The strength of a republic comes from the morality of its citizens and once the citizens become corrupted, they cannot be made moral again—Niccolò Machiavelli makes this point in his work, the Discourses on Livy. He notes that while a republic is created by the politicians (he uses the word, “Princes”), it’s the citizens who maintain it because they are more moral and trustworthy than the ruling class. In times of danger, there is greater stability and courage in the citizens than in the ruling class. But once the citizens become morally corrupted, the republic loses its strength and it faces a stark choice between a violent revolution, which can rip the nation apart, and statism (an Empire), which may keep the nation together but will take away the freedom that the citizens enjoy. In his direct comparisons between the ruling class and the citizens, Machiavelli demonstrates his republicanism.
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