Machiavelli is one of the political philosophers who lived during the renaissance. He was born in 1469 in Italy at the city of Florence. He is one of the individuals who developed political science. He wrote several literature works such as poems and plays. Besides this, he was also a diplomat, and apolitical philosopher. Most of his writings reflected on the contemporary issues that took place in his society. For example, he wrote about the political ideas that he thought were appropriate for his society. The Prince is believed to be one of the best works he ever produced. The Prince was skillfully written, and it also has innovative thoughts.
Machiavelli contends that fear is a viable means of leadership as compared to love. “As a result, he says that it would be better to be loved than to be feared” (Machiavelli 821). However, I do not support Machiavelli’s argument because of the following reasons. Many individuals have mistakenly perceived respect and fear to be synonyms. Therefore, it does not mean that a feared leader is respected by his subjects. For example, a leader like Hitler was feared simply because of his Nazi dreams, but many people do not a code Hitler any honor today.
Fear is not appropriate for leaders especially those who occupy current high ranking positions. This is because fear has so many negative outcomes. For example, fear creates serious tension between leaders themselves. Moreover, it affects interaction between leaders and their subjects. Feared leaders are rarely criticized, and when they are contradicted, they tend to react negatively by imposing sanctions and penalties on their opponents. Fear, therefore, creates a breeding ground for revolutions. This is because as people increasingly become unable to express their opinions freely, to their leaders, they resort to force full methods.
Machiavelli also contradicted himself when he mentioned that a prince should ensure that people do not hate him, because the loyalty of his subjects is better than developing a citadel. In my view, hate is inevitable if people fear interacting with their prince freely. Moreover, there is no way people can fear and then like their leader. This is because fear makes people perceive their leader negatively. Hence, they cannot like their leader at all. Machiavelli contends that obedience among a leader’s subjects is necessary if he wants to govern his territory properly. This is correct, but fear should not be used to instill obedience in people. This is because it will make the subjects pretend that they are obedient, yet they are not.
“Regarding the troops of the prince, fear is necessary to keep a large garrison united, and a prince should not mind the thought of cruelty in that regard” (Machiavelli 831). In this case, Machiavelli again fails to consider that proper codes can be used in disciplining the military. Fear of military officers by their juniors has caused a lot of harm. This is because a fierce military officer fails to access a lot of information from his junior colleagues. This happens because their junior colleagues cannot be free to inform them about their discoveries. Consequently, this has caused unnecessary losses during wars.
“Machiavelli also mentioned that men worry less about doing an injury to one who makes himself loved than to one who makes himself feared” (Machiavelli 872). In this case, he felt that fear provides security to a leader since people cannot easily access and harm their feared leader. Machiavelli notes that absolute fear should never be applied on the subjects. In my view, a feared leader earns less popularity, and this puts him at risk of an attack by his numerous critics. This explains why several despotic leaders have fallen miserably due to serious attacks from their disillusioned subjects. For example, the recent ousting of Gaddafi indicates that he increasingly became unpopular since he instilled fear among his citizens.
Machiavelli’s perceives a loved leader as one who is malleable and can be easily directed by his subjects. I contend that people love their prince or leader based on his positive actions, but not because they can manipulate him. Lastly, “Machiavelli states that if a leader is feared, he is on top of everybody, and nobody can force him to do anything against his will, yet he can still keep his subjects loyal” (Machiavelli 875). In my view, this can only work in a despotic regime.
Many despotic leaders have used ‘The Prince’ as a political guide book, and they normally justify their actions based on it. “Some politicians and leaders who have found Machiavelli’s principles useful are Abraham Lincoln, Louis XIV, Cardinal Richelieu, Napoleon Bonaparte, and Benito Mussolini” (Milner 157). However, we are not sure of how properly they understood Machiavelli’s principles.
“Machiavelli believed that leaders could get wisdom through observing and not understanding human nature” (Machiavelli 861). He stressed that leaders should observe how their subjects behave. He also supported the application of punishment and laws in government. He contends that they are both crucial in maintaining order and peace in the society. In his view, a prince should apply laws and punishments to facilitate the maintenance of order. Machiavelli also recognized the importance of morality. This is also applicable in societies today. A leader who has virtues is capable of acting without inhibition. He should also be able to act with vitality.
From the above discussion, it is evident that Machiavelli had some fantastic political ideas that we can adopt in the society. His political thoughts require critical analysis so that they can be applied effectively by various leaders. Nonetheless, some of his ideas that favored dictatorship cannot be practiced easily in the current century. It is in this context that this paper has argued against his idea of using fear as a leadership strategy. As such, we should select and adopt his brilliant ideas, and discard the bad ones. This is because the current society strongly advocates for democratic processes and there is no room for dictatorship.