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### Book:Robert Greene
### Book:Joost ElffersPREFACE
### Book:The feeling of having no power over people and events is generally
### Book:unbearable to us—when we feel helpless we feel miserable. No one
### Book:wants less power; everyone wants more. In the world today, however, it
### Book:is dangerous to seem too power hungry, to be overt with your power
### Book:moves. We have to seem fair and decent. So we need to be subtle—
### Book:congenial yet cunning, democratic yet devious.
### Book:This game of constant duplicity most resembles the power dynamic
### Book:that existed in the scheming world of the old aristocratic court.
### Book:Throughout history, a court has always formed itself around the person in
### Book:power—king, queen, emperor, leader. The courtiers who filled this court
### Book:were in an especially delicate position: They had to serve their masters,
### Book:but if they seemed to fawn, if they curried favor too obviously, the other
### Book:courtiers around them would notice and would act against them.
### Book:Attempts to win the master’s favor, then, had to be subtle. And even
### Book:skilled courtiers capable of such subtlety still had to protect themselves
### Book:from their fellow courtiers, who at all moments were scheming to push
### Book:them aside.
### Book:Meanwhile the court was supposed to represent the height of
### Book:civilization and refinement. Violent or overt power moves were frowned
### Book:upon; courtiers would work silently and secretly against any among them
### Book:who used force. This was the courtier’s dilemma: While appearing the
### Book:very paragon of elegance, they had to outwit and thwart their own
### Book:opponents in the subtlest of ways. The successful courtier learned over
### Book:time to make all of his moves indirect; if he stabbed an opponent in the
### Book:back, it was with a velvet glove on his hand and the sweetest of smiles
### Book:on his face. Instead of using coercion or outright treachery, the perfect
### Book:courtier got his way through seduction, charm, deception, and subtle
### Book:strategy, always planning several moves ahead. Life in the court was a
### Book:never-ending game that required constant vigilance and tactical thinking.
### Book:It was civilized war.
### Book:Today we face a peculiarly similar paradox to that of the courtier:
### Book:Everything must appear civilized, decent, democratic, and fair. But if we
### Book:play by those rules too strictly, if we take them too literally, we are
### Book:crushed by those around us who are not so foolish. As the great
### Book:Renaissance diplomat and courtier Niccolò Machiavelli wrote, “Anyman who tries to be good all the time is bound to come to ruin among the
### Book:great number who are not good.” The court imagined itself the pinnacle
### Book:of refinement, but underneath its glittering surface a cauldron of dark
### Book:emotions—greed, envy, lust, hatred—boiled and simmered. Our world
### Book:today similarly imagines itself the pinnacle of fairness, yet the same ugly
### Book:emotions still stir within us, as they have forever. The game is the same.
### Book:Outwardly, you must seem to respect the niceties, but inwardly, unless
### Book:you are a fool, you learn quickly to be prudent, and to do as Napoleon
### Book:advised: Place your iron hand inside a velvet glove. If, like the courtier
### Book:of times gone by, you can master the arts of indirection, learning to
### Book:seduce, charm, deceive, and subtly outmaneuver your opponents, you
### Book:will attain the heights of power. You will be able to make people bend to
### Book:your will without their realizing what you have done. And if they do not
### Book:realize what you have done, they will neither resent nor resist you.
### Book:Courts are, unquestionably, the seats of politeness and good breeding;
### Book:were they not so, they would be the seats of slaughter and desolation.
### Book:Those who now smile upon and embrace, would affront and stab, each
### Book:other, if manners did not interpose….
### Book:LORD CHESTERFIELD, 1694-1773
### Book:To some people the notion of consciously playing power games—no
### Book:matter how indirect—seems evil, asocial, a relic of the past. They believe
### Book:they can opt out of the game by behaving in ways that have nothing to do
### Book:with power. You must beware of such people, for while they express
### Book:such opinions outwardly, they are often among the most adept players at
### Book:power. They utilize strategies that cleverly disguise the nature of the
### Book:manipulation involved. These types, for example, will often display their
### Book:weakness and lack of power as a kind of moral virtue. But true
### Book:powerlessness, without any motive of self-interest, would not publicize
### Book:its weakness to gain sympathy or respect. Making a show of one’s
### Book:weakness is actually a very effective strategy, subtle and deceptive, in the
### Book:game of power (see Law 22, the Surrender Tactic).
### Book:There is nothing very odd about lambs disliking birds of prey, but this is
### Book:no reason for holding it against large birds of prey that they carry off
### Book:lambs. And when the lambs whisper among themselves, “These birds
### Book:ofprey are evil, and does this not give us a right to say that whatever is
### Book:the opposite of a bird of prey must be good?” there is nothing
### Book:intrinsically wrong with such an argument—though the birds of prey will
### Book:look somewhat quizzically and say, “We have nothing against these good
### Book:lambs; in fact, we love them; nothing tastes better than a tender lamb.”FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE, 1844-1900
### Book:Another strategy of the supposed nonplayer is to demand equality in
### Book:every area of life. Everyone must be treated alike, whatever their status
### Book:and strength. But if, to avoid the taint of power, you attempt to treat
### Book:everyone equally and fairly, you will confront the problem that some
### Book:people do certain things better than others. Treating everyone equally
### Book:means ignoring their differences, elevating the less skillful and
### Book:suppressing those who excel. Again, many of those who behave this way
### Book:are actually deploying another power strategy, redistributing people’s
### Book:rewards in a way that they determine.
### Book:Yet another way of avoiding the game would be perfect honesty and
### Book:straightforwardness, since one of the main techniques of those who seek
### Book:power is deceit and secrecy. But being perfectly honest will inevitably
### Book:hurt and insult a great many people, some of whom will choose to injure
### Book:you in return. No one will see your honest statement as completely
### Book:objective and free of some personal motivation. And they will be right:
### Book:In truth, the use of honesty is indeed a power strategy, intended to
### Book:convince people of one’s noble, good-hearted, selfless character. It is a
### Book:form of persuasion, even a subtle form of coercion.
### Book:Finally, those who claim to be nonplayers may affect an air of naïveté,
### Book:to protect them from the accusation that they are after power. Beware
### Book:again, however, for the appearance of naivete can be an effective means
### Book:of deceit (see Law 21, Seem Dumber Than Your Mark). And even
### Book:genuine naivete is not free of the snares of power. Children may be naive
### Book:in many ways, but they often act from an elemental need to gain control
### Book:over those around them. Children suffer greatly from feeling powerless

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