Magazine article Security Management

Do You Have to Be Machiavelli to Succeed?

Magazine article Security Management

Do You Have to Be Machiavelli to Succeed?

Article excerpt

Do You Have to Be Machiavelli to Succeed?

POSSIBLY NO INDIVIDUAL HAD AS much impact on modern political thought as did Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527). In the midst of the Renaissance, his treatise "Il Principe," written for the Prince of Florence, Lorenzo de' Medici, discussed previoulsy unheard-of criteria for ruling the masses and the need to defend the powerful city-state. With this in mind, it might be interesting to compare our modern concepts of security for industrial and institutional complexes with some of the Machiavellian precepts.

Machiavelli was the typical bureaucrat of his day. He was a brain truster--an idea man for the Florentine politicians. He was relied on to complete the administrative work of the city-state. He saw to it that papers were drawn up, orders cut, correspondence sent, and records kept. Eventually he was sent on diplomatic missions, where he studied the civil and military structures of his era. He taught the world to live in the reality of cold political power. He rejected metaphysics, theology, and idealism in favor of political realism. He may have been misrepresented in history by being connected to the unscrupulous use of political power--yet that was exactly the situation of his day.

Machiavelli indicates in chapter 10 of his treatise that the prince would be wise to provide a standing militia and proper fortifications for himself. Being without a standing militia, with only fortifications for defense, would place the prince and his state on the defensive. Machiavelli suggests that in addition to moats, bastions, and artillery, a year's provisions to sustain the city-state during a siege be set aside. In addition, he stresses continuing military exercises to prepare for defense.

With respect to the militia, Machiavelli is quite adamant. He supports the raising of a standing milita made up of the prince's own people. He states, "The chief foundations of all states, new as well as old or composite, are good laws and good arms; and as there cannot be good laws where the state is not well armed, it follows that where they are well armed, they have good laws." He then indicates that mercenaries or auxiliaries are useless and dangerous because they have no true allegiance to the prince, the state, or the political system they are hired to protect. "They are disunited, ambitious, without discipline, faithless, bold amongst friends, cowardly before the enemy, and have no fear of God," he warns.

The leadership within the militia is also of great importance, according to the treatise. The mercenary captains, if they are capable, cannot be relied on because they may aspire to their own ambitions, either by not cooperating with the prince whom they serve or by oppressing others against the prince's intentions. If they are not capable, they will no doubt cause ruin. To ensure proper leadership, according to Machiavelli, the prince may have to go in person to perform the duties of captain. In either case, the militia leader must be willing and able to command within the limits of the rules and laws of the prince he serves and preferably be a subject of the city-state.

SOME INTERESTING COMPARISONS of today's industrial and institutional protection needs and Machiavelli's recommendations to his prince can be made. Concerning defense, or more accurately, the protection of assets, we still find it necessary to establish fortifications. We do this by providing fencing, lockable gates, proper outside lighting, lock and key systems, and appropriate building design and construction. …

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