Machiavelli and the British MPs
I believe Machiavelli would view the British politicians as disastrous rulers with no statecraft and wouldn’t want to have his name associated with them.
In light of the recent expenses scandal in the British Parliament it would be no surprise if we thought of our politicians as Machiavellian. Politicians have traditionally been viewed with a healthy amount of distrust and cynicism by the more discerning electorate. Where politicians are concerned I believe the rationale is that if they have Machiavellian traits that is only to be expected because that is the nature of politics and politicians. But are the British politicians truly Machiavellian and therefore good politicians in the way that Machiavelli suggests what would make a good prince (or politician)?
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I would argue no they are not. I believe that Machiavelli would view them as rogues and scoundrels and blatant opportunists. (Traits that Machiavelli believes are useful to a leader in certain situations). But Machiavelli believed that a leader should use all his vices (and virtues) to achieve a stable and flourishing society. Machiavelli believed that the ends (stable State) always justified the means. Machiavelli was not interested in the idea of the individual or whether individuals should have rights. His ideas were about keeping the collective (state) safe and secure and individuality or rights of the individual didn’t even register in his worldview.
I believe that Machiavelli would view modern British politicians with disgust and disdain. They have shown themselves to be totally self interested, greedy and individualistic. Rather than working towards making the State secure and amalgamating the power of the State. They have left it in a weaker position as now people have not just a healthy distrust of politicians but have lost faith in the institutions of the State.
Therefore because the British M.P.s have shown that they are more interested in their own self aggrandisement and their own interests rather than the State and it’s aggrandisement and interests. I would say they are not truly Machiavellian.
However in Machiavelli’s day the State was usually an Oligarchy or Monarchy. The Monarch often thought of himself as the ‘State’. What was seen as good for the Monarchy was seen as good for the State. Not so now. I do have the sense that some politicians have the notion that the modern State is still a form of Oligarchy and that they are answerable to no-one but their peers. That is not the case. In summing up I believe Machiavelli would view the British politicians as disastrous rulers with no statecraft and wouldn’t want to have his name associated with them.
It is a shame though many of the British Politicians display many of the traits that Machiavelli believed made a good leader. The ability to lie, cheat, do just about anything to achieve their aims. They do not appear to be virtuous though in any sense of the word and Machiavelli was well aware of how important ‘appearance’ is.