Realistic Machiavellian

Just be open-minded and unbiasedly look at the world. You'd see the importance of reading this

God is dead

The brilliant, unstable German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche detested Christianity; he called it the religion of the weak, the last resort movement formed by slaves and lowly ranked citizens in the late Roman empire that automatically and methodically transformed all the necessary and luxurious parts of life that these people couldn’t have into vices to be avoided; so riches became synonymous with greed, political status something to be avoided; meanwhile this group of people transformed their dire situations into virtues, so weakness became humility, lack of strength and power (for revenge) became forgiveness and lack of the desired sexual encounters became celibacy while fasting became important.

Anyway, Nietzsche would later wind up crazy in the later part of his life, but this idea and most of his other ideas would go on to largely influence the bloody 20th century. The “god is the dead mantra” would be one of the best pick-up lines for extreme Communists, and his insistence on the absolute non-existence of a divine being would be embraced by many totalitarians.

Nice guys finish last.

During the Renaissance, a little-known diplomat would pen a document that would go on to make him the father of modern political philosophy. The Prince was written by Machiavelli in 1532 after many trials and observations in his own life; during this period, the church had a firm grasp on political and economic European power, and the church did what it had always done, love and peace were supposed to lead the way, leaders were meant to rule with fairness and justice, and every leader/ruler should be loved by his or her subjects. This utopian state was the goal, but by experience and constant observation, Machiavelli ultimately discovered the folly of this line of reasoning, it doesn’t just work.

Firstly, this Christlike world would have been plausible if humans were Christlike, but throughout history, we’ve done little more than the exact opposite; humans are inherently selfish and self-centered, always looking for a way to enhance our status, mostly at the cost of others. For a ruler(a bright one), it’s easy to see that public opinion is a mirage, influenced most times by nothing more than knee-jerked emotions instead of pure reasoning, meaning even with the best intentions, one is probably going to be a failure.

The proper and most feasible way to survive, according to Machiavelli, includes;

Perfecting the Art: Being strong and retrained is not the same as being harmless; when you’re harmless, you’re vulnerable and open to explicit and implicit manipulation; perfecting the art enables you to escape this situation; think of a master marshal artist, by going through the rigorous, continuous routines to learn this art, you learn two essential things; self-defense and retrain, thus becoming a capable human for this world.

Be Realistic: it’s sometimes a cruel world out there, and it is necessary to abandon most of those jolly do-good doctrines of your childhood (remember Alice was in a wonderland, not in Lagos), as Machiavelli himself said; Men have imagined republics and principalities that never really existed at all. Yet the way men live is so far removed from the way they ought to live that anyone who abandons what is for what should pursue his downfall rather than his preservation; for a man who strives after goodness in all his acts is sure to come to ruin since there are so many men who are not good.

Learn to escape the trap of over-generosity: there is this myth about generosity, hugely encouraged by different religious influences; surprisingly, the richest men in history have always been the ones that were wisely miserly, don’t let society pressure you into giving for some cheap societal acceptance, it’s your own wealth, and this applies not just in monetary instances but time and attention as well.

Mercy is not for the weak, cruelty is not for the strong, and vice versa: most gods and spiritual beings today are considered merciful; the Christian God, for instance, is popularly called merciful; however, take a journey through the holy book and witness genocides, murders, famines, and ethnic cleansings all ordered by the “merciful one.” While the existence of these beings still seems improbable, it doesn’t mean we can’t learn a thing or two about their modus operandi, learn to balance the two weapons, and the world is yours. After all, the most successful prophets were the armed ones, like a rattlesnake learn when to strike venomously and, like a calm sea, learn when to have mercy. For too much mercy makes you weak, however too much cruelty fuels hatred, and as evolution has taught us, humans have a genuine psychological need to belong; it is the only way we can survive, however as the man himself (Machiavelli) said,,,,, “ The answer is that one would like to be both the one and the other; but because it is difficult to combine them, it is far safer to be feared than loved if you cannot be both.” 

Learn how to manipulate reputation: the world has become a global village; however, the human mind cannot keep records of up to a thousand people simultaneously, so how do we cope with so much connectivity? Reputation. It has become the bane of modern-day existence, and if you can manipulate it to your purpose, you win. Social media followings are very good examples. The popular “he keeps his word” is one of the most manipulatable illusions in history, yet time and again, people fall for it; this illusion is very powerful because it enables most leaders to seem Just and Noble while fulfilling just half of what was promised Machiavelli says “ He should appear to be compassionate, faithful to his word, guileless, and devout. And indeed he should be so., But his disposition should be such that, if he needs to be the opposite, he knows how”. This is the only true winning formula.

You can’t please everyone, so just please to gain: many rulers in history have had this conundrum; the Roman emperors were always caught between the devil and the deep blue sea; the people, the Senate, and the military almost always wanted different things, the wise, realistic ones went for the military and learned men knowing they could keep the people stupefied and intoxicated with gladiatorial battles in the arena while maintaining cordial relationships with the famous Roman legions and thus their reigns were long. Try not to please everyone because it is clearly impossible, and you will only suffer attempting it; try and find relationships that boost your own chances of survival.

Choose friend consciously: most people tag along with someone, and within a short period of time, they become “friends” by consciously choosing friends, you get into an advantageous position automatically, and avoid flatterers for they don’t tell you what you need to hear but what you want to hear, be as realistic as possible and tune down on the emotional side, even though our emotions are part and parcel of who we are, it is imperative to choose common-goal friends and acquaintances.

The goal is to be good but not naïve

Ultimately, the imperative thing is to succeed in life; the promise of a legendary, cozy afterlife earned by earthly actions is really unconfirmed, so poverty and misery are not virtues to be applauded, and being realistic is one of the quickest ways to achieve this.

Consciously being a bad person might get you these goals, but just like being extremely religious and nice, it is really difficult (unless you’re a psychopath) to achieve fulfillment by being an Adolf Hitler incarnate. Humans, in general, would always care about what others think of them; it is evolutionary psychology; when for instance, if we do a good deed (returning a missing purse or helping a stranger find his or her way around a new town, our brain releases dopamine, which is highly enjoyable. Humans, through evolution, are social animals, and for a society of any kind to succeed (check out elephants, lions, school of fishes, and insects), there has to be some kind of empathy and kindness that would create societal rules for survival. In most other organisms, these attributes are biological, but humans have the added advantage of the disadvantage of being highly specialized, big-brained social animals, and so fictional stories are internalized over the years to extend these rules, however believing explicitly in these rules (mostly religious ones) is, of course, detrimental to the believer since he/she is among a very small percentage of people who actually do believe it, despite the billion others that profess absolute belief.

Believing in them means you’d have to depend on universal justice when you’re wronged and build your life in such a way that nothing interferes with your afterlife paradise, but as with anyone who has studied history or looked at our society today, the world is not a fair place and history is hugely unjust, so being realistic isn’t just an option, it is the only option.  

Work Cited

Nicolo Machiavelli, The Prince

Freidrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil.

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