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By any means necessary


By Any Means Necessary

Part 15 of Machiavelli's The Prince, entitled Of the Things

for Which Men, and Especially Princes, Are Praised or

Blamed, states that, in order for a man to maintain control

of a government and better that territory, he must engage

in certain actions that may be deemed immoral by the

public he serves. Machiavelli argues a valid point, that the

nature of man is twofold, encompassing good and evil, right

and wrong. The effectiveness of his argument, however,

relies on the fact that the person reading his essay is an

objective observer of human nature. Not leaving this to

chance, Machiavelli plays a psychological game with the

reader in order to convince them of his argument.

Machiavelli prefaces his thesis with commentary that

attempts to place the reader in a subordinate state-of-mind.

He confesses to the reader that he fears sounding

presumptuous for writing about a subject covered many

times before by others and differing from their opinion in

the matter. This statement places the author at the mercy of

the reader and prepares them to hear an idea that may not

be popular. Having been asked forgiveness for the pride of

the author, the reader drops barriers that he may have

against arguments driven by ego and opens his mind to

Machiavelli on a personal, sincere level. By placing himself

at the feet of the reader, Machiavelli puts himself and his

argument in a position of power. He wastes no time in using

this power to gain more control over the reader. In the next

sentence he states that his intention is to create an outline

for behavior in public office " of use to those who

understand". This statement compels the reader to agree

with the points that the trustworthy, forthright Machiavelli

argues, or be relegated the ranks of those ignorant dullards

that do not understand. Machiavelli then presents his

thesis, that a ruler must use both good and evil in order to

maintain his power over the state. The reader has almost no

choice but to accept this idea before any proof has been

given. With the reader in the palm of his hand, Machiavelli

needs only to make a very general argument of his point to

convince the reader of its validity.

The author states that there are actions for which a prince

is either praised or blamed. He lists many examples of good

qualities and their opposing attitudes. Instead of labeling

them good and evil, however, Machiavelli titles them

imaginary and real. By calling the good traits and the leader

who possesses them imaginary, he removes the bite that the

mention of evil doing may have on the reader. Removing this

emotional punch makes his thesis, that evil behavior is

necessary to properly rule, obvious.

Machiavelli applies the rules he sets out for successful

management of a nation to his own writing. He is cautious

not to offend the reader with a statement that is too specific.

He manipulates the mind of the reader in order to quell his

emotions and make him more accepting of his opinion. He

seems weak when he is most powerful and seems powerful

when he has no legs to stand on. He is cautious and polite

when his foe's defenses are up and attacks with all of his

resources at his foe's weaknesses. Machiavelli writes a

strongly convincing essay. The proof for his opinion lies not

only in the words he speaks but in the flow and believability

of the work itself through the utilization of the very

techniques he exhorts.

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