In the treatise The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli, Machiavelli uses his straightforwardness to foster a “how-to” guide on what princes need to do to retain their power. Although it was 50 decades ago, it remains relevant to todays culture and politics as elected officials continue to chase the support of the people. The people haven’t changed, what Machiavelli himself said long ago continues to be applicable, “…the nature of the people is variable.” (6,6,52).
Machiavelli carried an opposing view of human nature, where the people’s purpose on this world was to be in the service of the powerful who simultaneously balanced violence and goodness. Machiavelli addresses how the people are easily influenced, but emphasizes how necessary it is to confront their concerns and aspirations. “…a powerful and courageous prince will overcome all such difficulties by giving at one time hope to his subjects that the evil will not be for long, at another time fear of the cruelty of the enemy, then preserving himself adroitly from those subjects who seem to him to be too bold.” (10,3,83).
In order to keep that power, according to Machiavelli, a prince needs to possess the two natures of a fox and a lion. This metaphor means that a prince should mimic the attitude of scheming fox, but also the might of a lion. “A prince, therefore, being compelled knowingly to adopt the beast, ought to choose the fox and the lion; because the lion cannot defend himself against snares and the fox cannot defend himself against wolves.” (18,2,125). The lion is able to compel its “prey” to comply, and the fox will sneakily avoid being despised. A fox is capable of detecting traps and the lion can scare off the enemies, making it a perfect combination.
Something Machiavelli mentioned was the fact that a prince should give the impression of being “…merciful, faithful, humane, religious, upright…” (18,7,127), but “…you may be able and know how to change to the opposite.” (18,7,127). Politicians today will do and say anything in order to gain the votes of the public and by the time they gain those votes, nothing they say will become reality. Humans tend deceit others in order to be on their good side or maybe out of spite, but either way the impersonate someone they aren’t. Countries continue to be violent as before, but the ways in which they deal with these situations have change. The powerful have become better at making up excuses for war or conflict.
To conclude, Machiavelli promotes ways in which to keep the state guarded as well as the princes position, his harsh words and the tone in which he speaks contribute to the impact. There is a clear distinction between politics and ethics that he portrays, especially through allusions and metaphors.