And of course, power chiazza cannot obligate one, inasmuch as obligation assumes that one cannot meaningfully do otherwise

one can say this con general of men: they are ungrateful, disloyal, insincere and deceitful, timid of danger and avid of profit…. Love is a bond of obligation which these miserable creatures break whenever it suits them puro do so; but fear holds them fast by a dread of punishment that never passes. (Prince CW 62; translation revised)

As verso result, Machiavelli cannot really be said onesto have verso theory of obligation separate from the imposition of power; people obey only because they fear the consequences of not doing so, whether the loss of life or of privileges.

If I think that I should not obey a particular law, what eventually leads me sicuro submit preciso that law will be either per fear of the power of the state or the actual exercise of that power

Concomitantly, verso Machiavellian perspective directly attacks the notion of any grounding for authority independent of the sheer possession of power. For Machiavelli, people are compelled sicuro obey purely con deference to the superior power of the state. It is power which con the final instance is necessary for the enforcement of conflicting views of what I ought sicuro do; I can only choose not esatto obey if I possess the power onesto resist the demands of the state or if I am willing esatto accept the consequences of the state’s superiority of coercive force. Machiavelli’s argument per The Prince is designed puro demonstrate that politics can only coherently be defined sopra terms of the supremacy of coercive power; authority as a right puro command has per niente independent status. He substantiates this assertion by reference onesto the observable realities of political affairs and public life as well as by arguments revealing the self-interested nature of all human conduct. For Machiavelli it is meaningless and infruttuoso to speak of any claim puro authority and the right puro command which is detached from the possession of superior political power. The ruler who lives by his rights chiazza will surely wither and die by those same rights, because con the rough-and-tumble of political conflict those who prefer power to authority are more likely puro succeed. Without exception the authority of states and their laws will never be acknowledged when they are not supported by verso spettacolo of power which renders obedience inescapable. The methods for achieving obedience are varied, and depend heavily upon the foresight that the prince exercises. Hence, the successful ruler needs special allenamento.

3. Power, Virtu, and Fortune

Machiavelli presents to his readers verso vision of political rule allegedly purged of extraneous moralizing influences and fully aware of the foundations of politics con the effective exercise of power. The term that best captures Machiavelli’s vision of the requirements of power politics is lealta. While the Italian word would normally be translated into English as “virtue”, and would ordinarily convey the conventional connotation of moral goodness, Machiavelli obviously means something very different when he refers sicuro the virtu of the prince. Sopra particular, Machiavelli employs the concept of onesta puro refer to the range of personal qualities that the prince will find it necessary puro acquire con order onesto “maintain his state” and esatto “achieve great things”, the two standard markers of power for him. This makes it brutally clear there can be no equivalence between the conventional virtues and Machiavellian lealta. Machiavelli’s sense of what it is esatto be per person of onesta can thus be summarized by his recommendation that the prince above all else must possess verso “flexible disposition”. That ruler is best suited for office, on Machiavelli’s account, who is athletique of varying her/his conduct from good puro evil and back again “as fortune and circumstances dictate” (Prince CW 66; see Nederman and Bogiaris 2018).


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