[Robert Greene’s ‘The 48 Laws of Power’ identifies a darker path to fulfil our deep seeded desire to be powerful. The philosophies and actions advocated in this book are callous, unprincipled, devious, scheming, manipulative—a good dose of pure utilitarian nonsense for the foolish, insensitive, and greedy personality. Manipulation is a term much more appropriate for the suggestions in this book. Manipulation by means of deceit and maintaining the illusion of power is what you are going to learn from this book, not how to be ethical and influential!
- Kiss the boss’s ass.
- Make enemies. You can learn from them.
- Conceal your intentions.
- Speak cryptically.
- Defend your reputation; destroy those who challenge it.
- Be an attention seeker.
- Use other people to do things for you and take the credit.
- Bait people.
- Don’t analyze, act.
- People who are hurt are like contagious parasites.
- Make people depend on you.
- Be “selectively honest”, disarm your “victim” with generosity.
- People have no sense of mercy or thankfulness.
- Pretend to be someone’s friend while gathering information on them.
- Destroy people, annihilate them. Ruin their lives.
- Play hookie to make people “want” you.
- Engage in interpersonal intimidation.
- Be one in the crowd; use the crowd to shield you from your enemies.
- Don’t screw over the wrong person.
- Be non-committal.
- Pretend to be dumb, so they won’t suspect.
- Surrender, to stab your enemy in the back.
- Use every resource you have to defeat an enemy.
- Flatter people, yield to your boss, and be cruel to those under you.
- Don’t abide by the social contract. Ally yourself only to yourself. Redefine this self to get as much attention as possible.
- Keep your hands clean: erase any knowledge others have of you messing things up. Never admit to your mistakes. Instead, scapegoat other people.
- Develop a God complex. Feed people what they want to hear and make them follow you.
- Be bold in all of your actions.
- Plan out every little thing.
- Make your accomplishments seem effortless. Also, never let anyone know how you did them.
- Control people’s options.
- Feed people the lies they want to hear.
- Find out everyone’s button, save this information, and push it accordingly.
- Act like a member of royalty.
- Master timing.
- Show contempt for things (and people) you cannot have. By showing you are upset, you are admitting “weakness”.
- Create a lot of spectacles.
- Behave like other people as a mask.
- Use other people’s emotions; play with them.
- Free things are dangerous. Instead, pay for everything yourself and make sure people see it.
- Don’t follow in anyone’s footsteps.
- Attack someone that bothers you. Don’t bother negotiating or understanding them. Just attack them so they shut up and your reputation remains intact.
- Seduce people by playing with their emotions.
- Mirror people so they get annoyed and humiliated.
- Preach “change” and other vague promises, but never act too much on them.
- Pretend to mess up once in a while. People will see that you’re not a sociopath after all.
- Achieve in moderation.
- Be formless. Form, order, routine equals predictability. And those watchful guys following you over your shoulder all this time will spot that and destroy you.
The Golden Rule or the ethic of reciprocity is the definitive, all-encompassing principle for ethical behavior. In essence, this maxim states, “One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself” in the positive form and “One should not treat others in ways that one would not like to be treated” in the negative form, the latter called the Silver Rule. The utility of the Golden Rule is primarily in developing a framework of personal ethics, in forming a psychological outlook toward others, and not necessarily in directing behavior.
We find the Golden Rule in all the great cultures and the great religions of the world:
- Golden Rule in Baha’i Faith: “Lay not on any soul a load that you would not wish to be laid upon you, and desire not for anyone the things you would not desire for yourself.” [Source: Baha’u’llah, Gleanings]
- Golden Rule in Buddhism: “Treat not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.” [Source: Udana-Varga 5.18]
- Golden Rule in Christianity: “In everything, do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.” [Source: The Bible, Matthew 7:12]
- Golden Rule in Confucianism: “One word which sums up the basis of all good conduct….loving-kindness. Do not do to others what you do not want done to yourself.” [Source: Confucius, Analects 15.23]
- Golden Rule in Hinduism: “This is the sum of duty: do not do to others what would cause pain if done to you.” [Source: Mahabharata 5:1517]
- Golden Rule in Hinduism: “Why does a man inflict upon other creatures those sufferings, which he has found by experience are sufferings to himself?” [Source: Tiruvalluvar, Tirukkural Verse 318]
- Golden Rule in Islam: “Not one of you truly believes until you wish for others what you wish for yourself.” [Source: The Prophet Muhammad, Hadith]
- Golden Rule in Jainism: “One should treat all creatures in the world as one would like to be treated.” [Source: Sutrakritanga 1.11.33]
- Golden Rule in Judaism: “What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbour. This is the whole Torah; all the rest is commentary. Go and learn it.” [Source: Hillel, Talmud, Shabbath 31a]
- Golden Rule in Native Spirituality: “We are as much alive as we keep the earth alive.” [Source: Chief Dan George]
- Golden Rule in Sikhism: “I am a stranger to no one; and no one is a stranger to me. Indeed, I am a friend to all.” [Source: Guru Granth Sahib, p.1299]
- Golden Rule in Taoism: “Regard your neighbour’s gain as your own gain and your neighbour’s loss as your own loss.” [Source: Laozi, T’ai Shang Kan Ying P’ien, 213-218]
- Golden Rule in Unitarianism: “We affirm and promote respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.” [Source: Unitarian principle]
- Golden Rule in Zoroastrianism: “Do not do unto others whatever is injurious to yourself.” [Source: Shayast-na-Shayast 13.29]
Notes: Poster compiled by Paul McKenna for “Guidelines for Golden Rule” Workshop, published by Scarboro Missions, Scarborough, Ontario, Canada
The Golden Rule describes a guide to a fundamental behavior and is taught in most major religious and moral traditions.
The Golden Rule has been articulated either positively as “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Matthew 7:12); or negatively, counseling that you not do to others what you would not wish them to do to you, as in the teachings of Confucius (“Do not do to others what you do not want done to yourself.”) or Hillel (“What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbour”).
The Golden Rule’s all-inclusive simplicity has invited innumerable belittling counter-examples. For example, should masochists impose their favorite annoyances on unsuspicious acquaintances? Nonetheless, such counter-examples and critiques the point of the Golden Rule. The Golden Rule was never proposed as a guide to practical choice unaided of all other principles of moral conduct and behavior. In fact, the Golden Rule alludes to nothing about particular moral and ethical considerations, nor does it validate specific moral principles, qualities, and ideals.
To be more precise, the Golden Rule has to do with a perspective philosophy that is indispensable to the exercise of even the most rudimentary morality: one of seeking to situate oneself in the position of those affected by one’s actions, in an attempt to counteract the natural tendency to ignore moral considerations and ethical short-sightedness.
The Golden Rule directs one to treat others with the compassionate considerations that one wishes to contend with (in the positive form,) and, in particular, not to perpetrate misfortunes on others that one would abhor to have inflicted on oneself.
The Golden Rule has long been thought fundamental. Therefore many moral philosophers have compared it to their own principles concerning moral choice and conduct.
- In “Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals”, German philosopher Immanuel Kant dismissed the Golden Rule as inconsequential and too limited to be a universal law: “Let it not be thought that the trivial quod tibi non vis fieri, etc. [what you do not will to be done to you, etc.] can here serve as a standard or principle. For it is merely derived from our principle, although with several limitations. It cannot be a universal law, for it contains the ground neither of duties to oneself nor of duties of love toward others (for many a man would gladly consent that others should not benefit him, if only he might be excused from benefiting them). Nor, finally, does it contain the ground of strict duties toward others, for the criminal would on this ground be able to dispute with the judges who punish him; and so on.”
- In “Utilitarianism”, English philosopher John Stuart Mill claimed that, “In the golden rule of Jesus of Nazareth we read the complete spirit of the ethics of utility. To do as you would be done by, and to love your neighbour as yourself, constitute the ideal perfection of utilitarian morality.”
The memory of ethics catastrophes at firms large and small like Enron, WorldCom, Tyco, and Hewlett-Packard elevated public bitterness toward corporate executives as never before. Unethical behavior has spoiled the public’s conviction about the inherent goodness in people and spawned charges for more government oversight of private industry.
In free societies, many people identify with Milton Friedman’s laissez faire principle that if society lets its people pursue their personal and professional interests in the context of a capitalistic framework to operate without restraint, positive principled intentions and ethical consequences will naturally ensue. On the contrary, it turns out that most people unaware of the divergence between how ethical people think they are and how ethical they actually are.
Why do people behave unethically? Why do some employees engage in unethical acts such as lying on an expense account, accepting kickbacks, falsifying reports, and forging signatures? One or more of these root cause factors might be at play in unethical behavior:
- Poor ethical leadership
- Poor communications
- Pressure to balance work and family
- Pressure to meet sales or profit goals
- Lack of management support
- Resentment to the workplace and retaliation
- Company policies
- Little or no recognition of achievements
- Long work hours, heavy workload
- Personal financial worries
- Insufficient resources
In the modern societies, with eroding adherence to personal and societal values, the temptation to behave in unethical ways is not going to go away. As young professionals go into business today, the enticement to evade ethics is mounting. We live in a time of deep obligation on individuals and organizations to cut corners, pursue their own personal and professional interests, and forget about the consequences of their behavior on others.