"The world is the will to power"— Nietzsche
I. Why Learn the 48 Laws of Power?
I once overheard a drunk on the subway shout at another passenger: “If you ain’t got my money, fool, I can’t hear ya! Because— men tell lies . . . women tell lies . . . numbers tell truths!”
In vino veritas!
Indeed, the numbers tell the following incredible story:
The average lifespan is roughly 27,000 days.
Because Nature imposes the “Sleep Tax Bill,” one-third of the sands stuffed in each hourglass has to be forked over to the cousin of death.
That leaves us 18,000 days.
Work → commute to work . . . eating → bowel movements . . . and so on snag away about another 8,000 days.
Between birthday and death-day, at best, we each get about 10,000 days before finally twirling into the Reaper’s grim arms.
In short, dear reader, why reading what follows is important can be boiled down to this equation:
Knowledge is Power + money is Power + time is Money = knowing this will be time well spent!
II. Law #2: Never Put Too Much Trust in Friends
Years ago my uncle Mike randomly asked, "Nephew, do you know what's the most dangerous thing in the world?"
I offered a shoulder shrug as my response.
"The most dangerous thing in the whole wide world," he said, "is a fake friend!"
Take a glance at the beginning of the most famous book in history, and both this law and my uncle's sage insight will become apparent.
After all, according to the Bible: Lucifer was initially an "archangel"—that is, he was God’s roommate in Heaven!
As you may well know, the Devil tried to backstab God and consequently got himself evicted from the Pearly Gates!”
“How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!—Isaiah 14:12
Of course, for those well-versed in Scripture, it's apparent the consequences incurred from violating this law forms the very theme of the Bible!”
Shortly after Lucifer went from being an archangel to a devil, there’s the infamous tale of Cain and Abel.
Ahhh, it was cold-blooded how Cain murdered in cold blood his own blood brother Abel. Speaking of "cold-blooded," perhaps the coldest biblical tale of all occurred in the New Testament.
Chew on this:
Jesus of Nazareth helped Judas turn his life around. … And then, Judas turns around and turns on the Christ by turning him in to the arresting Roman soldiers.
It was Jesus' own disciple, then, who ultimately led the Lamb to the slaughter:
Ahhh, but the Romans themselves were afflicted with this peculiar case in which history repeats itself. After all, Brutus extended his left hand to hug his best friend Julius Caesar. And then, Brutus took his right hand and stabbed his right-hand man right in the back . . . literally!
"Et tu, Brute?" Pic: Wikimedia Commons
Takeaway Insight #1:
"Lord, protect me from my friends," cried Voltaire; "I can take care of my enemies." Indeed, this law merely lies rooted in the principle friends make the worst enemies. The reason being, so-called ‘friends,’ unlike enemies, know all my secrets.
In short, having friends around is good, but being your own best friend is great! After all, your arms are far too short to stab yourself in the back.
III. Law 4: Always Say Less than Necessary
A classic scene from the film The Godfather best captures the spirit of this law. And as you’ll notice, this law is merely a natural consequence of the previous law.
Don Corleone is seated with his son, Santino, who is in line to succeed his father as the head of the family. Another person of power, a guy named Sollozzo, attends this important business meeting.
Sollozzo — a somewhat rival — offers a proposition. Don Corleone, however, armed with insight respectfully declines.
Santino, fired with the passion of youth, blurts out: “So you’re telling me that if the Tatalias guarantee our investment — ”
Don Corleone winces while shushing his reckless son. Indeed, the Don is seething but waits until escorting the visitor out before pouncing on his unruly lad.
The Don then spoonfeeds his son some invaluable vitamins for thought:
What’s the matter with you? [. . .] Never let anyone outside the family know what you’re thinking!
Takeaway Insight #2:
“Nature does nothing without a purpose,” said Aristotle, the very man who discovered everything from biology to logic.
Indeed, had Mother Nature wanted her human children to habitually “think out loud,” couldn’t she have — in all her majesty — saw it fit to achieve such an end?
But she didn’t!
It’s no accident it’s impossible to know what another person is thinking, that is, without their permission. Thinking is therefore the ultimate “private conversation.” Once such thoughts have been voiced, however, they become open to public record.
In short, wisdom dictates being careful with your words, for once blurted, they can be only forgiven, not forgotten.
IV. In Closing
“There is nothing either good or bad,” said Shakespeare, “but thinking makes it so.” Hence power in itself is like fire:
It has the capacity to both cook Gordon Ramsey’s Beef Wellington and cook him, too.
For the above reason, mastery of The 48 Laws of Power requires a certain maturity of mind. So long as the reader keeps this in view, this classic book will serve you well.
Take for instance the famed ninth law: “Win through actions, never through argument.” If applied correctly, this law will give you immense power.
On the other hand, the seventh law—“Get others to do the work for you, but take the credit”—amounts to not only terrible advice but dangerous, too!
Imagine a high school student attempting to apply such an absurd law. Surely, cheating on a fellow student’s exam is what’s known as taking a dime upfront instead of a dollar in the end. In other words, it’ll cost you big time in the long run.
Here's a rule of thumb:
If the law feels overly Machiavellian, brush it aside!
In short, like most things in life, mastery of The 48 Laws of Power works best when treated like dining at a buffet: pick and choose which food for thought best suits you.