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Negative strategies to attain success...
on July 4, 2004
In our world of political correctness and appearances, where society is depicted as fair, democratic, at times altruistic and transparent, the reality of the situation is far different. And as Greene proposes, no one wants to be seen as power hungry, and those that do, are generally scorned. Power is a game. And to play this game successfully, duplicity is the key: to win power, we must, on the surface, at least appear to be fair, altruistic and transparent, however we must scheme, manipulate, deceive, charm and seduce, if we are to get what we want...to achieve power, as Napoleon suggested, we should use an iron fist with a velvet glove, smiling as we stab our opponents in the back. Attaining power is war, though according to Greene, a civilized war.
Any person with an essential good nature should find this book a little disturbing. The message from Greene is clear - living the virtuous life is the road to failure and powerlessness. Appealing to the better angels of our natures is a lost cause and will get us nowhere but the bottom of the food chain. In other words, "nice guys finish last." The only way to the top is through treachery, seduction, observing others' weaknesses to then play on those weaknesses to your advantage. Greene's advice is basically a negative strategy to power and success. And to be sure, there are other positive strategies out there to attain power and success without resorting to deception and covert manipulation. But none are presented here.
That said, understanding the 48 laws presented here, at least will make us aware of the depths some people will go to in order to get what they desire. In this regard, this text is worth the time, energy and money.