Niccolo Machiavelli was born during the time of political upheaval in Italy. When he was born in a wealthy family in Florentine in 1469, by then the ruling family of Medici had ruled Italy for 35 years. Political life then in Italy was plagued by fear, instability, and invasion. Italy was in war and competition with other European superpowers then who were Spain and France. Machiavelli witnessed the Medici rule being overthrown by Savonarola, begun the sate of Florentine Republic. Savonarola was not interested in Italian politics until 1498 when a second Republic formed under Soderini. It was at this time that Machiavelli became secretary of the Republic, he was considered a distinguished diplomat. The new Republic was also crushed in 1512when the Spanish attacked and allowed Medici’s were returned into power. The Republicans were removed from power, and Machiavelli was imprisoned and also tortured, he later exiled to his country estate in San Casciano. While he was in exile was Machiavelli was desperate to return to the politics Italy and thus he wrote many of his principle works, among them was the prince The Prince (Spielvogel 2008).
In the prince there are various popular quotes and famous of the 17th chapter of The Prince. I this he stated that a good ruler should prefer to be feared than love. Machiavelli believed it was safe, as he believed that all men are wicked. He also believed that all men are avoiders of danger, ungrateful, eager for gain, fickle and feigners and dissemblers. Machiavelli believed men will obey a ruler for as long as he is of use to them. He also believed that if a ruler is not of use to the community they will send deny him and eject him like a thief. He believed that love attaches men with an obligation, but men are wicked, when interest are at stake, men will break the obligation completely. He also believed that fear is a tool that can be used on others, he believed that people feared because they are afraid of punishment, and this is much stronger. Therefore people in their selfish interest they will obey everything so as to avoid punishment. He believed that fear was an important tool that should be used by leaders to ensure that the others will forever be subordinate and every good ruler will need to employ fear in his leadership for him to retain power. He also stated that the main goal for any leader is power and true power can be achieved by employing fear on others. People must obey if the conditions clearly states they must obey and if not so there are consequences for their actions. Machiavelli never advocated for cruelty for no reason but he thought it was necessary so as to ppreserve power.
In the book Machiavelli, said a leader should not be hated. He must always ensure that he is popular. He said that if a leader is hated by his subjects there is a probability of secret plotting and also there being a mutiny by his subjects. Therefore a leader must always ensure he is popular by always ensuring that the majority of the masses are well satisfied with him so as to ensure he maintains order and ensure he keeps the power that he has.
Machiavelli believed that it is essential for the head of the army to be cruel to his juniors, he believed this was important for him to keep the army united and always ready for action. Therefore for one to earn a good command in the army he has to have a reputation, since being in power is the goal of a ruler and therefore, he must use cruelty to maintain this power. It is very difficult for anyone to think of attacking a leader who has a reputation of cruelty.
The prince was written by Machiavelli so that he could win the favor of the Medici government. But many dictators have employed the views that are there in the book and brought untold suffering to their people. In the current world, leaders such as those in Burma, North Korea and other dictatorial countries today employ Machiavelli views to the letter.