In modern society, do we live more under the ideas formerly presented by Machiavelli or by John Locke? Why?

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mrkirschner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"In the actions of all men, especially princes, where there is no recourse to justice, the end is all that counts. A prince should only be concerned with conquering or maintaining a state, for the means will always be judged to be honorable and praiseworthy by each and every person, because the masses always follow appearances and the outcomes of affairs, and the world is nothing than the masses."--Machiavelli

Since the Watergate Scandal in the 1960's, Americans have developed a deep mistrust of its government.  This skepticism is not without warrant. Politicians often times take action without the consent of the governed. They feel they know what is best and exert a certain degree of autonomy from the electorate. There is very little accountability for politicians to check their corruption and graft. Examples include the history of presidents sending troops to war without the consent of the Congress or the citizens and the misappropriation of government revenue.  

Machiavelli believed that a leader could not be successful without being dishonest.  A 2014 Gallup poll tracked citizen's feelings about their level of freedom.  The United States ranked 32nd in the world.  A 2011 poll found that two thirds of Americans rated the ethics of Congressman as "very low."  There are countless examples of leaders at the local and national level of politicians that are disingenuous about their actions and agenda.  though John Locke and his principals had a strong influence on the founding of the United States, the discontent that exists in the American body politic would suggest that Machiavelli's vision has taken its place.

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