Essay about Machiavellian Concepts on the Use of Fear

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In Machiavelli’s “Prince” he discussed the use of fear as a political tool to maintain the state. He argued that fear when properly directed could generate loyalty and bolster the support of the government. He went on to write that fear was only powerful when wielded with care and when abused could quickly become counterproductive and result in being hated by the people. Fear was potent because it was the prince’s creation. Unlike love that is given to the prince and can easily be taken away, fear is the prince’s tool and his alone. “…men love at their own free will but fear at the will of the prince…” Politicians throughout history have used fear tactics with varying degrees of success. For the purpose of my argument I will compare …show more content…

Politicians used fear to derive benefits that include a powerful pro government sentiment amongst the people, a thriving middle class economy driven by insecurity and a desire to meet societal expectations. Machiavelli agreed that fear has the effect of strengthening central authority and improving societal conformity while discouraging public displays of discontent. 1950’s America also highlights the danger of abusing fear. Congressmen of the era had exceptional control over public opinion and many used it to gain media attention and strengthen their chances for reelection. One example of a particularly notorious and ambitions politician was Joseph McCarthy from Wisconsin who decided that he would use fear to raise himself from obscurity into the public’s eye. McCarthy created a state of panic when he falsely accused thousands of governmental officials of being communist sympathizers and spies. The resulting pandemonium damaged the reputation and lives of hundreds of Americans and most importantly spurred a period of governmental disillusionment. Machiavelli would see McCarthy as a violator of the rules of fear and would predict that he would be hated by the people. As time has proven “McCarthyism” has become synonymous with witch hunting and is widely regarded as exploitive, McCarthy himself left congress a disgrace. Machiavelli discussed several methods of

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