The concepts of power, seduction and war are almost completely intertwined. That inbred desire to be the only voice of command, have the world fall at your feet, and use the masses to the fulfilment of your will against theirs more or less. The need to be ultimately desirable by all, manipulate the cards to always be in your favour, and create an air of mystery around you. Finally, taking it all by force. Coercing your rivals and opponents to be on your side or no side, winning by fair play or violence, and taking all you want when you want it through organised warfare.
Robert Greene’s first three books – The 48 laws of power, The art of Seduction, and The 33 strategies of War – are centred on these concepts. With ample human illustrations of the ultimate deceivers, seducers, and strategists of all time; each book sucks you into a realm of wonderful possibilities. Simply put, the world is ruled by mighty sirens, courtiers, diplomats, manipulators, liars, sometimes killers, and you can be one too.
While Robert Greene has been countlessly chastised by one too many people – for apparent reasons, there are few devil’s advocates’ that would reason with the author’s perspective. Without coming across as cynical, I believe that technically things like possessing utmost power, amplifying certain attributes to dissuade others, or having a will to be at war, do not qualify as noble attributes. In other words, these theories cannot be presented in any better way as the basis of the concepts themselves are bad.
However, in a post by ‘The Telegraph’, Robert Greene sort of explained that he is not a monster – so to speak.
“Everyone assumes I practise all of my own laws but I don’t. I think anybody who did would be a horrible ugly person to be around.”
“When I say ‘Crush your enemy’, I don’t literally mean it. I’m talking about the way large companies deal with each other, for example in technology it’s a dog-eat-dog environment. These laws are not for Joe Schmo who’s got a colleague he doesn’t like”
In all honesty, there is a larger than life reality that surround these books. The Sunday Times explained that The 48 Laws of Power has become the “Hollywood back-stabber’s bible”, but even before these laws were given names, they were already being performed unconsciously or consciously. Seduction has been on since before Robert Greene divided humans into Rakes, Sirens, or Dandies. However, it is apparent that even the author does not subscribe to most of the brutality he presented in these books.
First, all the top names – Napoleon Bonaparte, Niccolò Machiavelli, Bill Gates, John F. Kennedy, Cleopatra, Queen Elizabeth I, Giacomo Casanova, Henry Ford, Margaret Thatcher, and the other living or dead billionaires and legends – were distributed amongst all the laws and principles unevenly. Meaning, there was no one person who actually did all of it. Next, all but one of the laws in the 48 laws of power have reversals. Hence, they could all work against you.
Your seductive powers can fail you. A very satisfied and happy person may be unresponsive to your game – no matter how good you are. Even all the forms of warfare may just have you shooting yourself in the leg. These concepts are as good as they are flawed. While they can come in handy at certain junctures to aid in the making of some important decisions, they might just be the exact things that nip you right in the bud.
Robert Greene has a thing for controversy and while some of it might be true, certain coincidences may have been drafted as stone cold rational human behaviours. My advice? Read these books to learn these theories so nobody can use them against you. However, use them sparingly or you would only be digging holes for yourself.