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Posted on May 7th, 2014, by

Machiavelli is one of the outstanding philosophers of his time, whose philosophy political ideas have influenced the development of European political thought for decades and centuries ahead. However, his views on the political power and ideal monarch presented in his Prince steadily grew out of date and by the 18th century, Machiavelli’s idea were challenged and criticized by Frederick the Great in his magnus opus Anti-Machiavel, where he presents the view on the ideal monarch as an enlightened monarch. At this point, it is important to place emphasis on the fact that both Machiavelli and Frederick presented their vision of an ideal king on the ground of their socio-cultural, socioeconomic and political environment. they analyzed carefully the development of the society and political life and suggested their versions of an ideal king but their ideals were unattainable for real monarchs and, in the real life, political leaders were quite different from ideals described by Machiavelli and Frederick but their works helped to understand key values and principles of the socioeconomic and political life of the society of their time.

Machiavelli was aware of the fact that the power was always one of the primary concerns of people. Since ancient times till present epoch people have been struggling for power and the more they had the more they wanted it. At the same time, the power traditionally evoked numerous moral dilemmas and problems because it was necessary to maintain the power and remain the leader. Otherwise, the downfall would be inevitable. In such a situation, the moral aspect of the power and the behavior of leaders was one of the most arguable aspects of the power not only among specialists but also among ordinary people for whom it was really important what kind of people are in the power and what actually makes them leaders. In fact, this problem disturbed minds of numerous thinkers and philosophers, including Niccolo Machiavelli, who described his views on the power and leaders in his famous work The Prince.

Basically, Machiavelli stands on the ground that the power and leadership is often accompanied by cruelty. He argues that the leader often has to be cruel to maintain power (Maciavelli, 127). Machiavelli strongly believed that fear is one of the major conditions which help the leader keep his people obedient and, therefore, maintain his power. The philosopher viewed the leader as a person that was exercising power and the strife of human to power was practically irresistible.  In such a situation, Machiavelli logically arrives to the conclusion that it is really difficult to maintain power in an extremely competitive environment. This is probably why he justifies the cruelty of leaders who use all possible means including severe punishment and even murders to maintain their power.

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