'Tis Better to Be Feared

Essay by secretgal12345678High School, 10th grade May 2006

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Is it more effective for a ruler to be feared or loved? This question has arisen ever since the birth of human civilization, yet it has never been answered and agreed upon unanimously.

In 1513, political philosopher Niccolo Machiavelli wrote that "it is much safer to be feared than loved if one of the two has to be wanting," because "human beings are by nature selfish, cowardly, and dishonest." Many people would disagree with Machiavelli and shake their head with disapproval at his pessimistic view of humans, but these people are regrettably deprived of the basic history knowledge that Machiavelli's view is built upon.

Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain effectively used tactics of terror to unify Spain. Under former Muslim rule, Spain was ruled with love, overflowing with tolerance of people of various religions, but was rather divided. However, when Ferdinand and Isabella took the throne, they forced Jews and Muslims to either convert to Christianity or to leave.

The inquisition, started under their harsh rule, burned heretics at the stake. This religious intolerance unified Spain, which would otherwise be divided into sections, each religion-specific. This was unfortunately what had happened with the Indian subcontinent, where religious conflicts between Muslim and Islam divided the Indian subcontinent into Pakistan, mostly Muslim-populated, and modern India, chiefly populated by Hindus. As you can see, fear has dominated love, and the story still goes on.

Cesare Borgia, who ruled from 1467 to 1507, was cruel and unmerciful. However, through his cruelty, violence, and treachery, he succeeded in bringing order to, and uniting Romagna, north-central Italy. Furthermore, he brought the land under a prolonged period of peace. Once again, fear overshadows love and becomes more effective. But the story keeps going...

Mao Zedong, founder member of the Chinese Communist Party, ruled China with...