III. Given the fact that Machiavelli believed that people should rule, why is he so controversial?
A. He turns conventional wisdom on its head through praise of
the idea of ruthlessness in
He does so in
Founders of states must do whatever it takes to begin a nation in the right way, says
He praised Romulus for killing his brother (p. 108), saying that while others might think
this murder is bad, but it, in fact, is not.
When the consequences are good (as it was in Romulus' case), then the murderer is
The ends justify the means.
Sometimes murder is necessary to begin a new state.
B. Machiavelli disagreed with other republicans with his theory of factions.
All Republican theorists argued that factions were bad for the city.
They would bring
the city to collapse.
The idea was that unity is important for the strength of a city, both in the mind and
Factions are a sign, not only of discord, but of weakness.
The other idea of unity is that everyone should fight for the common good.
If you have separate factions, then, by definition, someone is not looking out for the
Machiavelli says that
factions pursue their own self-interest, but, in a large state,
factions will be less of a problem.
Factions are an inevitable outgrowth of liberty.
If people are free, they will want to
express themselves in different ways (p. 94)
If one insists on unity at all times, Machiavelli argues, then you will inevitably
follow the road to oppression, which is something to avoid.
Liberty, discord and disorder move hand in hand, according to Machiavelli.
He also argued that it was the tension between the senate/nobility and the public that
helped maintain the freedom of Rome.
was so much unrest, the Senate was forced to heed some of the
The advantage in Rome was that both factions were not strong enough to take over
the state, with
each side making sure the other did not abuse their power.