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The 48 Laws of Power Essay


The 48 Laws of power is an important text in examining power relations in the contemporary society. The author drew insights from historical accounts spanning thousands of years by examining the attitudes and practices of leaders towards the exercise of power. In this commonplace text, I will examine a few laws and discuss to enhance my understanding of the concepts contained in the book.

Law 1: Never outshine your master.
Greene urges his readers to always ensure they do not cause those above them to feel fear and insecurity. In addition, he highlights the importance of making those above someone to feel they are more brilliant (Greene 1). The statement observes the innate human feeling of jealousy that would cause harm to a person.

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Law 2: Never put too much trust in friends, learn to use enemies
Greene advises his readers to be careful about their friends because they are likely to experience envy against them. The confidence that people have in friends may make a person oblivious to the treachery they can cause (Greene 8). Instead, it is better for a person to place his trust in a former enemy because they will be cautious about relying on them.

Law 3: Conceal your intentions
Greene outlines the importance of being strategic in what one does. Ensuring that other people do not know about one’s plans is integral in preventing them from manipulating them (Greene 16). The approach is particularly useful in overcoming the evil plans of opponents.

Law 6: Court attention at all costs
Greene notes that human beings are inclined to judge everything based on its appearance. As a result, he suggests that people should be concerned about how they appear (Greene 44). He advises his readers to be conspicuous so that they are able to maintain the attention of others.

⦁ Attention-the focus of a person on someone
⦁ Autonomy- the freedom to exercise decision-making away from another person’s influence
⦁ Conceal-hide from others
⦁ Conspiracy- a secretive plan to act against the interest of an individual or group of people
⦁ Deceive- use cunning to misinform others
⦁ Defense-protection against threats
⦁ Enemy-someone you believe has ill will against you.
⦁ Emperor- A supreme leader of a kingdom, considered more powerful than other Kings
⦁ Fear- sense of anxiety over a potential adverse outcome.
⦁ Friend-someone you have placed in your confidence
⦁ Faith- confidence in someone or something without requiring any proof
⦁ Lure- trick someone into doing what you want
⦁ Loyal-a person that is committed to the well-being of a person.
⦁ Off-balance-state of confusion
⦁ Power –authority
⦁ Master- a person in a superior position to another
⦁ Territory-a jurisdiction defined by boundaries
⦁ Trust- confidence in another person
⦁ Tyrannical- a person that acts in a vicious and cruel manner.
⦁ Pride- Sense of self-importance
⦁ Rebel- act against the acceptable way of doing things in a society
⦁ Rank- position in a hierarchical governance structure in a society
⦁ Reputation- the perception that other people have about someone
⦁ Rule- the capacity to exercise power over a Kingdom
⦁ Slander- malicious attacks against an individual
⦁ Subject- people within the jurisdiction of a King, ruler or emperor
⦁ Soldiers- individuals with the mandate to protect the kingdom and maintain law and order
⦁ Intentions- the objectives of a person
⦁ Wealth-the cumulative material possessions of a person
⦁ Vanity- excessive belief in one’s abilities and value

The application of the first law is evident in the example of Nicolas Fouquet who served as the Finance Minister for the King. He was a generous person who attracted the attention of beautiful women and had a lot of social influence due to his lavish parties. He was considered a clever and indispensable person to the King. However, after the Prime Minister, Jules Mazarin died, the King chose to abolish the position instead of appointing him. He organized an extravagant party in an attempt to win the confidence of the King. However, the fact that it was much praised made the King to arrest him and send him to an isolated prison. The interpretation of this term is that the King was a proud man who wanted to be the only center of attention within his Kingdom.

The second law is evident in the selection of Basilus to advice Michael, the emperor of Macedonia. Basilus gradually accumulated wealth and power (Greene 10). In the end, he watched as soldiers killed the emperor and took control of the Kingdom.

The application of the third law is evident in the advice offered by Ninon de Linclos to Marquis de Sevigne. He taught him to feign disinterest in the countess that he was seeking. He was able to successfully indicate that he did not want the countess, making her fall into his spell. However, this spell was broken when he found himself acting on his impulse.

‘In seduction, you need to create tension and suspense, a feeling that with you nothing is predictable’ (Greene 245).

President Donald Trump has successfully courted attention since he announced his campaign for the presidency. The sixth law outlines the importance of ensuring that a person dominates the conservations and plans of others. He has said and tweeted things that are designed to provoke the reaction of his audience. The approach and his clever appeal to nationalism has played a critical role in enabling him to not only win the Presidency of the United States, but also dominate politics in the West.
‘Communication is a power of intensity, not extensity and numbers. In trying to widen your appeal you will substitute quality for quantity and you will pay the price.’ (50 Cent & Greene 198).

President Trump understands the importance of intense communication. His communication style enables him to differentiate himself from the politically correct political class and enhances his emotional connection with his core constituency. Consequently, effective communication involves the identification of the themes and styles that will trigger the response of the target audience.

The readings on the laws of power have offered important insights about how individuals can access and maintain power. Exercising power in the contemporary society requires an understanding of the latent needs of an individual and the factors that influence them. The work of an individual has a consequential effect on their processing of the lived experiences. I have learnt to be deliberate in my quest for influence and social advantage over others. The cultural phenomenon, Game of Thrones, has demonstrated the importance of these laws of power in enabling individuals to take advantage of events in their social-cultural environment to advance their agenda. Figure 2 demonstrates two of the characters in the show who demonstrate a mastery of the laws of power discussed in this paper. Lord Baelish stated, ‘always keep your foes confused, if they are never certain who you are or what you want, they cannot know what you are likely to do next.’ (A wiki of Fire and ice). The statement is consistent with the third law of power.

To sum up, effective communication requires the use of bold statements that are designed to provoke a reaction from a person. However, individuals should ensure they are deliberate and creative in their quest for power. The learning experience has provided tools and instruments that can be used to access, exercise and maintain power.

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Works Cited
A wiki of fire and ice. ‘Petyr Baelish.’ Awoif.com, https://awoiaf.westeros.org/index.php/Petyr_Baelish. Accessed 15 April 2019.
50, Cent, and Robert Greene. 50th Law. Profile Books, 2010.
Greene, Robert. The 48 Laws of Power. London: Profile Books, 2000.
Greene, Robert. The Art of Seduction. London: Profile Books, 2001
Higgins, Tucker. ‘Donald Trump encourages France to use ‘flying water tankers’ as Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral remains engulfed in flames.’ CNBC.com, Donald Trump encourages France to use ‘flying water tankers’ as Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral remains engulfed in flames. Accessed 15 April 2019.

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