MACHIAVELLI PHIL 1402 TERM 2
TERM 2, AY 2018 – 2019
BUSINESS MANAGEMENT STUDENT
II have chosen to discuss Machiavelli (1469 – 1527). Niccolo Machiavelli was utilized as a political legate for almost a decade and a half in Florentine Republic in Italy while the previously ruling family, Medici, was in banishment. When the Medici family returned to power in 1512, Machiavelli was discharged and served time in prison. Because of his behavior and participation in the overthrow of the government, Machiavelli once released from imprisonment was never permitted to participate in politics again. Instead, he spent his years writing books such as The Prince, On the Art of War and a play titled The Mandrake (Machiavelli, N. 2018). Machiavelli died in a small settlement outside of Florence and was entombed in a church of Santa Croce, Florence, Italy. Oddly enough, while he was alive, he was not permitted to enter the grounds where he is buried, due to his behaviors while in politics (Machiavelli, N. 2018).
Imagine if you will, a perfect democracy. One in which the ruling family came into rule not by birthright, combat or wedding nuptials but because of skill and astuteness regarding business and finance. For almost four decades, the ruler of Florence, Cosmo de Medici used his financing acumen to lead the town of Florence into a Renaissance period. Cosmo had requested the transfer of Plato’s writing to Florence to protect them from the Turks invasion. Additionally, the Greek Orthodox Church was moved from Ferrara to Florence to moderate the debate between the Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox on their doctrinal differences (History of the Medici, n.d.).
Cosmo breathes his last in 1464 and is followed by his son Piero but for only five years. Next to assume rule is Piero’s son and Cosmo’s grandson, Lorenzo. Lorenzo lacks the finesse of his grandfather in finance and Cosmo’s ability to moderate difference of outside forces or acquire new lands through strategic acquisitions that appear to favor both Cosmo and the acquisitions. Lorenzo, therefore, becomes a target and as a result a political coup develops to kill him and his brother, Guiliano, during a religious mass; however only Guiliano is killed. Lorenzo escapes and goes to the king of Naples, Ferdinand I. Lorenzo goes to the king and returns with a peace treaty. The next to rule is Piero who is also twenty when he assumes rule but because his father did not monitor the family bank, there are limited funds with which to rule and he did not inherit his father’s skills and when the king of Milan senses this weakness, the French invade and overthrow Piero. Piero meets with the French and concedes to relinquish several key castles as well as the ports of Pisa and Livorno which his grandfather Cosmo so valued when he took them over. When the signoria in Florence learned of this unimaginable trade, they request his presence and a bell sounds calling all to the piazza and the Medici palace is destroyed. Piero escapes and the family does not return for twenty years (History of the Medici, n.d.).
Here enters Machiavelli. Machiavelli did not follow a higher power. He believed that philosophy went with power. A key passage from The Prince “…because a man who might want to make a show of goodness in all things necessarily comes to ruin among so many who are not good. Because of this it is necessary for a prince, wanting to maintain himself, to learn how to be able to be not good and to use this and not use it according to necessity” (Schaub, 2014). As Schaub (2014) states, this statement lends itself to a common saying today “It’s a dog-eat-dog world” and also states that there are those who state that Machiavelli is the godfather of modern republicanism and modern totalitarianism.
Machiavelli in his youth worked his way up through the ranks in politics and went on several missions and witnessed how Cesare Borgia (1475-1507) ruled. In his books, Machiavelli stated that a ruler who did not inherit the throne, would have to be above reproach; however, when in his castle and behind locked doors, he could do whatever he wanted because there would be no one there to judge him (Mastin, n.d.). Because of this line of thinking that immoral things could be acceptable to a ruler, the Catholic Church prohibited this book. During the Medici banishment, Machiavelli ruled the Florentine militia and defended the city choosing to use the citizenry instead of hired hands. However, in 1512 with the assistance of Pope Julius II and Spanish troops, the militia was defeated and Machiavelli was ousted (Mastin, n.d.).
The reason Machiavelli is said to be the godfather of the current republicanism is evident in his writing “Discourses on Livy” because of his belief in checks and balances, three ruling facets of government and the “importance of a republic over a principality” (Mastin, n.d.). For this reason, I believe that most people in our current time also believe in this. Recently the United States held its mid-term elections and there was change of political power in the House which is now has a democratic majority while the Senate maintained its republican majority. The House of Representatives will now monitor more closely what President Trump does (Election Results, 2018).
This country was found on the principles of a checks and balances and that no one would be able to rule over America without having a balance. While I do not agree that politicians can do whatever they want, immoral or not, in private, I do believe that politicians do whatever it takes to get the job done. I do not like to participate in political debates; however, the principal outlines of current republican set-up was developed my Machiavelli, I think that when Stalin and Hitler were connected with Machiavelli, it tarnished his memory (Schaub, 2014).
I did research on Machiavelli because I hear his name quoted in movies and wanted to learn why he was so important that even Hollywood is not immune to his acts, writings, and memory.
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