Most people refer to Machiavelli as the founder of modern political science; he was a diplomat, politician, and writer. He was quite instrumental in influencing the writing and thinking in many diplomats and scholars who succeeded him through his widely read thoughts on politics and political science as actually practiced. Machiavelli individualism took the form of a markedly practical political thinking. According to Bull, Harris, Lock, and Rees (2000), he created a self-sufficient systematic political philosophy, which is independent and distinct from religion. Machiavelli was a spokesperson for realism and introduced reason, as the reality in politics. One of his literary works where Machiavelli individualism, political philosophy, is so prominent is his book ‘Prince’. In the ‘Prince” Machiavelli promoted the notion that a ruler need not trouble over means, but must use any means, no matter how wicked, to make his people obey and to strike down his enemies (Donski, 2011).
Machiavelli wrote the ‘Prince’ with one sole objective in mind, ‘offering Italian leaders or would be leaders the most realistic steps possible for attaining and holding power, without any other consideration but that of power’. According to Bull et al. (2000), he wrote the book in the belief that his experience as an envoy as well as his study of history (great leaders’ actions) could provide the rational political discourse to prove his superiority as an advisor whose services would be valuable to the Medici in power specifically and the other leaders in general. He focussed on the political recipe for a successful and ruthless leader.
Machiavelli either agreed or disagreed with earlier writers working on the discussion on the prince. For instance, Machiavelli disagreed with the fact that Gods had a thing to do with the political affairs of a man (Donski, 2011). Previously, Camoens had suggested that God and Christ played a role in man’s affairs; however, the soul and the heart to honor the individual exploits of Portugal explorers. In the prince, Machiavelli emphasized that this was not the case. He mentioned the church, but only in terms of the purpose, which it plays in making leaders weak and creating fear in them, which prevents them from being effective leaders. Machiavelli also criticized Aristotle. The two differed on whether power and happiness lie in virtue. Aristotle had previously claimed that power had nothing to do with happiness and Machiavelli differed with this by claiming that power has everything to do with happiness, as this is where a difference between two men lies (Brown, 1996). Machiavelli disagreed with Aristotle’s view and to some extent considered them as naïve. Aristotle also claimed that power, happiness, and wealth accrued from one being a truly genuine person where Machiavelli disagreed by claiming that being a good person did not have much to do with it; in case one had morals, they would feel guilty in case it was based on treachery.
Machiavelli also criticized some of Plato’s ideas. Plato treated a republic as a particular way for every person in a state to live in peace in case of possession by an innate good (Donski, 2011). Machiavelli refuted this idea and argued that it was not realistic to assume that all people in a kingdom would conduct themselves in a way that is consistent with the ruling of a good ruler. Machiavelli claimed that a ruler who possessed an innate quality, which was always good, would never have the ability to rule his or her people in a successful manner. A ruler who treated his subjects in a good manner would ultimately meet his downfall, as his subjects would rise against him (Brown, 1996). Machiavelli preferred the philosophers who are more political and often spoke much of historians and writers.
Machiavelli emphases on the political philosophy regarding a ruler shaped his work literary qualities. Machiavelli reflected on the highest themes without thinking about the conditions of his thought, which were broadly speaking, political (Brown, 1996). He took note of the politics of his time and as a result, the politics of any time, which is the fundamental nature of politics. For him, the philosophy of this time whether it was lingering renaissance Platonism or medieval Aristotelianism, was on less or more friendly terms with Christianity. Machiavelli was a thinker who expected greater results from the remedies he proposed (Brown, 1996). He criticized the lack of knowledge of histories: the authority of Christianity was in the way of his political project of reviving ancient virtue. In his own manner as well as with fierce determination, he found it important to reassert the integrity of nature against those who offered authoritative opinions reassuring to the people and the convenient for their own domination (Donski, 2011). For him, the affirmation of nature necessitated the defense of the world at that time against the claims of the world, which was to follow. His defense necessitated a rediscovery of nature, which was a reformulation of the classical perspective. He showed that people had the capacity to control what earlier writers thought uncontrollable and what religion left in God’s hand (Brown, 1996).
The current society can learn from Machiavelli’s work ‘The Prince’ and apply his leadership ideas, especially in business. Some of the principles can benefit modern leaders, for instance, Machiavelli stressed that a ruler has to be aware of the morale of his subjects at all times, which a leader can follow to ensure that the subjects, followers, or employees do not become dissatisfied with his ruling. The leaders should thus address the grievances of the followers to ensure the dissatisfaction does not become rebellion. Machiavelli argued that a prince has to avoid the hatred of his followers to remain in power (Donski, 2011).
The leaders should also uphold an air of power. According to Machiavelli, good leaders listen to their followers and behave in a stately fashion. Modern leaders should thus strive to be viewed as powerful by their followers: they should look the part, listen to their subjects; however, they should have the last word.