Sunday, February 7, 2010

Caveat Lectores on The 48 Laws of Power

Recently this Lector came upon a book called The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene and Joost Elffers. The book shares certain elements with Niccolò Machiavelli's The Prince and has been compared to Sun-Tzu's classic treatise The Art of War. I referred to all this in a previous Rant and my incomparable book on successful union leadership which is still in print and available.

Mr. Greene uses historical anecdotes from figures such as Mao Tse-Tung, Haile Selassie, Louis XIV, Charles Talleyrand, Otto von Bismarck, Catherine the Great and even con artists to illustrate the relevance. The rules as set out in the book seem a bit amoral leaving me to weigh the ethical implications of the “laws.”

Remember, I teach Management Ethics at the local university. I must be careful should I seem to endorse the tactics discussed. In the weeks and months to come, Caveat Lectores will explore the very cynical 48 Laws of Power.

Law 1: Never Outshine The Master
Law 2: Never Put Too Much Trust In Friends, Learn How To Use Enemies
Law 3: Conceal Your Intentions
Law 4: Always Say Less Than Necessary
Law 5: So Much Depends On Reputation – Guard It With Your Life
Law 6: Court Attention At All Cost
Law 7: Get Others To Do The Work For You, But Always Take The Credit
Law 8: Make Other People Come To You – Use Bait If Necessary
Law 9: Win Through Your Actions, Never Through Argument
Law 10: Infection: Avoid The Unhappy And Unlucky
Law 11: Learn To Keep People Dependent On You
Law 12: Use Selective Honesty And Generosity To Disarm Your Victim
Law 13: When Asking For Help, Appeal To People’s Self-Interest, Never To Their Mercy Or Gratitude
Law 14: Pose As A Friend, Work As A Spy
Law 15: Crush Your Enemy Totally
Law 16: Use Absence To Increase Respect And Honor
Law 17: Keep Others In Suspended Terror: Cultivate An Air Of Unpredictability
Law 18: Do Not Build Fortresses To Protect Yourself – Isolation Is Dangerous
Law 19: Know Who You’re Dealing With – Do Not Offend The Wrong Person
Law 20: Do Not Commit To Anyone
Law 21: Play A Sucker To Catch A Sucker – Seem Dumber Than Your Mark
Law 22: Use The Surrender Tactic: Transform Weakness Into Power
Law 23: Concentrate Your Forces
Law 24: Play The Perfect Courtier
Law 25: Re-Create Yourself
Law 26: Keep Your Hands Clean
Law 27: Play On People’s Need To Believe To Create A Cultlike Following
Law 28: Enter Action With Boldness
Law 29: Plan All The Way To The End
Law 30: Make Your Accomplishments Seem Effortless
Law 31: Control The Options: Get Others To Play With The Cards You Deal
Law 32: Play To People’s Fantasies
Law 33: Discover Each Man’s Thumbscrew
Law 34: Be Royal In Your Own Fashion: Act Like A King To Be Treated Like One
Law 35: Master The Art Of Timing
Law 36: Disdain Things You Cannot Have: Ignoring Them Is The Best Revenge
Law 37: Create Compelling Spectacles
Law 38: Think As You Like But Behave Like Others
Law 39: Stir Up Waters To Catch Fish
Law 40: Despise The Free Lunch
Law 41: Avoid Stepping Into A Great Man’s Shoes
Law 42: Strike The Shepherd And The Sheep Will Scatter
Law 43: Work On The Hearts And Minds Of Others
Law 44: Disarm And Infuriate With The Mirror Effect
Law 45: Preach The Need For Change, But Never Reform Too Much At Once
Law 46: Never Appear Too Perfect
Law 47: Do Not Go Past The Mark You Aimed For; In Victory, Learn When To Stop
Law 48: Assume Formlessness

Some critics of the Caveat Lectores approach would say that you cannot study yourself to success and greatness. I say ignorance prevents potentially great people from reaching any semblance of success. We must learn so we can accomplish.

And oh yes, have a nice Day?


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