What is the main criticism that people in the modern age have of Machiavelli's ideas (as shown in The Prince)?

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The main criticism that modern readers level at Machiavelli is that his notion that the "ends justify the means," when put in practice by governments, can lead to horrific consequences. In a modern democratic state, governments are seen to be restrained by the rule of law and are, at least...

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The main criticism that modern readers level at Machiavelli is that his notion that the "ends justify the means," when put in practice by governments, can lead to horrific consequences. In a modern democratic state, governments are seen to be restrained by the rule of law and are, at least in theory, prohibited from violating the rights of their people. Machiavelli had no such concerns, writing that rulers should do whatever was necessary to maintain power. Even in his own time, readers criticized Machiavelli's belief that leaders need not allow themselves to be constrained by some kind of moral system. Some political theorists admire Machiavelli's hardheaded pragmatism and his argument that leaders must be realistic about appraising their political situations, but one can argue that his pragmatism is too extreme. Additionally, modern readers across the political spectrum would mostly agree that the welfare of the people ought to be the goal of government (even if they disagree on how that goal should be achieved.) Promoting the power of political leaders and the well-being of the people are not necessarily the same thing. For these reasons, The Prince remains a controversial, if also essential, book.

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The major criticisms of the ideas in this book today are not really different from the major criticisms of those ideas in the past.  The major criticism is that Machiavelli's ideas are immoral and unethical.  This is why we use the word "Machiavellian" to describe someone who is dishonest and ruthless in his or her quest for power.

The major problem that people today have with the book is that it pays no attention to right or wrong.  The book simply talks about how to keep power over the people that one rules.  This is very much opposed to our modern ideas in which leaders are supposed to work for the benefit of their people, not simply in order to keep their own power intact.

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