Machiavelli is probably most famous for his opinion concerning "whether it is better to be loved than feared." But according to Machiavelli, a wise prince may be better served by focusing on the distinction between goodwill and hatred. Above all else, a ruler "must only endeavor . . . to escape being hated," for the "best fortress that exists is to avoid being hated by the people." Of only slightly lesser importance, the prince must cultivate the goodwill and respect of the people. Machiavelli asserts that if a ruler has the goodwill of the people, then he need not worry about "conspiracies" and similar threats. However, goodwill and hatred are not synonymous with love and fear, respectively. Machiavelli declares that "fear is quite compatible with an absence of hatred," while love is not necessarily a prerequisite for goodwill, which a prince may earn by demonstrating prowess and protecting the people. If a prince cannot be both loved and feared, which Machiavelli declares the desired condition, then it is "far better to be feared," so long as that fear does not transform into hatred.
Machiavelli tells his audience that a prince can "always" evade hatred if he avoids robbing his subjects of their property and women. The people remain "content" while they remain in possession of their property and "their honor," and Machiavelli cynically asserts, "Men sooner forget the death of their father than the loss of their patrimony [i.e., property]." Machiavelli also clarifies his pronouncements by stating that "a reputation for cruelty" does not necessarily lead to hatred. Machiavelli argues that certain situations, such as the disciplining of an army, demand cruelty to instill order, which can result in the people's fear and respect of their leader's prowess.
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Goodwill and Hatred Quotes in The Prince
And if, from your lofty peak, Your Magnificence will sometimes glance down to these low-lying regions, you will realize the extent to which, undeservedly, I have to endure the great and unremitting malice of fortune.
The Romans did what all wise rulers must: cope not only with present troubles but also with ones likely to arise in the future, and assiduously forestall them. When trouble is sensed well in advance it can be easily remedied; if you wait for it to show itself any medicine will be too late because the disease will have become incurable. As the doctors say of a wasting disease, to start with it is easy to cure but difficult to diagnose; after a time . . . it becomes easy to diagnose but difficult to cure. So it is in politics.
The Romans . . . never, to avoid a war, allowed them [their troubles] to go unchecked, because they knew that there is no avoiding war; it can only be postponed to the advantage of others.
We can deduce a general rule, which never or rarely fails to apply: that whoever is responsible for another's becoming powerful ruins himself, because this power is brought into being either by ingenuity or by force, and both of these are suspect to the one who has become powerful.
Indeed, there is no surer way of keeping possession than by devastation. Whoever becomes the master of a city accustomed to freedom, and does not destroy it, may expect to be destroyed himself.
Men who become rulers by prowess . . . acquire their principalities with difficulty but hold them with ease. The difficulties they encounter in acquiring their principalities arise partly because of the new institutions and laws they are forced to introduce in founding the state and making themselves secure. It should be borne in mind that there is nothing more difficult to handle, more doubtful of success, and more dangerous to carry through than initiating changes in a state's constitution.
Wise princes, therefore, have always shunned auxiliaries and made use of their own forces. They have preferred to lose battles with their own forces than win them with others, in the belief that no true victory is possible with alien arms. . . . In short, armor belonging to someone else either drops off you or weighs you down or is too tight.
A prince, therefore, must have no other object or thought, nor acquire skill in anything, except war, its organization, and its discipline. The art of war is all that is expected of a ruler. . . . The first way to lose your state is to neglect the art of war.
A wise prince . . . must never take things easy in times of peace, but rather use the latter assiduously, in order to be able to reap the profit in times of adversity. Then, when his fortunes change, he will be found ready to resist adversity.
The gulf between how one should live and how one does live is so wide that a man who neglects what is actually done for what should be done moves towards self-destruction rather than self-preservation. The fact is that a man who wants to act virtuously in every way necessarily comes to grief among so many who are not virtuous. Therefore if a prince wants to maintain his rule he must be prepared not to be virtuous, and to make use of this or not according to his need.
From this arises the following question: whether it is better to be loved than feared, or the reverse. The answer is that one would like to be both the one and the other; but because it is difficult to combine them, it is far better to be feared than loved if you cannot be both. One can make this generalization about men: they are ungrateful, fickle, liars, and deceivers, they shun danger and are greedy for profit. . . . Men worry less about doing an injury to one who makes himself loved than to one who makes himself feared. . . . but fear is strengthened by a dread of punishment which is always effective.
So, as a prince is forced to know how to act like a beast, he must learn from the fox and the lion; because the lion is defenseless against traps and a fox is defenseless against wolves. Therefore one must be a fox in order to recognize traps, and a lion to frighten off wolves.
So it follows that a prudent ruler cannot, and must not, honor his word when it places him at a disadvantage and when the reasons for which he made his promise no longer exist.
A prince must, therefore, never lack advice. But he must take it when he wants to, not when others want him to. . . . a prince who is not himself wise cannot be well advised.
So as not to rule out our free will, I believe that it is probably true that fortune is the arbiter of half the things we do, leaving the other half or so to be controlled by ourselves.