To begin with, there are several points that can be compared and contrasted in relation to the Machiavelli's "The Qualities of the Prince" and King's "Letter From Birmingham Jail". The comparison as well as the contrast can be done from the points of view of several issues. As such, is their view on justice, power, ends & means, human nature and appearances? In connection to this, Machiavelli's "The Qualities of the Prince" defines how a Prince or a leader should be in order to maintain his position of leadership and power.
So to speak, Machiavelli puts it that justice can only be achieved when one stands firm and ensures that everyone does not hate him. He further continues to say that a prince should be a man of war. This is to mean that he should be prepared in war time as well as in times of peace. Furthermore, Machiavelli puts it that a prince during the time of peace, a prince should train so much on war. In regard to this, Machiavelli brings out the aspect that men are either good or evil and in most cases they will tend to show the evil part as they seek for self gains (Machiavelli 62).
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The sole aim of Machiavelli writing on the qualities of a prince, was to give a guide on the way a prince should be able to rule and govern or rather be able to keep the power in his very hands.
He insists that a prince should ensure that is loved or feared by the people he leads but the better to be feared (Machiavelli 190). The point of view of Machiavelli concerning justice and power is that it seems that justice is achieved through any means whether good or bad so long as this makes him to remain in power. In order that a prince may remain in power he ought to rule firmly and in justice in order to maintain power.
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In consistent to this, he should ensure that he is feared by the people he leads as this will prevent anyone who want to harm him (Machiavelli 16). Thus, a ruler or prince should rule by trying not to be too good as anyone who tries to be good will one day end up into ruin. Men are either evil or good and in order for a prince to maintain the leadership status, the prince should neither be too good. However, a prince who is loved can maintain the rule but if it happens that the prince is feared so much, this may lead to conspiracy. Again, being too good can make the men to take one for granted and thus may view a prince as a weak one (Machiavelli 60).
Altogether, having pointed out on the thoughts brought out in the Machiavelli Qualities of prince, it is important to consider the thoughts in the King's "Letter from Birmingham Jail". There seems to be a great difference between the two.
Firstly, the King states that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. Having been devoted to seek for peace, and unification of all without the evil and injustice of racism, Luther, the king, fought hard for human rights for freedom and civil rights. In this line of thought, compared to Machiavelli, Luther advocates for the people to use good means for good ends.
On the other hand, Machiavelli puts it that the end justifies the means. This is to mean that at whatever cost whether good or evil, so long as a Prince can retain the position and power, it is allowed. As it regards the point of view of the King on matters of human nature, humans are created by God and should be treated equally despite the color or their origin together with being viewed as equal. Therefore racism should be not be a point to be debated on, it is an evil that should be condemned. Machiavelli advocates for the use of war even during peaceful moments as human beings are deceivers, vacillating and a people that seek for selfish gains.
While the king looks for a government that will rule with honesty and faithfulness, Machiavelli looks for governments that rules with injustice whereby the end justifies the means. In connection to this, whatever means a prince may use whether a dishonesty one or not, it is justified by the end result that is directed to (Machiavelli 66). In combination to this, a prince may rule through unjust means in order to achieve the goals of being loved by the people and feared but avoiding to be hated, an aspect if neglected can result to conspiracy and rebellion.
According to the King, there is a moral responsibility for each and everyone to obey just laws and disobey the unjust ones. This is to mean that there are both just and unjust laws. Hence, the human race can only be complete if they follow the just laws which are based on the good morals that are inherent. Again, the oppressed people cannot remain oppressed for all the days of their lives according to the King for one day they will seek to break free from the bondage (Magazine 31). Contrary, Machiavelli advocates for oppression so long as the desired ends are met. In the same line of thought, the King seeks to perpetuate peaceful and nonviolent demonstrations of which it differs from Machiavelli who is for the idea that war is a means to justify the end.
In permutation with this, the King in his letter pointed out on the need to necessitate for reconciliation and living as brothers but on the other hand, Machiavelli sees people as to posses a nature that is evil.
According to him, there are good people as well as bad ones but all in all a balance should exist.
Equality and the civil rights for all the people without racism seem to be a goal for the king (Magazine 40) while for Machiavelli, maintenance of power through means of racism and injustices, are the most important. Also, being dishonesty by means of seeking to make people happy by doing what they want whether good or evil and maintain the power of rule is the main goal for a prince. There seems to be a very big gap between the ideas of Machiavelli and King. The former promotes the importance and the good of an individual while the latter looks at the good of the society in terms of unity, justice for all, equal rights, Human as God's creation and reconciliation and peace for all without violence.
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