Being a good leader seems to be a very different view for everyone. Someone will always have a different opinion from you. Just like how Lao-Tzu view is different from Niccolo Machiavelli’s view. Lao-Tzu thinks that the best way to govern someone is not govern them at all and let them govern themselves. And unlike Lao-Tzu, Machiavelli thinks that we should govern them with more of a forceful hand. In “The Qualities of the Prince” by Niccolo Machiavelli talks about what he thinks a prince/ruler should have or possess and the things that they should do. He wrote this particular article for the prince of Italy during that time so that he could encourage the prince to save Italy from France and Spain. He have listed quite a fair amount of things that he think a prince/ruler should and should not have and that doing these things will keep them in power. “Secure power by direct and effective means, (35)” this shows that Machiavelli wants a leader to be able to control his own power and not just let people abuse and use him in ways that he shouldn’t be. He also support means that are not pleasant even though knowing that they will be consequences with it, he doesn’t seems to think too much about it. One of the things amongst his beliefs about a prince/ruler is that they can’t be all good because even if he’s good there will be bad people around him that they will corrupt him, “A man who wishes to make a vocation of being good at all times will come to ruin among so many who are not good. (37)” Machiavelli’s would want his leader to be firm and always in control especially when it comes to war. Lao-Tzu would think that this view is far too ridiculous and that a leader should never be like that. “Thought from the Tao-te Ching” by Lao-Tzu are thoughts from the Lao-Tzu about how we should live our lives and how a ruler should be to their people. He also thinks that all of us are born pure and kind and those we should continue that way and not let material things become the evil in us. His writing mostly concentrates on the religion call Taoism that was found in China around A.D 150. Taoism gives us a way to live out life correctly and how it should be like. Lao-Tzu gives us more of an idea how a government or ruler should be like and how they should rule their people. His idea is more feminine that what we usually see during a time that far back. He believes that the universe is the “Great Mother” (Lao-Tzu, 20) that we cannot simple control and tries to change because if we do, we are doing something wrong since it simply cannot be change. We should let the universe govern itself, the same way a country and the people would instead of trying to insert so much power upon them. For him a great leader should “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” (Lao-Tzu, 27. Verse 57) Here we can see that he wants leaders to rule without force and don’t impose too much power on their people, let things be the way it is and only if it is necessary that the leader can intervene but not with a lot of force but with as little force as possible.
They have very different views from each other and clearly it is also different from how we views and want our leaders to be now a days. Being a good leader in today society means being very different from what both these two philosophers wanted. Being a good leader now doesn’t mean you let the country just govern itself or being to firm on the people that you would install fear in them. Our leader now have to know how to rule the country gracefully without installing fears in the people as well as not letting the country goes totally. We can say that our society now is preferring a more balanced leader because with a balanced leader they will still have all their freedom and rights but then they will also have a leader that will be confident enough to lead them during times of war as well as leading the country into becoming a better one. We would also want our leaders nowadays to know how to resolve a problem between other countries without it resulting into war. But this wasn’t the case for Machiavelli. He believed that all leaders should be ready for war at anytime even when the countries are at peace and that war should be a leader’s primary job, “A prince, therefore, must not have any other object nor any other thought, nor must he take anything as his profession but war, (37)” His belief to us now seems a little to harsh especially when we want our leader not to just focus on one thing but on other things that is going on in the country as well and being involved in your country is one of the good quality everyone want to see in a today’s leader.
Lao-Tzu on the other wouldn’t just disagree with Machiavelli’s idea but also will disagree with our modern way of viewing a good leader. Lao-Tzu would think that you should never get to involve in your country or your people because things will just become ruined that way, that you will be just trying to change the way the universe works. “When the Master governs, the people are hardly aware that he exists.(22)” This shows that the people of the country shouldn’t be aware that their is a leader leading them because then they will be able to govern themselves and lead their life. This views is very impractical in our modern society because if you were to govern a country this way, the country will end up in the worse conditions possible because people wouldn’t be able to govern themselves in the way that we would want them to which in most cases is in their best manner possible. And if the leader nowadays doesn’t step in and enforce a law that says it is wrong to do so and so then the people will just keep doing it and getting away with it. This will not make the country a better place to live in.
Making a better place for people to live in also doesn’t mean that you are going to install fear in them so that they won’t go against you. In Machiavelli’s views, he believed that it is always better to be feared that to be loved because with being feared people will always remember it unlike for being loved. “It is much safer to be feared than to be loved when one of the two must be lacking, (44)” Our modern society would think that this is absolutely ridiculous to do so since now the world is advancing and everything should be fair and equal and no one should be in fear of someone else. This is most cases in a lot of the modern world now but there are some country that the leader is still installing fear into the people rather than being loved be the people. These countries are mostly third world countries and countries that are still running under the communism society. Those people do have their rights but it is limited to a certain amount only and if they were to go beyond that the leader would ask in a way that wasn’t acceptable in a modern society like jailing the person for example. Those leader are still installing fear in their people even if its not as brutal as the olden times, the people still fear the leader and dare not voice their opinion at all about how they are running the country. These leader might have be what Machiavelli considered as being a good leader of a country since his beliefs for what a leader should be doing is this. But to Lao-Tzu it definitely wouldn’t be because you are getting to involve in the country, you are not letting it govern itself.
Their beliefs are very opposite from each other but then again we all different views on how a good leader should be like and what kind of qualities he should have. A good leader should know what to do and when to do it as well as not over using the power he has for uses that isn’t necessary. He or she should be able to make decisions for the country, not just any kind of decision but the kind the will give the most benefit to the country. A leader should be confident or at least show the people that he is confident enough to lead them in both time of war and peace. He or she should not install fear in the people of their country. This view might not be at all like Lao-Tzu or Machiavelli’s idea of what a good leader should be like but it is how most people believes that a leader in a modern world should be like. As stated it seems that most of what is wanted from a leader leans more towards Lao-Tzu view because his believed is more subtle than that of Machiavelli’s. If Lao-Tzu views were to be altered or modernized a bit than it might be a good philosophy to follow for both a leader and the people living their lives.