The Prince, Niccolo Machiavelli

Princes by Crime

We may add this note that when a prince takes a new state, he should calculate the sum of all the injuries he will have to do, and do them all at once, so as not to have to do new ones every day; simply by not repeating them, he will thus be able to reassure people, and win them over to his side with benefits. . . .In a word, injuries should be committed all at once, because the less time there is to dwell on them, the less they offend; but benefits should be distributed very gradually, so the taste will last longer. Above all, a prince should live with his subjects on such terms that no accident, whether favorable or unfavorable, can force him to change his conduct. When misfortune strikes, harsh measures are too late, and the good things you do are not counted to your credit because you seem to have acted under compulsion, and no one will thank you for that.

Reasons Why Men are Praised or Blamed

Any man who tries to be good all the time is bound to come to ruin among the great number who are not good. Hence a prince who wants to keep his post must learn how not to be good, and use that knowledge, or refrain from using it, as necessity requires.

On Cruelty and Clemency

Thus, no prince should mind being called cruel for what be does to keep his subjects united and loyal; he may make examples of a very few, but he will be more merciful in reality than those who, in their tender - heartedness, allow disorders to occur, with their attendant murders - and lootings. Such turbulence brings harm to an entire community, while the executions ordered by a prince affect only one individual at a time.

Here the question arises: is it better to be loved than feared, or vice versa? I don't doubt that every prince would like to be both; but since it is hard to accommodate these qualities, if you have to make a choice, to be feared is much safer than to be loved. For it is a good general rule about men, that they are ungrateful, fickle, liars and deceivers' fearful of danger and greedy for gain. While you serve their welfare, they are all yours, offering their blood, their belongings, their lives, and their children's lives, as we noted above -so long as the danger is remote. But when the danger is close at hand, they turn against you.

People are less concerned with offending a man who makes himself loved than one who makes himself feared: the reason is that love is a link of obligation which men, because they are rotten, will break any time they think doing so serves their advantage; but fear involves dread of punishment, from which they can never escape.

Still, a prince should make himself feared in such a way that, even if be gets no love, he gets no hate either; because it is perfectly possible to be feared and not hated, and this will be the result if only the prince will keep his hands off the property of 'his subjects or citizens, and off their women. When he does have to shed blood, he should be sure to have a strong justification and manifest cause; but above all, he should not confiscate people's property, because men are quicker to forget the death of a father than the loss of a patrimony.