By Ekenedirichukwu Anselm Alita
Our world has known the face of many evils, for many have through the ages walked her streets. The world equally have witnessed the birth of many philosophies both the good the bad and the erroneous. The problem with the bad and erroneous ones like the exaggerated freedom of Satre, the perspectivism of Nietzsche, the situation ethics of Fletcher etc. is that they are most often than naught the pool that the world decides to swim in, the tide they wished to flow with. Else how could one explain the world gut in the flames of the radical relativism of the sophist, the radical freedom posited by Satre, where man is said to be condemned to be free, the situation ethics of Fletcher who crucified right and wrongs on the Calvary of situations, and the reduction of man to a cauldron of sizzling instincts by Sigmund Freund. Going through the annals of history one observes that these philosophies have been the live wire of different epochs in history, which have in one point or the other swerved the world from the right course. These philosophies have at one time or the other pulled cruelly at the veil of our humanity that we seem to have lost the taste of what it means to be actually human.
Out of all these philosophies that which seems most virulent and destructive due to the many evils perpetuated through its usage is the Machiavellian philosophy, which postulates that the end justifies the means. This political philosophy is the brain child of a renaissance philosopher Niccolo Machiavelli.
Niccolo machiavelli and his philosophy of end justifies the means
Machiavelli was a product of the Italian renaissance. His political views adjudged to be a philosophy was bared in his work the “prince” by expressing his preference for an absolute monarch. The lasting fame of the prince rests on its recommendation that rulers should develop the art of deception and do whatever necessary even abandon traditional moral virtues for political survival. For him, only the craftiest and shrewdest individuals could manage the precarious art of governing. He sought to separate politics or the act of governing from morality (Christian ethics), for him such morality is not applicable in the political scene for it makes feeble and an easy prey to be predated on by clever politicians. By so doing he moved for a stance of indifference as regards religion and morality as it pertains to politics. Therefore, whatever means a politicians uses to achieve his aim does not count so far as he is successful, which will make people rally around him and give him their support is quite acceptable that morality has no place in political space. By taking this position, Machiavelli posits a double standard of behavior, one for the masses and the other for the rulers. He posits that the masses should follow the Christian ethics and used it as their standard so as to foster peace and security within the society. While the rulers are he posits, are not to be bound by any objective moral laws, rather they should act as the situation or occasion arises, whatever is deemed fit at the moment and not from any set of standard of morality or rules.
Machiavelli was totally against any set of morality that will domesticate a ruler. The ruler he posits should be virtuous only if his best interest would be served thereby. He valued cunningness more than moral conviction; the ruler should chose only those means that could guarantee that the ends in fact be achieved. The leaders is not expected to have all the virtuous but he should act as one who has all of them, that is the part the people should see. Even if the means the ruler should use involves ruthlessness, he should not shy away from using it so far as he would achieve the desired effect.
Machiavelllian principles and its dangers for the modern world
An overview of the Machiavellian position would show how dangerous his position is if all where to swim its pool. The rule he posits in clear terms is that-the end justifies the means. Thus whatever way, whatever means the ruler wants to use, no matter who is involved or who is on the way, he can step on it to achieve his goal. So in all the focus is the goal and whatever it takes even if human life is involved it doesn’t matter so far as the goal is achieved.
Looking at the contemporary world one would see that the Machiavellian principle still runs in her blood stream. When we look at the way our government is run, the way our politics is played even in some religious circles, we see that this principle has eaten deep into its fabric. One of the major problems of this principle is that it looks to the gross dehumanization. This is because people are now reduced to objects, as things that are meant to be used to achieve certain goals. So people become no less than laboratory rats used for experiments. Another problem with the position of Machiavelli is that the question of right and wrong is been trampled down. This is because once the success is achieved no one cares how it came to be what matters is that success is achieved.
During elections youths are turned to thugs used to win elections even if their life is on the line. In the world today we also see the mad quest for wealth, where people are used as sacrifice on the altar of unknown gods. No one asks the source of these wealth, the important thing is that the wealth is there. With this conscience is silenced. The increasing cases of rape and fraudsters are clear indication of the ways this virulent principle has become rife in our society.
The danger that this principle poses is that it breeds man inhumanity to man; citizens are reduced to pawns in the chess boards of the masters. When the end becomes the standard of measurement then the human spirit is killed, men become savages using other men to suit their whims and caprices. So it must be stated in clear terms that the end does not justify the means, it is like robbing Peter to pay Paul. Man is not a thing to be used and that is the error that the position of Machiavelli introduces, becomes it reduces man to mere objects that can be used to achieve a particular aim. This position also in a subtle way introduces lawlessness in the society, since the question of right and wrong now hangs on situations with moral objectivity denied. The commotion in the world today, that the world has lost its focus is because it has clung so much to this principle, that’s why some questions about morality that need not coming up are springing up from all sides, that’s why Africa is still used as testing grounds for some economic policies, weapons and drugs.
Finally it must be noted that the very fact that we are free beings has placed the burden of responsibility on us, which implies morality. Therefore as moral beings, morality is not a garb we put on and off like a clothing, it should be part and parcel of all we do. If whatsoever we separate morality from our beings as humans, then we only reduce ourselves to the level of beasts and savages, where life becomes short, cruel and brutal. This is the position that Niccolo takes, and this is the implication of the principle that the end justifies the means, but the fact remains that the end can never be a standard of justification else, we will be moved back to the state of nature.