Swift vs. Machiavelli: Government
We’ve all heard of governments over the years—anarchy, dictatorship, communism—who ruled with a firm hand and a blind eye. To be frank, some were just ruthless. But how do they lead? Strong? Weak? Or a little of both? Machiavelli’s purpose: how to rule in a manner that shows power and how to instill that power over the people swiftly. Swift’s purpose: recognize the kind of cold, calculating inhumanity of blunt rationalism when used to address social problems such as poverty as well as overpopulation. In “The Morals of the Prince,” he is somewhat encouraging the rulers to be harsh, but also be generous to show that he can give and take away because he has the authority. On the contrary, “A Modest Proposal” is stating that the coldness of turning a blind eye to the situation is one of inhumanity.
To begin with, both prove their cases very differently, affecting their audience in the most profound ways. Yet, there is one more effective than the other—Swift. Through the entire satirical piece, Swift is mocking the heartless attitude towards the poor. The wealth of a country is based on one thing: the poverty of the majority of its citizens. The English government was well aware of the two situations pointed out in this essay, yet they chose to sit there and do nothing about it. Instead, they withdraw their natural rights and dehumanize them by viewing them as a commodity. Swift’s comment-- “That it will prevent those voluntary abortions, and that horrid practice of women murdering their bastard children”—is one of the ways he shows the government taking away a natural right each mother has, but then goes on to say, “I doubt more to avoid the expense than the shame” to show how the government yet again is well aware of the dire situation, but they instead supported it by paying her to get rid of her child.
Shifting into a new perspective, Machiavelli’s view towards the government is somewhat a paradoxical one....
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