Machiavelli Reading 3

Machiavelli Reading 3 - I. Lecture 09/07/06 II. III. Given...

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I. Lecture 09/07/06 II. 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 public life. 1. He does so in The Prince and in The Discourses. 2. Founders of states must do whatever it takes to begin a nation in the right way, says Machiavelli. 3. 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. a. When the consequences are good (as it was in Romulus' case), then the murderer is always excused. The ends justify the means. b. Sometimes murder is necessary to begin a new state. B. Machiavelli disagreed with other republicans with his theory of factions. 1. All Republican theorists argued that factions were bad for the city. They would bring the city to collapse. a. The idea was that unity is important for the strength of a city, both in the mind and in purpose b. Factions are a sign, not only of discord, but of weakness. 2. The other idea of unity is that everyone should fight for the common good. a. If you have separate factions, then, by definition, someone is not looking out for the true common good. 3. Machiavelli says that factions pursue their own self-interest, but, in a large state, factions will be less of a problem. a. Factions are an inevitable outgrowth of liberty. If people are free, they will want to express themselves in different ways (p. 94) b. If one insists on unity at all times, Machiavelli argues, then you will inevitably follow the road to oppression, which is something to avoid. c. Liberty, discord and disorder move hand in hand, according to Machiavelli. 4. He also argued that it was the tension between the senate/nobility and the public that helped maintain the freedom of Rome. a. Because there was so much unrest, the Senate was forced to heed some of the people's demands. b. 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. i
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This note was uploaded on 01/20/2012 for the course POLI 271 taught by Professor Staff during the Spring '08 term at UNC.

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Machiavelli Reading 3 - I. Lecture 09/07/06 II. III. Given...

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