In regardst to The Prince, why is Machiavelli considered the first political realist?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Macchiavelli has to be considered as one of the first political realists because he was able to tear the veil off of politics and reflect its true nature of power.  Prior to Machiavelli, rulers and leaders were seen as agents of the divine, and their successes and failures were attributed to the graces of God.  Machiavelli is honest enough to argue that the successes and failures of the prince or political leader is dependent on their judgment, or the counsel they receive from their advisers.  Church attendance, divine revelation, and their own spiritual base are not as important as how the leader judges their body politic and their reactions to policies and initiatives.  The base of all Machiavelli's logic is power and how to keep and develop it. This is the ultimate in realism.  Machiavelli is considered to be a political realist because he argues that the political ruler is responsible for the success or failure.  It is not the will of fate or destiny or even God.  For Machiavelli, if one wants to use those elements to win over the support of the people, it makes sense to do so.  Yet, in the end it is the ruler, themselves, the prince, who is in the ultimate position to be a success or failure.  In this, he has to be seen as the first political realist, as he changes the scope of what constitutes ruling.

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