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Chapter 5: Learn When to be Bad – Aggression (The 50th Law)

FOR HOW WE LIVE IS SO FAR REMOVED FROM HOW WE OUGHT TO LIVE,
THAT HE WHO ABANDONS WHAT IS DONE FOR WHAT OUGHT TO BE DONE, WILL RATHER LEARN TO BRING ABOUT HIS OWN RUIN THAN HIS
PRESERVATION. A MAN WHO WISHES TO MAKE A PROFESSION OF GOODNESS IN EVERYTHING MUST NECESSARILY COME TO GRIEF AMONG SO MANY WHO ARE NOT GOOD. THEREFORE IT IS NECESSARY FOR A PRINCE, WHO WISHES TO MAINTAIN HIMSELF, TO LEARN HOW NOT TO BE GOOD, AND TO USE THIS KNOWLEDGE AND NOT USE IT, ACCORDING TO THE NECESSITY OF THE CASE.

—Niccolò Machiavelli

There are times when it is necessary to be bad, that is, to be aggressive or cunning. Given that the world is designed in such a way that it rewards those who know when to occasionally misbehave, and that punishes those who tried too hard and too awkwardly to be good – you must find learn how to adjust your behavior to circumstance.

When you are faced with an opponent that is too aggressive, it is better to be like the fox rather than the lion. In situations where the status quo is the enemy, you must be like the lion and act aggressively. You can never be one or the other all the time, this makes you too predictable.

Machiavelli advised the prince in Italy to learn how to master this art, that requires a reconciliation between two opposite aspects of his character – the Christian values that he personally holds and the pragmatic tools that he had to use to maintain peace and prosperity for his people.

"Silence is the best expression of scorn" - G.B. Shaw

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