The observations of successful leaders that Machiavelli made are still apparent in the modern world and prove that history truly does repeat itself. Fidel Castro, the Cuban revolutionary leader, is a perfect example of a leader that is considered effective based on Machiavelli’s principles. Fidel Castro is “Machiavelli’s Cuban Prince”. (1) Chapter 17 of The Prince deals with a common question for a leader: What is better, to be loved or feared?
Machiavelli states that people will easily be disloyal to the love for their leader, but if you are feared, it will be much more difficult to quickly challenge a leader that is feared. Fidel Castro’s leadership techniques prove that he very much tries to gain the affection and love of his people, but ultimately fear is what gives him power over them. In 1961 1,400 Cuban exiles, supported by the CIA, made an ineffective shot at invading Cuba at the Bay of Pigs.
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They assumed the invasion would inspire other Cubans in the population to rise up and overthrow Castro.
To everyone’s surprise the Cuban population supported Castro. (2) Castro’s military assure his physical power over Cuba and Castro has been expert at using the customary Cuban fear of the “Miami Cubans” and the detested “Americanos” to overpower his people and keep them aligned. His people fear him and the power he has over them is what in the long run keeps him with that power. This same trait is what was discussed by Machiavelli in Chapter 17 and proves how Castro exemplifies what Machiavelli considers to be an effective leader.
Machiavelli’s whole purpose of the book was to teach leaders how to rule and how to keep that power to obtain an effective regime and Castro is one example of the book holding truth. This gives the book purpose and to an extent, proves that some of the traits Machiavelli discusses are very apparent in modern day leaders. With Castro as an example, this book proves that this trait of “being feared” is very much true in any regime. Castro was able to successfully rule over his people because they were so terrified of him, hat it demonstrates the exact traits Machiavelli deemed to lead to an effective leader. Had Castro gone with the “love” route and have his people love him instead of fear him, he would not have been as effective, and his whole regime would be very different. Furthermore, Castro has taken a significant amount of actions that are similar to those of Machiavelli’s “tips” in his book. Castro enchanted his subjects with promises of countless wealth in a future that never arrived; new restrictions were forced on consumption, new sacrifices required, greater amounts of “discipline” demanded.
Taking shrewd actions are more important to Castro than keeping his promises to the people, which is exactly what Machiavelli stated in his book, “… one sees from the experience of our times that the princes who have accomplished great deeds are those who have little for keeping their promises and who have known how to manipulate the minds of men by shrewdness; and in the end they have surpassed those who laid their foundation upon honesty”. (3) Castro kept very little, if any, of his promises and was still able to have full control over his people.
The whole point of Machiavelli pointing out that promises shouldn’t always be kept was to prove that you can be a successful and effective leader as long as you are able to manipulate the people to think you keep your promises. Castro was very well at doing so, and is able to substantiate that this trait from Machiavelli’s principles is what help keep an effective reign. The choice of army a state must build, is another example of a lesson that Castro “borrowed” from Machiavelli.
Machiavelli stated that a greedy army is never sufficient, as well as efficient for the state. Likewise, Castro built an army that followed all the beliefs Castro had dictated and was able to control his people past “normal”, to the point where he could “brain wash” them into thinking anything he believed in. (4) In addition, Machiavelli always repeated and emphasized the need to imitate the fox and the lion. Castro specialized in this belief by always being ferocious for his enemies and critics.
He was able to use his army to give him more power and to keep his people standing right behind him, and supporting him. Machiavelli’s principles can be seen in the way Castro controls Cuba. The qualities Machiavelli states about army are very relevant to the way Castro rules and show how these traits are what create and obtain effectiveness in a leader. These similarities have been applicable to the categorization of Fidel Castro as the “New-Era Machiavellian Prince”.
However, the most important of Machiavelli’s influence lies in Castro’s ability to absolutely excel in engaging his physical, political, and psychological control over the Cuban People. In addition, he snatched every business that was previously under the American influence and then was able to strengthen connections with the Soviet regime. In the end, all his actions are justified by the means of Castro attaining power in every single way possible to chase a grander goal. Almost all of Castro’s actions are clear to exemplify the nature of Machiavelli’s tactics.
He cared little of the people seeing him as “unfaithful” and did whatever it took to have a successful government. All the traits Castro obtains are relatable to those seen in The Prince and he is a perfect example of an effective leader with Machiavellian traits. He was able to control and carry out his government with the tactics that Machiavelli wrote about in his book. Fidel Castro was a ruthless leader and because of his selfish thinking, he was able to lead Cuba as a true effective Machiavellian Leader. ) Machiavelli, Niccolo. The Prince. N. p. : Antonio Blado d’Asola, 1532. Ch. 17. Print. 2) “The Bay of Pigs. ” JFK Presidential Library & Museum. N. p. , n. d. Web. 3) “Babalu Blog: The Only Promise Fidel Castro Ever Kept. ” Babalu Blog: The Only Promise Fidel Castro Ever Kept. N. p. , 6 June 2007. Web. <http://www. babalublog. com/archives/005506. html>. 4) Rasco, Jose Ignacio. 1999. “Semblanza de Fidel Castro. ” In Efren Cordova, Ed. , 40 Anos de Revolucion: El Legado de Castro. Miami: Ediciones Universal, 411-444.