8. AIM HIGH - Niccolo Machiavelli's The prince [Book]
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The Prince Quotes by Niccolò Machiavelli
Concomitantly, a Machiavellian perspective directly attacks thenotion of any grounding for authority independent of the sheerpossession of power. For Machiavelli, people are compelled to obeypurely in deference to the superior power of the state. If I think thatI should not obey a particular law, what eventually leads me to submitto that law will be either a fear of the power of the state or theactual exercise of that power. It is power which in the final instanceis necessary for the enforcement of conflicting views of what I oughtto do; I can only choose not to obey if I possess the power to resistthe demands of the state or if I am willing to accept the consequencesof the state's superiority of coercive force. Machiavelli'sargument in The Prince is designed to demonstrate thatpolitics can only coherently be defined in terms of the supremacy ofcoercive power; authority as a right to command has no independentstatus. He substantiates this assertion by reference to the observablerealities of political affairs and public life as well as by argumentsrevealing the self-interested nature of all human conduct. ForMachiavelli it is meaningless and futile to speak of any claim toauthority and the right to command which is detached from thepossession of superior political power. The ruler who lives by hisrights alone will surely wither and die by those same rights, becausein the rough-and-tumble of political conflict those who prefer power toauthority are more likely to succeed. Without exception the authorityof states and their laws will never be acknowledged when they are notsupported by a show of power which renders obedience inescapable. Themethods for achieving obedience are varied, and depend heavily upon theforesight that the prince exercises. Hence, the successful ruler needsspecial training.
Niccolo Machiavelli | The Prince | Niccolò Machiavelli
In the finalchapter of the book, Machiavelli addresses his reader, presumably PrinceLorenzo de’ Medici, urging him to wage war against the “barbarians” (the forcesof Islam), and to reclaim Italy as his own.
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