The Prince

The Prince - Niccolò Machiavelli It’s easy to dismiss Machiavelli as immoral and scheming. His name has become synonymous with such. However, though there is no correlation in fact, Machiavelli’s The Prince reminded me of Aristotle’s Nichomachean Ethics. Both seek a simply defined good. Aristotle’s good for the individual was existence and intellectual growth deemed “happiness” whereas Machiavell’s good for the prince is the existence and political growth of the state. To achieve each end, both discuss how people should interact with each other. Neither are bound by value systems other than their original value. Happiness and the State respectively,

Machiavelli speaks only to those who would govern. The practicalities of governance do not allow the prince the luxury of moral sanction. What matters is the perception of those who would do the State harm either from inside or outside its borders. A great prince must be willing to do what others would call evil for the good of the State. That is the price those who govern must pay.

What follows is more psychology than political philosophy. Like Aristotle, navigating the norms of the day govern on the best way to choose a course of action. Though not bound morality, one can be bound by mores. As Machiavelli coldly states:
Yet one cannot call it virtue to kill one’s citizens, betray one’s friends, to be without faith, without mercy, without religion; these modes can enable one to acquire empire, but not glory. pg.35
Most react negatively to the bluntness Machiavelli exhibits. But I wonder how many would be willing to sacrifice the State under which they live, including their freedom, stability and the advantages accrued, in order for their rulers to feel moral? As long as the State exists, Machiavelli’s maxims will never be irrelevant.