80 pages 2 hours read

Robert Greene

The 48 Laws Of Power

Nonfiction | Book | Adult | Published in 1998

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Power as an Amoral Game

In the opening chapter of his book, Greene cites the 19th-century French novelist Honoré de Balzac, who states that “there is no good and bad, there are only circumstances. The superior man espouses events and circumstances in order to guide them” (30). Greene emphasizes that while the naive and idealistic may try to play a straight game guided by honesty and good principles, there will always be those who take advantage of circumstances to gain more influence for themselves. The rest of us must recognize and adopt these more cunning people’s tactics to protect our position and get what we want. Thus, maintaining that power is amoral, Greene goes against the myth promoted by religion and popular culture, that it is paramount to align with truth and goodness because this always triumphs over evil and lies.

As part of this amoral stance, Greene insists that you do not judge people “by their intentions but by the effect of their actions. You measure their strategy and their power by what you can see and feel” (32). In other words, powerful people are not necessarily dreamers with strong ideologies, but those who can influence others to do their bidding.