48 Laws of Power

The 48 Laws of Power

The 48 Laws of Power came from the 1998 British bestselling book of the same title by Robert Greene and Joost Elffers. The authors based their book from the various experiences of adroit power wielders such as Niccolo Machiavelli, Catherine the Great, Louis XIV, Mao Zedong, Talleyrand, Otto von Bismarck, Haile Selassie and Sun Tzu among others. The main thesis of these laws are primarily Machiavellian, although they likewise find resonance in Sun Tzu's Art of War. Interestingly, much of these laws also get inspiration from Greene's works on modern courtship theory and dating models. The book is said to be amoral in approach (read: leaving the reader to weigh the ethical implications of these laws), as it adopts much of Machiavelli's pragmatic attitudes towards the acquisition and utilization of power.

INSIGHTS: The book is very pragmatic. Choose what law works. These laws, which are actually tips, will be very useful in getting one's agenda. And they reinforce one another -- one law builds on the other, so on and so forth. The proper use of these laws will really get us enough social power. However, human beings are not amoral beings. So we need to be ethical in the acquisition, utilization and application of power. The English Lord Acton (1834–1902) first expressed his opinion in his letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton in 1887: "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely!" Earlier, the Earl William Pitt who served as the British Prime Minister from 1776-1778 also said in similar tone: "Unlimited power is apt to corrupt the minds of those who possess it!" Even Spiderman (2000) declared: "With power comes great responsibility!" So it's interesting to note how the British authors of the book ignored the ancient British virtues of Lord Acton and Earl Pitt, by going to the Italian Machiavelli and Chinese Sun Tzu!

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 cult-like 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 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.