Powers that be follow Machiavellian morality

Powers that be follow Machiavellian morality

In 'The Prince', Machiavelli puts the case for political expediency in its starkest, most electrifying form. Here, he is associated with the divorce...


In 'The Prince', Machiavelli puts the case for political expediency in its starkest, most electrifying form. Here, he is associated with the divorce of politics from conventional morality; the justification of all means even the most unscrupulous in the quest for political power. As a result, he has been denounced as a man inspired by the devil, as an immoral writer, an anti-Christian, an advocate of cruelty and tyranny and a deliberate teacher of evil. This is right as far as others are concerned. Ask Indians and fathom their reactions and perceptions.

There is every possibility that they see Machiavelli as amoral, a pragmatist who recognises the harsh realities of political life. Machiavelli could be praised as the first person to recognise the true nature of 'reasons of State' the place of 'necessity' in political conduct. According to the doctrine of 'reasons of State' what is necessary to preserve the interests and security of the State takes precedence over all other considerations. 'Necessity' knows no laws and morality has no place when the interests of the State are a stake. In addition, people could also say, in contrast to these views, that Machiavelli did not subordinate moral standards to political ones. Machiavelli is concerned both with what means and what ends are right. Machiavelli advocated ruthless strategies not to preserve power for its own sake, but to create and maintain a strong State, the moral purpose of which was the good of the whole community. You cannot dismiss Machiavelli

off as an immoral being, because he never actually says that the end justifies the means. This is a caricature and a travesty of a more complex position. Machiavelli shows how well intentioned morally good actions can have worse results than supposedly immoral but bold and resolute actions. This debate rages on among the intellectuals throughout the world. Voluminous works have emerged post-Machiavelli on the right and wrong of his arguments, theories and governance itself either validating what he said or condemning the same. However, a point missed always has been that those in power, elected or anointed, always did things on the lines that Machiavelli would approve, including the honourable communists.

The damage inflicted on governance by the liberals and socialists and democrats sometime is far graver and dangerous on the democratic institutions than the so called believers in Machiavellian principles. The dichotomy is evident in the doublespeak. Their selective arguments, targeted nuances and proclaimed beliefs are quite baffling. In fact, the dual and multiple value systems that such dispensations deliver are proof enough of their corrupt moral fabric. We have seen this in West Bengal in the past and we see it even today. But then, these governments are holy cows. You are not supposed to even question them. At times, force and violence, cruelty and deceit are justified as a lesser evil. We find these in other States too. Even during the hard times like these of pandemic, we find governments conveniently working for select sections of the society neglecting the poor and the weakest. As Machiavelli rightly said, the morally appropriate in politics is not one based on ideals but is a consequentialist morality.

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