Machiavelli's Ideas: Stable Political Structures

Published: 2021-09-13 00:50:10
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Machiavelli's Ideas: Stable Political Structures
Western Civ.
11/5/09
Word Count: 1,133

The ideas of Niccolo Machiavelli have been heavily criticized, being banned by some, but overall they have created shockwaves throughout reader's minds, both good and bad. The novel, The Prince, by Niccolo Machiavelli, according to some, was written as a sort of backlash toward the Medici's to show that he could instruct the Princes on how to rule. His most striking argument detailing that princes have total authority to do what is needed for the benefit of "the state" and even their own position. This is seen as Max Lerner states in the introduction, "the whole drift of his work is towards a political realism" (xxxi). This "work" does a tremendous job of outlining different parts of the nature of Italian politics. Along with that he responds to the need of stable political structures and shows why Italy needs these structures as well. Being the first "modern" political theorist, he takes the old ways of the legitimacy of rule and reconciles them. Machiavelli discusses all of this and more, while thoroughly explaining the suggested steps of prince rule.
Machiavelli's work was sparked by the formal nature of Italian politics; so naturally, his work illuminates the problems that were present. Many of these problems were addressed quickly within the introduction. Through the fifteenth century, the bourgeois merchant princes and petty dynasties who ruled the city-states of Italy played their fateful game of "chessboard diplomacy" until it led to disaster in the sixteenth century (Lerner, xxvii). That diplomacy left Italy in low times, and countries like France, Spain and Germany were battling for the rule of Italy. They should have thought out what they were doing before. The city-states could have avoided two and a half centuries of humiliation if they could have adjusted to the needs of the expanding economy and joined in a united political structure (xxxiii). Machiavelli sums up the current situation of Italy at end of The Prince, writing about how Italy's current disarray shows how badly Italy needs a new prince that will bring happiness back, but a string of bad luck has prevented such an outcome (Machiavelli, 96). By analyzing all of the problems presented by Italy at this time, it leads Machiavelli to start grinding his mental gears and come up with some sort of solution.
Machiavelli realizes that there is a need for the creation of stable political structures within Italy's government system, and so he creates extremely detailed ideas on how to create these structures. Stable political structures first need a stable prince to lead them, so Machiavelli lays out the meticulous steps for a prince to take over and maintain different kinds of principalities. He starts out, in chapter V, by giving three examples of how to hold states that are used to living under their own laws. The first is to devastate them, thus being the most certain way. The second is for the conqueror to live in their city. The third is to allow the state to maintain its laws, but charge taxes and establish an oligarchy (Machiavelli, 18-19). Interestingly, Machiavelli believes that the destruction of the state theory

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