STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The process of acquisition of power in Machiavelli’s political philosophy left to us with the impression that, Machiavelli hates democracy and that he considers tyranny as the best form sustaining The Prince (the ruler) in government, within a corrupt society, after successfully acquiring powers. Machiavelli advises the Prince (the rulers) to ignore morality if he wants to be a successful ruler. A successful ruler for Machiavelli, “is one who is able to acquire and maintain himself if in power by any means either fair or foul in as much he ensure the security of the state”.1 A ruler (Prince) does not need to be morally upright religious, honest, compassionate, or harmonic. But “he must pretend to be all these and use this pretense to achieve his purpose when circumstances demand it”.2 In his mode of acquisition of power Machiavelli cites several examples to support his views. He said:
what ought to be done is one thing, what is actually done is quite another, and that anyone who studies what ought to be done rather than what ought to be done will learn the way to his down fall rather than his preservation.3
It will be a little wonder, if a man like Machiavelli should emerge during this present generation. Hence, it would be unreasonable (and perhaps impossible) to understand notion of the intellectual elements that made up the mind of the average European statesman from 1600-1800 AD if we altogether omitted a consideration of the influences of Machiavelli.
In The Prince, Machiavelli believes that a Prince who desires to maintain himself must learn not to always be good but to so or not as necessity may require. It is his will that when the act accuses him; the result should excuse him, and when the result is good. It will always absolve him from blame. Nor need for such vices without which preservation of his state may be difficult. However, Machiavelli demonstrates that “Prince achieves the most when they are crafty unable to trick others. There two ways of fighting by law or by force. Laws come naturally to men, force comes naturally to beast”.4
In other to succeed in government through the process of acquisition of power, the Prince must learn how to fight with laws and with personal motivation, he must become half man and half beast. No matter how well Machiavelli understood and expressed the machinations of city-state politics in 14th and 15th century, his writings are at best an imperfect model of contemporary world politics. There are, of course, aspects in Machiavelli’s model analogous to the present world, as well as features that are irrelevant (for example, fortresses, moats, weaponry). If one could say with assurance which aspects of Machiavelli’s writings are directly analogous to current politics, then one might learn something from his discussions of alliances, the reliability of auxiliary troops, the calling in of external assistance for one’s own internal political problems, and other such insights. But the fact is that, “one must thoroughly understand contemporary world politics before it is possible to say with assurance which aspects of Machiavelli’s model are relevant”.5
Given the above, the question remains: there is need for a clearer look at the process of power acquisition in Machiavelli’s political philosophy. There is need to review the method laid down by Machiavelli on how power can be acquired and ceased. It must be reiterated that there are many questions to be addressed for the process of power acquisition in Machiavelli’s political philosophy. There is need to gain some insights into the tactics The Prince (ruler) adopted in order to sustain power till umpteen time. To determine whether Machiavelli’s political philosophy is still being adopted in today’s political system, there is need to know the reason why Machiavelli believes politics can never be played in a decent and orderly manner.
STATEMENT OF PURPOSE
This essay will examine the means and idea on how Machiavelli thinks power can be acquired. Emphasis will be placed on The Prince which is the principal work of Machiavelli. References shall be made to his other works where necessary.
The thesis – defends the position that the process of power acquisition in Machiavelli’s social-political philosophy portends danger for the growth of effective leadership.
The method of exposition and analysis shall be adopted in the course of writing this work.
SCOPE AND LIMITATION
The scope of this long essay will be limited to Machiavelli’s political philosophy. In carrying out the long essay, the constraints that is expected to be encountered are time factors and also dependence of all information on materials gathered for the study.
SOURCE OF MATERIALS
In the course of writing this long essay, we shall consult the internet, articles in journals, textbooks, essays and other publications on the subject matter.