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THE BEST REGIME: AN APORIA ON MACHIAVELLI’S TWO MAIN WORKS 0

THE BEST REGIME: AN APORIA ON MACHIAVELLI’S TWO MAIN WORKS

Following the American Psychology Association’s Guidelines
Agnieszka Mis
Capital Community College

history. . aporia. monarch.THE BEST REGIME: AN APORIA ON MACHIAVELLI’S TWO MAIN WORKS 1 Abstract: The main purpose of the following paper is to explore how some of the main ideas treated in Machiavelli’s “The Prince” and “Discourses on the First Decade of Titus Livius” to reflect on the author’s conception of what should be the best government for his time. Key words: State. renaissance. power. government. republic. Such analysis will explore the possibility of an “aporia” or contradiction between this two main works.

Florence. His work meant an enormous advance for modern politics even to this day. . Method Reading and interpretation of the source material.THE BEST REGIME: AN APORIA ON MACHIAVELLI’S TWO MAIN WORKS 2 Introduction Machiavelli is considered as one of the most remarkable political theorists of the Renaissance. The key elements of the Florentine author can be seen in both “The Prince” and “Discourses on the first decade of Titus Livius”. The two works previously mentioned however. Is there an “aporia”. which is how the State should be handled? The article studies those two key questions to answer through the analysis of Machiavelli’s text. and the state as an active subject within the environment having his own needs and purposes. His main concern was always to establish which way of government was the most appropriate form of government for his land. because with its contribution way to modernity opens in its political conception and social restructuring. provide two different alternatives on government which will further be examined. or contradiction between those two? Or are they just two components of the same concern.

politics and economy live in those moments are very significant. other lose it. from the Middle ages to the Renaissance. namely. Brittish author H. the army becomes permanent. which is that the power is concentrated in one center. At the risk of simplifying things too much. etc. some separation between the State and the Church occurs. Therefore. on his perspective that all subjects in politics try to acquire. his life is spent in the transition from the era of feudal state. . It has taken me far astray” (p. the modern state.G. it appears aware that politics is essentially power. 1469 and died on June 21. it has been found in the Machiavellian thinking aporia as a result of the difficult conciliation of his two main works.1) . It is latent the idea that while some gain power. organized farm is created. Wells (1910) said about the Florentine philosopher on the foreword to “The New Machiavelli”: “He wrote about the relation of the great constructive spirit in politics to individual character and weaknesses. But they all gather in an even greater change engulfing it all. The changes that society. and so far his achievement lies like a deep rut in the road of my intention. philosopher and statesman born in Florence on May 3. there is a development of the bureaucracy. 1527. For example: there is no greater territorial unit. Traditionally. In all the works of Machiavelli.THE BEST REGIME: AN APORIA ON MACHIAVELLI’S TWO MAIN WORKS 3 Discussion Niccolo Machiavelli was a writer. the king. preserve and increase their power and try to make their rivals lose theirs. it can be said.

The Florentine author understands that all Prince must have virtue and fortune to rise to power: a virtue to make good decisions and fortune when trying to conquer a territory and encounter a situation (which was not caused by himself) that helps or benefits him to conquer.THE BEST REGIME: AN APORIA ON MACHIAVELLI’S TWO MAIN WORKS 4 On “The Prince”. In the work. To achieve these goals in a State. the prince should grow their resources to preserve power and dominate society. the prince must follow the chapters of his book. The prince who gain power through crime and abuse. i. for this. The legislator decides what is right and wrong.e. therefore. to win the favor of it. Giving liberties to the people. It thus comes to the idea of common good. the idea of a united Italy is reflected. To defend such laws and with it the freedom it entails and the good of society. must understand that once risen to power must change that attitude towards the people. the governor must leave out of his judgment moral and religious considerations due to their lack of importance according to the author. the freedom of citizens. the state. Once achieved. being vile and despotic himself. since the end of the day they will be the ones to decide their future. he may regulate the same social relationships ensuring law and. but to get it. his political theory is presented as founded on two principles: the strength of the state (because the state embodies power) and political autonomy. . always seeking to perpetuate the rule and not the personal property. He must learn to use "the art of conquering power". any means is lawful.

the best regime is a wellorganized Republic (taking as an example the Roman Republic). it is essential that this republic has the necessary institutions to channel conflict on their interior. is obliged to recast its institutions for itself.THE BEST REGIME: AN APORIA ON MACHIAVELLI’S TWO MAIN WORKS 5 In the “Discourses of the first decade of Titus Livius”. and of such States. without deterioration and without any dangerous disturbance. None of the other forms of . On the other hand. without need to amend them. as we find Sparta preserving hers for eight hundred years. one that achieves to involve both parties in the community and in this way contain the political conflict within the public sphere. may be called happy. by far the most unhappy is that which is furthest removed from a sound system of government. whose lot has been to have a founder so prudent as to provide for it laws under which it can continue to live securely. For him. some measure of unhappiness attaches to the State which. on the assumption that all community has two opposed spirits: the one from the people and from great ones (who want to rule the people). which are in constant conflict. (p. As Machiavelli (2006) himself refers: That republic. by which I mean that its institutions lie wholly outside the path which might lead it to a true and perfect end. indeed.15). and hence the adjective of "well-organized".” Machiavelli says. otherwise the republic would be disarmed without them. not having yielded itself once for all into the hands of a single wise legislator. the Tuscan philosopher is declared as a supporter of the republic.

Such a procedure stimulates the artistic imagination of those who have to be convinced. Machiavellian theory had been several interpreters. or pedantic classifications of principles and Criteria for a method of action. and gives political passions a more concrete form. Italian philosopher and political thinker Antonio Gramsci. one of them. rational element in the person of a condottiere. MD. However. is formed.16). characteristics. tyranny. Instead he represented this process in terms of the qualities. In order to represent the process whereby a given collective will. political science had taken the form either of the Utopia or of the scholarly treatise. gave imaginative and artistic form to his conception by embodying the doctrinal. Mahmadur Rahman Bhuiyan (on the paper “The Art of Government and Machiavelli‟s Republicanism”. he admits the possibility of the presence of the art of . duties and requirements of a concrete individual.THE BEST REGIME: AN APORIA ON MACHIAVELLI’S TWO MAIN WORKS 6 government: the aristocracy. In his prison letters. (p. combining the two. Machiavelli. democracy or the monarchy achieve balance of parties within the regime so they are unstable. even conceals both Foucaultian and Machiavellian thoughts on the forms of government stating that Foucault identifies principality and the reason of state as two major obstacles to the full development of the art of government. Machiavelli did not have recourse to long-winded arguments. directed towards a given political objective. Gramsci (1999) refers to the influence of “The Prince” in the following terms: Before Machiavelli. who represents plastically and “anthropomorphically” the symbol of the ‘‘collective will’’.

the opposition to the republic could be inferred in The Prince. To try to reconcile the contradiction between the Speeches and The Prince. 21). Besides this. it should be noted that when Machiavelli wrote it. which would not happen in a republic well organized. Machiavelli also clarifies that there could be a man whose political virtue (seizing the moments of fortune and escape the unfavorable) exceeds the whole republic but this political virtue will die with the mortal who possesses it. in Machiavelli‟s republicanism. the contradiction between the two main texts of Machiavelli is not. absolute powers for a short time and then having to be accountable to the republic. it may be considered that the latter involves an exercise in irony that simply undressed to the public light what they were the true practices of power. it was to show Lorenzo de Medici he must behave if he wanted to unify Italy and get it out of the crisis that was involved. However. it should be remembered that the Prince presents analogies with the Roman and republican figure of the dictator.THE BEST REGIME: AN APORIA ON MACHIAVELLI’S TWO MAIN WORKS 7 government within the reason of state. In this sense. then the principality and the republic should be understood as forms of government subordinate to the real political concern Machiavelli: the formation of a modern state in Italy in his time. at least at the theoretical level. Conclusions . If so. The the art of government seems to be present in the latter jurisdiction in a more manifest and complex form than it is in the former one (p.

but they will still need a capable individual to handle them. While Prince represents a manual for the ruling. References . the people. If the institutions are solid. although somewhat authoritarian and absolutist at some point. if the institutions are weak. then he cannot endure in the exercise of power. "The Discourses on Livy". the building of strong institutions and the apt men behind them. is a real praise to the republican system of government. that is. And also because of the reciprocal need of both elements. if the governor is not apt enough. will lead to anarchy. where strength stands out. But there is no contradiction between the two main works of Machiavelli but. On the other hand. will be capable enough of substitute him without violent repercussions. noting the need for a strong power and “Discourses” is his ideal vision of how it should be and be governed the so society as a republic in which the people participate and laws take benefit of it. as it has been shown once a virtues governor dies. two components on the process of creating a strong State. and therefore with whom the ruler must deal.THE BEST REGIME: AN APORIA ON MACHIAVELLI’S TWO MAIN WORKS 8 The apparent contradictions in Machiavelli’s work may occur due to two factors: the first is convenience since “The Prince” was written during his exile from Florence and the second is that Prince is his realistic view of political life after years of experience.

.inter- . (2006) “The Prince”. Machiavelli. 2.). H. 2015. 4. 3. Gramsci. G. London. ElecBooks. 490). Machiavelli. Niccolo. Niccolo. New York City. New York: Duffield & Company. 5. W. Rahman Bhuiyan. The First Concerning A Book That Was Never Written. “Selections from Prison Notebooks”. (2004) “Discourses on the First Decade of Titus Livius”. “The Art of Government and Machiavelli ‟s Republicanism”. In "The new Machiavelli" (p. Retrieved November 18.THE BEST REGIME: AN APORIA ON MACHIAVELLI’S TWO MAIN WORKS 9 1. (1910). Wells. A. Project Gutenberg. J. Chapter. United Kingdom. Project Gutemberg.pdf http://www. (1999). M. & Marriott.net/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/bhuiyan-paper. (n.d. from disciplinary. & Buttigieg.