A Comparison of the Writings of Machiavelli and Lao Tzu

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)Compare Lao-tzu’s view of government with of Machiavelli in the next selection. Consider what seem to be the ultimate purposes of government, what seem to the obligations of the leader to the people being led, and what seems to be the main work of the state. What comparisons can you make between Lao-tzu’s Master and Machiavelli’s Prince.

Summary:   The writings of Machiavelli and Lao Tzu indicate that they would disagree most strongly on the concept of how a government should run. Machiavelli believed that in strong government control by a prince who acted more in terms of practicality and maintaining power than through moral principles. Lao Tzu, on the other hand, took a more individualistic, carefree approach, believing that a ruler will be respected and followed if he does not act powerfully and force rules and issues. Perhaps the most distinct differences between Machiavelli's and Lao-Tzu's are their beliefs in how a government should be run. Whereas Machiavelli writes about the qualities a prince should have while instilling a totalitarian government, Lao-Tzu strongly believes that one cannot have total control, so everything should run its course. Machiavelli believes that a government should be very structured, controlled, and powerful. He makes it known that the only priorities of a prince are war, the institutions, and discipline. His writings describes how it is more important for a prince to be practical than moral. This is shown where he writes, "in order to maintain the state he is often obliged to act against his promise, against charity, against humanity, and against religion" (47). In addition, Machiavelli argues that a prince may have to be cunning and deceitful in order to maintain political power. He takes the stance that it is better for the prince to be feared than loved. His view of how a government should run and his unethical conduct are both early signs of dictatorship. Lao-Tzu's political philosophy falls into more of an...
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