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Lao-tzu vs. Machiavelli

Lao-tzu and Machiavelli are political philosophers writing in two different lands and two different times. Lao-tzu was an ancient Chinese philosopher from 6th century BC, the author of Tao-te Ching, and Machiavelli was an Italian philosopher who lived 2000 years after Lao-tzu s time, author of Prince. They are both philosophers but have totally different perspective on how to be a good leader. On one hand Lao-tzu advises in his book Tao-te Ching, If you want to be a great leader, you must learn to follow the Tao. Stop trying to control. Let go of fixed plans and concepts, and the world will govern itself . And Machiavelli on the other hand states in Prince, He must, therefore, never raise his thought from this exercise of war, and in peacetime he must train himself more than in time of war (page 36) While both philosopher s writing is instructive. Lao-tzu s advice issues from detached view of a universal ruler; Machiavelli s advice is very personal perhaps demanding. I think that both philosophers idea will not work for today s world, due to the fact that modern world is not as perfect as Lao-tzu described in Tao-te Ching, and not as chaos as Machiavelli illustrated in Prince.

Perhaps Lao-tzu and Machivelli s political system will not work for today s world, but some of their philosophies are still exist in some of modern issues. One of those issues is gun control, which has become a dividing line in America. Lao-tzu advised in Tao-te Ching weapon are the tools of violence; all decent man detest them. Weapon are the tools of fear; a decent man will avoid them except in the direst necessity and, if compelled, will use them only with the utmost restraint. On the other hand Machiavelli wrote in Prince, Francesco Sforza became Duke of Milan from being a private citizen because he was armed; his sons, since they avoided the inconveniences of arms, became private citizens after having been duke. For, among the other bad effects it causes, being disarmed makes you despised; this is one of those infamies a prince should guard himself against (page 36) in which he pointed out that taking arms from a people can make a difference between a prince and a citizen. To gun control activists, the issue is about crime and the regulation of the weapons used to commit crimes. In their opinion, law-abiding citizens should have no need for guns, which is similar to Lao-tzu s idea. However in opposite, the nation’s powerful gun lobby, the National Rifle Association, argues that gun control is a violation of freedom and rights to protect themselves, which correspond to Machiavelli s idea. I think that if American government take either sides, will end up in total chaos. Gun control, which means law-abiding citizens lose their right to protect themselves, and outlaw, will be the only one legally own firearm. But if there are totally no gun control, a five year old boy can bring a gun to school, and shoot at teacher as he please, even thought that he doesn t know better.

Machiavelli wrote A prince, therefore, must not have any other object nor any other thought, nor must he take anything as his profession but war, its discipline; because that is the only profession which befits one who commands; He discussed that a Prince s duty is war and only war. This lead to the second issue, war, which existed as long as the existence of human kind, as I am writing this essay there are still wars going on all over the world. According to Machiavelli war should be the only thing on a prince s mind, because if a prince give more thought to personal luxuries than war he could lose his state and position. Lao-tzu states in Tao-te Ching The master doesn t try to be powerful; thus he is truly powerful. The ordinary man keeps reaching for power; thus he never has enough. I have to disagree with both philosophers idea, because I think that war can be looked at as a human evolution, in the ancient world war was fought for land and freedom. In modern world, war was fought for gross of economy. War is something that just happens, it s not necessary and can t be avoided. Look into American History From Civil War to Vietnam War to Desert Storm, which cost billions dollars and millions lives, will the war ever end? We all know, the answer is no. As long as human lives, the war will never end.

Perhaps Lao-tzu and Machiavelli s political view is totally opposite, at the end they all have a common goal is to create an ideal political system. The constitution among other things would not allow that sort of government today. The times have defiantly changed, but the need for the higher forms of thinking amongst society has not.

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