Friday, February 11, 2005

Power gets personal

I was browsing the popular sites, and came across, The 48 Laws of Power, which describes various tactics that can be used by power-mongers.

Some are just self-empowerment ("Disdain things that you cannot have"), but most are scary and disgusting ("Use Selective Honesty and Generosity to Disarm your Victim"). The first "law" ("Never Outshine the Master") reveals the catch: you will start at the bottom of the hierarchy. These "laws of power" never mention that you will probably not rise to the top of the hierarchy and may even be destroyed by competitors on the way. Freedom and independence are much more reliable ways of making a living.

This page could be renamed to "How to be a miserable person, like Mr. Burns."

To a freeman, this website simply represents an illustration of how power-mongers behave as well as a warning about the costs of power. Perhaps that was the intention of the authors. It has inspired me to gather a collection of web-pages that will help us to live a life of dignity -- neither master nor slave.

  1. The Three Pillars of Freedom: general approaches to protecting yourself from power-mongers. This analysis is probably too individualistic and wary, but still very useful.

  2. Dealing with manipulative people: This is another examination of the tactics used by power-mongers, but emphasizes the perspective of us reasonable people. This is written by an anti-cult activist and may be too wary. In general, anti-cult activists are a good place to learn how to identify manipulation (but avoid the Cult Awareness Network!)

  3. Know what we want from life and don't be distracted by those things that don't matter. I favor Epicurean, Stoic, and Buddhist philosophy.

  4. How to win friends and influence people: I've never read this book, but it seems to present a respectful approach to winning social influence. Does anyone know about this book?

Related topics:

Thinking aids