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Moral Critique of Law #1: The 48 Laws of Power

Updated on January 24, 2014

I read the book The 48 Laws of Power out of a curiosity and a hunger for something greater for myself. What I found was a book that could be seen as ruthless and manipulative in it's principles. I have decided to write a series of critiques of each of the laws. I will discuss the good and the bad of the law as well as a key that I've found to upholding the law without losing your morality.

I will first begin by dissection Law #1.

Law #1. Never outshine the master.

"Alwayss make those above you feel comfortably superior. In your desire to please or impress them, do not go too far in displaying your talents or you might accomplish the opposite - inspire fear and insecurity. Make your masters appear more brilliant than they are and you will attain the heights of power."

-Robert Greene, The 48 Laws of Power

The Good

This law can be very useful to those who are seeking to climb the corporate ladder or achieve any great heights that require the approval of others. Even politicians know not to appear smarter than their constituents. Also, there is a lot a person can learn from those above them if they will only "lay low" (if you can even call it that) long enough to absorb what there is to learn in the position they are in.

Furthermore, we all know the horrors of "standing out". Everyone hates the "nerd" or the "suck up" in class...even the teachers sometimes. No teacher likes to be corrected in front of the class. So, as you can see, this is a very relevant and priceless rule.

The Bad

Flying below the radar isn't always a good thing. There are times when "speaking up" is necessary if not critical. If one always fears "stepping on the toes" of those above them or if one closes one's mouth meerly to present an image for the sake of "climbing the ladder", that shows either questionable judgement or questionable morals. Either way, it is not a good thing.

To solve this problem, I would append to this law the caveat that one should definitely speak up, especially during opportuned times such as when the "master" asks for input, suggestions, recommendations or concerns. This may even give you an opportunity to "shine" in the right spotlight. Especially, if you give the master his or her due credit.

Another problem that I see is the danger of the excessive use of flattery. One may read this law and decide to excessively and insincerely flatter his or her boss or superior. My response to that is that actions definitely speak louder than words. I believe that when you are giving someone sincere credit, they sense it. They sense your warmth. They can see it in your eyes. They will see the soft smile on the face of the woman who baked the brownies for the office as well as the grimmace on the face of the employee who worked excessively to turn in a project to someone who she refers to as her "slavedriver" behind their back.

In other words, one must first feel gratitude for those who have come before them in order to sincerely show appreciation for what they have done and have it be received genuinely.

The Key

We live in America where rebellion is the culture. We don't want to play by anybody's rules. So, this is a hard law to follow. The fact that it is a law makes some of us want to break it. The key to this law is to understand humility and embrace a spirit of gratitude.

Did you read The 48 Laws of Power? What did you think about Law #1?

You can probably get this book on for less than $15 or bid on it on eBay, but read it with a compassionate heart and watch the Laws of Power work magic in your business, relationship and life! Then, join the conversation in the comment box below!


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    • Leptirela profile image

      Leptirela 4 years ago from I don't know half the time