Abstract - Zujaja Tauqeer

Niccolò Machiavelli’s The Prince is a classic of modern political thought that discusses the methods of acquiring and maintaining power. His most famous and controversial work may appear to justify immoral behavior, including deception, manipulation, and the prodigious use of violence, but to make such a claim is to superficially understand the enduring significance of The Prince. The work deplores the vain and unskilled use of such tactics when they only perpetuate disorder and conflict, as amongst the various states of Italy in Machiavelli’s time. This political pragmatist sought a suitable candidate, the titular prince, who would employ these stratagems to attain and maintain power in order to undertake an even more worthy and necessary endeavor, which for Machiavelli was the unification of Italy. In this ultimate end he found justification for the “depraved” means required to secure the prince’s hold on power.

The critically acclaimed HBO original show The Wire situates the methods advocated over 400 years ago in The Prince to the modern day urban landscape of Baltimore, where the rivalry of competing drug gangs presents an unlikely medium for exploring elements of Machiavellian leadership. The show vindicates some of Machiavelli’s most emphasized topics, namely his advice to the new prince on the significance of armies, reputation, and Fortune to achieving sustained political success, by charting the fate of the two most powerful drug dealers in the city, Avon Barksdale and Marlo Stanfield, and their associates. The show adheres faithfully throughout its plot to Machiavelli’s most famous declaration, “It is better to be feared than loved,” by portraying love as a liability for major characters and fear as a powerful tool that, when commanded skillfully, is used to manipulate the behavior of others.


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