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Machiavelli: His political ideas

A. This study will provide a summary and criticism of the political ideas of Machiavelli.

l. Machiavelli's ideas were based on the political instability of his time.

Machiavelli argues that it is better for a leader to be feared than to be loved, because fear brings order and loyalty.

Machiavelli uses the example of Cesare Borgia as a leader who used cruelty to bring order and unity.

B. He uses the example of the Florentines as leaders who failed because they did not use cruelty.

C. Machiavelli argues that human beings are ungrateful, fickle and deceitful creatures who must be mistrusted by the prince and controlled through fear.

A. Machiavelli should be in part excused for his errors of thinking because he was trying to deal with the problems of his time.

B. His ideas were used by totalitarian leaders.

C. He was wrong about human nature, not recognizing that by treating people like animals they would become like animals.

His theories will lead to revolution and/or failures of

This study will provide a summary and criticism of several related ideas of Machiavelli from his work The Prince.

There is no way to understand or appreciate the pragmatic

approach of Machiavelli to political thought and practice without first recognizing the political reality in which Machiavelli lived. In other words, as editor Bergen writes in his Introduc-

tion, "The country was divided into five important states . . .

Frequent wars between these powers did break out . . . A certain precarious balance of power existed in Italy in the l5th Century" (Machiavelli vii).

Thus, the ideas of Machiavelli might seem to some to be highly totalitarian, but in the context of the historical and

political framework in which he lived and wrote, those ideas are seen to be more reasonable, at least from the point of view of a political thinker who places order above freedom. As shall be

argued in the second hal...

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