Machiavelli and Cicero
Machiavelli and the Power Equation
Niccolo Machiavelli, the famous Italian diplomat, political philosopher and playwright has been one of the major kingpins that have played a pivotal role in revolutionizing the visage of politics and diplomacy that we witness today. In his famous and highly reputed book entitled as The Prince, Machiavelli talks about and lays down the foundation of a completely new thesis and ideology that we know as the realism school of thought today which replaced the conventional antithesis of idealism that prevailed in the middle Ages.
Since monarchy was the conventional form of government that use to exist in countries much of the emphasis that the Machiavellian lays on is on the ways and methods through the application of which a prince can retain his power and control over the land that he rules. Unlike the idealism which introduced the doctrine of a hypothetical existence of peace, social and national security the realism school of thought introduced by Machiavelli sheds light on the ways through which the importance of power is recognized and should be implemented by rulers in order to maintain their hegemony and status quo upon the area as well as on the people that are under their rule.
He further accentuates on the significance and effective maintenance of social and political institutions through which he can cement his credibility among his people. Machiavelli is among the first political philosophers who have laid special interest on the phenomenal significance of national interest and claimed that in order to preserve the existing power equation can make necessary use of brutal force or measures. Despite of the fact that the Machiavellian school of thought does not ignore the dimension of morality, it does acknowledge that immoral exercises conducted in the name of hegemonic establishment is legitimate. (Skinner, 2000)
Cicero and the Idea of Power
Cicero on the other hand followed an ideology through which he intended to disseminate his doctrine among the masses by changing the political methodologies of the elite group who possessed an overwhelming influence as far as governance and police making processes and procedures were concerned. Cicero was of the fact that the leadership operating in the Roman Republic is corrupt and politically incompetent to handle the functioning of the state organs and institutions which has actually led to the crumbling and collapse of the entire administrative set up.
He believed that if the elite group of the Republic altered its style of leadership which is in greater conformity to public and state interest. He believed that leadership of the state should be virtuous and committed to the handling of different issues that the state encounters and with cohesive and proper implementation on these principles the leadership of the Republic would experience development once again. One of the most remarkable and concurrently revolutionary contributions of Cicero was to provide Roman civilians the accessibility towards the greatest asset of literature, arts, philosophy, science and image by translating the works of prominent Greek philosophers and writers into Latin so that Roman people could actually acquaint themselves to the literature and arts that the people of Greece were actually exercising in their own country. (Cicero, 2010)
Current Status Quo and the Teachings of Philosophers
Contemporary power equation and set up is not much different from the description and the features that were outlined four centuries ago by these famous philosophers. In current zeitgeist it is evident and comprehensibly manifested that for the acquisition of the desired objectives related to state handled affairs, the fulfillment of agendas and features concerning that of national security, territorial integrity and national interest are of foremost importance and prominence.
With the innovation and subsequent development of the international relation discipline one of the things that can be said with complete certainty is that ‘there are no permanent friends or enemies in international relations, the only thing permanent is national interest’ apart from the national interest and security mantra another dimension which has led to the change in global power equation is the extraordinary use of hegemony and assertiveness by powerful states to suppress weak or underdeveloped states for the extraction of their interests.
The most prominent example of this can be found in the form of the 2003 invasion of Iraq by United States. In the lust of acquiring greater hegemony and to demonstrate its power display on a global scale, the technologically, militarily and economically stable country invaded a country which was already paralyzed by economic sanctions and trade embargos.
Even though the quoted example does pinpoint a change that has taken place in international politics, relations and diplomacy over the vast period of time, however, it does manifest the extent to which powerful states go in order to manipulate international law in their favor and even nullified the significance and credibility of an international peace keeping organization. In addition to this there are many countries today who have constructed their contemporary state of power on the basis of powerful economic and financial backbone, regardless of the fact that they are not militarily developed. These countries include Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea, and New Zealand.
Most of these countries are not known to possess the latest weapons, arms and ammunition that are used in the world, but with their strong economic rudimentary structure, transparent functioning of economic institutions and low percentages of corruption have made them capable enough to compete among the most developed and industrialized countries of the world.
With the passage of time it is correct to state that the benchmarks of assessing the standing of a country have altered, but that is not necessarily suggestive of the fact that the ideology or doctrines put forward by either Machiavelli or Cicero have become null and void. For these entire states even defense towards their national interest and integrity are still the most pivotal issues. The only difference that has occurred is in the form of perspective with which such agendas were earlier looked with. At one point of time it was the possession of the greatest defense strategies, military equipment and sophisticated weapons, now it is the economic and financial potentials of rejuvenating from a monetary crunch or downturn, all for the safeguarding of eco-political interests and maximizing power accumulation. (Machiavelli, 1952)