Ancient Rome such a stable and economically fruitful empire. Concerning the structures of governance as it was in 16th century florence, Machiavelli expressed the opinion that only six forms of government exist that maintain a perpetual cycle of short lived power before sucuming to, what he viewed as a natural end. This is brought about either due to a successful insurection and instalment of a form of government which evolved out of oppression or a form of government that eventually grew to become greedy and corrupt through generational changes.
The model Machiavelli presents begins with a society in a ‘state of nature’ or ‘Anarchy’ that exists until the people begin to realise strength in numbers and seek leadership from the foremost individual who assumes rulership, thus evolving into a ‘Monarchy’. The good Monarch is however, succeeded by corrupt rulers who use their power for their own gain and control through ‘Tyranny’.
The Tyrant is eventually overthrown by a rebellion and the rebels retain control amongst themselves collectively producing an ‘Aristocracy’. The Aristocrats are then succeeded by a generation that again, begins to use its powers to oppress the people and becomes an ‘Oligarchy’. Like the Tyrant, they are overthrown by the oppressed who then form a ‘Democracy’. As time progresses, order and control dissolve completely until we find ourselves in a ‘state of nature’ or ‘Anarchy’ once again.
As Machiavelli saw it, because of man’s propensity to greed and corruption against the collective force of the oppressed victims, the cycle of instability could only ever provide temporal security and was not an effective enough solution. Machiavelli lived in a period of insessent political conflict and social disharmony which provided him with a deep rooted motivation to ensure order and stability could be demonstrated within the system he sought.
Machiavelli drew the conclusion that a balance of power shared between a monarchical figure, an aristocratic institution and a democratic institution, as the Ancient Romans had implemented, was the most benificial arrangement in the interest of the state. In order to sustain order, it is necessary to employ the method of ‘checks and balances’, meaning each faction must regulate the other to prevent the accumulation of too power in the hands of an individual or particular group. Today we use the term ‘separation of powers’ to identify this form of self monitoring government.
Although critics of this form of power regulation state that it slows up progress, promotes excesses of executive power and unaccountability, those who would champion the method maintain it is an effective means to ensure liberty and democracy while avoiding the possibility of tyranny.