Who are the Machiavellian leaders throughout history

The prince and the leader - Hitler's power politics in the light of Machiavellianism

Table of Contents


1 Machiavelli
1.1 The life of Niccolo Machiavelli
1.2 The basic terms
1.2.1 Fortuna
1.2.2 Necessita
1.2.3 Virtu
1.3 Machiavelli's view of man
1.4 Machiavelli's understanding of politics
1.5 The role of religion
1.6 The relationship between Discorsi and Il Principe
1.7 The forerunner of the state of state
1.8 Democracy or Dictatorship?
1.9 Machiavellianism

2 power
2.1 The nature of power
2.2 The rational element
2.3 The ethics of power
2.4 Authority
2.5 States of violence

3 Weimar Republic
3.1 Origin
3.2 The crisis years 1919-1923
3.3 Relative stability between 1924 and 1929
3.4 Crisis and decline
3.5 Interim balance

4 Hitler's power politics
4.1 The way to power
4.2 Takeover and expansion of power
4.3 Extension of power by 1938
4.4 Foreign policy
4.5 Motivation and motivations of the population
4.6 Police and SS: between power and violence
4.7 Beyond power politics: euthanasia and the extermination of the Jews
4.7.1 Racial Policy
4.7.2 Euthanasia
4.7.3 Extermination of the Jews
4.8 Program of Dominion
4.9 The war
4.10 The end
4.11 Hitler and Machiavelli

5 conclusion



Machiavelli has been the subject of long and controversial discussions in the 500 years since his death. The spectrum ranges from the highest honor to the deepest abuse. It is not uncommon for it to be said that the topic has now been scoured and that there is not much that is new.

So why another academic paper on Machiavelli's work? Anyone who is asked this question can thankfully refer to Erwin Faul, who rightly stated that Machiavelli's theses are of timeless importance and that an endless conversation ensues from them[1].

Each generation has to find its own approach to Machiavelli. It is above all the tremendous fascination that emanates from his works and, of course, especially from Il Principe. The sometimes brutal way with which the reader is shown politics beyond fair-weather democracy is capable of captivating at any time.

At the same time, however, it is dividing the readership. Some see him as a republican-minded founder of rational political science, others as a prophet of the totalitarian state of violence. The latter only too often leads to references to the dictatorships of the 20th century. The concept of Machiavellian "is then brought into the vicinity of National Socialism", but where it does not belong. It is claimed that Hitler, like Stalin or Mussolini, could have justified his policy with Machiavelli's Il Principe. Nothing is more absurd.

Proving and demonstrating this is the intended core of this work.

The title: “The Prince and the Leader” has been chosen deliberately. The common translation forIl Principein German the prince. In English, on the other hand, it is called the prince. While Principe, prince and Prince from the Latin princeps,the first, are derived, Fürst is derived from Old High GermanFuristooff, but what exactlythe firstmeans.[2]Certainly an alliteration (prince / leader) would have been more memorable. The title ultimately chosen, however, is an allusion to Mark Twain's “The Prince and the Beggar Boy”, which anticipates that Hitler's power politics appears poor in the light of Machiavellianism.

Following a preselection, it will not be about Hitler's policy as a whole. The focus is on his power politics. According to this, race politics and war are classified as ideologically rather than power-political and are removed from the Machiavellian analysis. But in order to be able to consider Hitler's power politics in the light of Machiavellianism, the terms power and of course Machiavellianism must first be clarified.

The term used in general language usage, more often in English than in German, should not be used, the content of which includes reckless, immoral, only success-oriented action for one's own benefit. Although this term is based on Il Principe, it is evidence of a poor or even completely lacking understanding of the same. Rather, unless otherwise stated, Machiavellism should be understood here as nothing different from Machiavelli's political theory. Particular attention is paid to the relationship between Il Principe and the Discorsi.

In order to later identify Hitler's power politics as such, the concept of power is considered following Machiavellianism. It is important to distinguish it from the concept of violence.

In order to finally come to a Machiavellian view of Hitler's power politics, the political circumstances of the Weimar Republic, under which Hitler began his way to power, must first be examined.

1 Machiavelli

1.1 The life of Niccolo Machiavelli

Niccolo Machiavelli was born in Florence on May 3, 1469. His hometown was one of the most influential metropolises in the Italian Renaissance, even if it had already passed its zenith at the time of his birth.[3]

The family actually belonged to the patrician class, but was affected by the rampant, increasing impoverishment in Florence. His father Bernado di Niccolo Bouninsegna was a doctor of law and practiced as a lawyer. In view of his limited wealth and influence, the family belonged to the upper middle class. Therefore Niccolo received a humanistic but shortened education, namely he only spoke Latin, no Greek or Hebrew. That is why he was later unable to read many sources in the original.

De Grazia writes about the origin of the family name:

"The present tale has additional interest, recalling that the Machiavegli escutcheon consists of a cross azure, field argent, and four nails, also azure, that stick in the four angels made by the cross. the nails represent the bad nails that nailed Christ to the cross. They sometimes appear in devices of families with connections to the Crusades or the Holy Land as soldiers or pilgrims. We do not know who of the family fist acquired the cross and nails symbol or how the family itself came to be called Machiavegli, but in the late thirteenth century one ancestor, a penitent and contemplative, had evidently gone on the Holy Land and at a ripe old age there in so holy state that he was counted as one of the blessed. Among the older family appear two first names that are unusual and clearly related to nails-Chiovello and Chiodo. The family last name, wich we have seen Niccolò and others spell in various ways, can be broken down into the Latin Mal (i) plus Clavus (-i) or Clavellus (-i) = "bad nail (s)." Niccolo is sure to know that this origin can be put to his family name. What may be his first signed letter, that of 29 April 1499, as Chancellor of the Second Chancery, carries the signature "Nicholaus Maclavellus Cancellarius."[4]

After Cosimo de Medici died in 1464 and his son Piero only ruled briefly, Lorenzo il Magnifico took over the government of the city on December 2, 1469.[5]

He ruled until 1492. His son and successor Piero delivered the city to the French two years later and lost his position of power. For four years Savanerola was able to establish his theocratic regime, but became at the instigation of Pope Alexander VI. deposed and burned.

In the 14 years from 1498 to 1512, the republican constitution reigned in Florence; it was the time when Machiavelli celebrated his great political successes. On July 19, 1498, Machiavelli was elected first secretary of the second chancellery. On July 14th he also became head of the "Dieci di Bali", the authority for war, the surrounding area and diplomacy. From today's perspective, one could call him State Secretary. On the other hand, he was never State Chancellor[6]even if his skills suggested it. "Secretaries like Machiavelli [...] had no notarial qualification but were nevertheless able to exercise executive authority in the territory."[7]

When Machiavelli got into politics, the Republic of Florence was already in a deep political and social crisis.[8]The autocratic upper class held the scepter firmly in hand in Florence. The Medici were the real rulers of the city. The Signoria was almost nothing more than an executive authority.[9]Already a year in office, Machiavelli criticized the “ineptitude and indecision” of Florentine politics.[10]

According to the 1493 Constitution, the bulk of the people had no political rights. Only the tax-paying citizens had these rights. Above it were those whose families had already served as officials. The party struggles were not just, as from today's point of view, an expression of an immature understanding of politics, but an expression of a new political beginning. Machiavelli was convinced that the republic was the only true form of government. It had to be flexible, adaptable and dynamic to face political challenges.[11]His first writings are to be understood against the background of his political, especially diplomatic activities, when he wanted to give the Signoria precise descriptions of the situation in his reports.[12]“It is noteworthy that Machiavelli's modern reflection begins with a double examination of his own Italian experience of the constitutional conditions in France (Ritratto di cose di Franca, approx. 1510-1513) and the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation (Ritratto delle cosa della Magna, before 1507/08) “Since the Italian campaign of Charles VIII of France, such reflections, especially in Florence, were extremely negative in relation to France.[13]

In 1505 he was commissioned to raise an army. Since Machiavelli did not believe in mercenaries, he raised a militia that was ready a year later. Because of his aversion to professional soldiers, he did not recognize the need for constant drill exercises, which made the mercenaries far superior to a militia army.[14]Nevertheless, Machiavelli was able to take Pisa in 1509.

On his diplomatic missions he got to know the great and powerful of his time. In October 1502 he was at Casare Borgia, which made a particularly lasting impression on him. He traveled to France four times. Here he developed his art of grasping political contexts. In 1507 he traveled to Constance to see Emperor Maximilian.

When the Florentine militia was defeated by Spanish troops on August 29, 1512, it meant the return of the Medici. On November 7th and 10th, Machiavelli lost his offices and was banished. He was even taken prisoner for a time, but was finally pardoned.[15]

He was banished from all offices and from the city to his San Casciano estate. Since he was at times very respected, the fall of 1512 took him seriously. On the other hand, it was during this time that he matured into a great state thinker. In his “exile” he was able to broaden his horizons in relation to people and their potential. He became a connoisseur of people, but also developed his negative anthropology. He is interested in great historical personalities as well as the average person, whom he was able to grasp in all his many facets.[16]

He describes life on the estate in a letter to Vettori on December 10, 1513. In it he describes how he turned to the great poets and thinkers of antiquity. It is from this turn to antiquity that he draws his thoughts on politics. The Discorsi are the beginning of this reflection.[17]“Between July and December 1513, Machiavelli wrote his famous book:“ Il Principe ”.[18]By the time Machiavelli developed his theories, the political renaissance in Italy was already drawing to a close.[19]

In 1519 Machiavelli was commissioned to write a report on the reform of the state. In it he called on the Medici to restore the republic.

Machiavelli completed the story of Florence in 1525. Pope Clement VII commissioned him to defend Florence in 1526. On May 11, 1527 it became known that imperial troops had sacked Rome (Sacco di Roma). On May 16, the republic was proclaimed again and for the last time in Florence. Machiavelli was now considered a partisan of the Medici and was dumped. He died shortly afterwards on June 22nd. His life was marked by ups and downs. The uncertainty in his life is reflected in his writings.[20]With the pillage of Rome, the Renaissance in Italy came to its ultimate end[21].

In 1557, at the urging of the Jesuits, Pope Paul IV had Machiavelli's work banned. “The polemics sparked by the Jesuits against Machiavelli made use of the propagandistically effective method of tearing individual quotations out of context and then splintering them together into a caricature of the work and the author. The label of Machiavellianism made in this way was soon to be picked up by political demagogy in order to stick it to the respective opponent when it came to branding him as an unscrupulous power politician. "[22]

1.2 The basic terms

1.2.1 Fortuna

Fortuna was the goddess of destiny in ancient Rome. She was symbolized as a woman, sitting on the wheel of fortune. Like the history of mankind, the happiness of the individual is also subject to a cycle. At first you sit on top and in the next moment your luck tips, the wheel turns and all of a sudden you find yourself below. "What is possible today may be impossible again tomorrow ..."[23]Everything in life that a person cannot foresee, let alone influence, i.e. everything to which he is at the mercy, is not attributed to chance or something similarly diffuse, but to a transcendent, supernatural power, so that man is the origin of Freud and Suffering can give a face.[24]

Fortuna does not allow you to plan your whole life in advance.[25]Machiavelli already recognized that strictly rational action is impossible because there are too many unknown variables. "Fortuna" stands as an expression for the lack of human knowledge about the laws that determine action. It is not possible in every case to foresee how things will come. "[26]"Fortuna is held responsible for all those events that occurred against all rational calculations and expectations."[27]

It is a compelling power, to be sure[28], but is not to be equated with fate, but rather with luck and unhappiness. Contrary to the zeitgeist, which elevates Fortuna to the sole determining power over fate[29], Machiavelli sees in it only one determinant of human existence. He also attributes an equally great influence to Virtu.[30]For Machiavelli, Fortuna is not a transcendent deity, but the "limitation of human nature"[31].

"Inconstant and fickle, Fortuna cannot be swayed by worship accorded a normal deity. She asks not to be worshiped but to be recognized ... "[32] “With the emancipation of humans from drafts of religious orders, a part of their social environment [becomes] autonomous. Where the gods no longer personally determine his fate, [...] one's own environment is experienced within limits as "feasible". "[33]

History is not predetermined, but neither is it free from heavenly interference.[34]But even if the course of events should be in the stars, there is still room for individual decisions. It is true that Machiavelli searched for the necessities of politics and found them; but if this necessity were compelling in the causal-mechanical sense and thus relieved of all responsibility, there would be no need to discuss the state: modern material battle are thrown into it. "[35]

1.2.2 Necessita

Machiavelli developed the term in Chapter 15. Princ., Which does not belong to the original form, but to the extension. According to Kluxen, Necessita means the "compulsion emanating from the circumstances"[36]But it is not a causal compulsion. Rather, Necessita is a teleological compulsion that exists when the goal has already been set. Necessita does not determine the goal, but the way.[37]

Necessita is an emergency created by the development of the course of things, which requires a certain action (read: makes necessary) in order to be mastered. Necessita does not leave the last word to political necessity. Necessity is conditional, but the good is unconditional. The power struggle, which is not really good, is opposed to the moral determination of the state.[38]Since necessity is conditional, so is political life. "Politics, determined by Machiavelli as the attempt to get the best out of the historical development that necessarily takes place ..."[39]For Machiavelli, the state is not given, but given up.Through the moral purpose, human culture becomes the task of the state. Since it was precisely the realist Machiavelli who recognized the discrepancy between claim and reality, he also asked the question of how it would be realized.[40]

1.2.3 Virtu

The positive side of Fortuna is the opportunity it offers people: le occasione. Recognizing and using the opportunity is an expression of virtu.

Derived from Latin: vir = man, virtu originally meant manliness, which in turn means suitability for war. Instead of suitability, one can also speak of efficiency. This later became virtue. The example of Agathocles in the 8th chapter of the Principe shows that Machiavelli understands virtu to mean both efficiency and virtue.

“The virtues of the Middle Ages gradually disappeared. Through all other virtues and personal gifts, the individual could attain perfection. The Renaissance virtu was analogous to the ancient Roman virtus. It has little in common with Christian virtue. "[41]

Virtu and Fortuna are in "fundamental opposition" to each other.[42]"Virtue conquers fortune."[43]Anyone who is capable becomes the forge of his own happiness and forces Fortuna into his service. But even if Virtu is the countervailing power to Fortuna in general and Necessita in particular[44]but one side can never completely triumph over the other. Above all, virtu is a potential that, however great it may be, can only develop if the historical situation proves to be favorable. However, the opportunity is a product of Fortuna, which in turn makes Virtu dependent on Fortuna.[45]These forces are constantly changing in relation to humans.[46]Ultimately, however, the totality of the forces that act on people remains the same, it only oscillates back and forth between the poles Virtu and Fortuna.[47]Sometimes life is more determined by Fortuna, then it is time to do what Necessita dictates. Other times, times are better and Virtu can be used to seize good opportunities.

One can protect oneself from Fortuna as one can build dams against a raging river.[48] To do this, you have to recognize the right time to act, or adapt your actions to the circumstances. According to Machiavelli's negative anthropology, however, there is no one who is able to adapt his behavior to every situation.[49] Only the Romans were never idle in their exaggerated idealization and always knew how to correctly interpret and use the signs of the times.[50]Virtu himself is not able to solve a problem, it is an object and not a subject. It depends on the people.

This is also shown by the example of Hannibal and Scipio. One can achieve the same goal with different means, or with the same characteristics one time be victorious and one time not.[51]In the end, convenience always leads to previously successful methods being held onto, even if they are no longer successful (Princ. I 195). "If, of course, the historical necessita is not recognized or if the politically active have no virtu, they become the plaything of a dark and unmanageable fate, the victim of Fortuna's whims."[52]

Virtu is the power to create and maintain a vital state. It is the constructive political proficiency. One can speak of a republic where Virtu is present.[53]"Without the virtuoso of the people, according to Machiavelli, no state would be able to maintain internal stability over a long period of time." "For Machiavelli virtu is the epitome of everything that is suitable for ensuring the viability and stability of the community."[54]

“Rather, virtu is the epitome of the energy and competence of those involved in politics that are required to achieve the overarching goal. This overriding goal, however, is the self-preservation of the political community. "[55]Machiavelli's concept of virtu was linked to this bourgeois-republican tradition: Machiavelli was only prepared to allow this state to bear the virtu, provided that a significant number of citizens were involved in the government of the state be inspired. "[56]"The decisive factor in all statecraft is: not to let the driving force of virtù fall asleep."[57]

People like Boglioni, who are neither perfectly good nor completely bad, become pests through their passivity (Disc. I 27). The devastating judgment results from the fact that he let a favorable opportunity slip by.[58]

Great generals like Agathocles had strength, courage, charisma but no kindness, compassion etc. like Scipio Africanus Maior or Michele di Lando. World fame is reserved for the founding heroes.

1.3 Machiavelli's view of man

The humanists resorted to the ancient poets and thinkers of antiquity to step forward to freedom. “History teaches insight into useful and good things. [...] For Machiavelli, the study of history actually has an educational value. For him history is not pleasant entertainment, but useful and necessary instruction; because whoever observes the teaching of history can protect himself from harm and failure. "[59]

Machiavelli, though stylistically, is by no means a humanist in terms of content. The world of Machiavelli was the "Vivre Politico". The civil, modest and respectable life was ideal.[60]But instead of the moral self-development of the individual, Machiavelli emphasized the overpowering state, “which first emerges from the destructive anthropological raw material of the human being in the higher sense, i. H. forms the citizen rising up in the state and is therefore acquitted of any restrictions by Christian morality in order to preserve him. "[61]

Pico della Mirandola writes in “On the dignity of man”, as God speaks to Adam: “I made you neither heavenly nor earthly, neither mortal nor immortal, so that you could be your own educator and educator, whatever image and being you want "You can degenerate into an animal - you can ascend to God."[62]There is an ambivalent equilibrium, as humans can never be entirely good or entirely bad.[63]Negative anthropology (“anthropological pessimism”) provides the basis for Machiavelli's political considerations.[64]

Vices are decisive for Machiavelli's image of man. Vices lead to atrocities if they are not banished by education and law.[65]

The moral evaluation is closed to the politico-military reality of the imperial era. The starting point of his theory of the state is his egoistic-pessimistic view of man. People only act well when forced to do so.[66]And since humans tend to be more evil, the state must therefore act in an authoritarian manner.[67]

Ambition is the mainspring of human action.[68]Therefore, when given the opportunity, man acts badly and selfishly. In order to act well, one has to force him.[69]

"According to Machiavelli, which of the two sides the Janus-faced person shows depends solely on the respective political constellations." For Machiavelli, it is a historically proven fact that people tend to be more evil than good, but not inevitable.[70]

Political decline follows cultural prosperity. Machiavelli's pessimism can be explained against the background of the decline of the comuni. Despite sympathy for democracy, he had to watch over and over again how personal ambition takes precedence over reason.[71]This ambition should find its limits in a constitution supported by the people. Privategoism should be channeled through laws, competition should be possible.[72]

“All good things spoil over time.” No matter how good a form of government, it can degenerate. People are all too easily prone to corruption. Machiavelli describes the trend towards decadence as a cycle.[73]This cyclical view of history was adopted by Polybius, who in turn adopted it from Plato's Politeia.[74]The state can cope with any crisis as long as it rests on a strong foundation. Once the zenith is reached, corruption gradually spreads.[75]

Machiavelli, however, does not keep it to the last resort, because this would mean that history would be subject to an unalterable natural law. Instead, at the beginning of the second book of the Discorsi, he developed a second theory. So things are always in motion, up and down. Good and bad are always present to the same extent, but distributed differently, since the entire virtu of the world migrates from people to people.[76]

“It can be stated that for Machiavelli's view of man, the natural inclination of man is to satisfy his passions and needs or to implement his ambitious and selfish interests.” This is referred to under the termambizionesummarized. "The limitation of the goods available and the simultaneous unlimited desire for appropriation and possession of the individual lead to permanent tension with every single person."[77]

“Man does not have a demonic nature. He can choose the bad, and since that choice is the easier it is the more common. "[78]

“Machiavelli therefore rejects, once again this is shown in these formulations, any fundamental schematization of man: man is neither fundamentally good nor is he fundamentally bad and whether he turns to one side or the other is not the last question the political order. "[79]

The wickedness of politics emerges from the wickedness of people.[80]In other words: the state finds its justification in the wickedness of the people. The lack of state order leads to the struggle of all against all. The state opposes this anarchy. "Human existence simply needs power."[81]

"For Machiavelli, the state, its stability and order are the only guarantors against the human tendency to evil and the surrender of history to the arbitrariness of chance."[82]

Since above all the powerful are shaped by greed, the state must be placed on a broad, republican foundation.[83]

1.4 Machiavelli's understanding of politics

It is widespread, yet inaccurate, Machiavelli as the firstPolitical Scientistto call. "Although there are those who imply the opposite, by claiming that Machiavelli was the founder of political science, it is now generally agreed that he was not a systematic, analytic political thinker."[84]Despite his empirical way of working, he was not a political scientist because he did not work systematically enough. But it would not be completely wrong to see his methods as a precursor to some political analysis. "Machiavelli's political theory is not a set of sentences that is deductively derived from the highest, unchangeable axioms; ..."[85]

Machiavelli was a practitioner and political pragmatist. That is why Mittermaier also speaks of “practical democracy”. In discussions, he was always concerned with applicability and the prospect of success. Basically, he wanted to eradicate all structures that jeopardize a stable state order. What is clear, however, is the commitment to direct participation by the people. It is characteristic of Machiavelli's working method to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of monarchy and republic against each other. The matter is always the best form of government for the divided Italy.[86]

Machiavelli's right-wing state was without question the republic.[87]In his eyes, the perfect role model was the Imperium Romanum, which could unite the virtu of the world. Efficiency and bravery were the basis of the rise of Rome.[88]This virtu was lacking in his presence, which is why Italy was divided. Machiavelli is more democratic than most people of his time, but with an eye for success.

A common mistake is to look for Machiavelli's commitment to the form of government in “Il Principe” and not in the “Discorsi”. The prince is only given the task of mastering a crisis situation, analogous to the dictators of the Roman Republic. But he is only a temporary ruler, not a dynast. Only the republic can guarantee freedom and stability over the long term. The prince has special powers because a depraved community makes it difficult to preserve constitutional freedom in crisis situations.[89]Machiavelli is aware of the individual ruler's will to power and puts reason at his side.

His concept of the state “lo stato” is complex and often incorrectly interpreted too narrowly. For Machiavelli, the state as stato meant the prince and his clique; the dominion; Object and substrate of political rule; Public authority - comune; City with cantado; but also the area state.[90]

People and the state lie in relation to one another and against one another. Machiavelli speaks out for the state, as an orderly community. In the state as in the life of the individual, up and down, happiness and unhappiness alternate.[91]The community receives special emphasis. Collective egoism sustains the state, particular interests destroy it. Anarchy is the expression of decadence, self-interest and disagreement. A virtuous state is characterized by order, security, freedom and equality of rights. In other words: Laws and order should preserve and promote freedom[92] The higher purpose of the state is to educate people for good. The constitution has to be "flexible" in order to support the ups and downs in the course of things.[93]

It seems that Machiavelli saw an egalitarian citizenship ruled by a bourgeois elite as an ideal. But the balance of the state was important to him. So he insisted on differences. So he's not a Social Revolutionary, but rather conservative.[94]

Machiavelli's ethos can be realized through the compulsion of the law. “The state is morally founded.” It enables moral action. But laws alone are not enough. You can only educate for moral conduct. The state must limit evil so that good can flourish. The ethos challenges people for the good, but can only develop in a state that has moral strength at its disposal. This creates an interaction. Ethos and the state are interdependent. The foundation of the state lies in the essence of man. If the state were only about taming anarchy, any somewhat orderly state would be good enough for Machiavelli. The common good can only be realized in Free States.[95]

“For Machiavelli, one main thing remains important that newly established states have the prospect of favorable development if they are equipped with good institutions and good laws from the start. These form the absolutely necessary framework for a viable state body, which must first and foremost be healthy. "[96]

Machiavelli, like v. Muralt correctly recognized, had normative ideas of the right-wing, republican state or preferred the republic to all other states, but he also stated that "where there is no republican virtu, no republic can exist."[97]

1.5 The role of religion

Religion is a pillar of the state.[98]It is the foundation of law and morality, but it does not provide a foundation for the state.[99]

Machiavelli distances himself from the practice of the Catholic Church. Rather, the Catholic Church is to blame for the fragmentation of Italy. Religion should mediate between people and state.[100]

If Machiavelli devalues ​​the clergy, it is to strengthen religion. He compares Christianity with the religion of antiquity, criticizing Christianity as being too fixated on the beyond.[101]Christianity is responsible for rotting and effeminating people.[102]

Machiavelli was not an atheist but a deist. He rarely speaks of God, sometimes equating him with happiness. Fortuna, in turn, gets traits of a goddess. Machiavelli already recognizes man as a creative subject, but opposes Necessita and Fortuna as supernatural forces.[103]

1.6 The relationship between Discorsi and Il Principe

The conceptual content of Machiavellian 'in common parlance is fed almost exclusively from the Principe. This reduces Machiavelli to this work. If, like the Jesuits, the text is arbitrarily taken apart in order to polemicize, a caricature remains that everything is but not what the author wanted to say. It is wrong to look for Machiavelli's commitment to the form of government in the Principe and only there.

Of course, it may seem confusing at first glance that Machiavelli speaks out in favor of the republic on the one hand and writes about the princely rule on the other.It seems a little schizophrenic at first.

On the other hand, one can make the mistake of dismissing the Principe as an opportunist work with which Machiavelli wanted to make himself popular with the Medici. "[...] The Principe can be understood as a letter of application with which he hopes to convince a potential employer of his abilities."[104]“He first dedicated it to Guiliano de Medici, but after his death in 1516 to Lorenzo de Medici.[105]

Instead, a much closer relationship between Discorsi and Il Principe should be assumed here: "In general, it can be regarded as a consistent result of all recent Machiavelli research that Discorsi and Principe arise from a uniform basic concept (and that the previously common comparison of the" republican "Discorsi and the" absolutist "Principe was based on a wrong, namely a constitutional question, which was nothing less than central for Machiavelli)."[106]

Diane Pfaff writes, "Machiavelli's political writings are of one piece", referring to Chabod and Sasso. Furthermore, she concludes that Discorsi and Principe must have originated at the same time.[107]Buck writes: “Machiavelli broke off the elaboration of the“ Discorsi ”in July 1513, and presumably resumed it in 1514, and completed it in 1519 at the latest. The "Discorsi" may also have ended in 1517 because no references to events after 1517 can be found in them. "[108]

König, too, is convinced that both works are related: “The Discorsi and the Principe were both written at the same time [...] If you consider the two works more closely, you will soon realize that the spirit that rules in them both , is quite the same. "[109]

Alternatively, Sasso writes that Principe and Discorsi are indeed different theories, but are so related in their ideal structure that one can speak of a mutual complement their political existence come to an end ... "[110]

In any case, it must be assumed that both works cannot simply be viewed in isolation from one another if one wants to come to an understanding that Machiavelli does justice. The decisive maxims of the Principe can also be found in the Discorsi.

Even if Machiavelli's understanding of politics is in theDiscorsiis much more mature than imPrincipe, it is unlikely that Machiavelli did not develop his republican sentiments until 1515. It is not without reason that Machiavelli describes autocracy as a necessity in the historical cycle of a republic in Book IDiscorsiat the point where he turns to the decline of the republics.[111]The central theme of the Discorsi is a crisis analysis of Machiavelli's present on the scale of the liberal republic, which of course cannot be found.[112]

Machiavelli's view of history and man shows the decline of the state, and thus that of every republic. “[...] to stop the general corruption, there are neither laws nor institutions. Just as good morals are necessary for the preservation of the law, good morals are also necessary for their observance [...] From all this there arises the difficulty, indeed the impossibility of maintaining or establishing a republic in depraved cities. "[113]

"He only asks whether a people is capable of acting politically (vivre politico) or whether it is corrupt (corotta)."[114]"Machiavelli is primarily concerned with the question of whether one can order the conditions of a broken city so far that its decline is halted." For Machiavelli, depravity also means political and social inequality that must be overcome in order to return to the republic.[115]

When a people are completely corrupted, they can no longer rule themselves. This knowledge from the analysis of the current crisis finally leads to the instruction for dealing with the crisis, the Principe.[116] "If the virtu of the many is missing, it must be replaced by the outstanding virtu of an individual."[117]

Amazingly, despite his knowledge of antiquity, neither Machiavelli nor the ancient authors themselves used the image of the mythical phoenix to describe the thesis of the rise and fall of the state. Here is this analogy, it could be calledPhoenix effectdenote, obviously. The republic has to burn like a phoenix from time to time to rise from its own ashes. "If [...] a republic is to exist for a long time, it is often necessary to trace it back to its origin."[118]"If you don't change the institutions here, the state will perish completely ..."[119]

In order to overcome the grievances, Machiavelli envisaged an autocracy based on the model of the dictatorship of the Roman Republic.[120]The dictator based on the Roman model was an emergency officer, equipped with all the powers to resolve an emergency. The entire executive power was united in one person. Other officials originally resigned and were later placed under the dictator's command. The collegial principle did not apply so that the dictator would not be hindered by the veto of his colleague. The dictator was appointed by one of the consuls when the emergency of the republic made immediate intervention necessary. The Senate determined the emergency and named a dictator. While the dictator's violence knew no bounds, his term of office was limited to only 6 months, "whichever time was sufficient for military operations (in older times, war was usually only waged in the summer)." a new dictator next year.

The state of emergency was always an external, military state of emergency. The first surviving dictators date from the time of the Sammnite Wars, first half of the 4th century to the first third of the 3rd century BC. and Ztr.[121]

The difference is that the prince is outside the constitution due to the extent of the corruption. Failed states need virtuoso leaders who forcibly usurp power.[122]When the moral corruption is too great for the government to maintain order and anarchy threatens, only the strong hand of the ruler can avert doom.[123]As already said, the prince is only a temporary ruler, like the dictator, not the founder of a dynasty. The princely rule is only a transition on the way back to the republic.[124]"Autonomy can only establish a viable state if it gives its special mandate back to the people, as it were, and if the power in the state is again distributed over the shoulders of many."[125]

“It is the political crisis that he believes will require an extraordinary man and extraordinary measures to overcome. But the goal, for whose sake he accepts both, is to overcome the conditions under which both cannot be renounced. [...] Where laws are respected, uomo virtuoso is no longer necessary; where ethical convictions and habits mean that the situation is balanced, they do not have to be legally standardized. The function of the uomo viruoso in Machiavelli's political theory is to make oneself superfluous. "[126]

Lazy and v. Muralt see the Principe as a "borderline case"[127], or "special case"[128]of the state. Princely rule is not a normal rule in Machiavelli's thought. While the republic is unconditional, it presupposes conditions for princely rule, without which such a form of rule does more harm than good.

“If the Principe dealt with a situation in which the ambizione of the people must be restricted by a prince, the republicanism of the Discorsi presupposes citizens who have voluntarily and voluntarily limited their ambizione and are therefore also able to Exercise governance oneself without the state ending in political chaos. "[129]

“According to this distinction, Machiavelli divides his theory of the state into the part that is devoted to a political existence and treats it in the“ Discorsi ”, and the other part that applies to the sick, corrupted state that only exists under a princely rule able. This part alone is dealt with in the book by the prince. It is, not only in terms of its size, the smaller part that can be used in an emergency, when everything else is lost and nothing else can help. "[130]

“While the Principe treats a special case of the state in an unsurpassably striking and captivating form, the Discorsi, no less interesting in their way, perhaps more important because they are more fundamental and general, pursue the problem of the state in general. As Pasquale Villori rightly said, the “prince” is part of Machiavelli's entire political system. The basic terms, on the other hand, are found primarily in the Discorsi. The Discorsi have, if not in terms of their form, but thanks to their content the meaning of Niccolo Machiavelli's “General State Doctrine”. [...] He sought the healing of Italy; but the condition seemed so desperate to him that he was bold enough to prescribe poison for him. "[131]

Machiavelli also speaks with medical images in the Principe: “... those who take preventive measures in good time can heal easily; but if you wait until the unrest has broken out, any medicine will come too late because the disease has become incurable. "[132]In a nutshell, Principe teaches that people can recognize misfortune and evil as early as the development process and should / must initiate appropriate countermeasures in good time.[133]"The" Discorsi "depict the crisis of contemporary Italy, which the Principe is called to overcome."[134]

1.7 The forerunner of the state of state

State reason is the clear objective of the state. The term went back to Guicciardini, who assumed a sovereign state. Machiavelli's “repubblica perfetta” already covers this postulate with independence and internal and external freedom. Giuccardini coined the termragiondi stato. Instead, Machiavelli uses, among other things, "fine" in the sense of state interest or state reason. The goal of the state is to maintain power and freedom. They are a basic requirement for a lasting community.

For this, the basic substances of the state, its constitution, the laws, the institutions, the education, morals and religion must be intact. Ideal and reality drift far apart, as Machiavelli repeatedly points out. Everything possible must be done to acquire and maintain state power. The state is more important to Machiavelli than to his contemporaries. In his day, the state increasingly objectified what it had already recognized.[135] Savanerola, on the other hand, was still caught in his thinking with God as the highest reference value in politics in the Middle Ages, while Machiavelli already applied earthly standards.[136]

Von Muralt sees order and security as the goal of the state. Alfred Schmitt goes beyond that by naming equality of rights and the rule of law as goals.[137]

Machiavelli drafts a policy which "is not to be judged on the honesty of the methods, but on the correctness of the goal, and only on the basis of the successes ..."[138]

"So it is a rationality of the political that is only bound by the absolute norm of the self-preservation of the state, the raison d'être, as one will say later, which in Machiavelli takes the place of the theologically founded political morality of the Middle Ages." Subsunction of all ethical norms under the imperative of state self-preservation. "[139]

The “basic formula of political success in Machiavelli” sees a certain ratio of factors: The virtu must be so great that she surpasses Fortuna and asserts the “political goals of state self-preservation” against Necessita and at the same time the forces of Necessita for the stabilization of the state useful.[140]


[1] See: Faul, E. [1961]: p. 13.

[2] See Weber, K. [2005]: p. 108.

[3] Compare: v. Muralt, L. [1945]: p. 24.

[4] de Grazia, S. [1989]: pp. 208f.

[5] Compare: v. Muralt, L. [1945]: p. 24.

[6] Compare: v. Muralt, L. [1945]: p. 25.

[7] Brown, A. in: Connel, W. J. and Zorzi, A. (Eds.) [2000]: p. 41.

[8] See: Rippel, P. [1986]: Afterword to Princ. A, p. 232.

[9] See: Mittermaier, K. [1995], p. 187.

[10] See: Sasso, G. [1965]: p. 15.

[11] See: Mittermaier, K. [1995], p. 188.

[12] See: Sasso, G. [1965]: p. 16.

[13] See Boninger, L. in: Tewes, G.-R. and Rohlmann, M. (Ed.) [2002]: p. 137.

[14] See Neugebauer, K.-V. (Eds.) [1993]: p. 27.

[15] Compare: v. Muralt, L. [1945]: p. 26f.

[16] See: Diesner, H.- J. [1992]: pp. 11 and 64.

[17] Compare: v. Muralt, L. [1945]: p. 28f.

[18] v. Muralt, L. [1945]: p. 31.

[19] See: Mittermaier, K. [1995], p. 192.

[20] See: Diesner, H.- J. [1992]: p. 10.

[21] Compare: v. Muralt, L. [1945]: p. 32f.

[22] Rippel, P. [1986]: Afterword to Princ. A, p. 225.

[23] Pfaff, D. [1996]: p. 76.

[24] See: Pfaff, D. [1996]: p. 73.

[25] See: Pfaff, D. [1996]: p. 74.

[26] Pfaff, D. [1996]: p. 77.

[27] Münkler, H. [1982]: p. 302.

[28] Compare: v. Muralt, L. [1945]: p. 57.

[29] See: Pfaff, D. [1996]: p. 75.

[30] See Princ. I p.193

[31] Sasso, G. [1965]: p. 134.

[32] e Grazia, S. [1989]: p. 204.

[33] Hegmann, H. [1994]: p. 88.

[34] See: Diesner, H.- J. [1992]: p. 21.

[35] Compare: v. Muralt, L. [1945]: p. 60.

[36] See Münkler, H. [1982]: p. 249.

[37] Compare: v. Muralt, L. [1945]: p. 52.

[38] Compare: v. Muralt, L. [1945]: p. 94.

[39] See Münkler, H. [1982]: p. 245.

[40] Compare: v. Muralt, L. [1945]: p. 97.

[41] Brion, M. [1972], p. 62.

[42] See Münkler, H. [1982]: p. 316.

[43] de Grazia, S. [1989]: p. 203.

[44] See: Diesner, H.- J. [1992]: p. 18.

[45] See: Sasso, G. [1965]: p. 179.

[46] See: Diesner, H.- J. [1992]: p. 17.

[47] Compare: v. Muralt, L. [1945]: p. 57.

[48] See Princ. A, chap. XXV, p.193

[49] See: Sasso, G. [1965]: p. 131.

[50] See Princ. A, chap. III, p. 23.

[51] See: Sasso, G. [1965]: p. 130.

[52] See Münkler, H. [1982]: p. 250

[53] Compare: v. Muralt, L. [1945]: pp. 56 and 117.

[54] Münkler, H. [1982]: p. 313.

[55] Münkler, H. [1982]: p. 315.

[56] Münkler, H. [1982]: p. 321.

[57] König, R. [1984]: p. 253.

[58] See: Diesner, H.- J. [1992]: p. 15.

[59] Compare: v. Muralt, L. [1945]: p. 74.

[60] See: Diesner, H.- J. [1994]: p. 71.

[61] See: Reinhardt, V. [2002], p. 114.

[62] v. Muralt, L. [1945]: p. 11.

[63] Compare: v. Muralt, L. [1945]: p. 70.

[64] See Münkler, H. [1982]: p. 264.

[65] See: Buck, A, quoted from: Diesner, H.- J. [1992], p. 20.

[66] See: Diesner, H.- J. [1994]: p. 68.

[67] See: Diesner, H.- J. [1992]: p. 39.

[68] Compare: v. Muralt, L. [1945]: p. 67.

[69] Compare: v. Muralt, L. [1945]: p. 69.

[70] Münkler, H. [1982]: p. 271.

[71] See: Mittermaier, K. [1995], p. 192.

[72] See: Mittermaier, K. [1995], p. 193.

[73] See: Faul, E. [1961]: p. 41.

[74] Compare: v. Muralt, L. [1945]: p. 55.

[75] See: Diesner, H.- J. [1994]: p. 68.

[76] Compare: v. Muralt, L. [1945]: p. 56.

[77] Pfaff, D. [1996]: p. 68.

[78] Abbagnano, quoted in: Pfaff, D. [1996]: p. 69.

[79] Münkler, H. [1982]: p. 270.

[80] Compare: v. Muralt, L. [1945]: p. 68.

[81] Compare: v. Muralt, L. [1945]: p. 83.

[82] Münkler, H [1982]: p. 268.

[83] See: Diesner, H.- J. [1994]: p. 69.

[84] Ramsay, M. in: Coyle, M. [1995], pp. 174f.

[85] Münkler, H. [1982]: p. 270.

[86] See: Mittermaier, K. [1995], p. 187.

[87] Compare: v. Muralt, L. [1945]: p. 98.

[88] See: Diesner, H.- J. [1994]: p. 66.

[89] See: Mittermaier, Karl [1995]: p. 189.

[90] See: Mittermaier, Karl [1995]: p. 45.

[91] See: Diesner, H.- J. [1992]: p. 37.

[92] See: Disc. Chap. I 4 and 16, pp. 27ff and 66-70.

[93] Compare: v. Muralt, L. [1945]: pp. 85-90.

[94] See: Diesner, H.- J. [1994]: p. 72.

[95] Compare: v. Muralt, L. [1945]: pp. 91ff and 149.

[96] v. Muralt, L. [1945]: p. 159.

[97] See Münkler, H. [1982]: p. 324.

[98] See: Mittermaier, K. [1995]: p. 193.

[99] Compare: v. Muralt, L. [1945]: pp. 81 and 84.

[100] See: Mittermaier, K. [1995]: p. 195.

[101] Compare: v. Muralt, L. [1945]: p. 79.

[102] See: Disc. Chap. II 2, p. 184.

[103] See: Diesner, H.- J. [1992]: p. 15f.

[104] Hegmann, H. [1994]: p. 93.

[105] Ritter, quoted n: v. Muralt, L. [1945]: p. 31.

[106] Compare: v. Muralt, L. [1945]: p. 99.

[107] See: Pfaff, D. [1996]: p. 38.

[108] Buck, quoted in: Pfaff, D. [1996]: p. 42.

[109] König, R. [1984]: p. 220.

[110] Sasso, G. [1965]: p. 167.

[111] See: Sasso, G. [1965]: p. 157 and 167.

[112] See König, R. [1984]: p. 227.

[113] Disc. Chap. I 18, pp. 73 and 76.

[114] Günther, H. [2001]: Afterword in: Princ. B, p. 156.

[115] Sasso, G.[1965]: pp. 160, 167.

[116] See König, R. [1984]: p. 227.

[117] Münkler, H. [1982]: p. 275.

[118] v. Muralt, L. [1945]: p. 153.

[119] Faul, E. [1961]: p. 44.

[120] See: Disc. Chap. I 33, p. 104.

[121] Bleichen, J. [1995]: p. 112.

[122] See: Diesner, H.- J. [1992]: p. 40.

[123] Compare: v. Muralt, L. [1945]: p. 114.

[124] Compare: v. Muralt, L. [1945]: p. 162.

[125] v. Muralt, L. [1945]: p. 115.

[126] Münkler, H. [1982]: p. 366.

[127] Faul, E. [1961]: p. 44.

[128] Compare: v. Muralt, L. [1945]: p. 104.

[129] Münkler, H. [1982]: p. 275.

[130] Günther, H. [2001]: Afterword in: Princ. B, p. 156.

[131] Compare: v. Muralt, L. [1945]: pp. 101f

[132] Princ. A, chap. III, p. 21.

[133] See: Sasso, G. [1965]: p. 198.

[134] König, R. [1984]: p. 263.

[135] See: Diesner, H.- J. [1992]: pp. 22f, 52, and 65.

[136] See: Rippel, P. [1986]: Afterword to Princ. A, p. 234.

[137] See Münkler, H. [1982]: p. 331.

[138] See: Sasso, G. [1965]: p. 129.

[139] Münkler, H. [1982]: p. 285.

[140] See Münkler, H. [1982]: p. 332.

End of the excerpt from 94 pages