Notes politics Psychology

Law 43: Work on the Hearts and Minds of Others (The 48 Laws of Power)

Law 43: Work on the Hearts and Minds of Others

Coercion eventually backfires, you must seduce others into doing what you want. You must pay attention to their emotions, and slowly break down their defenses. If you ignore their hearts and minds, they will grow to hate you.

Louis XVI married Marie-Antoinette. The French had grown sick of the mistresses that Louis XV had and looked forward to serving their new queen. When Louis XV died, and Louis XV became king Marie-Antoinette was officially the queen to the throne. It didn’t take long before she took the love of the people for granted and spent her time pursuing her expensive pleasures. Her lavish lifestyle was concealed from the public. But then a scandal involving a swindler exposed how luxuriously she lived. The people came to resent her, they called her “Queen Deficit” but Marie-Antoinette never wavered. She continued to live lavishly.

In 1792 the royal couple was moved from the palace to a prison, as the revolution officially declared the end of the monarchy. The following year Louis XVI was tried, found guilty, and guillotined. As Marie-Antoinette awaited the same fate, hardly a soul came to her defense—not one of her former friends in the court, not one of Europe’s other monarchs (who, as members of their own countries’ royal families, had all the reason in the world to show that revolution did not pay), not even her own family in Austria, including her brother, who now sat on the throne.

She had become the world’s pariah. In October of 1793, she finally knelt at the guillotine, unrepentant and defiant to the bitter end. Then the French revolution started, and instead of reconciling her relationship with the people, she gave them none of her time. Finally, she was executed like other members of her court, but no one came to her defence. She had no allies.

Marie-Antoinette was a spoiled princess. She grew up being flattered and cajoled, and never had to learn to charm or please people. She wasn’t attuned to people’s psychologies. And like those who live luxurious lives early on, she grew insensitive and emotionally distant. She was the aristocratic type that lived in her own bubble, but such an attitude is disastrous in the realm of power. The higher the position you are in, the more important it is to pay attention to those in less powerful positions, for these allies will inevitably be needed.

Chuko Liang, the Chinese chief minister understood this well. He was a master strategist who was in a difficult situation. His kingdom, Shu, was being attacked by King Menghuo, leader of the kingdom of Wei. Chuko Liang was close to attacking the barbarians from the south until he received advice from a wise man that changed his thinking. He was told to win hearts rather than control the region by force. Chiang agreed with this sentiment.

Menghuo would attack Liang a total of seven times. Each time, Meghuo would be captured, and he would tell Liang that it was an unfair fight, or that he had been tricked. And each time, Liang would let him go and give him the chance to fight again. After being defeated seven times in a row, Meghuo was given the chance to fight an eighth time but instead, he bowed down to the king, and surrendered. The region that Meghuo was allowed to control was one that Chuko Liang would never think about again. Meghuo became his most unshakable and trusted ally. Such was the power of fighting for the barbarian’s mind, rather than using brute force.

Governments saw men only in mass; but our men, being irregulars, were not formations, but individuals…. Our kingdoms lay in each man’s mind.

Seven Pillars of Wisdom, T. E. Lawrence

Read The 48 Laws of Power

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

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