Book Summaries Business

Law 15: Crush Your Enemies Totally (The 48 Laws of Power)

Law 15: Crush Your Enemies Totally

Wu Chao was born in A.D 625. She was a beautiful young woman, and daughter of the duke. But she was competing with the harem of Emperor T’ai Tsung, who were all competing to be the emperor’s favorite. This made the palace of the emperor a dangerous place. But Wu seduced the emperor’s dissolute son, Kao Tsung, while he was urinating at the royal urinal. He took a liking to her – this would later help launch Wu’s career.

The emperor eventually died, and Wu was forced to enter a convent for the rest of her life. Her head was shaved, and since the tradition was that all the harem of the deceased emperor must do this, she had no other choice. Wu tried to escape for seven years, but her breakthrough came from her earlier encounter with the new emperor, Kao, and his wife.

The rules were bent for Wu, and she returned to the palace. At the palace, she flattered the empress and slept with Kao. The empress didn’t discourage this since she couldn’t provide the emperor with a son – this made her position as empress vulnerable – and her alliance with Wu invaluable.

In 654, Wu gave birth to a child. One day, the empress came to visit, and just as she left, Wu smothered her own newborn. Everyone suspected that it was the empress who killed the child (this was Wu’s plan). The empress was charged with murder and executed and Wu Chao was crowned the new empress.

Her new husband was addicted to a life of pleasure, and happily let his wife handle all political affairs. She became known as Empress Wu.

Despite being very powerful, Wu was insecure. She had many enemies and could never let her guard down. When she was forty one, she sensed that her beautiful young niece was becoming the emperor’s favorite. She poisoned her and even poisoned her own son, who was destined for the throne.

The emperor died in 683, and Wu declared her other son unfit for rule, leaving the youngest son destined for the throne. This would take a long time, and Wu extended her reign.

Many coups took place in the palace over the years but all of them failed. The conspirators were all executed. By 688, Wu stood alone in the realm of power, and In 690 she was named the Divine “Emperor” of China – after she claimed to be the divine descendant of Buddha.

Wu killed everyone that got in her way or could potentially get in her way. She was forced to abdicate at the age of eighty. Empress Wu’s philosophy was simple: she either killed anyone that challenged her, or she would be killed by them. She went for the former option.

Greene’s message is to have no mercy. Your enemies will crush you totally given the chance, therefore, you must crush them in the same way.

In your struggle for power, you will make many rivals. And some people will never move to your side. You should never take their hatred personally – just understand that peace will not be an option as long as you remain in power.

If you let them stick around, they will seek revenge. Don’t wait to see that happen. This doesn’t mean you have to murder your enemies. You can banish them, for example. If they are weakened enough, and exiled from your life, they become harmless. They can no longer recover and come back to haunt you. If banishment is impossible, then you must constantly keep your guard up.

For it must be noted, that men must either be caressed or else annihilated; theywill revenge themselves for small injuries, but cannot do so for great ones;the injury therefore that we do to a man must be such that we need not fear hisvengeance.

-Niccolò Machiavelli

Read The 48 Laws of Power

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

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