“The Prince”: The Ability to Deceive People as a Way to Maintain One’s Power
In his famous work “The Prince”, Machiavelli offers the image of an ideal ruler, which can in principle be applied not only to Italy but also to other states. Machiavelli is mainly focused on the qualities of the ruler, while he pays particular attention to such quality as the ability to deceive the people by creating the right image of a ruler. Its value is to strengthen the power of the ruler. The ruler should be feared and honored, and in this respect, his ability to deceive people by pretending to be the most noble of them is of paramount importance.
Machiavelli clearly understands what qualities and what behaviors are unacceptable for the governor if he wants to continue his rule and still be respected and revered by his people. The task of the ruler is to avoid peoples contempt and hatred. Machiavelli points out that any people will not be able to positively assess the governor if the governor would infringe on private property and assert his rights to the women of his subjects. This will lead to a wave of resentment, hatred and contempt among all the people, and therefore the governor will face serious challenges in his quest to retain the power. For this reason, a wise ruler will do everything possible to create the image of a noble leader of the country, who is “merciful, faithful, humane, upright, and religious” (Machiavelli 85). This involves constant monitoring of his behavior, as well as his words, because as is it known, words can cause no less harm than the actions of a person. Machiavelli recognizes the fact that a man cannot be perfect and have only virtues. All people have various vices, however, because of his special status, the ruler should be seen as an extremely noble person who seeks the welfare of his people.
On the other hand, it does not require the governor to be humane, compassionate, religious, etc. in reality. The ruler must learn to deceive the people by creating an image of a just and noble ruler. People should think that their ruler is a good, fair and honest person, while in reality the ruler may not have all these qualities. This deception helps protect the ruler from attempts to encroach on his authority or to trick him, since the image of a bold, resolute, intelligent and steadfast ruler scares away all his enemies. At the heart of such behavior according to the position of Machiavelli, there is the principle that the end justifies the means.
Thus, the policy of creating a misleading image of the noble and dignified ruler makes sense in that it deters enemies and causes people to respect their ruler. The enemies do not dare to speak out against the strong and determined ruler who is supported by his people. In turn, the people will obey their ruler if they see him as a worthy leader and politician.