In Niccolo Machiavelli’s The Prince, the stability of power as integral to the value of a government is importantly posited. However is the author’s assertion correct? Can a government be judged solely on its ability to enable stability within the body that it governs or is more expected of it to be successful? Machiavelli through his varied historical examples, as well as history itself, supports his claim.
Moreover, the argument can and should be made that the stability of the governing body is the primary if not sole function of a government, especially given the difficulties of acquiring a new state.
Government and Security as the Characteristics of Power
Machiavelli categorizes the states which can be ruled citing one acquired by a new ruler as the most difficult to govern. In this, we see his justification for the importance of the aforementioned stability. In chapter six of The Prince, Machiavelli (2005) writes “Those who by valorous ways become princes, like these men, acquire a principality with difficulty, but they keep it with ease. The difficulties they have in acquiring it rise in part from the new rules and methods which they are forced to introduce to establish their government and its security.”
Summarily, if the analyst, critic or statesmen, seeking to gain insight from Machiavelli’s assertion that stability and power are more important when judging the worth of a government, they should acknowledge as Machiavelli did the difficulties in acquiring and maintaining a state. If they observe these difficulties and acknowledge their importance, and how after overcoming those difficulties it is best to avoid them again, it quickly follows that a quality government must maintain that state in a way that will prevent it from falling into disrepair and prevent those original difficulties from reappearing. Consequently, how well stability and power are maintained within a state, are the highest judgment a government’s qualities can be based on.
Machiavelli, N., & Bondanella, P. E. (2005). The Prince. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Machiavelli, N., Skinner, Q., & Price, R. (1988). Machiavelli: The Prince. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.