Machivelli Essay - 310 Words

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Machivelli

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Text Preview Concerning Cruelty: Whether It Is Better to Be Loved Than to Be Feared, or the Reverse

Compassion, like generosity, is usually admired. But a prince must be careful that he does not show compassion unwisely. If a prince is too compassionate, and does not adequately punish disloyal subjects, he creates an atmosphere of disorder, since his subjects take the liberty to do what they please—even to the extremes of murder and theft. Crime harms the entire community, whereas executions harm only the individuals who commit crimes. Some measure of cruelty is necessary to maintain order. But a prince should be careful in his exercise of cruelty, tempering it with humanity and prudence.

Machiavelli then asks whether being feared or loved is preferable. Ideally, a prince should be both loved and feared, but this state of affairs is difficult to attain. Forced to make a choice, it is much better to be feared than loved. This is because men, by nature, are “ungrateful, fickle, dissembling, anxious to flee danger, and covetous of gain.” In times of remote danger, they are willing to take risks for their prince, but if the danger is real, they turn against their prince. It is easy to break a bond of love when the situation arises, but the fear of punishment is always effective, regardless of the situation.

When inducing fear, however, a prince must be careful to avoid inducing hatred. He must make sure that any executions are properly justified. Above all, a prince should never confiscate the property of his subjects or take their women, since these actions are most likely to breed hatred. If a prince must confiscate property, he must make sure he has a convincing reason. With one’s army, however, there is no such thing as too much cruelty. Keeping an army disciplined and united requires cruelty, even inhuman cruelty Show More

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