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Moral Critique of Law #18: The 48 Laws of Power

Updated on February 15, 2014

Law #18. Do not build fortresses to protect yourself - Isolation is dangerous

The world is dangerous and enemies are everywhere - everyone has to protect themselves. A fortress seems safest. But isolation exposes you to more dangerous than it protects your from - it cuts you off from valuable information, it makes you conspicuous and an easy target. Better to circulate among people, find allies, mingle. You are shielded from your enemies by the crowd.

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 now dissect Law #18.

Jesus Christ demonstrated His power to the people by regularly circulating amongst the crowds.
Jesus Christ demonstrated His power to the people by regularly circulating amongst the crowds. | Source

The Good

This is one of the laws of power in which it is not too difficult to find the "good". Of course that depends on who you are and how you define "good". For me, this law reminds me of Jesus Christ. He was constantly wandering with a group of friends and implemented this law excellently. If you are familiar with the Gospels, you will know that Jesus was constantly mingling with all sorts of unpopular people: tax collectors (who were considered to be "mafia-types" in those days), prostitutes and lepers just to name a few, but he was also healing and helping high-ranking officials and giving advice to the rich; not to mention the help he gave to foreigners. It seemed there was nobody that Jesus wouldn't talk to. It also seemed like he was ALWAYS surrounded by people.

It's hard to argue with Jesus about "goodness", isn't it? Well, let's take that example and strip it and relate it to modern day life. When you're in the workplace, do you isolate yourself in your cubicle working hard and hoping to get noticed so you can rise to the top? If you are the boss, do you stay walled up in your office-fortress and send out threatening emails to your subordinates or do you mingle amongst the people to try to understand a little bit more about what is going on in the establishment you're running?

There is a lot of good to be said for this law. It's not just about spying openly to see what others are saying about you (although, it very well could be seen that way). But a lot of power comes from simply knowing and being known. When you hide yourself from others, you leave them to make up their own ideas about who you are and how you operate, and often times what the come up with is a negative characterization, especially if you're someone in power.

This law not only helps you to obtain power, but also to keep it. Accessibility is any form of government. That is why you see so many companies and politicians flocking to social media and other forms of media platforms to manage their own public image. Hiding out in the open can be a very clever tactic and can easily be used for good.

Constant isolation can be detrimental to your mental health and can cause you to lose your sense of perspective.
Constant isolation can be detrimental to your mental health and can cause you to lose your sense of perspective. | Source

Do you feel that isolation breeds power or kills it?

See results

The Bad

The negative aspect of frequently mingling and being "in the mix" (as they say), is that you can easily get caught up in the drama and frivolity of the "common folk" if you do not have enough mental fortitude to know yourself. Even the Holy Bible says: "Do not be conformed to the ways of this world...". So, really, there is definitely a negative side to making yourself too available. Being everybody's best friend is not only unsustainable, it's irresponsible.

Imagine a person trying to smoke dope with the secret druggies in the office on Friday and then going to church with the office Christians on Sunday. Not only would this person lose their power when the two groups realize that this person is not being genuine, but this person would also be missing his own sense of self. His character and self respect would be in the toilet.

Author Robert Greene discusses "The 48 Laws of Power"

The Key

Get involved, but don't get consumed! As the great philosopher said, "Know thyself!" and "To thine own self be true!" Even though Jesus mingled amongst the people, he knew exactly who He pro-ported Himself to be, and remained consistent in the image he put out. He also never failed to stand up for what He believed in.

In questions of morality, He told people exactly how He felt and people, knowing this, knew who He was and appreciated His true nature.

In your case, decide what you stand for. You may have never thought about exactly what you stand for before, but now is a good time to think about it. Sit down and write it out on a piece of paper. If you're not sure, look at what you spend your money on, look at who your friends are, look at what you do in your spare time. These are good indicators of what you believe in. Read what you wrote out loud. Consider this your manifesto. Build your life around it.

So, now, when you're circulating, you know what you stand for and you won't be easily swayed when others try to push you around or manipulate you. That is true power!

Did you read The 48 Laws of Power? What did you think about Law #18?

You can probably get this book on Amazon.com 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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