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Power Figures: Niccolo Machiavelli - Articles Surfing

Niccolo Machiavelli completed his famous dissertation on power, The Prince in 1517. It has been almost five centuries ago but till today we are witnessing how this work is being used as a guide for politicians, businessmen and other socially important figures. The principles set in The Prince currently identified as Machiavellianism, have been considered as evil throughout the centuries. The initial term Machiavellianism could be defined as a certain political doctrine which refuses importance of morality and moral principles in political affairs. It also claims that dishonesty and shrewdness can be united and justified while pursuing political power. Obviously quite a few politicians use such means in order to gain power for the sake of being in control of people and most often money. One thing that has to be noted about The Prince is that it was not meant to be used as a general manual on politics and thus it is not pertinent in all situations. The Prince is viewed as an advice to the ruler who is starting his career and is just getting hold of power. One of the main ideas of this work is that once a stable power and control is gained over the state, other political undertakings could be applied for the effective running of the country. Essential to understanding of his principles is the fact that when The Prince was written, Italy was going through hard times and the author believed that most citizens have lost goodness completely thus autocratic form of rule was the only effective one.

Although modern times are a bit different from those five centuries ago, leaders are still putting into use Machiavellian doctrine, though it can be unnoticed to them. One of such known leaders is Jeff Kennett who won the election with total victory in 1992 and became the Prime Minister of Victoria, Australian state. Despite the fact that many hated him he has governed at times with persistence and has gained respect from many as well. When Kennett stepped into the office he established one of the most radical privatization and budget-reducing courses that were ever undertaken by government. Machiavelli wrote "It is much better to be feared than loved" (Machiavelli, 96) this seemed to be a new slogan of the elected minister. The manner in which Jeff Kennett was accomplishing his extensive social, economic and political reforms has deserved him a reputation of a cruel ruler. He became known as a leader who disregards the effects which his policies have on the community, he was only looking to get Victoria on the move and restore its budget to surplus and gain credit rating upgraded for his state. While these policies were implemented Australia's minority groups, welfare groups, media units and intellectuals became increasingly concerned with the democratic situation in the country. Evidently Kennett's administration was totally focused on the bottom line or the end result, which was gained through economic enterprises.

Jeff's personal confrontational style of ruling meant that any opposing party that was in the way of economic development was subject to destruction. Also anyone who questioned social implications was treated with public disapproval and dislike. Such political course made Kennett notorious as he was totally ignoring public opinion and concern and denied those who disagreed. He refused to give complete and honest information on policies he was employing as he believed he had the ultimate right to deliver what he thought was right. For Kennett the result toward which he was striving meant that Victoria had to follow him regardless of the cost to the social life of the state. He sought to create a prosperous economy in his state and demanded total personal control over the process. "So let a prince go about the task of conquering and maintaining his state; his methods will always be judged honorable and will be universally praised. The common people are always impressed by appearances and results."(Machiavelli, 101), thus was the understanding of Jeff Kennett. In his pursue of the end results he totally misrepresented the importance of people's right to take part in governing of their country. Although there were numerous attacks concerning Kennett's rule, impressive was the fact that he was re-elected in 1996, which proves that people do like to see specific results no matter what price was paid.

Machiavelli says that price is of no importance, disagreeing with it seems logical but one should not decide whether it is completely true too fast. Economic rationalism, as in Kennett's case has been criticized many times, however general public does recognize that everyone can live better because of higher economic standards. Community will suffer if the government is not efficiently implementing economic politics and negligent economic management will cause more dissatisfaction than for instance social reforms. Clearly Kennett had a huge restoration project to complete when he came to the office and it was likely that some areas would carry necessary restructuring. Guided by such thinking public has granted Kennett a second term in power allowing him to implement economic reforms and maintain higher standards than were prior to him. The ruling of Kennett was extraordinary also because he was able to neglect public opinion in a democratic state, and it only can be explained by desire of this very public to leave Kennett fully responsible and in control of their fates. They judged his government by the end results.

Majority in both houses meant that Jeff had practically unrestrained power to maintain his state and that power he has used to its fullest. Anything causing resistance has been annihilated as he refused criticism. A number of government dealings have been conducted under secret cover; tendering process of the Crown Casino was one of the most notable ones and is still subject to accusations of corruption of Kennett's rule. Regardless of democratic government in Australia, it is mostly unaccountable as the opposition's and media's roles have been weakened during Kennett's administration. Therefore he as an honestly elected ruler chooses to do what he considers would best serve the collective interests of Victoria. He was guided by another principle drafted by Machiavelli: "Apart from his chosen advisers, the prince should heed no-one" (Machiavelli, 126). He has undoubtedly followed this rule and had won support of large majority that suggests strength in his leadership style. Another distinguished particularity of his ruling was modification of the constitution which was done in order to prevent citizens from challenging government in the Supreme Court. Such constitutional amendment embodies to many a global violation of personal rights and rejects principles of democratic government. One can see that Kennett was taking over all spheres of life in Victoria and such notion as separation of powers was on his way to his almost monarchical reign.

Kennett as well as Machiavelli had his priorities steadily set. Both had an objective in front of them and viewed morality as a mere preferable state of things but under no circumstances it could oppose the realization of the objective. There is an essential difference between the two however; for Machiavelli power was the end and the ultimate goal, as in his times he wanted government that would last and hold power. For Jeff Kennett power is mainly a means with the help of which he pursues his goals, such as economic stability and prosperity in Victoria. Having a vision and purpose combined with autocratic ruling resulted for Kennett in achieving desired results in the economic and social arena, thus he justified all his actions with the renewed picture of Victoria. With discontinuation of such policies Kennett's purpose ends but the government continues to work and function on different principles. This principle was not described in Machiavelli's initial work and presents a different aspect of modern life and reason for maintaining power. Nowadays it serves as a mere tool for one's personal strivings and individual ambitions, not necessarily involving money or political control as ultimate goal.

Jeff Kennett as a political figure definitely has pushed tolerant democracy to its limits and has put himself under the rain of public condemnation for numerous questionable projects. On the other hand there was society with its expectations of government to act honestly and openly and such situation contradicts the actual history. Historical events prove that politicians acting powerfully and cunningly are the most successful ones and Jeff Kennett is a vivid demonstration of this theory. His determined government and passion made things happen in spite of difficulties presented by people around him and overall situation in Victoria. For many however Jeff Kennett is still pleaded "guilty" and no economical success can outweigh dishonesty and deception from those chosen to rule.

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Jeff Stats

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