Machiavelli's Fear: The Fear Of Fear

1785 Words 8 Pages
Throughout human history, fear has played a significant role in our societies. Oftentimes, when we humans make a decision, fear of potential consequences for choosing any of the available choices we have is factored into our final decision. Bill 'The Butcher’ Cutting said it best with his claim in the film Gangs of New York that fear is "what preserves the order of things.” In many ways, such fear helps to keep us from being disorderly or breaking our given society’s laws. In turn, fear can be used by governments to help keep their subjects orderly and civil, but the question remains should they and is it even justifiable? By justifiable, I mean does the use or propagation of fear in a society serve the best interests of the multitude instead …show more content…
It is important to note though that Machiavelli does, in fact, say it is the best scenario to be both loved and feared, but it is nearly impossible to achieve both, and since fear provides the most security it should be preferred (66). Machiavelli feels being feared as a leader presents the most safety rather than being loved because he perceives men as generally ungrateful and hungry for gain (66). He further elaborates on his preference to being feared rather than loved stating, “love is held by a chain of obligation, which, because men are wicked, is broken at every opportunity for their own utility, but fear is held by a dread of punishment that never forsakes you.” (67). To me, the aforementioned quote holds significance. While I feel Machiavelli’s generalization that “men are wicked” is too broad considering there are plenty of people who are genuinely good (virtuous) based on my experience in contemporary society (perhaps there may not have been as many in his society), there are certainly a drastic amount of people who are self-absorbed, as unfortunate as it sounds. With this self-absorption, a lot of people are willing to make choices that may hurt those they love for the sake of their own socioeconomic advancement because the consequences of the given choices do not directly affect them. Per-say, hypothetically, it is a law to be …show more content…
Both the hypothetical societies Hobbes and Machiavelli created took the use of fear too far to point where it was unjust and used improperly from my perspective. This being said, Hobbes does partially use fear in a justifiable way. Through the use of fear of consequence of violating laws that pertain to the safety of all people of society, Hobbes is able to give to all the people in the “commonwealth” more security and safety which benefits everyone (98-104). Granted, some of the other laws in the “commonwealth” tied to fear of consequence do not serve the benefit of the multitude, making them unjust (Hobbes 98-104). In my opinion, the proper use of fear is only to use it when it can benefit the multitude. Using fear to create safety and security for everyone are perfect examples of the properly using it in a justified manner. Some skeptics still may perceive using fear to establish and maintain political order in any way as wrongful, but without using it, it would nearly be impossible to escape the “state of nature” as described by Hobbes (69). Basically, the skeptics have to ask themselves would they rather be in a warlike state and face the constant possibility of death or live in a state at peace where they have to fear breaking the rules (Hobbes 69)? I think the answer is quite clear, despite having to sacrifice absolute liberty

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