Machiavelli Vs. Arendt Essay, Research Paper
Tales There are some similarities between Machiavelli’s, “Qualities of the Prince,” and Arendt’s, “Ideology and Terror.” Hannah Arendt’s piece deals with governmental leadership using totalitarianism as its backbone. Machiavelli’s piece deals with how a prince should properly keep his power over the country in which he rules. There is a link between the unscrupulous manner Machiavelli proposes his prince should act, and the way of totalitarian rule Arendt expresses. In this essay I will be uncovering some similarities between the totalitarian way Hitler used in ruling Nazi Germany, and the similar guidelines Machiavelli instructs his prince to enforce in order to maintain control over his country.
Machiavelli does, in fact, instruct his prince to act unscrupulous in several instances throughout this piece. “Hence it is necessary for a prince who wishes to maintain his position to learn how not to be good, and to use this knowledge or not to use it according to necessity.”(Jacobus 38) “Therefore, a prince must not worry about the reproach of cruelty when it is a matter of keeping his subjects united and loyal;”(Jacobus 41) “A prince must nevertheless make himself feared in such a manner that he will avoid hatred”(Jacobus 42) “But when the prince is with his armies and has under his command a multitude of troops, then it is absolutely necessary that he not worry about being considered cruel; for without that reputation he will never keep any army united or prepared for any combat.”(Jacobus 42) These quotes clearly comply with Arendt’s view of how some totalitarian leaders perform during their reign. In the case of Hitler’s rule, it could seem as if Hitler read this piece from Machiavelli and used it as sort of a guideline for ruling his empire.
In Arendt’s piece, one of her focuses is on how unscrupulous totalitarian governments can be. “Totalitarian government always transforms classes into masses, supplanted the party system, not by one-party dictatorships, but by mass movement, shifted the center of power from the army to the police, and established a foreign policy openly directed toward world domination.” (Jacobus 85-86) Hitler’s control over Germany with the rise of the Nazi epic, and the extermination of the Jew’s is a classic example of Arendt’s totalitarian government. Hitler seized total control over Germany and brought the Nazi police to power in order to begin the “natural” process of exterminating a race that he felt would slow the progress of his empire, Nazi Germany. “Guilt or innocence becomes senseless notions; “guilty” is he who stands in the way of the natural or historical process which has passed and judgement over “inferior races,” over individuals “unfit to live,” over “dying classes and decadent peoples.”
(Jacobus 91) Taking Machiavelli’s advice of being cruel but remaining unhated, Hitler managed to kill millions of Jews in Germany, but still remained loved and supported as a ruler by his pure Nazi race.
Hitler’s reign and Nazi Germany can be seen as a product of Machiavelli’s piece and an example supporting Arendt’s piece on totalitarianism. In many cases it can be seen that Hitler used fear as a means of avoiding hatred by his people, and that he did not worry about being cruel during his time of reign. Using Arendt’s view on “natural law,” Hitler is justified by the fact that he was neither innocent nor guilty in killing the Jews. He was merely executing a movement of natural law that claimed Jewish people “unfit to live.”