Machiavelli And Hobbes Political Analysis

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Machiavelli and Hobbes both address the impact the human emotion of fear has on the political realm. In The Prince, Machiavelli explains how fear is a tool meant to be manipulated by the prince as a means to keep the people in line with the law and loyal. Not enough fear instilled in the public may lead them to disloyalty and then the dethroning of the prince; on the other hand, too much fear perpetuates hatred among the people and leads once again to the prince’s removal. Unlike seeing human fear as a tool, Hobbes in the Leviathan describes it more as a natural emotion of human which pushes the creations of covenants—social agreements or contracts among the people and the sovereign. In the state of nature, the natural condition of men without …show more content…
First of all, the manner in which Machiavelli’s theory originated from was his study of history, allowing him to draw conclusions about what is inherent in human nature through past human acts. Humans, to a certain extent, are self-interested, although they can be easily won or lost. In times of trouble, man turns egotistical and look for a leg up within adversity; in times of prosperity, they are trustworthy and loyal to their ruler. Posing a famous political dilemma, Machiavelli asks whether “it is better to be loved than feared, or the reverse” (Chapter XVII). Because he believes man becomes disloyal to the state when times are tough, and the ultimate purpose of the Prince is to maintain order within the state, Machiavelli argues a ruler should be feared. If the prince is loved and circumstances warrant, people are more prone to take advantage of the benevolence of their ruler. Ruling with an iron fist, Machiavelli believes, would ensure obedience from the ruled. Moreover, he does also warn of the dangers of using fear in a negative manner. Never in The Prince does Machiavelli advocate using cruelty for no explicit reason, but instead urges rulers to use it in the interests of the state. Thus, Machiavelli views fear as a necessary evil to the throne, and a tool one must use very cautiously in order to maintain the sanctity of the state. From the …show more content…
Power, as described by Hobbes, is “his present means to obtain some future apparent good and is either original or instrumental” (Part 1, Chapter 10, p. 249). In other words, man has power through two means. Original or natural power is derived from innate abilities (intelligence, creativity, strength, etc.) and instrumental power is derived from reputation, monetary strength, and friends. A person struggles through a lifelong desire for power due to the fact that every other person around has power to prevent one another from obtaining certain power. It is from this idea that Hobbes argues that the fear of death and bodily harm usher man to seek collective peace. The anarchy of the state of nature is consistent with the continual emotion of fear, fear that someone will steal your property or perhaps enslavement. To relieve this tension and enjoy life with less worry, Hobbes claims that people create a social contract between them and a ruler. According to him, people would essentially give up their power to one ruler who in turn, the ruler would ensure they could live peacefully. The only right left to the people, after they give all their power to a ruler and agree to abide by those laws, is the right to not be killed. Similar to Machiavelli, Hobbes also believes that fear is key to maintain power and political authority

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