Friday, May 8, 2009

Five numbered lists, and one with bullets

I seem to have run across several of these lately. First, the 48 Laws of Power, by Robert Greene and Joost Elffers. (Via The Message Digest.) For those who don't have time to read Machiavelli, but still would like power. (Not talking about solar, nuclear, electric or steam here, but politics at any level, personal, office, or, uh, political.) A few samples:

Law 14

Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy

Knowing about your rival is critical. Use spies to gather valuable information that will keep you a step ahead. Better still: Play the spy yourself. In polite social encounters, learn to probe. Ask indirect questions to get people to reveal their weaknesses and intentions. There is no occasion that is not an opportunity for artful spying.

Law 15

Crush your Enemy Totally

All great leaders since Moses have known that a feared enemy must be crushed completely. (Sometimes they have learned this the hard way.) If one ember is left alight, no matter how dimly it smolders, a fire will eventually break out. More is lost through stopping halfway than through total annihilation: The enemy will recover, and will seek revenge. Crush him, not only in body but in spirit.

Law 32

Play to People’s Fantasies

The truth is often avoided because it is ugly and unpleasant. Never appeal to truth and reality unless you are prepared for the anger that comes for disenchantment. Life is so harsh and distressing that people who can manufacture romance or conjure up fantasy are like oases in the desert: Everyone flocks to them. There is great power in tapping into the fantasies of the masses.

Then we have Saul Alinsky's Rules for Radicals, another guide to power. Morgan Freeberg gives the list, with commentary, and links to further commentary.

Freeberg has another list on the front page today, a Twelve Step Program for Obama Supporters. Again, he gives the list and some insightful commentary, and links to a fuller presentation.

This seems to be the day I link to Freeberg. Let me sneak in a bulleted, not numbered, list of "a dozen factual bullet points about the most politically powerful man alive today, the most politically powerful man the world has ever known. Twelve things, each of which, smart-money says you’re learning for the very first time. It’s likely each of the twelve is news to you — that six or more come as a surprise, is a virtual certainty." That's Obama he's talking about. Again, a shortish piece, linking to the full treatment, this time of things the press does not see fit to cover.

While on the subject of numbered lists for the ambitious (is this self-improvement, or the reverse?), one can never fail by linking to a classic, The Top 100 Things I'd Do If I Ever Became An Evil Overlord.

Another one I have linked before, but worth revisiting, is Professor Dutch's Top Ten No Sympathy Lines. The relationship between teacher and student is a power relationship, so it's not entirely out of place here.

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