Machiavelli breaks the medieval Christian view of politics by basing leadership on secular morals and values. He believes that kingship and political power are not events attributed to God. Instead, they are attributed to an individual’s needs and hard work to remain in the political powers (Radasanu, 2020). Machiavelli believes that rulers should do whatever it takes to remain in power as long their personal needs are met while in power. In other words, he abandons the mainstays of morality to observe the political life in a way it existed. The political existence, according to him, would include political deception and power for power’s sake.
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The word ‘Machiavellian’ is mainly used as a pejorative to identify and describe the unscrupulous politicians who were advised in Machiavelli’s book, The Prince. He proposes that immoral behavior like using murder and deceit of innocent people was normal for politics to be practical (Radasanu, 2020). He also encourages politicians to engage in any form of evil if it were necessary for political expediency. Notably, this is because he still believes that political power is not associated with Christianity.
According to him, political advantage can be gained through Christianity. In particular, an individual can use religion as a political tool to arouse extra-political sanctions that would help in running political operations effectively. Machiavelli emphasizes that Christianity is better than its pagan counterparts since it justifies the post-mortem punishments (Radasanu, 2020). From this, it is clear that the religion he longed for should be used in ancient times though it should never take its form. Thus, this means that the type of Christianity he longs for may contain some practical elements but not the essential ones that suit a well-order nation. In other words, a well-ordered government should be served by Christin elements like compassion and care though it also contains some unjust actions.
Civic Virtue in the Roman Public
Machiavelli regards civic virtues as the qualities raised by others, such as generosity, purity, and compassion. Notably, he emphasizes the virtuous appearance of the prince, which can act detrimental to the principality of the Roman public (Radasanu, 2020). The prince should not necessarily avoid vices that will help maintain his political status. Some of the vices that he can apply while in power include dishonesty, cruelty, and harshness. Mainly, these vices and virtues should not be pursued for the prince’s sake. Instead, they should be perceived as the means to the end. Therefore, every prince’s action should be considered beneficial to the roman public and not an intrinsic moral value.
The main principle behind civic virtue in the Roman public is obedience to the rule of law. Since the Romans have dedicated their lives to public service, they will need to obey the rule of law regardless of whether vices or virtues guide them (Lecture Notes, 2021). This civic virtue has enabled the prince to understand his ties and responsibilities to the community. Notably, this shows that Machiavelli values the rule of law more than man. The practice of man includes all virtues such as compassion, care, and love, while the law consists of obedience by any means, even if it will deprive the human value (Radasanu, 2020). Generally, the civic virtue of the roman public describes the character of an obedient individual who respects the government system. When an individual has a civic virtue, they promote the community’s success through the complete dedication of the people to the common welfare of their society at the cost of all the individual interests.
Realist Political Science
In the modern world, realist political science focuses on power as a universally valid aspect determined by the surrounding cultural and political environment. Power can compromise everything that maintains and establishes control over man (Lecture Notes, 2021). Thus, this means that it dominates man when disciplined by moral and constitutional values. The realist political science is unchangeable since it does not assume the current conditions in foreign policies and extreme instability of violence and harsh leadership. Thus, the power balance is a perennial element that operates under peaceful conflict and relative stability (Larmore, 2020). The realist political science is also engraved in interest conflict where politicians work for their interests. It is aware of the inevitable tension between power and political conflict interests of the politicians. Thus, this means that it is unwilling to obfuscate both the political power and interest conflict by making it look like political facts are more satisfying than they are.
In other words, modern-day political realism maintains that the conflict interests and power have been the universal basis for political influence and leadership. When it is based on interest conflict, realist political science emphasizes the constraints imposed on the nature of being egoistic (Lecture Notes, 2021). Besides, realist political science concentrates on the psychology of human nature. Research suggests that human psychological nature is the genesis of political realism (Larmore, 2020). Remarkably, this is because political realists view human beings as self-centered and egoistic. Such factors contribute to the psychological paradigm of natural political science, whose main actors are human characteristics. Generally, realist political science is centralized on the self-centered nature of man, which guides him to do anything that will help him remain in power.
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Larmore, C. (2020). The truth in political realism. In What is political philosophy? (pp. 68-121). Princeton University Press.
Lecture Notes. (2021). Further into Machiavelli’s realism.
Lecture Notes. (2021). What we learn from Machiavelli’s discourses.
Radasanu, A. (2020). Six Montesquieu’s Machiavellian account of civil religion. In Civil religion in modern political philosophy (pp. 114-130). Penn State University Press.