Charles De Gaulle’s "Political Style" In Comparison To Niccolò Machiavelli’s "The Prince"

1387 words - 6 pages

Throughout history, there have been numerous instances in which certain political figures have attained rule in a particular country and used their power and control to govern the people. In some cases, one can be successful and sustain their domination for an extensive period of time. For others, however, the situation can turn out differently and can ultimately result in a disastrous end to a leader’s rule. The success of a ruler is dependent on numerous factors. The way a leader should and should not rule his/her people is not always clear cut and can vary based on the time period, and characteristics of the region. Such matters are discussed and explained by Niccolò Machiavelli in The Prince. Throughout the novel Machiavelli discusses an assorted variety of scenarios in which one can acquire rule over a region. Machiavelli goes on to further elaborate how a ruler should act in order to be triumphant and achieve a desirable outcome. Although the novel was written centuries ago in the 1600s the information and advice it contains still remains prevalent today. In fact, when studying the history of selected political leaders, such similarities can be seen. One of modern history’s leaders that exemplifies and has used a handful of Machiavelli’s advice is Charles de Gaulle, military leader and president of France. Serving as an important and influential figure by running the Free French Forces, de Gaulle played a central role in shaping the way France is today. Charles de Gaulle’s political methods and approaches, such as his rise to power, characteristics as a leader, and the means by which he ruled France, are largely paralleled in The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli.
Essentially, an individual's road to power, domination, and control over a region is full of many paths. Such paths can all lead one to the same end destination and the ultimate objective to rule, but how one gets there and what happens afterwards are the aspects that vary along each winding road. In the novel, Machiavelli illustrates the different ways a ruler may come into command and expresses which way he feels would be the most beneficial for the leader and the people. Being that Machiavelli supported and felt that it was best for rulers to take power “by their own ability and not through fortune”, he would look favorably upon de Gaulle’s actions (Machiavelli 19). Charles joined the military, fought in World War 1 and 2, and was the successful leader of the Free French Forces. His position was not obtained merely by luck. However, the scenario in which de Gaulle attained the title, as premier of France was slightly more fortuitous. Although his work with the military helped him to earn his status, it was mainly the fact that there were no competitors for the title that helped him become premier. Such a method is one that Machiavelli would frown upon and thought that “those who solely by good fortune become princes … have little trouble in rising, but much in keeping atop”...

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