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The 48 Laws of Power

An influential book, “The 48 Laws of Power” is raising awareness on how to gain and maintain power over others. CNN just did a special on their website in which NBA center Andrew Bynum was quoted as saying that he read and loved the book. Also, rapper 50 Cent has just co-authored “The 50th Law” as a sequel to the book.

The book was written in 1998 by Robert Greene & Joost Elffers. It includes ideas followed by P.T. Barnum, Henry Kissinger, and Al Capone, to name a few. Greene also claims that he took lessons from 4000 years in history. Greene blames our quest for power and the manipulations used to get on it on our DNA. He says that “we want to believe that we have descended from angels when we have actually descended from primates.”

To elaborate a bit on this, it simply means that for years we have tried to explain that humans are especially moral, when in reality we have evolved from animals. All animals use struggles for power and ways to maintain this power to set up a hierarchy and maintain order. It would make sense for humans to follow this same pattern, which Greene argues is imprinted on our DNA.

The authors have taken an amoral view of the world. Rather than saying certain actions or laws are good, bad or otherwise, the book just lays them out with real-world examples. By writing in this style, the authors leave it to the readers to make their own moral judgement about the law and whether they should be followed or not. This sort of style could be tough to read at times, but at the end it encourages discussion and deeper thought.

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