Both Machiavelli and Locke agree to some point that indeed “men of ambition and talents” are needed in order for a society to thrive. Each person came up with his own theory identifying the role that people of such characters play in the society, citing their advantages and disadvantages. To them, the existence of such people plays different roles in the establishment of the preservation of the political climate and discipline in the real world. In order to identify the best thought of the roles played by these people, one must establish which of them suit the real world as it is today. ‘Men of ambitious talent’ play an important role in the preservation and creation in the political thought of Lock and Machiavelli yielding but the negative override the positive.
Machiavelli in his best-known book, ‘Prince’, said that the power of the hereditary prince must have socio-political maintenance. He held the view that in the face of morbid corruption, the prince still had the power to maintain order and stabilize the political structure of his kingdom. Consequently, he deduced that both private and public morality had to be understood by the prince in order for him to rule well. Stabilization of power was the key. Many scholars note that Machiavelli glorified ‘instrumentality’ in the building of state. Machiavelli argued that, “good rulers sometimes have to learn not to be too good; they have to be willing to set aside ethical concerns of justice, honesty and kindness in order to maintain law and order” (Machiavelli, p. 27). With this, it can be seen that men of ambitious role and talent do, in fact, play a key role in the definition of politics of the county. He argues, only these men can stand in a position to take such decisions, and implement them in order to establish a well knitted political system in the country. This idea shocked most of the contemporaries as they believed kingship was only for those chosen by God hence making such acts immoral to the society.
Like Machiavelli, John Locke’s political philosophy was controversial. John Locke termed political power as, “a Right of making Laws with Penalties of Death, and consequently all less Penalties” (Second Treatise 2.3). With this, he argued, “men are not naturally equal and free” (Second Treatise 2.5). He instead claimed that all men are subject to the monarch. Though he admitted that men are naturally equal and free, he also added that everyone has rights to life, property and liberty. He used his philosophy to point out that men transfer some of their rights to legitimate governments so as to have stability and be comfortable in their enjoyment of their lives. Therefore, this brings about the argument that there need to be a body that controls the law and order in the country. With this, it claims that power should be central to one person who has the guts to carry out duties according to the state of the situation.
These two great men of history are both necessary and dangerous in the modern political world. Their views, though many years old, still hold water in today’s ruling world. First, Machiavelli’s view that, in the face of morbid corruption or turmoil of the state, the leader should be in a position to act any manner to bring things to order. Stabilization of power, he said, was the key. Stabilization is a necessary condition in the leadership of the country or state. The existence of men with ambitions is necessary for the society in order for them to make irrational choices that would not have been made by ordinary leaders.
However, as many scholars noted that Machiavelli glorified ‘instrumentality’ in the building of state, which is a dangerous view. He glorified princes and the ruling by monarchy. Today’s’ political dynamics commands that there must be a democracy within the state, ensuring stability. Monarchs and instrumentalism are dangerous in modern times. This leadership is what results in the existence of dictators. “The society needs to have a democratic system of life, and not being governed by leaders, who hold the law on their own hands. Leaders, like any other citizens of the state, should be governed by the law” (Machiavelli, p. 87).
Locke held freedom and liberty views. He argued that men are not naturally equal and free, making it a dangerous view. The reason to this is because constitutions, that are the threshold of any political leadership, give every person freedom. He also claimed that all men are subject to the monarch. In the modern world, monarchs are not practical, but the modern governments and corporations do represent them. Therefore, power is always centralized to a few people in the society, hence the thought Locke in practice
In a Lockean commonwealth, a citizen who wishes simply to live out a private life is more secure against such a danger than a citizen in a Machiavelli. The main reason to this is that, in a Lockean standard of leadership, rights and freedoms are assured. In contrast to the Machiavellian principality which ensures some rights of citizens are taken away and transferred to the state, in a Lockean commonwealth these rights are assured. Consequently, the Lockean principality is better than the Machiavellian one.
“And thus in the State of Nature, one Man comes by a Power over another; but yet no Absolute or Arbitrary Power, to use a Criminal when he has got him in his hands, according to the passionate heats, or boundless extravagancy of his own Will, but only to retribute to him, so far as calm reason and conscience dictates, what is proportionate to his Transgression, which is so much as may serve for Reparation and Restraint. For these two are the only reasons, why one Man may lawfully do harm to another, which is that [which] we call punishment” (Second Treatise 2.8). Therefore, it can be seen living a private life is much better as the chances of avoiding such issues is much higher.
Locke, J. Second Treatise of Government. Hackett Publishing Company, 1980. Print.
Machiavelli, N. The Prince. 2nd ed. University of Chicago Press, 1998. Print.