WHO’S AFRAID OF THE PRINCE? THE ROLE OF FEAR AS AN EMOTION IN MACHIAVELLI’S “LITTLE BOOK”.
- Sesión 8, Sesión 8
Día: viernes, 9 de julio de 2021
Hora: 11:00 a 12:45
Both in the Dedicatory Letter and Chapter XIV of The Prince, Machiavelli links statecraft with the art of knowing and sketching landscapes. This presentation is based on the premise that in the political landscape that Machiavelli paints for his readers, emotions and passions play a fundamental role.
As Robert Black points out (2013:108-109), The Prince portrays a series of forces beyond reason that influence rulers and states' success or ruin. The first of these is Fortune, but almost as crucial as this goddess are men's emotions and passions. Emotions such as love, hatred, ambition, and fear continually intervene in the actions of the characters who appear in Machiavelli’s little book. Consequently, judicious readers should take them into account and integrate them into their reasoning about politics.
Within the set of emotions that appear in The Prince, this paper argues that fear is the most prominent. In this work, I aim to discuss its many faces and roles and answer the following questions regarding this passion: (1) who feels fear in The Prince? (2) What are the causes of such emotion? (3) What are its political consequences? And finally (4), how does machiavellian fear relates to the current use of this passion in politics, especially by populists?
The first part of the paper will discuss the overall presence of fear in The Prince, while the second part will analyze and comment the different faces and roles this emotion takes in the book, chapter by chapter. The third section will compare the uses of fear in Machiavelli with those of current far right and populist politicians.
The conclusion of the paper will draw attention to the fact that fear is the emotion most intimately related to princely virtue. Inspiring fear is an action directly linked to Machiavelli’s most prominent advice: self-reliance. Fear also demands a certain technique and prudence on the part of the ruler, not just brute force or cruelty. But first and foremost, Machiavelli’s fear is not a tyrannic tool to control men and reduce them to stupefaction, but to force them to be good. This applies to both the people, the prince´s ministers, and the prince himself.
In this way, the paper would show the fundamental role of political emotions even in the most pragmatic and realist political treatise of all time.
Palabras clave: emociones, miedo, política, Maquiavelo, populismo