Is there ever a perfect equation?
Machievelli once asserted that it should be the solitary incentive for a ruler is to attain glory and that, in order to attain glory, one must find a way to build their reputation so that it is preserved throughout history.
One ought not, of course, to call it virtù to massacre one’s fellow citizens, to betray one’s friends, to breka one’s word, to be without mercy and without religion. By such means one can acquire power but not glory (The Prince, Chapter 8).
This statement got me wondering: Is there a perfect equation for glory?
In order to seek an answer to this question, I began to consider the primary concepts that contribute to a ruler’s reputation: love and hate, respect and fear.
In my opinion, a ruler’s motives are what causes them to be either loved or hated. If a ruler acts out of only self-interest, without regard for the interests of the state, then that results in the ruler being hated. On the other hand, if a ruler acts from interests of the state, which may or may not be consistent with their own self-interest, then as a result, the ruler is loved. Machievelli suggests that a ruler ought to be both feared and loved, but since this is difficult and maybe even impossible, then it is better to the feared (The Prince, Chapter 17).
Let us concentrate on the concept of being loved. Do love and respect go hand in hand? If a ruler is loved, this does not necessarily mean that they have the respect of the people and this can lead to a dangerous dynnamic. For this reason, it safer to be feared rather than respected. But can the people fear a ruler that they love or love a ruler that they fear? As Machievelli implies, a ruler that is loved will have trouble maintaining order.
Now, let us shift to the concept of being hated. If one is hated, does it immeadiately follow that they are feared? To me, it is very possible for a ruler to be hated but not feared. And, in this case, the ruler will have neither the support of the people, nor the obedience that comes with being feared. Also, if one is hated, can they be respected? In my view, it is impossible to respect someone that you hate. Machievelli, too, comes to the conclusion that “a ruler should make himself feared in such a way that, if he does not inspire love, at least he does not provoke hatred” (The Prince, Chapter17).
Machievelli alludes that the perfect equation is for a ruler to be feared and respected. His arguments are also constructed in such a way that a reader of The Prince would want to believe that this is true. However, one must decide for themselves whether it is even possible to get respect out of fear.