Journal: Response to Machiavelli’s The Prince

Journal assignment completed for “The Self Before Selfies”

“Since love and fear can hardly exist together, if we must choose between them, it is far safer to be feared than loved.”

Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince

Machiavelli’s The Prince defines crucial characteristics that a leader must possess in order to establish the longevity of a nation. The building blocks of modern politics called for a unified nation through culture and through proper execution of power. Similarly, Machiavelli instructs that a leader should be able to defend himself and not cower behind walls. This aligns with his suspiciously positive commentary of Lorenzo de’ Medici who foiled the Pazzi conspiracy with his survival. Additionally, Machiavelli points out that a leader should ensure the strength of his nation through military and supplies, commenting that so long as weapons and food are stocked all would be well. One shouldn’t piece together a fortified nation during or after a war; it should take place before. He must have disapproved of Lorenzo’s legacy, since his death left Italy in ruins.

Then, Machiavelli dictates that a leader should not be hated. Instead, a leader should be feared. No one attacks someone who is not hated, and even if he or she did, then he or she will be hated. The humanist in Machiavelli emerges when he acknowledges that “it is impossible to have and exercise [all good qualities] because the conditions of human life simply do not allow it” (407). As a result, he discloses how to accommodate these circumstances. Finally, at one point, Machiavelli comments on how to treat subjects and friends, as it is important for a leader to know the difference and how to act in the public. Like Giannozzo’s manual for the wife, a leader must know that familiarity blurs boundaries and often tarnishes respect.

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