A Hint of Evil

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According to Merriam Webster Dictionary, Machiavellianism is “the view that politics is amoral and that any means however unscrupulous can justifiably be used in achieving political power.” Throughout history, many leaders have had some machiavellian in them that made them a great leader. There are many characteristics of a machiavellian that can make or break a good leader in a society. I believe that if one has some of these characteristics they are a better leader than without them.Now, I emphasize that one should have some if the characteristics of a machiavellian, as if one has all of them, the leader can have complete control over every single thing in a society. For example, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin is viewed by many people as “evil”. In my opinion, this is because Putin possess the qualities of a machiavellian. Putiin pursues his political goals with deliberate tactics.

Niccolò Machiavelli
Niccolò Machiavelli

Niccolo Machiavelli’s The Prince is a guide that gives practical and straightforward advice on how to rule. Machiavelli uses The Prince to describe characteristics and qualities of a true “machiavellian” ruler. He shows what it takes to be a good leader, and how to gain the respect of the populace. He truly explains why having these characteristics is the best way to rule. Although many people believe that Machiavelli allows a leader to behave badly, I believe that a leader that has some evil in him is the right way to rule. For example, one may think that torture and assassination should be avoided. A machiavellian leader feels the same way, unless it is absolutely necessary. There is that hint of evil that make a machiavellian leader.


Lets look at some characteristics that show the characteristics of a machiavellian leader:

Cunning – A leader should always be able to use tricks and craft to achieve what they want.

Wisdom in war – A leader should always have the ability to think and act using knowledge, experience, understanding in the art of war to gain new territory, and to protect their own.

Narcissism – A leader should always have excessive self importance for themselves, as well as who they are leading as a whole,  so they do not give up power.

Lack of Trust – A leader should have the ability to never trust anyone, as people betray the strongest of allies all the time.

Control – A leader should always have control of whoever they are governing. Also they should be able to have the ability to manipulate anything with no problem.

Courage/Strength – A leader should always possess these qualities. They are necessary qualities for any great leader.

Putin possess all these characteristics above, which furthermore shows why he is deemed as a machiavellianMany people say that Machiavelli emphasized the fact that a leader should maintain effective military capability, and if one possesses heavy military power, they will involve themselves in an unnecessary war. Putin evidently practices these ideas today. Vladimir Putin possess complete political and military power in Russia. Having both of these completely under control of one man will make everything move in Putin’s directions. Recently the Russian leader had bold plans to place Syria’s chemical weapons under international control. Less than half of people in polls were favor of this action. Putin would do anything morally, or unmorally, to achieve what they want.

Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama
Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama

All of these qualities are just a sample size that show what Machiavelli wanted a machiavellian leader to have. Now, I am not saying that I think a leader should have all of these characteristics, like Putin. One that possesses some of these qualities would be a great leader. This hint of evil is necessary for a great leader.


2 thoughts on “A Hint of Evil

  1. Interesting post! I think your interpretation on The Prince is spot-on. I also like how you broke down the different components of evil. That’s a really good way to map out the different parts of the reading. However, I am not too sure if “courage/strength” can be considered as “evil.” If one has courage and strength, that can benefit several people around that leader. And it’s also possible to have courage and strength without hurting anyone.

    I do agree with you that a good leader must look highly upon himself/herself. The only way someone will be a good leader is if he/she has self-confident, and that starts with self-respect. I am not too sure how to interpret your term “some.” I realize it’s hard to measure something like evilness, but “some” can be too vague. Are there certain situations where one should practice one of those evil qualities? When can someone practice a lot of evilness, versus just a little evilness? These are hard questions, and I don’t even know the answer. I think it definitely depends on the political system. For instance, being cunning may not work here, but perhaps, in other nations, it is necessary to make change happen.

    Still a great blog! It really is making me think about how much “evil” one can have to be a good leader, whether it be a politician or even a student-leader!


  2. I absolutely agree that an effective leadership requires some characteristics involving machiavellianism from time to time. Leaders in my opinion are people who have high emotional intelligence in which they are able to see the larger picture instead of just individual needs and wants. Therefore, cunning, lack of trust, narcissism and control are essential to the growth of such power and skills. Leaders shouldn’t be too transparent in which they do have to remain some sort of authoritative power to sustain their rights and justify their actions. The example you brought up, Putin, is exactly a best fit for the machiavellianism character, whom has power and controls everything. I won’t say whether he is evil or not, I would say whether he if an effective leader by looking at the economic growth, infrastructure development, military standards, and social well being of Russia to determine his leadership role and the machiavellianism effectiveness as a whole. The thing about evilness is that I don’t think it is quantifiable because it is more qualitative and descriptive base. But overall, I love this blog post and I find the reasoning behind your argument quite interesting and persuasive.


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