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Machiavelli’s The Prince and the Modern Executive

The Prince and the Modern Executive

Few question The Prince’s place in the canon of western literature. That it marks a turning point in our collective history, the origin of the study of politics as a science (Pollock 43), is alone enough to warrant its classification as a “Great Book. Its author, Niccolo Machiavelli, a contemporary of Copernicus, is generally accepted as an early contributor to the scientific revolution, because he looked at power and the nature of sovereignty through the eyes of a scientist, focused completely on the goal without regard for religion and morals and ethics. Machiavelli taught that the way princes actually do govern often differs substantially from than the way they ought to govern, according to medieval Christian virtues. Sir Frederick Pollock wrote that in Machiavelli we find “for the first time since Aristotle, the pure passionless curiosity of the man of science. We find the separation of Ethics and Politics…Machiavelli takes no account of morality” (43). Machiavelli considers a successful ruler to be above morality, since the safety and expansion of the state are the supreme objectives. There had not been such a frank rejection of morality since the Greek Sophists. His ideas are in stark contrast with traditional church teachings. It is no wonder that The Prince was added to the Index of banned books and even today remains one of the most criticized and controversial books ever written. It is a scientific investigation into the tactics of retaining power. It is about application of power in the pursuit a greater goal. The Prince is, above all, about leadership. Though it is doubtful that Machiavelli realized the far reaching impact of his work. Its application is timeless and parti…

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…l to read The Prince and, if they have already read it, read it again. As with all truly “Great Books,” each successive reading reveals fresh new ideas and insights. The Prince, though disturbingly cold and frank at times, is no different.

Works Cited

Butterfield, Herbert. The Statecraft of Machiavelli. New York: MacMillan, 1956.

Jones, W. T. Masters of Political Thought. Ed. Edward, McChesner, and Sait. Vol. 2. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1947.

Lewis, Wyndham. The Lion and the Fox: The Role of the Hero in the Plays of Shakespeare. London: Methuen, 1951.

Machiavelli, Niccolo. The Prince. Trans. Hill Thompson. Norwalk: The Easton Press, 1980.

Pollock, Frederick. An Introduction to the History of the Science of Politics. London: MacMillan, 1935.

Ruffo-Fiore, Silvia. Niccolo Machiavelli. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1982.

The Time Machine and Mrs. Warren’s Profession as Socialist Manifesto

The Time Machine and Mrs. Warren’s Profession as Socialist Manifesto

The industrial revolution was the period of greatest economic and technological growth in modern society. Starting in Europe and spreading to the world, multiple countries experienced a new definition of efficiency and productivity. Although the growth was certainly profound, many people questioned the methods with which it was achieved and the society created from its ideals. In particular, two British Authors, H.G. Wells in The Time Machine and George Bernard Shaw in Mrs. Warren’s Profession provide critiques of capitalism and industrialization. Both members of the Fabian society present pictures of a seemingly content world, which, when examined, reveal the degeneration of modern society, Shaw looking from the present, Wells from the future. Through portrayals of ostensibly prosperous worlds and the conflicts that arise between characters with differing views, both literary works successfully show the disadvantages of the new economic system and predict its destructive consequences in the present and the future.

Unlike their revolutionary communist counterparts, Fabians advocated gradual reform of the capitalist regime by working within the system. Through both emotional and logical appeal, Fabians attempted to sway the public towards greater policies of human rights and equity, creating the basis for modern leftist parties, such as the British Labour party or the democrats of the United States. Shaw and Wells, two of the founders of the party, appeal to the people through both morals and entertainment value in order to powerfully convey the Fabian cause.

The Time Machine applies a vision of a disturbing, advanced world to current society, warn…

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… change society, as in The Time Machine, or is just entering the social arena, as in Mrs. Warren’s Profession, it is obvious what the fair and moral choice is in both literary works. No matter how they approach it, both literary works provide compelling arguments against social stratification and industrialization, providing only undesirable choices for the audience unless society can overhaul itself. The two stories provide similar critiques of any system promoting class conflicts and exploitation. However different, both present a scene of a seemingly content world, a scene that is shattered when viewed from a closer level. When applied to modern society, both present the view that although the growth of industrialization is undeniable, it is questionable as to whether society truly reached a more desirable end, given the consequences that stem from our progress.

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