“The 48 Laws of Power”: Robert Greene’s Recipe for Power, Greed and Misery

“The 48 Laws of Power” is a 1998 book by Robert Greene, a best-seller, and a re-packaging of ideas from multiple sources, including “The Prince” and “The Art of War.” Those who wonder why it is that certain sub-cultures in the United States—business, Hollywood, the entertainment industry, politics, finance— appear to be incurably cynical, amoral, corrupt and untrustworthy would do well to read it, provided they are able to resist being persuaded by its brutal philosophy.

Greene, who has other similarly-oriented best-selling books on business success, is considered a guru by the music industry, and has been embraced with special enthusiasm by hip-hop moguls. What is remarkable about his 48 laws is how completely they discard all ethical virtues, as if fairness, honesty, integrity, responsibility, respect and trustworthiness were irrelevant to the topic of power. In fact, the five most important laws of power are…

1. You must prove your worthiness to hold power by your manner of acquiring it.

2. Power without competence, wisdom and good will lead to tragedy.

3. Do not use power to restrict the welfare, autonomy, freedom, and pleasure of  others, but to enhance them.

4. Regard power as a means, not an end.

5. When retaining power itself becomes the goal, it is time to surrender it. Continue reading