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Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Laws of Power (11)

My son Alton and I are reading Robert Greene’s The 48 Laws of Power and sharing our responses to the readings.

Robert Greene’s 11th law of power is: Learn to Keep People Dependent on You.  To maintain your independence you must always be needed and wanted.  The more you are relied on, the more freedom you have.  Make people depend on you for their happiness and prosperity and you have nothing to fear.  Never teach them enough so that they can do without you.

In the closing of the chapter Mr. Greene writes:  Better to place yourself in a position of mutual dependence…You will not have the unbearable pressure of being on top, and the master above you will in essence be your slave.  This seems to be the constant dream of this author, finding a means to control others to the point of slavery.  But Greene also recognizes that being too greedy for direct control can be disastrous.  Such all-out efforts to gain control are often counterproductive.  A lesson learned time and again is not so much that absolute power corrupts absolutely, but that absolute power is always rendered short-lived and less than absolute through the actions of economic, political, and social forces beyond one’s control.  Mutual dependence and impinging constraints rather than complete independence and absolute freedom is virtually always the way things settle out in the end.  The dream of absolute control to the point of making others your slave is fully realized only in the fantasies of myopic self-interest.

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