The Prince Questions and Answers
by Niccolo Machiavelli

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What are some of the advantages and disadvantages to being the kind of leader Machiavelli describes?

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There are several advantages to being the kind of ideal ruler that Machiavelli recommends in The Prince. Most importantly, you're much more likely to hold onto power. If you follow Machiavelli's advice then you realize that you must resort to unscrupulous means to maintain control. This means, among other things, that you don't have to pay attention to religious teachings and accepted moral standards. A successful ruler must always have room for maneuver, and adopting such a cynical, and at times wholly amoral, outlook on political power, will give you the flexibility necessary to do whatever it takes to keep hold of power.

The downside of this approach, however, is that your rivals can do exactly the same thing. If you're not bound by accepted moral norms and standards, then neither are they. If you do as Machiavelli bids, then you're always looking over your shoulder, wondering who's going to try and take you down, and when. Furthermore, even if you follow Machiavelli's advice to the...

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