Lao-tzu vs. Machiavelli Government is the essential authority of a country or state, which directly affects society because it provides key securities. How directly involved should the government be in the personal lives of society? To answer this I will look to the ideas of Lao-tzu (sixth century B. C. ), believed to be author of the Tao-te Ching, and Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527), author of The Prince There are few ways in which they are similar, but have very opposite views and ideas of government.
Lao-tzu’s view is government should not have optimal power over the people He feels as though the less people know they are being governed, the happier they will be. For example, in the Tao-te Ching Lao-tzu states, “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. ” (Verse 57) In Lao-tzu’s writing he refers to the governing body as master. If things happen as nature intends them there will be no need for the Master to make promises he cannot and does not intend to keep.
For instance line 16 verse 29 of the Tao-te Ching, “The Master sees things as they are/ without trying to control them. /She lets them go their own way,/ and resides at the center of the circle. ” Lao-tzu takes into consideration the individuals and what they can do for themselves, not what they can do for the master. The Master completes the task at hand and does not brag on himself. When this is done the people will think they have done the thing on their own and be proud. Lao-tzu believes people will do the right thing. Wealth and possession of lavish material things are of no concern.
In a sense let go of desired things rather than needs. As Lao-tzu sees it when one person has no more than his neighbor he will not desire to have what he does not. Therefore theft will be nonexistent. Lao-tzu does not believe in the use of weapons, man should have no enemies. We are all human and should not bring violence to others. Violence is only “approved” of in the most urgent situation. If you must kill a man you should not be grateful, but regretful all that follow the Tao value human life. Too much government will lead to ill will toward the state and oppression of the people.
When government doesn’t over burden its people, they are content. As Lao-tzu end the Tao,” If a country is governed wisely, / its inhabitants will be content. / They enjoy the labor of their hands/ and don’t waste time inventing/ labor-saving machines. / Since they dearly love their homes,/ they aren’t interested in travel. / There may be few wagons and boats,/ but these don’t go anywhere. / There may be an arsenal of weapons,/ but nobody uses them.
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