The Prince Questions and Answers
by Niccolo Machiavelli

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Arguing against Machiavelli, why is it better to be loved than feared? 

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Machiavelli actually says it is “safer” to be feared than loved. He bases this assertion on the premise that men are “thankless, fickle, false, studious to avoid danger, greedy of gain, devoted to you while you are able to confer benefits upon them, and ready . . . while danger is distant, to shed their blood.” This characterization may or may not be true, but certainly, if this is the assumption that guides the leader in all his interactions with people, then his people will certainly become that way. Machiavelli sees love as transactional, based on “the tie of obligation,” and, as such, is a much weaker bond than fear, which “never relaxes its grasp.”

I think to argue against Machiavelli here is to also make a case against his notion of leadership and government. If rule by fear means bending people to one’s will, then rule by love means lifting others up; it implies generosity, kindliness, and forgiveness. The motivating principle of such a society is a collective...

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