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In the modern day world, most of the social, economical and political freedom that most nations enjoy is as a result of the efforts and sacrifice by social, economical and political activists; however it is important to note where most of the African nations started experiencing these "fruits" in the late 18th and 19th centuries, most of European nations enjoyed this freedom from as early as the 13th century. For instance in Africa some of the pioneers of this freedom are Jomo Kenyatta in Kenya, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere in Tanzania and Nelson Mandela in South Africa.
The purpose of this research paper however is not to focus on the contribution of African, activists but rather it will focus on one Italian scholar who spearheaded the renaissance of Italy and helped shape the image of modern day Italy. When the European scholars began studying the world around them, they got interested in exploring more new lands. This marked a new age for them which they referred to as the Renaissance- a French word meaning rebirth. The Renaissance was considered as the beginning of the modern history by majority of European historians. It is important to note that renaissance was contributed to by artists, poets, scientists, scholars, philosophers, architects, artists, and rulers. The Renaissance in Italy was the most notable in Europe in the 15th century. Niccolo di Bernardo dei Machiavelli was one of the leaders of that time and he played a very pivotal role in shaping the modern day Italian political, social and economical landscape. The paper will discuss his contribution in the social, economical and political fields through two of his books; The Prince and The Discourses. One of his memorable quotes that have motivated and influenced the lives of many people not only in Europe but also in Diaspora was "if you want to make an individual obey a particular aspect in life, you will be forced to supply a particular level of power that will make him prefer the aspect other than any other that is in existence".
The Lives and Times of Niccolo di Bernardo dei Machiavelli
According to Viroli one of the unique features of Machiavelli is that he was political philosopher. In addition to that, Lerner states that Machiavelli was a Florentine political theorist and also a statesman. Though considered a controversial figure in political history, he was identified as exclusive in his influence during the renaissance especially due to his manual in 1532, the prince. It is important to note that most of his works addressed political and historical topics which faced great criticism from many writers. For instance his work in the prince was aimed the Medici who was ruling Italy during that period. The author (Machiavelli) gives the ruler, who was a monarch, advice on how to retain his position in power. According to the book, he argued that political life may at times be excused for performing acts of violence and deception that is not right in private life, because alone moral or religious rules are not adequate to govern. Due to this argument, Machiavelli was to great extent misunderstood by many critic writers for his view on relationship between ethics and politics, and was regarded as an opportunistic politician in manipulating other people. His advice in the prince was said to have minimal practical influence.
On the other hand thou, there are several writers who valued his work and claim to be greatly inspired by Machiavelli in their political life. They argue that while Machiavelli's advice to the leaders contradicts with Christian morals, it was just pragmatic advice to those who want to succeed in politics. These writers find his advice effective in governance and not an alternative value system. Thus they do not find Machiavelli's idea conflicting with moral values. Although his work was forbidden from publication and even reading, printings and translations were still found in the following centuries. His enormous influence was evident when many writers responded positively to his work. It may be that the only way to stop an evil man from killing millions is to kill him. Utilitarian moralities can cope with these problems, but only by avoiding absolute moral proscriptions.
Another writer who has been influenced by the works of Machiavelli is Larry Koz. According to Koz, Machiavelli is considered a highly significant personality in European History especially during Renaissance. In addition to that, he states that Machiavelli works affects him especially in his political beliefs; he has observed that that Machiavelli influenced him when he ceased to work in the government and started writing about politics where he included his beliefs and doctrines in his work. With this, he published the prince, in 1513. In his work, he talked of authoritative rule as the best form of leadership. This followed with an argument that "ends justifying the means". Machiavelli's beliefs as cited in his "the prince" on government though seen unethical by critics of his work, influenced the political beliefs of this writer. Machiavelli wrote; "There are three ways of holding on to them: the first is to destroy them; the second, to go and live there in person; the third, to allow them to live under their own laws, exacting tribute from them and creating a government there within the state composed of a few people who will keep it friendly towards you, though this is seen as morally wrong by critics of his work, this writer finds these steps as important in political life. In addition to that, Koz thinks the steps stated if followed would help form a successful government. The writer goes to the extent of recommending Machiavelli's points to any nation for they could create a possibility for allies among rival nations and strive towards a more peaceful world. The writer confirms that Machiavelli's work influenced many during renaissance, and that his influence has survived the test of time and he affirms that he is one of those people affected by the work to date. He confesses his beliefs in Machiavelli work about political theories, and political practices. He agrees that Machiavelli's argument on authoritative rule is an effective way of governance, and on "ends justifying means". He further advices those against Machiavelli's works to look at them in order to learn from them. He also approves Machiavelli work by regarding him to as an intelligent and an influential man during renaissance.
Machiavelli had every reason to learn and teach people the rules of political power. The political activity that exists is specifically due to the kind of power that is being practiced by the leader of that place. People need to be handled by use of power. It is only a good use of power that an individual leader is able to maintain safety and peace of any human setting. He considers the use of force as the only and applicable theory to be able to administer a good leadership system. For a well ordered political system, one has to embrace the use of coercion among the people. Effective laws and arms are crucial in the formation and the maintenance of any political system. It is through a political power that any political activity is defined. Machiavelli has a distinctive difference between law and force. It is only through a perfect arm and excellent law that an individual can manage a given political authority. The arms are for the administration of force while laws are for guidance in this administration. Legality is only obtained from the use of force. This is actually the reason why Machiavelli decided to use coercion in most of the leadership that he had during his time. He said that it is very rare to find good laws without the presence of good and functional arms. He therefore decided to concentrate in establishing strong and effective arms force that will see to it that good laws are made and implemented. It is only through coercion that a human being is made to do a particular activity or obey a given directive. Machiavelli therefore considered the use of force to establish everything that he desired for in his life and governance.
Machiavelli addresses the issue of fear among human beings. He said that it is fear that makes people to behave and act in unusual ways. If you subject an individual to fear and intimidation, he will be made to adhere to the force that results to the stimuli of fear in him. In this case, Machiavelli considers that people can be made to come to terms of certain principles by simply subjecting them to a state of fear. Within the existing period of time and the political thought, most of the work of Machiavelli could not be grasped by many people. This made many people to hate most of what he did. Moreover, he happened to have used a lot of force that people could not withstand. Within the abrupt time of the collapse of the Italian city states, he came into existence. It was abrupt and forced people to act according to how he wanted. He had a formative movement that no one could withstand at any time. Within a short period of time, he again announced a break in what he had announced to be done (Lerner).
In his work of discourses of Livy, there are a number of controversies in what Machiavelli wrote. The work itself has some introductions that are in two paragraphs. The first exemplifies the dangers of finding new systems and methodologies, and the intention that an individual declares before. Here he decides to take a path that has never been taken by anybody in the entire state. The second paragraph is basically a dismissal of the antiquarianism that existed during the time of renaissance. The reason for dismissal is faked and not true at all. This activity becomes one of Machiavelli's undoing in his government. He regards this renaissance period as poor and with the only main purpose of protecting the sovereignty of the country with the prospect of making history. In every piece of writing, it is normally important for the writer to follow particular steps that will guide him in a good production. In the book, there is nevertheless a method that can be used to interrogate these kinds of reasoning in nature. This is to be able to see and note the changes that different areas have.
Most of the works that Machiavelli did are found in other people's pieces of works. There are several social theories that have been seen to explain the concepts that Machiavelli was trying to apply to life. The book therefore is not a true account and reflection of the political groupings that existed among the people together with the various forms. People could therefore not pay much attention to what was said in it. It is quite ironical to find an individual like Machiavelli, who was a crucial republican, get to advice an autocrat on how to manage power and security among the people of the land. He was a strong republican but yet wrote a number of books that contained advices of an autocrat on how to get and maintain power. There were foreign threats that Machiavelli was foreseeing. That is why he decided to embrace a shrewd leadership. He saw it as the only way to protect the power and wealth that was in the state to avoid the foreign threats as France and Spain. This was also for the reasons of personal interests. Moreover, there was no positive influence that could make people to come to like the works of Machiavelli, especially the book titled the prince. It was neither interesting nor starling to the eyes of the people. This was mainly because of the fact that during that time, there was a widespread handbook of behavior that met the needs of the monarchical states (Kreis).
Many ideas in the prince are of shock to many people. This is because of the sentence he gave as regards to his perspectives of life and leadership. He suggested that a prince should not be failing in virtues. He should be loyal to the state and the people as long as he is following the interests of the state. This is also a perspective that any leader should take any political alliance or power. For instance, he says that a priest should not evade the punishment of murder if he deserves according to the law. He is the first individual to act according to the rules and regulations of the existing laws and norms of the society.
According to Kreis, there are two aspects that every leader and leadership strategy has to adhere to. These are the power and the influence of luck. He said that these are the main aspects of life that act to determine the destiny of every individual in the society. Power arises from the force applied upon the lives of the people and the style of cunning that superimposes. According to Machiavelli, there is no role that God plays in each part of politics. This is one of the reasons why there is a failure in the works of Machiavelli which raised controversies after his death.
Summation of the Paper
This research paper has mainly focused on two great works of Machiavelli that played a very influential role during the renaissance: The Prince and The Discourses. It is evident from the two publications, most leaders during that time relied heavily on his works on leadership and they in turn turned it into practical during their leadership tenure. This was one of his major contributions during the renaissance despite the fact he attracted criticism from fellow writers most who thought he was not a true realist but rather a political opportunist. Another contribution of Machiavelli during the renaissance is that despite the fact that he was a republican, his ideologies were copied even by leaders who had different social, economic and political views to his, not only in his home country but also in other nations in Europe. This clearly shows the depth of his influence.