Friday, February 25, 2011

Stalin: A Machiavellian Prince

The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli was first published in 1532. It is about political power: gaining it and maintaining it. Machiavelli greatly stressed the point that in order for a ruler to maintain in power he must lie to his people and enemies when necessary. A ruler must appear honest and trustworthy to his people. Machiavelli also greatly stresses the point of whether a prince should be loved or feared, and in most situations, it is better to be feared than loved because people will be afraid to dishonour the prince or to anger him. They will be more likely to listen to him to keep away from punishment. Machiavelli stated

“ For a man who wishes to profess goodness at all times will come to ruin among so many who are not good. 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.”

For a prince to be in good standing and to maintain authority, he must learn how to play the game. He must learn when to be good or bad, loved or feared. There have been a few rulers who have been Machiavellian Princes, and a perfect example of such a prince is Joseph Stalin. Stalin was the first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union’s central committee. Stalin managed to gain more and more power throughout his years in the Communist Party. The maintenance of this massive power allowed him to put down any opposition groups that arose.

However, you might be wondering how did Stalin become a Machiavellian prince? In order to gain more power, Stalin became very close with Vladimir Lenin, the creator of the Soviet Communist party. In doing so, Stalin showed Lenin that he was a good follower and was loyal. Machiavelli wrote

“A prince is also respected when he is a true friend and a true enemy; that is, when he declared himself on the side of one prince…”

This is exactly what Stalin did. By joining the Communist Party and following Lenin he proved to be on Lenin’s side and gain his trust. By doing so, Stalin eventually became the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, which gave him power in many other communist parties. As we all know, when a ruler starts gaining too much power, everyone begins hating them or wanting them to weaken. Therefore, when Stalin gained power, Lenin wanted his dismissal. However when Lenin died, Stalin retrieved the dismissal recommendations. This shows the true actions of a Machiavalian prince because Stalin lied to his people in order to keep peace in the country.

In order to have money and power, Stalin participated in a number of criminal activities. He also became one of the highest ranked men in the Bolshevik hierarchy. Stalin was not loved for his actions, but his great power gains made him feared. Through maintaining connections with the Red army generals, Stalin gained even more military powers.

Stalin wanted to build a more communist nation instead of spreading the revolution, which related him to many “like-minded” people. To get praise for his actions, Stalin, just like a prince new how to turn words around so that people will like his policies. This was seen in his push for industrialization.

“We are 100 years behind the advanced countries. We must make good this lag in ten years. Either we do it, or they crush us!"

This shows that Stalin wanted to be praised for his actions instead of being blamed for them. Because he made it seem that the country is behind the others, it gave people trust that he will put his country in a better standing if they move toward industrialization.

Through his actions, Stalin was an exact replica of a Machiavellian prince. He was powerful and was feared, although still appreciated for some policies. Stalin played nice with other rulers in order to gain there trust, which is very important in gain power.

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