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history:h_politics1

History of Political Science - Machiavelli

Machiavelli (1469-1527):

The Prince (1514):

  • men willingly change their ruler, expecting to fare better, but this induces them to take up arms against him, but they only deceive themselves, & they learn from experience that they have made things worse.
  • when lands that have rebelled are reconquered, they are not lost so easily, for the ruler, taking advantage of revolt, is less scrupulous in securing himself by punishing the offenders, probing suspects, strengthening himself where he is weakest;
  • no matter how powerful one's armies, to enter a conquered territory one needs the goodwill of the inhabitants.
  • if a ruler wants to keep hold of his new conquered territories, he must:
    • if the culture & language is similar, he must:
      • destroy the family of the old ruler
      • neither change their laws nor their taxes
        • there is nothing more difficult to arrange, more doubtful of success, and more dangerous to carry through than initiating changes in a state's constitution - the innovator makes enemies of all those who prospered under the old order, & olnly lukewarm support from those who would prosper under the new.
      • set up an oligarchy which will keep the state friendly to you
    • if the culture & language is NOT similar, he must:
      • colonise the new territory, 
        • this is cheaper than maintaining a garrison & do less harm
        • subjects are more satisfied because they have have direct recourse to their new ruler & so have more reason to love him
        • displacing a few inhabitants makes victims of only a minority who reman poor & scattered and thus can do little harm
          • men must be either pampered or crushed, because they can get revenge for small injuries, but not grievous ones
        • the majority left undisturbed, should stay quiet lest they too be dispossessed
        • otherwise, just having a large garrison controlling it will become too expensive as it risks:
          • not being able to recognise troubles early - political disorders can be managed better if tackled early
          • one's officials plundering the land
          • subjects do not have direct recourse to their new ruler
          • everyone suffers from the annoyance of “police control”, & everybody is turned into an enemy, those who grow hostile can do harm, because they remain, defeated, in their own homes
      • make himself the leader & protector of the smaller neighbouring states & weaken those that are strong, ensuring they do not build up too much strength or authority.
      • take precautions to check an invasion by a foreigner as powerful as himself
        • if such an invasion occurs, all the weaker powers give him their support, moved by envy of the power which has so far dominated them.
    • the final option, is to devastate the new territory
      • this is the surest way of all
      • whoever becomes master of a city accustomed to freedom, and does not destroy it, may expect to be destroyed himself, because when there is a rebellion, such a city justifies itself by calling on the name of liberty & its ancient institutions, never forgotten despite the passing of time & the benefits received by the new ruler.
      • if the inhabitants are not dispersed & scattered, they will forget neither that name nor those institutions eg. Pisa even after 100yr rule by Florentines.
      • in republics there is more life, more hatred, a greater desire for revenge, the memory of their ancient liberty does not & cannot let them rest - the surest way is to wipe them out or to live there in person
      • eg. the Romans destroyed the cities of Capua, Carthage & Numantia & so never lost them
  • the wish to acquire more is a very natural & common thing, when men succeed, they are always praised rather than condemned, but when they lack the ability to do so & yet want to acquire more at all costs, they deserve condemnation for their mistakes.
  • to war or not to war:
    • the Romans saw when troubles were coming, and always took counter-measures. They never, to avoid a war, allowed them to go unchecked, because they knew that there is no avoiding war, it can only be postponed to the advantage of others.
    • one should never tolerate having one's plans upset in order to escape a war 
  • whoever is responsible for another's becoming powerful, ruins himself, because the power is brought into being either by ingenuity or force, and both of these are suspect to the one who has become powerful
  • the 1st way to lose your state is to neglect the art of war
  • principalities are ruled in one of two ways:
    • by a prince to whom everyone is subservient, & whose ministers, with his favour & permission, help govern
      • the prince has greater authority, for throughout the whole country, he alone is recognised as being entitled to allegiance; anyone else is obeyed as a minister & an official for whom no special love is felt
      • it is difficult to win control of such an empire, but once conquered, it can be held with ease
      • eg. the Turkish empire in 15thC
    • by a prince & by nobles whose rank is established not by favour of the prince but by their ancient lineage
      • the prince has less authority
      • the nobles have states of their own, & these acknowledge them as their lords & bear a natural affection towards them.
      • it is more easy to take control, but it can only be held with difficulty
      • eg. the king of France in 15thC
  • one can become a ruler by either:
    • hereditary
    • power - one's own army
    • prowess
    • goodwill & fortune of those that elevate him
    • crime - but whilst they may rule with power, they rarely do so with glory
    • elected
      • people are everywhere anxious not to be dominated or oppressed by nobles
      • nobles are out to dominate & oppress people
      • these opposed ambitions bring about one of three results:
        • principality
          • may be brought about in 2 ways depending on who has the opportunity:
            • if nobles see that they cannot withstand the people, they start to increase the standing of one of their own & make him prince to achieve their own ends under his cloak
            • the people in the same way, increase the standing of one of themselves & make him prince in order to be protected by his authority
              • the prince here has an easier job as he only needs to appease the people & all they want is not to be oppressed
        • a free city
        • anarchy
  • how a prince should rule:
    • the 1st way to lose your state is to neglect the art of war
    • generosity vs parsimony:
      • a reputation for generosity can lead to downfall, as it requires one to be ostentatiously lavish, which will soon lead to squandering of resources & need to raise taxes & thus burden many people whilst being generous to only a few
      • he will be recognised as being essentially a generous man, seeing that because of his parsimony, his existing revenues are enough for him, he can defend himself against an aggressor, & he can embark on enterprises without burdening the people.
    • cruelty vs compassion:
      • a prince should not worry if he incurs reproach for his cruelty so long as he keeps his subjects united & loyal.
        •  the people prefer there not to be murder & rape as this affects the whole community, whereas executions by a prince only affect individuals. Executions must have proper justification & manifest reason for it.
        • Cesare Borgia was accounted cruel, nevertheless, this cruelty reformed the Romagna, brought it unity, & restored order & obedience
        • the Florentine people, who to escape being called cruel, allowed Pistoia to be devastated.
        • it is far better to be feared than loved, if you cannot be both
          • men in general, are ungrateful, fickle, liars, deceivers, they shun danger & are greedy for profit - while you treat them well, they are yours, but when you are in danger, they turn against you.
          • men worry less about doing an injury to one who makes himself loved than to one who makes himself feared.
          • the bond of love is one which men, wretched creatures that they are, break when it is to their advantage to do so - but fear is strengthened by a dread of punishment which is always effective.
        • nevertheless, he should make himself feared in such a way, if he is not loved, at least he escapes being hated.
          • fear is quite compatible with an absence of hatred
          • the prince can always avoid hatred if he abstains from the property of his subjects & citizens and from their women.
          • men sooner forget the death of their father than the loss of their patrimony.
    • honesty vs dishonesty:
      • princes who have achieved great things have been those who have given their word lightly, who have known how to trick men with their cunning, and who, in the end, have overcome those abiding by honest principles.
      • one must be a fox in order to recognise traps, and a lion to frighten off wolves
        • just acting like a lion is stupid, a prudent ruler cannot honour his word if it places him at a disadvantage & when the reasons for which he made his promise no longer exist.
        • men are wretched creatures who would not keep their word to you, you need not keep your word to them.
        • a prince will never lack good excuses to colour his bad faith.
    • a prince should be careful not to say a word which does not seem inspired by him having the 5 qualities:
      • 5 qualities:
        • compassion
        • good faith
        • integrity
        • kind
        • religious
      • everyone sees what you appear to be, few experience what you really are
      • the common people are always impressed by appearances and results
    • avoid contempt & hatred
    • ensure you surround yourself with good men:
      • the 1st opinion of a ruler's intelligence is based on the quality of the men he has around him - choose wisely.
    • avoid flatterers:
      • the only way to safeguard against being surrounded by flatterers is by letting people understand that you are not offended by the truth, but if everyone can speak the truth to you then you lose respect
history/h_politics1.txt · Last modified: 2013/01/14 21:46 by gary1