48 Laws of Power
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We are used to depend on other people’s help; that somebody will come and assist us with our problems and answer all our questions. That means that we do not trust our own inner wisdom and with that give away our own power. Thus, my law of power would be to speak with authority to those people who appear to have any type of insecurity or confusion. Not depending on their own self in identifying the most sensible answers to complex questions, people direct their attention to experts, like doctors, psychologists, lawyers, politicians, astrologists, and psychics. Such a tendency has long-rooted history and physiological causes understanding of which can bring power to manipulate and control others.
Three thousand years ago, majority of people yet had the dominance of mental faculty that some researchers (Sharpe 119) named ‘reactive mind.’ Their ‘analytical mind’ was at its infancy and developing rapidly with those who learned to use language analogy, a form of logical inference which compared or contrasted things that are unlike by nature. Such development or production of linguistic forms and patterns propelled the enlargement of their analytical mind that we, today, call consciousness. The increase (relatively speaking of capacity) of the size of analytical mind rendered the size (or capacity) of the reactive mind smaller. When the reactive part of the human mind dominated, people reacted (versus analyzed it) to their environment. Their left brain hemisphere translated the images of the environment that were absorbed through their sensory perception into the language commands that people of that era ‘heard’ spoken within their heads and interpreted those as voices of ‘gods.’ Thus, over the 60,000 years of language development, they learned to obey the external authorities.
With the human evolution well under its way from the Homo Reactive to Homo Rational, there were people whose development was faster through the extensive use of analogies. Many of those “lucky” ones sooner discovered that they had an immense advantage: they could deceive. Homo Reactive lacked in that ability for they could not use analogies, thus they could not infer nor lie. The power of deceit was used to lead masses after the external authority, since many were still under impression that they had to obey the external authorities. Jesus, the God-Man, was there to accelerate the evolution of those masses by preaching to them in hyperbolas and teaching them to pray: to look within and to divert their attention away and from the external authority. Unfortunately, St. Augustine utilizing his immense influence over the newly born church gave church fathers an idea of how to usurp masses by the power of organized religion using the deceit behind the concept of guilt (Raeder). Thus, masses followed the external voice of power that was not from God but was from men who learned to manipulate them through that weakness.
Adapting major tenets from Plato and later from St. Augustine, those who learned the mastery of deceit gained power over the masses for the next two thousand years. That worked because the masses allowed to be deceived for they were infected with the virus of Plato and St. Augustine that spoke of the need to obey the external authorities. Most (if not all) governments of today operate through the same schema. There were those who picked up on the logical implications of this phenomenon, like Florentine philosopher Niccolo Machiavelli who tried to codify ‘the nature of power.’ His work, entitled Prince was not accepted well by the public and was denounced as the devil’s work (Colish 1151). Today, American author Robert Greene attempted to gain ‘advantage’ by publishing, this time to the masses, the authoritative-sound commands, he called ‘lows of power.’ There is no argument that some ‘laws’ will work and become effective. Deceit always worked to grant a situational advantage over other people or circumstances. Some of Greene’s ‘laws’ picked up on the same pattern of mass control: seeking to obey the external authority.
What was (and still is) the purpose of deceit? Why people are looking for these ‘laws’ of power? The answer is plain at sight. It is to gain an advantage over others. Advantage is thought to be needed to improve personal economics and financial value. It is for those who mistakenly see financial gain as the sole purpose of their journey. But is it really? There were a lot of wealthy men who realized that wealth did not bring the happiness they expected. There were also those who used their following to increase the sense of personal power. Napoleon Bonaparte was an enlighten man in that regard. He said, “All my life I thrived for money and power just to fathom that those are an illusion.” (Méneval 322). He was the one who from early on realized that speaking with authority would have men follow him to the end.
There is no doubt that most ‘laws’ are relevant today as they were 1000 years ago. The masterful collection of patterns that gained advantage to the beholders is just that: the collection of existent patterns based on the human nature of Homo Reactive and that of Homo Rational with ingrated virus of Plato and St. Augustine. Still today, there is no doubt, that if people follow these ‘laws’ they will gain that advantage; they even will become ‘privileged’ within our societies, but at what cost? Would you or me like the bitterness of realization of “All my life I thrived for money and power just to fathom that those are an illusion?” Can we imagine many attempt to create authority and learn how to be and sound authoritative just to gain the following power? Certainly, one cannot deny that influencing the audience with his or her authoritative voice and manners has powerful effect. We know many who learned and used their authoritative mannerism to bring their followers to the brink of destruction.
Among those were people who have risen to limitless power through the use of their orator ship (i.e. Hitler, Lenin) and those who commanded armies and made mistakes (i.e. Potemkin, Napoleon Bonaparte). But what about those people who would transgress to the pattern of the masses to desire following the authority? From historical accounts we can learn that Dr. Martin Luther King, although he was a great orator, did not speak with authority, nor encouraged people to follow him. He tried to empower his listeners by suggesting to them to “Seek the wisdom within.” His famous speech began with “I had a dream…” not with “I will tell you what to do.” Unlike his antagonist Malcolm X, Dr. Martin Luther King never gave the direct orders nor encouraged people to disobey authorities. And yet he had as much power as Malcolm X, the one who could command his ‘army’ without an uttering a single word.
It appears that the fabric of power that connected these two different men was of different nature. Both had an immense influence on their followers, both were respected, but Malcolm X was feared while Dr. King was admired. Neither of these powers had an element of money for money was a goal for neither of them. Both men obtained that power with orator ship skills that were promising people to solve their problems. Thus, by analysis, I come to the same core of my power law: “Speak with authority to those who insecure and confused.” When one will do so the people will perceive the power that person holds and they will surrender their own power to him (or her).
The whole question lies then within the definition of the word ‘power’ in this context. If one equates the power with financial advantage over others then Greene’s laws of power would be in parallel with his or her convictions. If another perceives the power from the point of view of producing a great influence to others because of the inner convictions that he or she wants to follow then that person can equate self with Dr. Martin Luther King, Gandhi, Mother Theresa, Jon A Dark, and others alike.
Thus, my law of power will make a constructive sense only when the person utilizing it has a moral right to bring authority on to others, whose purpose is clear off the personal gains and who consistently and selflessly thinks of his or her followers’ advancement.
Colish, Marcia L. “Machiavelli’s ‘Art of War’: A Reconsideration.” Renaissance Quarterly 51.4 (1998): 1151. Questia. 28 June 2007 <http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=5001404871>.
Machiavelli, NiccolÒ. The Prince. Trans. Peter Bondanella and Mark Musa. Ed. Peter Bondanella. Oxford: Oxford University, 1998. Questia. 28 June 2007 <http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=97573377>.
Méneval, Claude-François De. Memoirs Illustrating the History of Napoleon I from 1802 to 1815. Ed. Napoleon Joseph De Méneval. Vol. 3. New York: D. Appleton, 1894. Questia. 28 June 2007 <http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=65474060>.
Raeder, Linda C. “Augustine and the Case for Limited Government.” Humanitas 16.2 (2003): 94+. Questia. 28 June 2007 <http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=5008316646>.