Machiavelli believed that a leader should behave in a way that made them both feared and loved. However, as this is not possible, he says to choose being feared over being loved, but to never be hated. To do this, a leader must commit all of his cruelties at once, so that the violence will fade from the people’s minds and the leader can begin to start making his amends.
If the leader continued to threaten the well-being of the people, then they would rebel against him. Weber writes about a leader with charismatic authority. Someone who is able to rule based on the amount of trust from the people and their loyalty to a leader who resolves conflict with charisma. To this leader, Machiavelli may say that “men have less scruple in offending one who makes himself loved than one who makes himself feared”¹.
A charismatic leader can only rule if the people keep their trust in him but men will flee at the first sign of real danger if all they have to do is break a bond of love. They are more likely to stay and follow their leader if they have a fear of punishment. Weber’s solution to this is by stating that violence could be used by the governance if it is legitimate. He states that “the state is a relation of men dominating men, a relation supported by means of legitimate violence”². The state is the only political institution that is authorized to use violence because unlike Machiavelli, Weber believes it is acceptable to use violence more than once on those who threatened the security of the state and peace of the people.
Weber did not believe in using violence to gain power like Machiavelli did. Machiavelli believes that the greatest purpose of political life is to gain power. He uses moral rules as a means to gain and hold power.
Rulers who ignore their promises when it benefits them achieve more than honest rulers, because they act before the other person can break their promise. Machiavelli’s view on ethics differs from the previous major thinkers because he does not believe in the judgement of God. According to him, an action is good, not because it is virtuous, but because it helps the ruler gain power. Means justify the ends. Unlike Machiavelli, Weber knew that power could destroy a leader if it was the only thing they were worried about.
While Weber was not worried about how virtuous a leader was, there was a responsibility that the leader had to be prepared to uphold. Both philosophers have common agreements on what the role of the state is but Machiavelli’s view on the state takes a more individualistic stance, focused on the leader and how they can best rule, while Weber’s state is one of modernity and how the people interact with the governing officials. Machiavelli refers to the state as the prince’s possession while Weber refers to the state as the entity that has the power to use legitimate violence. Machiavelli did not trust the citizens of the state much, constantly warning the leader that “in time of adversity, when a state is in need of its citizens, there are few to be found”³.