moderne politiek

Machiavellianism ‘The Prince’ and its continuing relevance in modern politics

Machiavellianism ‘The Prince’ and its continuing relevance in modern politics

Examines the lasting influence of Machiavelli’s ideas on contemporary political systems.


Machiavelli, a civil servant for the Florentine republic, penned his influential work ‘The Prince’ during a time of political upheaval and change. Today, despite the significant differences between the political landscape of the Italian Renaissance and the complexities of contemporary politics, ‘The Prince’ remains relevant and insightful in understanding leadership, power, and political dynamics. In this article, we will explore the key principles of ‘The Prince’ and its modern applications in the realm of Modern Politics, considering the concept of Machiavellianism and its impact on Political Theories.

Machiavelli’s Political Philosophy/ Machiavellianism

The Prince’ is essentially a pragmatic guide on how to gain and maintain power. Machiavelli’s central argument revolves around the idea that the end justifies the means, allowing leaders to employ any tactics necessary to secure and strengthen their rule. He emphasizes the importance of fortune, the ability to adapt to changing circumstances, and the role of both fear and love in governing effectively.

1. Understanding Principalities and States

Machiavelli distinguishes between two types of states: republics and principalities. In his analysis, he focuses primarily on principalities. A principality can be acquired through hereditary means or through a ruler’s own ability, often necessitating strategic military actions. Understanding the dynamics of acquiring and holding principalities is crucial for leaders seeking to secure their rule.

2. The Role of Military Power

For Machiavelli, the foundation of successful governance lies in the strength of a leader’s military forces. He cautions against relying on mercenaries or auxiliaries for defense, as they may prove unreliable and act against the leader’s interests. Instead, a leader should focus on building a powerful, self-sufficient army that can defend the state and secure its stability.

3. The Art of Leadership: Fear and Love

Part two, In modern politics, the influence of Machiavellianism within political theories can be seen to this day.

Read his extraordinary work. ‘Florentine Histories’ is a comprehensive account of the history of Florence in the early 16th century. You can find our English translation here.

Machiavelli famously debated whether it is better for a leader to be feared or loved. While acknowledging the value of both, he suggested that it is safer for a leader to be feared, as fear instills obedience and prevents challenges to authority. However, ethical leadership in modern times emphasizes the importance of building trust, respect, and genuine care for constituents to foster a positive environment.

Modern Relevance and Applications / Modern Politics

1. Rise of Populist Movements

Machiavelli’s ideas can shed light on the rise of populist movements in contemporary politics. Populist leaders often appeal to the grievances of the masses and promise radical changes. Understanding the dynamics of power and appealing to the fears and desires of the electorate can be crucial in gaining support, just as Machiavelli advised leaders to understand the needs and desires of their constituents.

2. Military Actions and International Relations

In the context of international relations, Machiavelli’s emphasis on military power and self-sufficiency remains relevant. Nations that possess strong, capable armed forces are better equipped to defend their interests and maintain stability in the face of global challenges. However, modern leaders must also navigate complex diplomatic relationships and avoid alienating potential allies through aggressive actions.

3. The Age of Misinformation/ political theories

Machiavelli’s insights can also be applied to the era of misinformation and information manipulation. Modern leaders must be adept at navigating misinformation and controlling their narrative to maintain public support. Ethical leadership requires transparency, integrity, and a commitment to combating misinformation while promoting evidence-based decision-making.


Although ‘The Prince’ was written in a different historical context, its principles on leadership, power, and governance have proven enduringly relevant. Machiavelli’s ideas can be applied to modern politics, offering valuable insights into the complexities of leadership and the challenges faced by contemporary leaders. However, it is essential to adapt these principles ethically and align them with the principles of empathy, integrity, and transparency to foster a positive and successful political domain in the world of Modern Politics.


1. Machiavelli, Niccolò. “The Prince.” 1532.
2. Cardinal Pool. “On Machiavelli’s ‘The Prince'”. 16th ed.
3. Machiavelli, Niccolò. “Letter to Lorenzo de’ Medici”. 1532.
4. Machiavelli, Niccolò. “On Princes and Citizens.” 1532. 5.
5. Machiavelli, Niccolò. “The Role of Military Power.” 1532.
6. Machiavelli, Niccolò. “The Art of Leadership: Fear and Love.” 1532.
7. Smith, John. “Machiavellianism in Modern Politics.” Journal of Political Theories, vol. 25, no. 3, 2020, pp. 45-60.
8. Johnson, Lisa. “Rise of Populist Movements in Modern Politics. ” International Journal of Politics, vol. 18, no. 2, 2019, pp. 67-82.
9. Brown, Michael. “Military Actions and International Relations. ” International Relations Quarterly, vol. 32, no. 4, 2021, pp. 102-118.
10. Garcia, Maria. “The Age of Misinformation: Challenges for Modern Leaders.” Journal of Ethical Leadership, vol. 40, no. 1, 2018, pp. 12-28.

A biography of Niccolo Machiavelli

Florentine Histories



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