Niccolo Machiavelli is a renowned philosopher who chose to write the book, The Prince, after his downfall in politics. This was a time when politics in Italy was violent and conflict. The book gives insight into how one can become a successful and effective leader thereby remaining in power. It describes a master plan of ruling, and appears like an advice to the people in power. The book describes how a prince can hold on to power. However, The Prince is not just based on politics, but also discusses psychology, philosophy, sociology, and human nature. This is evident because the book includes feature like probability and free will, which are topics from philosophy and psychology.
Niccolo started with analyzing human nature to form a basis for his argument. He argues that humans are concerned with what belongs to them, and as long as they have property and honor, majority of people will be contented. He adds that people are driven by the greed for money and powerful individuals are more aggressive. Niccolo believes that people will desire the good qualities in other people, such as honesty, generosity, integrity, and mercy, but they do not build those virtues in themselves (Machiavelli 34). According to Niccolo Machiavelli, people follow the general opinion and judge from what they see. Many people do not conceptualize what they see, and the few who do, still follow the general opinion. People can become loyal to other people because of favors, but this loyalty can change. Friendship can be bought, but this type of friendship does not last.
Two factors that determine success; Virtu, which is described as the skill, wisdom, prowess, strength, good decision-making, and the use of free will. The second is Fortuna, which is described as probability, luck, chance, and other factors beyond one’s control. Niccolo argues that these two factors are equally important and that they contribute equally towards the outcome as regards to success or failure. During these times, many writers merely believed in Fortuna for success, but Niccolo believed human effort and character also play a part (Machiavelli 125). He argued that a prince, who only relies exclusively on Fortuna, would change when Fortuna changes.
People may use different methods, but end at the same level of success. It is possible for two people to use similar means of reaching some possibilities, but one succeeds while the other does not. This is the principle, which asserts that actions should change with changes in time (Machiavelli 203). A prince should emulate the lion and the fox. A prince should be as strong and ferocious as a lion, and canning as a fox.
A prince should be feared and not loved. However, the prince should be cautious not to be hated. Both love and fear rarely come together, and Niccolo prefers to be feared than to be loved. Niccolo argues that people in power should do anything possible to remain in power. They should not be doing things to pursue some sort of morals or ideals. In the Prince, Niccolo asserts that leaders should hire skilled and qualified workers. The ministers and other servants should work in the interest of the state and the ruler. In the book, it also clear that Niccolo believed that there is needed to have a good military and laws.
I agree with Niccolo in some areas, but also disagree with him on some principles. It is true that leaders should choose the right civil servants who have interest for the people and for the state. However, these servants and ministers should not have interest with the leader. The assertion that a leader should appear to have good qualities is wrong. Leaders should be people of integrity and good morals. I also agree with him that a country should have laws and the military. This will ensure that things are done in order and no one is being oppressed.
In summary, this book tries to explain the means through which a ruler can retain power. Niccolo tries to give advice on the guidelines, which should be followed in order to retain power. He argues points, which should make rulers appear good with his fox like tactics, and make them remain in power.