In other words, the nobles are liberated from ordinary necessities.
Hence they have quite a bit of latitude in deciding how to live. Hobbes will later say the
elite are dangerous since they care about honour and reputation. They have the
mentality of rulers, they view princes as being equal to themselves. Especially if the
nobles have put the prince in power, they respect thing sin return.
oThus the nobility will always be hard to use for the prince. By contrast the
people will show gratitude; they are not competitive with the prince. They will be
grateful simply because they are being protected from the elite. The elite are few,
the people many, it is crucial to have the people on one side.
oMoreover, the elite can be made or unmade. This is important since the rise
of the modern state was taking place here. This is important for when in the 17th
century the modern states were being created. The people are always just the
people. Hence, we must always protect the people's private property.
•A political theory and the people are shaped and divided by economic circumstances.
He is proponent of people power. He recognizes that people are the source of political
power. This is a very great change in political philosophy.
oBut he is NOT favouring democracy
oHe is favouring a principality where the people are governed and managed by
a very capable leader. They do not have to be involved, but their desires to security
must be used for stability.
•To win over the people is largely a matter of context.
oHowever, one universal rule is that the leader MUST be a man of virtue. He
must be a resolute firm protector. He must have impressive and dramatic
impressions because this greats real consequences. Virtue is not good in its own
sake as Aristotle/Plato said: it must give the right impression in order to be
Does this not contaminate virtue? M would say this is a necessary
compromise is goodness is to be obtained.
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