Niccolò Machiavelli, His Political Thought


Prince: Analysis of Monarchy
Discourses on Livius: Analysis of Strong Republic
 In the first one, the main theme is the successful creation of a princedom by an individual; in the other it is the
creation of an empire of free citizens.
 But in both, the centre of his thought is the method of those who wield the power of the state rather than the
nature of relationship between the ruler and the ruled.
 Machiavelli viewed things from the standpoint of the ruler and not the ruled, preservation of the state rather
than the excellence of its constitution was his main consideration.
 He writes of the mechanisms of the governments by which the state can be made strong and the politics that
can expand their powers. He points out the errors that bring about their downfall too.
 In the words of Sabine: “The purpose of politics is to preserve and increase political power itself, and the
standard by which he judges it is its success in doing this. He often discusses the advantage of immorality
skilfully used to gain a ruler’s ends, and it is this which is mainly responsible for his evil repute. But for the
most part he is not so much immoral as non-moral.”
 A thing which would be immoral for an individual to do, might, if necessary, in interest of the state, be
justifiably done by a ruler or a monarch. His indifference towards morality, therefore, can be explained in
terms of political expediency.
 Machiavelli based his thought on two premises. First, on the ancient Greek assumption that the state is the
highest form of human association necessary for the protection, welfare and perfection of humanity and as such
the interests of the state are definitely superior to individual or social interests.
 The second premise was that the self-interest in one form or another, particularly material self-interest, is the
most potent of all factors of political motivation. Hence, the art of statecraft consists of the cold calculations of
elements of self-interests in ally given situation and the intelligent use of the practical means to meet the
conflicting interests.

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