Political Stand Off : Lao-Tzu vs Machiavelli

Topics: Government, Political philosophy, Other People's Money Pages: 2 (623 words) Published: December 14, 2005
Political Stand-off

Both Lao-tzu and Machiavelli seem to have a clear-cut view on how they believe the government should run. In some ways, both men have very similar ideas; more often, though, they couldn't be more opposed. A few similarities brought forth are that people in power must not strive to make everyone happy, nor must they be considered unmerciful and they should avoid being despised. The final view they both share is that they believe if the common people think they are happy, then whomever is in power will not fear for their power. However, it seems for each similarity they have, several oppositions occur in their place. From the way they believe how a leader should govern, especially in times of war, to the way that they feel about simple lies shows us how different Lao-tzu and Machiavelli's opinions really are.

One of the ideas they stressed was that you cannot make everyone happy. If you attempt to, you invite uprisings and chaos. They go on to say, though, that you must be merciful to the people. Lao-tzu speaks of being merciful toward most anything the people might do; Machiavelli simply states that you should appear merciful even if you aren't always merciful. [...practicing them at all times is harmful...appearing to have them is uesful...merciful, faithful, humane...but...] summarizes Machiavelli's idea on mercy into a nice little package, whereas Lao-tzu just reiterates that you should be tolerant and leave the people to themselves. Each man agreed that the leader must avoid being despised. If a leader became despised, he would fall from power quickly because the people would rebel and demand a new leader in his place.

Both have different ideas on how a leader should be seen: Lao-tzu's leader should not draw attention to himself and that he shouldn't force his will on others. Machiavelli's leader should be feared and are able to do what they want, within reason. They also disagreed over war. Lao-tzu's felt that...
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