Machiavelli was born in Florence (Italy) in 1469 and he died in 1527. He entered public service and was appointed Secretary of' Ten in the Government of Florence in 1498. The nature of his duties enabled him to have first-hand knowledge of home and foreign Politics. He was versed in statecraft, for he served his state in the capacity of an ambassador as many as twenty three times and among other places, was sent to Paris, to Rome and to the court of Caesar Borgia.

His Environment:

A man of a very sensitive nature and keen observation. Machiavelli was very much influenced by the intellectual and political tendencies of. his age, a fact clearly evidenced by the nature and trend of his political philosophy. By the beginning of the 16th century the democratic tendencies of the Conciliar Movement, advocating constitutional government both in the church and the state had disappeared beneath the wave of a monarchist reaction. In the Church, the Pope had succeeded in establishing his supremacy over church Councils. On the secular side, absolute monarchy, putting itself adroitly on the crest of the rising tide of nationality, was in the saddle in the important states and had crushed the feudal aristocracy and the feudal assemblies for the time being. But this process of national and monarchic consolidation hardly affected Italy at the time. The beginning of the 16th century was the era of the strong man and yet none of the rulers of the Italian states viz. Venice, Florence, Naples, Milan, and the Papal States was able to consolidate the whole of Italy under his sway. Italy became the battle-ground .of intriguing and ambitious potentates, local as well as foreign. During this period of constant political disorder and internecine war, public leaders were actuated more by selfish motives than public interests. Public morality was extremely low. Statecraft was the chief arm of defence. The political situation in Italy was embarrassingly complex and depressing and as a patriotic Italian, Machiavelli could not help being moved by it. Securing the independence of Italy and restoring prosperity to her cities became a master passion with him. Of all the writings of Machiavelli-and he wrote voluminously-the most important are The Prince and the discourse. Machiavelli wrote likea patriot, after all realization that contemporary politics were not based on good Christian ethics but on a selfish political seizure and violence. The order and unity maintained, to some extent, by the Papacy and the Holy Roman Empire was disappearing and international relations were bordering on the chaos of the state of nature.

The Spirit of Renaissance:

If the rotten politics of Italy affected him deeply, Machiavelli was also materially influenced by the growing spirit of the Renaissance in Italy which ushered in an era of unstrained intellectual outlook, freedom from the shackles of' scholastic dogma and ancient i.e. pre-Christian attitude towards morality and religion. Machiavelli was very much a creature of the Renaissance, native city of Florence being then the centre of Italian Renaissance. In the middle Ages, the church and the state were closely interrelated, the Church ­on the whole dominating the state and profoundly influencing the political philosophy of the latter. The Renaissance im­pelled men to re-examine things from-other than the clerical point of view. It was possible now to formulate political theories on a purely secular basis and Machiavelli is the chief exponent of this school of thought. Machiavelli stood on the border-line between the Middle and the Modern ages. He ushered in the Modern Age by riding politics of the vassal­ state of religion.

In the middle ages people had concentrated on matters of spirit salvation and God in the light of dogmatic Christian theology. Man, as man, had little significance then. With the renaissance, man instead of God, became the chief entity and subject of study. There was now a tendency to concentrate on this world on the enrichment of personality and the enjoyment of beauty in all forms. There developed the spirit of individualism which laid stress on the dignity of man, natural and human. Renaissance ushered in rationalism which viewed on God, man and nature from the standpoint of reason and not individualism which laid stress on the dignity of man, natural whi went against medieval universalism in Church and state. There appeared with the Renaissance and because of new conditions a new ideal of life which stood for individual success in this life and this world. This success demanded self-assertion, ruthless and disregard of conventional morality. It needed power which became the new deity. Power was a good in itself and an end in itself. Machiavelli was a true representative of his times as shown by his mental processes, the subject-matter of his study, his aims and ideals, his empiricism, his rationalism, his realism, his pragmatism, his hedonistic morality, his individualism and his nationalism.

His spiritual Ancestry:

As to the spiritual ancestry of Machiavelli the great Greek philosopher, Aristotle held his imagination as he did that of many a medieval scholar and thinker. Machiavelli freely drew on Aristotle and ignored the writers and problems that were not classical. The Christian scriptures, the teachings of the church fathers and the conflict for supremacy between the church and the state were quietly put aside by him. Machiavelli believed that human nature and therefore human problems were almost the same at all times and places and therefore, he thought of enlightening the present with the help of the past. His method of study was, therefore, historical. He studied contemporary politics, analyzed it, formed conclusions and then summoned history to substantiate them. Ancient particularly Roman history furnished him with convenient parallels and political truths.

The Historical Method:

The historic method suited Machiavelli particularly well because he was preeminently a student of practical and not speculative politics. A realist in politics, he cared little for political philosophy as such. His writings expound a theory of the art of government rather than a theory of the state. He was more concerned with the actual working of the governmental machinery than with the abstract principles of constitution. Preservation of the state rather than the excellence of its constitution was his chief consideration. Naturally, therefore, he viewed things from the standpoint of a ruler and not the ruled. A thing which would be immoral for an individual to do might, if necessary in the interest of the state be justifiably done by the ruler. Machiavelli thus believed that public morality was something very different from private morality. In his writings, Machiavelli attacks the separation of the church from the state and rejects the doctrine of natural law. He believes that a man’s virtue is measured by his power and fame and lies in a combination of force and intellect. For such a virtue there is little place for any restraints imposed by general principles which natural law implies. He thus broke away from medievalism by denying the parallel existence of the two swords, secular and clerical and by rejecting the doctrine of natural law.

Machiavelli’s Conception of Human Nature:

Like Calvin and Hobbes, Machiavelli did not believe in the essential goodness of human nature and human beings. A man was a strange mixture of weakness, folly and knavery, fit only to be hoodwinked and lorded over living in the Italy of the 15th century, it was very natural that Machiavelli should have a very low idea of human nature. Like Hobbies, he held that all men were wicked and essentially selfish. Selfishness and egoism were the chief motive forces of human conduct. Men were “ungrateful, fickle, deceitful, cowardly and avaricious”. They were good only when it paid them to be good. Fear is the one dominating element in life and is mightier than love. A prince, therefore, ought to personify fear. A prince who is feared knows how he stands in relation to his subjects. He is to excite fear in their minds, but not hatred nor contempt.


Machiavelli’s conception of human nature has a close family resemblance with Calvinistic doctrine of original sin. He did not believe in the moral progress of man. Standards of ethical conduct did not vary in different ages. Machiavelli entertains like Hobbes, a very poor idea of human nature which to him is essentially bad. On this conception he builds the whole structure of his political science. Would it not be truer to say that a man is neither inherently good nor bad but that he is a bundle of natural impulses which are to be converted into good or bad ones according to environment? “the great fault of Machiavelli lies in the fact that he builds his theory of state or rather preservation of state in a an environment of fear or prohibitions a thing which is bound to react rather unfavourably on the moral progress of the state without which neither preservation nor expansion is easy of accomplishment”.

“The Prince”:

The prince of Machiavelli consists of 26 chapters which lend themselves to three divisions. Division I represents a general introduction and discusses various forms of absolute government. Division II denounces the then current system of mercenary troops and pleads for the establishment of a national army. Division III contains the substance of Machiavelli’s philosophy. It gives a number of rules for the guidance of the prince, especially the ‘new prince’ i.e. one who was a usurper or a leader of men who had seized a state with force or craft. The Prince of Machiavelli is neither an academic treatise nor a book on political science as such. It is ‘real politik’. It is a memorandum on the art of government and of political success prepared by the ex-secretary of Florence. It deals with the mechanics of government. It is pragmatic in character and gives the technique of successful ruler-ship.

The whole argument of the Prince is based on two premises, borrowed mainly from Aristotle. One of these is that the state is the highest form of human association and the most indispensable instrument for the promotion of human welfare and it is by merging ‘himself in the state that an individual maintains the state and thereby finds his full fruition, his best self. Considerations of the welfare of the state must, therefore, outweigh any considerations of individual or group welfare. The second premise is that material self is the most potent of motive forces in individual and public action. The art of government, therefore, lies in the intelligent and unflinching pursuit by the ruler of his self-interest regardless o ethical considerations. Machiavelli almost identifies the state with the ruler. These premises led to the conclusion that it was Caesar personifying the state, and not God which was the deity to be worshipped. The Caesar must make himself worthy of this worship by a ruthless and successful seizure of power. Things which brought power were the only virtues that mattered. To Machiavelli, as to the ancient Greeks, virtue in a prince which excelled in bringing success and power and these were cunning, deceit and ruthlessness.

Chapter XVIII of the Prince gives Machiavelli’s idea of the virtues which a successful prince must possess. Integrity may be theoretically better than collusion but cunning and subtlety are often very useful. The two means of success are law and force. A prince must combine in himself the rational and the brutal, the latter in turn representing a judicious combination fo the lion and the fox. A wise prince will not keep his parole when by so doing he would injure his own interests and when the reasons which make him bind himself no longer exit. A prince must play the fox and act the hypocrite to disguise his real motives and inclinations. To Machiavelli the preservation of the state was the raison d’etre of monarchy. A prince must regard his neighbours as likely enemies and keep on guard. A clever prince will realize the internal unity of his state not by surrendering his powers to the people but by establishing thorough-going despotism. Economic motives being the mainspring of human conduct, a prince must do all he can to keep his subjects materially contented. A prince might execute a conspirator but should not confiscate his property, for confiscation would be more seriously taken notice of by the affected family then the execution.

A prince held Machiavelli must be free from emotional disturbances but must be ready and capable of taking advantage of the emotions of other people. He must be a cool and calculating opportunist. He must oppose evil by evil. In the interests of the state he must be ready to sin boldly. He must be of unshakeable purpose and dead to every sentiment except love for his state which he must save even at the cost of his own soul. He must not allow himself to be weighed down by any puerile considerations of justice or injustice, good or bad, right or wrong, mercy or cruelty, honour or dishonour in matters of state. Subtlety is often useful in public affairs. Dishonesty is the best policy. The fact is that Machiavelli conceived of himself as a physician of the state. He was concerned not with the ethics of his patient’s public actions but only with the means of maintaining his patient i.e. the state in a condition of good vigour and prosperity regardless of what this vigour was to be used for.

To Machiavelli it was clear that the interests of the state justified everything. The end of justified the means. Public necessity knew no law. State actions were not to be judged by individual ethics. Machiavelli prescribes a double standard of conduct for the ruler and for individual citizens on the basis that the ruler is a creator of law as also of morality for moral obligations must ultimately be derived from and sustained by law. As such he is above both. It will be the ruin of the state if the ruler’s public actions relating to problems of external and internal security of the state were to be weighed down by individual ethics. It was always wrong for an individual to tell a lie but sometimes necessary and good for the ruler to do so in the interests of the state. The state has no ethics. It is anon-ethical entity. The rightness or wrongness of a state action was to be judged merely by its results. Machiavelli believed with Thrasymachus that the justice of the state was the interest of the sovereign. The safety of the state was the supreme law.

Separation of Politics from Ethics and Religion:

From the foregoing, it is obvious that Machiavelli had little place for ethics or for the matter of that for religion in his system of political philosophy and that formed the chief difference between him and the medieval writers. Aristotle had already distinguished ethics from politics but had not separated the two whereas Machiavelli brought about a complete divorce between them. Moral virtues had their own value but he refused to assign them any place in his scheme of things. Morality was not denied but was subordinated to politics and, therefore, Machiavelli “is not immoral but unmoral in his politics”. With Machiavelli, as with the Jesuits, the end justified the means. Machiavelli may be called the “founder of utilitarian ethics”.

Machiavelli believed that the state was the highest for of human association and had a superior claim to a man’s obligations. Reasons of state must outweigh any ethical considerations. Public interests were the most potent of all motives for political action. Public standards of action were different from private standards. It is wrong for a private individual to kill but it is not wrong for the state to kill by way of punishment for crime. The state hangs a murderer because public safety demands it and because public interests are more important than private interests of the criminal. Private interests or tethics have nothing to do with public action. Public conduct is neither inherently good, nor bad. It is good if its results are good. A good citizen is one who is a bad man for whom patriotism is the only moral law.

Classification of Government:

Machiavelli’s classification of the forms of government is rather unsystematic in a thinker of his caliber. He accepts the Aristotelian classification of governments into monarchy, aristocracy and constitutional democracy with perversions tyranny, oligarchy and democracy. He also agrees with Roman political thinkers polybius and Cicero that a mixed type of constitution with proper checks and balances is the best and the most suitable constitution for a state. Machiavelli believed in economic determinism and observed a close connection between wealth and power. Behind all struggle for political liberty there was always an economic interest. Machiavelli by inclination was a republican more than a monarchist. To him, a republican form of government was not only the most suitable but the only form of government for a political community where there was a general economic equality. A republic can maintain its institutions and adapt itself to changing environment better than a sentimental prince. A republican system led to more uniform and universal material prosperity and ensured greater equality of opportunity than other forms of government. A republican system is more enduring and admits of liberty more than monarchies do. People collectively show better qualities of prudence and judgment and can select offices of a better type than a prince who is subject to court influences. An aristocracy particularly a landed aristocracy, led to factious quarrels and civil disorder and would not do for a state. Machiavelli, however, would not swear by either a republic or a monarchy. His chief care was efficiency in the state and for this he wanted an extra-legal sovereign. He realized that different types of government suited different times and places and though by conviction a republican, he knew that to the Italy of his day an elective monarchy would be best suited. The one pressing need of Italy, then, was deliverance from the foreigners – German, French and Spanish and for this a wise and strong elective prince was better suited than a republic. Machiavelli believed in the cyclical character of the forms of government.

A close examination of Machiavelli's views on different forms of government would reveal that there is inconsistency in his views. In his book "The Prince" he pleads for a very strong monarch whereas in his book '7h~ Discourses" he prescribes rules in which freedom may better be maintained in a republican state. He prefers republican form of government to monarchical form of government. The virtue that he prescribes for an individual is a combination of intellect and force. How can this virtue in an individual be the basis of a good and strong republican system which requires for its sustenance and efficient working public spirit, patriotism and 'willingness to sacrifice private interests for public interests? This shows the inconsistency in his thought.

 Machiavelli’s Moral Indifference:

Prior to Machiavelli almost all the political thinkers had held the opinion that state had an ethical end and that its aim was to make man happy and good. Machiavelli broke away from this tradition of the past. Machiavelli's theory of moral indifference is based on his study of Church in Italy. He levels two main charges on the Church. First, he states that the Italians have become "irreligious and bad" because of the "evil example of the court of Rome". The second and more serious accusation is that of disunity which the Church has caused in the country of the philosopher. He never hesitates to say that the sole cause of Italian political disunity is the Church. It was but natural that Machiavelli should have no place for either morality or the religion in his political philosophy.

Machiavelli said that the state was not a means to an end. It was an end in itself. He ignores the issue of the end of the state in extra political (ethical, religious, cultural) terms. He assumes that power is an end in itself and he confines his inquiries into the means that are best suited to acquire, retain, and expand power. The end justified everything.

Machiavelli is not against the religion itself. He says that the right kind of religion can be of great value in creating stability in the state. Religion provides a sanction without which oaths may be useless and it may increase loyalty and unity. Machiavelli's judgment of religion is strictly utilitarian. He is concerned with "truth" and with the salvation of souls. A religion is good if it supports the state and contributes to state ends. He is against Christianity which, according to him, has divided the Italians.

Machiavelli, therefore, separates ethics from politics. Statecraft, according to him constitutes a value system its own which is different from that of ethics and religion. What is evil from the viewpoint of morality and religion may, therefore, be good from the viewpoint of the reason of the state if it serves to acquire, retain or expand power. Machiavelli reduces good and evil from absolute to relative categories and it depends upon the basic assumption of a system of values whether a particular action is good or bad. If the basic assumption or objective of conduct is friendship, service, fellowship, justice, or God, the individual action will be judged good or bad to the extent it agrees with or deviates from such assumption and goals. If as for the ruler, the basic assumption is power, the decision as to whether a particular action is good or, bad will depend on the extent to which it furthers the gain retention and growth of power.

Machiavelli does not deny moral principles. He says that it is most praise-worthy for a prince to be good, nevertheless one who wishes to maintain his authority must be ready to lay aside his goodness at any moment and in general, to employ it or not according to the circumstance. Furthermore, a prince must appear all sincerity, all uprightness, all humanity, all religion, but he must have his mind so disciplined that when it is necessary to save the state he acts regardless of all these. It follows that Machiavelli makes ethics subservient to politics. He says that c a prudent ruler can turn the course of ethics to advantage of the state. In his own words “When the safety of our country in absolutely at stake, there needs no question of what is just or unjust, merciful, glorious or shameful. That course alone is to be taken which may save our country and maintain independence”.

It is to be noted that Machiavelli presents a double standard of morality, one for the ruler and another for the ruled. The first standard is judged by success in increasing his powers for which even cruelty and murder are sanctioned by Machiavelli. The second standard is judged by the strength which this rulers' conduct imparts to the social group. “Since the ruler is outside the group, he is above the morality to be enforced within group”.

Machiavelli holds that the interests of the state are different from those of the individual. An individual acts for himself whereas the state acts for all. Hence the same principle of conduct cannot be applied to the individual and the ruler who administers the state. An individual is bound to keep faith but ruler is not bound to keep faith if it goes against the interests or integrity of the state. It is always wrong for the individual to tell lies, deceive others or kill another individual. However it is good and necessary for the ruler to tell lies, deceive others and kill others if the interests of the state so demand. Despite all this, Machiavelli favours a gentle rule wherever possible and the use of severity only in, moderation.

It is to be observed that Machiavelli never praises immorality for its own sake. It is sanctioned to gain an end. He never doubted that moral corruption in a people made good government impossible. What he did was a separation of ethics from politics. His basic attitude is not the rejection of the corrupt political institutions, religious and moral beliefs. He neither assumes that there are no values in this world nor does he wish to create a world in which all values would be destroyed. He is aware that civilization implies some sort of values. His morality, therefore, implies not the denial of moral values in all situations but the affirmation that, in the specific situation of Statesman, the rules of power have priority over those of ethics and morality.

What Machiavelli wants to emphasize is that political as its own morality which must be taken into consideration while dealing with political issues. It is mainly for this reason that he is called “unmoral or un-religious rather than immoral or irreligious in his politics”.


Machiavelli has tried to separate ethics from politics but the two cannot really be divorced because the state is founded on the minds of its citizens who are moral agents. A good man will be a good citizen only in a good state with good laws.
Machiavelli builds his theories on the assumption that man is bad and selfish by nature. This is wrong. Man is a bundle of good and evil. It is the environment that converts him into good or bad. The ruler being one of the individuals of the society cannot be set apart from the environment having quite different standards of morality from the rest of the people. The idea of right and wrong which represents the ethical standard of the people must also affect the actions of the rulers and their orders. Rulers' actions must reflect the moral opinion and beliefs of the people. Hence what is morally wrong cannot politically be right.

If rulers' actions are not judged by the standards of private morality, he may assume dictatorial powers. Separation of ethics from politics may ultimately result in tyranny which a democratic minded man will never tolerate. Machiavelli's theory of moral indifference, therefore, leads towards the usurpation of individual's rights and liberties and the negation of his will.

Machiavelli on Diplomacy:

The term diplomacy is a recent coinage and in its limited sense it means the skill in dealing with the people for the purpose of smooth and efficient administration of the country. Although Machiavelli does not use this term in his works yet his book "The prince" gives detailed principles of diplomacy.

Machiavelli's doctrine is a theory of the preservation of the state rather than a theory of the state itself. In the words of George Sabine, "he writes about nothing and thinks about nothing except politics, statecraft and the art of war". A realist in politics, he cared little for political philosophy as such. He was well-versed in statecraft because he served his state in the capacity of an ambassador as many as twenty three times and among other places, he was sent to Paris, Rome and other countries. In his book "The Prince, he gave expression to his practical experience regarding the means to be employed for the integrity of the state. They may be summarized as follows:

  1. The king should set fear in the minds of his subjects but no so much as to result in hatred towards him. He should have the courage of lion and the cunning of a fox. Force and fraud are the main shields in his hands who can use them at the proper time and place.
  2. Machiavelli knew that love of flattery was the greatest weakness of rulers which could deviate them from the right path. He, therefore, advises the ruler that the only way to guard against the danger of flatterers was to let men understand that to tell him the truth did not offend him.
  3. Machiavelli says that a prudent king should not be a good listener but an aggressive and constant inquirer. A king who himself is not wise, will never take good advice.
  4. He advises the prince to keep faith only when no disadvantage will result from so doing. He should strive baselessly and by all manner of means to wing glory and renowned above all to avoid being despised and hatred.
  5. The prince must pay recast for the customs and institutions of the land because people hold than dearer than their liberty and even their life. The king should never confiscate the property of his subjects because people can easily forget the killing of their fathers but never forget the loss of their property.
  6. The prince must fire the imagination of his subjects by grand schemes and enterprises. Economic motives being mainspring of human conduct, a prince must do all he can to keep his subjects materially contented He must not impose heavy taxes on his subjects.
  7. He must not impose heavy taxes on his subjects.
  8. A prudent ruler will always patronize art and literature to win the sympathies of intellectuals.
  9. The government being based on force and fraud, the king must play the fox and act the hypocrite to conceal his real motives and designs. He should not even spare his own life for the sake of the state.
  10. A prince must be free from emotional distances. He must be ready and capable of taking advantages of the emotions of other people. He must be cool and calculating opportunist. He must oppose evil by evil.
  11. The king must not rely on mercenaries. He should have a well­ trained army of his own who must be patriotic.
  12. The defence of the state is the primary duty of the ruler and if he feels that the enemy is about to attack his country, he must take the lead and destroy the enemy.
  13.  In case of war between two of his neighbours, he should never remain neutral. He must take sides. He should not take the side of the stronger one rather he should take the side of the weaker so that after victory he should to oblige to him for his support.

Machiavelli's advises to the prince are guidelines for political stability in the state. A prudent ruler is the one who faithfully follows them. But the unmoral principles may also produce the adverse effects on the people in a state because force and fraud cannot go longer. They may generate hatred towards the rulers and ultimately towards the state. Politics without ethics is devoid of kernel. The state is an essential part founded on the minds of the people who are moral agents. A good man will be a good citizen only in a good state with good laws. Ruler's actions opposed to the moral standards of a people will always be condemned by the people.

Rule based on the force rather than on consent of the people is not stable. Only that state will be stable which rests on the will of the people.

Machiavelli’s Doctrine of Aggrandizement / Power Politics:

 In the Prince and the Discoursi, Machiavelli insists on the necessity of extending the territory of the state. The Prince portrays Machiavelli’s idea of real monarchy and the Discoursi that of a republic. An irresistible tendency to expand is inherent in both monarchies and republics. His idea of the extension of the dominion of a state did not mean “the blending of two or more social or political organism, but as consisting in the subjection of a number of states to the rule of a single prince or commonwealth”. To Machiavelli a state must either expand or expire and extension of dominion was easier in one’s own country where there was no difficulty of language or of institutions to overcome in the assimilation of the conquered people. Machiavelli thought the Roman state and its policy of expansion to be ideal. Force of arms was necessary for political aggrandizement as well as preservation of a state but force must be judiciously combined with craft. The doctrine of aggrandizement is one of the most characteristic features of Machiavelli’s political philosophy and brings out vividly his moral indifference.

Both The Prince and the Discoursi give us Machiavelli’s ideas regarding the means to be adopted for the preservation of the state. In a monarchy, a prince must pay due respect to the established customs and institutions of the land which people hold as something dearer than liberty or life itself. The government being ultimately based on force and fear, a prince must have a well-trained army of his own subjects. He should draw on the spoils of war more than on the regular public treasury. He must fire th imagination of his subjects by grand schemes and enterprises. He must not impose heavy taxes and he must patronize art and literature. Machiavelli’s ideal prince is, thus, an enlightened despot of a non-moral type. In a republic, the most important thing is that the constitution should be flexible, the law of the land reflecting the varying conditions in the republic. Machiavelli believed that dictatorship and party strife sometimes played a useful part in a republic.

Machiavelli though hardly a political theorist himself, for he writes on the art of government rather than on the philosophy of state, is the father of modern political theory in many respects. Many concepts of modern political thought begin with Machiavelli. It was he who first used the word state in the sense in which it is used nowadays, that is, something having a definite territory, population, government and sovereignty of its own. It was on Machiavelli’s concept of a sovereign territorial and secular state that Bodin and Grotius built up a theory of legal sovereignty which was given a proper formulation by John Austin. Hobbes borrowed his conception of human nature from Machiavelli and built up a theory of absolute sovereignty. Both Machiavelli and Hobbes believe that man is an egoistic brute and is motivated to action by fear. Machiavelli is the first of modern totalitarian thinkers.

Machiavelli believes in the potency of material interests rather than spiritual ones and may be said to have inspired Karl Marx in his materialistic interpretation of history. Machiavelli deifies the state and is for the complete absorption of the individual by the state. So does Hegel who views the state as the march of God on earth. Machiavelli is the first exponent, with his theory of aggrandizement of the modern theory of power politics on which much has been written by thinkers like Neitschke, Trietschke, Bernhardi and others.

His Contributions to Political Thought:

Machiavelli is regarded as the father of modern political theory in many respects and is ranked as the first modern political thinkers for what he has contributed to poiitical thought. Most modern thinkers owe much directly or indirectly to him. Some of his contributions of political thought may be outlined below:

  1. The most popular view of state in the present century is that it is an association of people over a definite piece of land having a government and independent of both the internal and external control. Machiavelli is the first thinker who conceives the term "state" in the sense of having population territory, government and sovereignty. This definition of the term "state" entitles him to be called the first modern political thinker.
  2. Machiavelli has for the first time put forward the idea of sovereign, territorial and secular state. This concept of his state has inspired Jean Bodin, Grotius and John Austin to develop their theories of legal sovereignty. The credit of expounding legal theory of sovereignty should therefore, go to Machiavelli and it is for this reason that he deserves to be called the first modern political thinker.
  3. Almost all the theories of Machiavelli are based on his conception of the fear of life and security of property. Thomas Hobbes seems to have borrowed this idea from Machiavelli and constructed his theory of sensation, human nature and the theory of absolute sovereignty.
  4. Machiavelli great contribution was his belief in the potency of material interests rather than in the spiritual interests. Karl Marx had studied his concepts and may be said to have been inspired by Machiavelli in developing his concept of Materialistic Interpretation of History.
  5. Machiavelli may also be regarded as the first and modern totalitarian political thinker for what he has written in his book "The Prince". Most of the political thinkers and statesmen of modern times have faithfully followed his political doctrines. Even those who severely criticize him have faithfully followed his principles of statecraft.
  6. In recent decades several political scientists and thinkers have employed-power-approach to political science. Their contention, specially that of Frederick Watkins, William A. Robson, H. D. Lasswell and Hans Morgenthau is that political science is primarily concerned with power, its nature and scope. But Machiavelli's treatise "The Prince" is the first book of political science which makes power as end of the state and politics revolves around it. Hence the credit of expounding power­ approach-theory goes to Machiavelli for which he deserves to be ranked as the first modern political thinker.
  7. Machiavelli also deserves to be called the first modern political thinker because he has put forward the theory of power-politics which regards the central fact of politics as the concentration and maintenance of supreme control over all people within a certain territory and evaluates all institutions as means to this end. His contention that the state must extend or expire is nothing but a theory of power politics.
  8. Diplomacy is a recent term which in its restricted sense means the skill in dealing with the people of the country. Although Machiavelli has never used this term in his writings yet his admonitions to the prince are nothing but the principles of diplomacy in its limited sense. For this reason, too, he deserves to be called the first modern political thinker.
  9. Aristotle was the first who separated ethics from politics but he made politics subservient to ethics. But Machiavelli is the first political thinker in the sense that he not only separated them once again but also made ethics subservient to politics. To him, politics constitutes a value system of its own which is different from that of ethics. He reduces good and bad from absolute to relative categories and says that what is bad from moral point of view may be good from political viewpoint. Hence ruler's actions should not be judged from moral point of view but he should take that course of action which best secure the interests of the state.
  10. Machiavelli must also be given the credit of being a sincere and ardent patriot and one of the fore-runners of modern nationalism.
  11. Although Machiavelli never claimed to have expounded a theory called "Balance of Power Theory" which is the coinage of the recent decades yet his admonition to the prince that he should never remain neutral in case of war between two of his neighbouring countries but side with the weaker one is but a theory of the balance of power.
  12. Machiavelli gave the state its modern connotation. He repudiates the idea of universal authority. His state is the nation. He has freed political theory out of religious context in which it had been mired for a thousand years.
  13. One of the most important contributions of Machiavelli was that he brought political theory into line with political practice whereas the two were out of harmony with one another in the Medieval Ages. Moreover, he is the political scientist who is concerned with the means and not with the ends.
  14. Like most of the modern political scientists, Machiavelli followed the empirical method of observation and experience and brought about the re-union of political theory and political practice. His political philosophy was realistic which reflected the conditions of the time.

It is mainly because of his valuable contributions to political thought that he is regarded as the first modern political thinker. His importance lies in that he rescued political thought from the scholastic vagueness. He also deserves to be ranked as one of the greatest pragmatists.

Machiavelli's character and personality as well as his philosophy have been one of the enigmas of modern history. In the words of George Sabine, "he writes about nothing and thinks about nothing except politics, Statecraft and the art of war. He was perhaps too practical to be philosophically profound".

 In his book entitled "The Prince" Machiavelli lays down rules for maintaining absolute power. For the sake of the integrity and solidarity of the state, he advises the ruler to employ all sorts of tactics. Even he should not shirk from committing serious crimes in this regard. But in his other Work "The Discourses" he prescribes rules in which freedom may be maintained only in a republican form of the government. The book makes it clear that he preferred a republican form of government. He says that:

I affirm that a people is more prudent, more stable and of better judgment than a prince. Not without reason is the voice of a people likened to the voice of God".

The extremely dark picture of human nature taken by Machiavelli may explain the existence of the state but it cannot ' explain its ever-growing activities and, the growing multiplicity of social association in the state.

Machiavelli thought of moral, religious and economic factors in society as forces which a clever politician can turn to the advantage of the state or which can even produce for the sake of the state. But this not only reverses a sane order of values but also the usual order of causal efficacy.

To quote George H. Sabine, Machiavelli's philosophy was both narrowly local and narrowly dated. Had he written in any country except Italy or had he written in Italy after the beginning of the Reformation and still after the beginning of the Counter Reformation, it is impossible to suppose that he would have treated religion as he did.

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