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The 48 Laws Of Power – Robert Greene (Review)

Book

I’ve been reading this book on productivity and success, called the “48 laws of power” by Robert Greene. I am about halfway trough the book right now and I’ve realized in the first twenty pages that it was very manipulative.

I’ve decided to read it anyway as knowledge of any kind is valuable (IMO). What I’ve read in the book has really disturbed me. The book doesn’t contain any morality and even encourages the readers to wrong others. The advice the writer gives goes against many principles I stand for.

Some of the “laws of power” mentioned in this book;

  • Take credit for the work of others
  • Keep people dependent on you
  • Pose as a friend, work as a spy

Needless to say I don’t recommend this book. I actually found it quite surprising since his other book “mastery” was actually relly interesting and has added great value to my life.

Morality?

This book isn’t the only place I see these behaviors; In the media and the world around me, I see it almost daily. When you are in traffic you have people honking and shouting at each other, people in politics are rude and manipulative, people looking down upon others in the street, judging others constantly, being self-centered, lies, corruption, greed,.. .

I’ve found this very conflicting with the values I stand for in in my life. It made me wonder what the true nature of man is. Are we naturally good or evil? If we weren’t conditioned by law, would we become good or bad? And IF we are inherently bad, what is the origin of that? Is it needed for basic survival or was it caused by our society? Or another reason?

I know this is a controversial topic that can be approached from allot of different points of view. Either you belief in the basic kindness of mankind and know that you’ll eventually reap what you sow (he way I’m trying to see it). And so you act from the heart everyday. You are peaceful, happy and kind. You are a light that illuminates the lives of others.

Or you can be rational about it and say that it necessary in dealing with people. When you are nice all the time, others will take advantage of that. They will walk over you and treat you as inferior. So you need to build up a protective layer to block you off from the influences of others.

Success?

Image I belief that people have taken this a step to far. They have become disconnected from their heart to much and only
act from their heads. This is partially conditioned by our society. We are taught to be very analytic, effective and practical if we ever want to be successful. We lack creativity, freedom, passion and heart. I belief – as with all things – that a balance is needed. You need both ends to complete each other.
How else can we know what is right if we don’t know what is wrong?

But I do think that people have overbalanced it in the wrong way. They are motivated by greed and power. They think it is necessary for success. I choose not to believe so.

What is “success” anyway? How can we define this? When you see a rich, popular businessman passing by in his 200 000$ sports car, is that your reflection of success?I don’t define success as high status, wealth, luxury. I define it by the degree of fulfillment and enjoyment in my life. The pursuit of my passions and the love i get from others.

Disconnected

I sometimes get the feeling that our world is getting emptier every day. People are so distant from others. Living their lives separated instead of living it together. They think from the head only and have lost their connection to the heart. Love and kindness feels forced and fake in my eyes. When was the last time you did something for someone else without expecting anything in return? (I’ve touched upon this subject in “we are all connected“)

I don’t believe people are evil. I just can’t see the world in that way. It would prevent the positive mental attitude I try to maintain. I accept some immoral acts are in place for basic survival. But where do we draw that line? What is moral and what isn’t? And who decides this line?

Essence

I don’t think there are people who are evil down to the core. We aren’t corrupted by nature.
People are social creatures who long for acceptance and love no matter who they are. We all need it, but can become sidetracked from the truth very easily. We lose our identity when we try to fit in society. I encourage you to become connected to the values and morals you want to live by. I belief this is an important aspect of lasting happiness. (You can read more about this in how to live more consciously”)

The values I stand for are; love, justice, honesty, integrity, empathy, strength and optimism (I count that as a value). Recently I’ve been trying to live more from the heart by meditating (zen meditation), spreading positivity and light. I think this is necessary for achieving the life I envision.

That’s just my two cents on morality for today :D. I know there is a allot more to say about this topic and I’ve barely scratched the surface. But i’m sure I’ll touch upon it another time.

I hope you’ve found it useful and applicable in your daily life! If you have any thoughts or questions on this topic (or something random to say) Feel free to share that with me in the comment section below!
Take care!

Love

Simon

 

Tags : BookBuddhismHappinnessMeditationMoralityPhysical HealthRobert Greene

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4 Comments

  1. Hey Evan,

    I actually totally agree with your comment. Every single part of it. Thanks for taking the time to write an extensive opinion on this dated article man :) (I think it’s one of the first ones I’ve written)

    I’ve recently (6-8 months) ago re-read the book (not the interviews) and re-evaluated the messages and concluded;

    There are people who manipulate and play games. Be sure to spot these out from the crowd by learning their tricks and protecting yourself by not being ignorant!

    Do you recommend a interview of Robert Greene? I’d like to get some deeper insight into this.

    + I also believe some lessons can be used as good advice to protect you from malicious intent;

    1. Don’t make people jealous, they want to feel secure and confident (friends, family, …)
    2. Friends will never be 100% open in order to avoid arguments/hurt (especially emotional types)
    3. Don’t explain too much of your plans to someone you don’t trust 100%. Say less than necessary and mostly let others do the talking.

  2. Sorry, I thought you were hiding the comments because there were none! So I take that part back. But everything else I said, I stand by 100%. This book gets a bad rap because of the style of writing and the historical figures used to illustrate the examples. It is not ‘good’ or ‘evil’, it is just ‘great’ and ‘informative’.

    The way you use this knowledge (or any knowledge) is entirely up to you.

    -E

    1. Hey Evan,

      I actually totally agree with your comment. Every single part of it. Thanks for taking the time to write an extensive opinion on this dated article man :) (I think it’s one of the first ones I’ve written)

      I’ve recently (6-8 months) ago re-read the book (not the interviews) and re-evaluated the messages and concluded;

      There are people who manipulate and play games. Be sure to spot these out from the crowd by learning their tricks and protecting yourself by not being ignorant!

      Do you recommend a interview of Robert Greene? I’d like to get some deeper insight into this.

      + I also believe some lessons can be used as good advice to protect you from malicious intent;

      1. Don’t make people jealous, they want to feel secure and confident (friends, family, …)
      2. Friends will never be 100% open in order to avoid arguments/hurt (especially emotional types)
      3. Don’t explain too much of your plans to someone you don’t trust 100%. Say less than necessary and mostly let others do the talking.
      Among others

      Thanks & take care man,

  3. If you have seen any of Robert Greene’s interviews, you know he isn’t a bad person. If you know anything about how cops are trained, you know that they are taught how to disable and/or kill people. Same with military personnel, but they are taught where to shoot to kill someone, or how to do it with their bare hands, or how to improvise with the things around you to do as much damage as possible. I’d be happy to provide more examples of careers where ‘evil’ advice with ‘no morality’ is taught to people openly, and probably with no judgement at all in your eyes.

    Guns can be used to hurt people, but also to protect people. Knives can help you cut your food up into bite sized chunks, or to murder someone in cold blood. Gold can be used to make jewelry / make things beautiful, to create of electrical components, or it can be used to poison someone via heavy metal toxicity.

    The point I am getting at is this: tools, materials, food, drugs, and pretty much ANYTHING in the world can be used for ‘evil’ purposes, or it can be used to improve lives. The story behind this book (as mentioned in almost every Robert Greene interview) explains the intentions and the reasons he wrote it.

    The short version is that he was living as a writer in Hollywood, and he saw people making power moves on a daily basis. Typically to hurt people, to get people fired (or never hired in the first place), to sabotage someone’s efforts toward a certain goal, etc. He was fascinated by it, but it caused him problems too. He saw similarities between the power moves they were making, the current political atmosphere, and the intense leadership of the famous rulers / dictators in history.

    Contrary to popular belief, ignorance is NOT bliss. Ignorance of what a freeway is doesn’t mean you can walk across one safely. Ignorance of the fact that you can not fly does not make you invincible to gravity. Ignorance to power does not make you impervious to those using THESE techniques to screw you out of what you deserve,

    In fact, you are made more susceptible by classifying it as immoral. Not just that, but you chose three laws with inherently negative implications. What about rule #1 (don’t outshine the master)?

    There is truth and real life applications to EVERY one of these laws. If you use them for nefarious purposes, that is your own thing. I agree, these could be really useful for someone with a hunger for world domination or someone who wants to see people suffer (or whatever other negative goals)…. HOWEVER, knowing the information in this book protects you from those who use it against you.

    Saying “my current belief structure means you shouldn’t read it” (pretty much the point of your ‘review’) doesn’t give any good reasons. What is moral to you is not necessarily a belief to every person on the internet, nor does all of the world think that a peaceful / ‘moral’ society is the thing we should be striving for. People will always do things to hurt other people, whether because of mental illness, an awful childhood, a desire to control your environment, or for dozens of other reasons. To read this book is to learn (as you said), and learning about the tricks of manipulators is to create your own ability to protect yourself.

    I am a good person, probably one who you would consider ‘moral’. I have integrity, I’m an honest person, and I believe in helping people. But I have also experienced what it is like to be screwed over for being perceived as weak. It is an inherent part of being kind and polite naturally. It sucks that is has to be that way, but I am pretty confident that telling the world “just be kind and don’t learn about how people are manipulating you constantly” is going to shift the world in any direction other than giving the ‘evil’ people you talk about more power.

    If I were an ‘evil’ person, I would probably tell you that reading this book is not recommended, because I could keep my secrets quiet while continuing to manipulate you. Therefore I could come to a conclusion that YOU are, in fact, evil.

    But, I don’t believe that is the case, because this short review leads me to believe that you didn’t read very far. Which then leads me to say that you should not be claiming to know the point of the book, nor the overall message in the book. Robert Greene is nothing short of brilliant, and 48 Laws was SO enlightening that I have been recommending it to everyone I know, because I hate to see people fall victim to the assholes in the world. The assholes are not going anywhere, so we need to study how they work and protect ourselves and our children (if we have them or plan to) with the knowledge presented here.

    So I will end this comment (that you are hiding from the world….. somewhat of a power move on your part, controlling any opposition to your opinions AKA censorship) with a quote / proverb / life lesson that is 150% relevant here:

    “Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.” – various people throughout history

    I really hope you will read through to the end and post an actual review, rather than three sentences telling the world to stop preparing for the inevitable ‘evil’ in the world, because YOU think it should be a certain way. The fact is, most people have their actions geared towards good intentions for themselves, and some people are more subversive about attaining their goals. We all need to be aware of this, and not fall prey to those who know how to manipulate us.

    Hope I didn’t offend (too much), this book has improved my life dramatically (and not by manipulation… there are 45 other laws in the book!). I truly hope you give it a real chance and then a real review.

    -E

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