Western Political Thought (Ideas of Machiavelli) for Competitive Exams 2021

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“If an injury has to be done to a man it should be so severe that his vengeance need not be feared.”


(Born May 3,1469, Florence, Italy — died June 21,1527, Florence)


  • Niccolo Machiavelli, (born May 3,1469, Florence, Italy — died June 21,1527, Florence) , Italian Renaissance political philosopher and statesman.
  • He has often been referred as the originator of modern political science.
  • Machiavelli was the first to state and systematically uncover the power view of politics.
  • As a theorist, Machiavelli was dominant figure in realistic political theory, crucial to European statecraft during the Renaissance.
  • His two most famous books, Discorsi sopra la prima deca di Tito Livio (Discourses on Livy) and Il Principe (The Prince) , were written in anticipation of refining the conditions of the Northern Italian principalities.

On Human Nature

  • In his book ‘The Prince’ discuss human nature, which has following feature:
  • Human being is selfish and ungrateful.
  • Self-centered, greedy, sensual creature.
  • Aggressive, quarreling and creating anarchy.
  • Men love private property.
  • Can forget and forgive murder than patrimony.

Political Philosophy

  • State is the highest institution.
  • Subjects must completely merge themselves in states.
  • A successful state is one founded by a single man.
  • The ruler need not be loved by his subjects but feared.
  • He should have great awe and by his deeds and acts should inspire the confidence of his people.

His Method

  • His method is modern in the sense that he did not draw conclusions from the past.
  • He was the product of his time.
  • As modern political thinker he made human nature as basis of his political philosophy.
  • He kept state over and above everything.

On Religion

  • He did not believe in religion.
  • Attached no importance to it.
  • Advised his ruler to take advantage of it.
  • It was the duty of the ruler to exploit deep rooted religious sentiments of subjects for promoting national interest.


Types of State

Grounds for Machiavelli՚s Moral Indifferences

  • Machiavelli does not believe in any ethical doctrines or in any divine law because of intentional segregation of politics from religion.
  • In Machiavelli՚s thinking, moral judgments are wholly subordinate to the existence of political and temporal existence and welfare.
  • Machiavelli considered that the institution of Papacy brought decline and destruction to the magnificence of Rome. He wanted to practice pagan virtues of cunningness, duplicity, and knavery for achieving successful goals.
  • Machiavelli did not at all refute the brilliance of moral virtues, but he snubbed to accept them essential to the political stability.
  • He stated that there must be no consideration of what is just or unjust, merciful, or cruel, glorious, or shameful; on the contrary, everything must be overlooked.


  • Machiavelli՚s support of unreligious and his indifference to morality have become so much interrupted that even his name has become a by-word for fraud, force, and dishonesty.
  • He wrote primarily for the adoration of the state.
  • The Prince and the Discourses are still modern theories and are being practiced in many secular countries of modern phase.

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