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Lelouch: A Machiavellian Analysis

Lelouch vi Britannia

Lelouch vi Britannia

Suppose there is an evil that justice cannot bring down. What would you do? Would you taint your hands with evil to destroy evil? Or would you carry out your own justice and succumb to that evil?” – Lelouch vi Britannia

Niccolo Machiavelli’s celebrated work, The Prince, was famous for its amorality. In fact, analysts like Rubery applauded the book for its realism and indifference.[1] Meanwhile, Femia outlined three basic propositions to describe Machiavelli’s political realism. First, men are hypocritical on their profession of their faith and morals because they are generally wicked. Second, ideal projection of political sphere such as the conception of perfect states, perfect rulers and perfect citizens are illogical and perilous if they will be applied in reality. Last, political security requires actions which are variant or opposed to traditional teachings of morality.[2]

The topic of today’s article is Lelouch, the main protagonist of the anime series Code Geass. I will argue that he is Machiavellian in nature by analyzing some of his more notable decisions. This article aims to analyze the leadership of Lelouch through Machivelli’s approach. (Warning: Spoilers follow.)

LELOUCH: A BRIEF HISTORY

Lelouch Lamperouge (real name: Lelouch vi Britannia) was the main protagonist of the anime, Code Geass. He is the eleventh prince of the world-encompassing Holy Empire of Britannia. His father exiled him to Japan along with his sister, Nunnaly. Seeking revenge, he founded a rebel group called the Black Knights and fought the Britannian government in Japan. He killed his own father inside the World of C, and claimed the imperial throne. After ascending to power, he granted independence to Area 11 (Japan).

There are two facets of Lelouch that will be explored in this article. One is the revolutionary, counter-establishment Lelouch; the other, the Lelouch who wants domination as presented in the latter part of the story.

Lelouch as a Revolutionary

The imperialist monarchy of Britannia conquered the islands of Japan due to its abundant supply of Sakuradite, a war material. The empire labelled Japan as Area 11 and called its citizens “Elevens.” Since Lelouch is an exiled prince, he witnessed how the Britannian forces defeated Japan. He promised himself and his friend, Suzaku Kururugi, that he will destroy Britannia by his own hands.

Being an average student who accidentally acquired Geass or the power of the kings, he used this opportunity in order to raise an army that will challenge Britannian rule on the Japanese islands. Here, Machiavelli’s provision on handling an army can be applied. [Geass are supernatural powers given by designated immortals roaming around the world. The powers granted by various types of Geass vary, and include: mind-reading, clairvoyance or predicting the future, and mind control – Lelouch’s power.

First, Machiavelli despised the use of mercenaries or auxiliary forces. Instead, he proposed to use native troops since he believe that those native troops are more patriotic and more loyal to their monarch or country unlike the other type of army. In relation to, Lelouch established the Black Knights, an army composed of Japanese nationalists who aspire liberation from Britannia. He therefore guaranteed that these people will pledge their loyalty to them as Machiavelli predicted in The Prince.

Second, the way he administered the Black Knights is comparable to Machiavelli’s opinion about how the prince should administer his polity. Machiavelli said, “A wise prince must provide in such a way that, in whatever circumstances, the citizens will always be in need of him and his government.” The Black Knights benefited greatly because of the abilities of Lelouch. He was a good tactician and strategist, could predict the future moves of his opponents, and could foresee the probable outcomes of his decisions. Lastly, the mystical powers of Geass played a vital role in his quest.

Third, Machiavelli classified ministers into two: the prudent and the flatterers. According to him, a prince must select an intelligent minister which apprehends and criticizes the decision of a prince instead of a flatterer who praises everything about the leader. Machiavelli would think Lelouch is right for choosing Diethart as a consultant instead of Tamaki. Diethart is an intelligent journalist who, in his writings, deifies Zero which was Lelouch’s impersonation since he hid his own identity in order to protect his and her sister, Nunally’s security against Britannian forces. Diethart is also a good strategist and tactician. He is a filthy opportunist. He is an expert in power politics and international relations.

Fourth, Machiavelli argued that it is best to be feared and loved at the same time; however, this is impossible. Hence, he offered another solution. It is better to be feared than to be loved because it provides greater security. Lelouch seems to have followed Machiavelli’s prescriptions. First, he desired to be hated by the world in order to accomplish his plan, Requiem. The Requiem is a plan plotted by Lelouch and his bestfriend and knight, Suzaku. Lelouch asked Suzaku to kill him on the promised day. Lelouch wanted to absorb the hatred of whole humanity by being a tyrant in a unified world government. Moreover, on a specific date that only Lelouch and Suzaku knows, the latter will kill Suzaku in order to create another regime freeing humanity from a demonic tyrant portrayed by Lelouch. Lastly, he avoided interaction and personal relationships with the Black Knights, with the exception of Kallen Stadtfeld.

Lelouch as an Emperor

Lelouch acquired the throne of the Britannian Empire after killing his own father. It was expected that the lesser barons of a monarchical kingdom will oppose his reign; however, the power of Geass played a crucial role in his domination. This event has an impact to Machiavelli’s comparison of the administration between the kingdoms of Turkey and France. The former is a government led by a tyrant wherein the decentralization is performed through sanjaks or oligarchs wherein these appointed bureaus are tentative and their power depends upon the favor of the king. On the other hand, the power of the French monarchy depended upon its barons. Once the barons withdrew their support for the king and allied themselves to the monarch’s enemies, then the King’s regime will end. In the case of Lelouch, he fused the methods of both kingdoms. He ruled as a tyrant and compelled the nobles to support him through the power of his Geass.

Lelouch wants to create a new world for Nunnaly. However, this cannot materialize without the use of coercion. Hence, Lelouch accomplished the Zero Requiem plan. He said, “I destroyed worlds… I create worlds.” This scene is comparable to Machiavelli’s proposal on how to govern principalities that live under the Prince’s rule. He suggested that the best solutions are to destroy it or to live with it. Lelouch, as a realist and as a man who wants an immediate result, performed the first option. Hence, Lelouch is both a destroyer and a creator.

SYNTHESIS

Leo Strauss, in What is Political Philosophy?, argued that Machiavelli was the founder of modern political philosophy since he did broke from the traditional notion of philosophy. Morever, Strauss posited that Machiavelli’s work is based on a critique of religion and a critique of morality.

“Morality rests on immorality, justice rests on injustice…. Man is not by nature directed toward virtue.”[3]

Lelouch is a realist like Machiavelli. He even argued that the world cannot be changed by charisma and pretty words alone. In fact, he stated that he must be a greater evil in order to conquer the present evil in his world.

Code Geass is an eye-opening anime for those aspiring to lead. However, amidst its amorality, the anime teaches us that all of us are driven by a certain good, probably for our own interest and altruism to those who are special to us. Hence, the anime implies a simple bottomline for its audience. Simply, there are intentions that are good; however, amidst their goodness, in reality, we are not capable of achieving it through virtue. There are times that we must take the path of the lesser evil. Enjoy!

About the Author

Brian Doce is an anime fan who aspires to be a member of the academe, to be a lawyer, and to be a businessman. He is a political science student in the University of Santo Tomas.


[1] Andrea Rubery, “Machiavelli”, in An Invitation to Political Thought, ed. K.L. Deutsch and J.R. Fernieri (Belmont: Thomson Wadswort, 2009)

[2] Joseph V. Femia, “Machiaelli”, in Political Thinkers from Socrates to Present, ed. David Boucher and Paul Kelly Second Edition (New York: Oxford Publishing Press, 2009)

[3] Leo Strauss, What is Political Philosophy? (Illinois: Free Press, 1959): 40-41

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4 thoughts on “Lelouch: A Machiavellian Analysis

  1. Interesting post – the comparison between Lelouch and Machiavelli is an original take on things. You may find Clausewitz’s Strategic Theory interesting to look at and compare it with some other anime.

  2. Interesting. A few questions on the proofs though:

    1 How exactly does

    “The Black Knights benefited greatly because of the abilities of Lelouch. He was a good tactician and strategist, could predict the future moves of his opponents, and could foresee the probable outcomes of his decisions. Lastly, the mystical powers of Geass played a vital role in his quest.”

    prove that Lelouch followed the principle

    “A wise prince must provide in such a way that, in whatever circumstances, the citizens will always be in need of him and his government.”

    ?

    The former talks about benefits while the latter talks about need…? (I think a better example would be the last two episodes of R1…?)

    2 What exactly do the three basic propositions (or assumptions maybe?) have to do with the rest of the article? Take the second, for instance, Lelouch actually seems to violate the second (unproved) proposition based on what he did at the end of R2…?

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