“The lion cannot protect himself from traps, and the fox cannot defend himself from wolves. One must therefore be a fox to recognize traps, and a lion to frighten wolves.” – Niccolo Machiavelli
2.) The Maxims
3.) Relevant Reading / In Closing
Back in December I published a collection of Machiavellian Maxims that precede the assortment here. If you missed that, you can find it here. As for the creation of yet more maxims? Only time will tell. With that said, I present the latest set of Machiavellian maxims for your reading pleasure.
2.) The Maxims:
1. – Hijacking is a special kind of Machiavellianism, for it wears the agenda of another whilst pursuing its own, like a metaphorical Russian doll, it hides an agenda within an agenda.
2. – Read between the lines, if you can deduce why somebody is asking a question and you do not like the reasoning for their question, do not deign an answer. Ignore or dismiss traps, do not fall into them.
3. – When someone attempts to undermine rather than refute you, they’re the enemy.
4. – Undermining is personal, refutation isn’t. Refutation communicates “I believe you’re wrong due to the findings of the available evidence”. Undermining communicates “I’m going to humiliate you because your opinions invoke my disdain.” Refutations are logical retorts, undermining is interrelational violence. Learn to distinguish between the two, for they oft appear similar.
5. – Bending the rules is no more than the abuse of technicality to circumvent the spirit of the rule without violating its letter.
6. – Love doesn’t conquer psychopathy.
7. – Only pick fights that’ll yield profit; pettiness will erode your credibility, fighting on many fronts will exhaust you.
8. – The crab bucket mentality is pervasive, a jealous friend is a betrayal waiting to happen. Know when to cut the gangrenous limb, do not allow the sentimental nostalgia to sustain poisonous ties.
9. – If you are drawn into something emotionally, the odds of damaging your reputation and engaging in regrettable acts exponentially increases.
10. – Many arrogant men believe anger is the safe emotion they can display without real consequence, this belief is folly. Man should endeavour to be mindful, for this will allow him to rein in unruly emotion.
11. – He who does not control his emotions is puppeteered by them. Strict adherence to emotional data is tactical death, whilst ignoring emotion idiotic, and suppressing it tiresome. As such, emotion should be channelled, not ignored or obeyed.
12. – On national anniversaries of loss or celebration, people are at their most vulnerable. It is at times of heightened cultural emotivity that reflection takes root in the mediocre, and filled with regret, the populace is at their most manipulable.
13. – Self-deprecation builds trust, when people see even minor imperfections, they’re endeared by the transparency.
14. – People are susceptible to negativity bias, if something is negative, it is more likely to be believed without rigorous investigation. Acts of virtue come with a burden of proof, acts of unvirtue do not.
15. – Appear easily provoked, then ignore those who see it as an opportunity to attack; this is good for enticing the lurking foe to reveal himself. Present an illusion of disordered vulnerability, seduce an attack, and by the time your foe realises the ruse it is too late, he has revealed himself.
16. – An effective strategist knows when to utilise counterintuitive gambits to get a better view of the battlefield. For example, if you are strong in one area, make your enemy think you are weak. If you are weak in an area, make your enemy think you are strong. If you confuse the enemy’s data points, he cannot successfully analyse you. If he cannot analyse you, he cannot defeat you.
17. – Be wary the plausible deniability of jokes, “it’s just a joke” is the most common phrase used to disguise a transgression. All good jokes contain truth, as such if one crosses your boundaries under the guise of humour, they are still trespassing, humour but smoke and mirrors for such trespass.
18. – He who acts boldly under the cloak of sadistic humour is not to be trusted, for humour is the jester’s shield and sword.
19. – People who get caught doing something they shouldn’t do not reveal the complete truth at once. they opt to reveal the least self-incriminating aspects first.
20. – The objective of trickle truth is damage control, to minimise the damage done to one’s reputation when a loss of reputation is all but unavoidable.
21. – As lies compound, trust erodes, and the more difficult it becomes to lie. The more it is perceived that you lie, the better you must be at lying to successfully do so. As such, compulsive lying is tactically unsound – lie only when necessary.
22. – Trust can be earned and spent, but if you spend too much too quickly, your account with the betrayed individual is permanently closed, no matter what you do, you will always be spent.
23. – People love to be seduced, but they do not like to know how. Honesty doesn’t pay when transparency compromises the beauty of the illusion that sustains you. Like any magic trick, people enjoy the perception of mystery, not what creates it.
24. – Apply seduction to romance or sales, never reveal your tricks. Give your pitch, not your essence.
25. – Effortlessness and dismissiveness foster an appearance of strength.
26. – If people feel judged by you, they hate you. In diplomacy, suggest via statement, do not undermine with command or overt dispute.
27. – Honesty is ugly, most people want their opinions validated, not disproved. It is but a minority of intellectuals who enjoy being disproved.
28. – Manufacture a threat and you can sell its solution.
29. – Control both sides and simulate a conflict, monitor organic responses for potential allies and enemies.
30. – Utilise counterintuitive strategies, it pays to create a group to undermine your interests. By creating a group to threaten your interests, you prevent a concealed threat from mobilising. Those interested in undermining your interests will join your artificial opposition rather than form their own.
31. – The truly best deceivers begin with themselves, and therefore tend to be more emotional than rational in disposition.
32. – Environments come with varying expectations and codes of behaviour, environments define expectation unless you are bigger than your environment.
33. – It is better to define what will be expected of you, than allow others to define their expectations. If you do not define what people expect of you, they will define it for you.
34. – He who defines his role has more freedom, for people become their roles.
35. – Your benefactors should overestimate you and your enemies should underestimate you.
36. – The lower the average intellect of a man’s company, the more he must show aggression to be respected, more intelligent company demands the inverse.
37. – As a Machiavellian, it is always pertinent to ascertain the intellect of one’s company, and then adjust one’s demeanour as relevant. A person who cannot dial-up their personality up or down is unfit to wield power.
38. – Intelligent narcissists require consistent displays of histrionic aggression in order to respect somebody.
39. – Acting is necessary. Just as one key cannot open every lock to every door, a single disposition cannot unlock every favour from every person, as such, adaptability.
40. – People are like safes with combinations, by correctly calibrating your traits to align with their values, you unlock their trust, desire, and respect. Incorrect calibrations create apathy and disdain.
41. – Disagreement is acceptable for it can teach, but sabotage is never. A leader’s task is to discern the prior from the latter. When in doubt, assume sabotage.
42. – It is important to work smarter than harder, but better to be seen as dumb and hard-working. Few like a rich man who earns more in a less arduous condition, for jealousy of his privileged position is rife. A smart man earns more than a hard-working man, yet a smart, hard-working man who appears average outearns both.
43. – It’s easy not to outshine the brilliant, but it’s difficult not to outshine the incompetent. Regardless, know your place and behave accordingly.
44. – Ignore powerless idiots, ridicule powerful ones. Powerless idiocy is an annoyance, powerful idiocy is a problem. Relevance and status shall determine classification.
45. – The man confined to reason will be humiliated by psychic warfare, whilst the man confined to cunning will have his sophistry undressed. Logic and cunning are the most powerful psychological tools, therefore you would do well to cultivate them both. To cultivate neither is to be weak and to cultivate one is to be average, but to cultivate both – this is to be dangerous. [Read More Here]
46. – Logicians look for reasons, Machiavellians look for loopholes.
47. – Incentive is the most persuasive use of soft power, with fear its hard power counterpart. Those who can’t be bribed can be threatened, whilst those who can’t be threatened can be bribed – very few are immune to both.
48. – Be egotistical only when necessary.
49. – You bond with people over the things they hold dear, pets, media franchises, hobbies – this is how you gain trust. In matters of trust one should appeal to emotion, never to reason. Give plenty of reasons you should be trusted, give nonsense reasons for why you shouldn’t.
50. – In social matters, people do not reward he who is most logical, but rather he who is most impressive.
51. – Cunning and rhetoric almost always triumph over logic, fact and statistic in matters of persuasion.
52. – Despair in the moment is tantamount to forfeiture.
53. – Most are foolish, instead of befriending power, they hate on it. These people aren’t cut out for the game, for one does not acquire power by hating the powerful.
54. – A champion must always defend his crown, for as much as he is admired, there is always a man who lusts to take the powerful’s wealth and status for himself.
55. – The least patriotic leader’s one who so utterly dominates his kingdom, that he does not allow it to flourish out of the insecurity that permitting so would remove him from power.
56. – All abusable systems are abused, and so it is folly to expect any system not to be abused. Systems should be designed on the assumption they will be abused, and where less than infallible, retroactively amended to be so.
57. – Absolute dignity is rare, most pride is no more than resistance that can be removed for a price. The weaker the ego, the lower the price. For the right price, fantasies of all persuasions find manifestation.
58. – In matters of effective sophistry, one must calibrate language to the discerned intelligence of their listener.
59. – Disdain precarious alliances, it is better to have no alliance than a precarious one, for weak alliances foreshadow betrayal.
60. – Taste isn’t just a matter of food or scent, but likewise of personality. One man’s annoyance is another’s joy, delicate tastes require finesse. And yet if is a taste is too demanding, specific or exacting, one may wish to wholly reject the fetishist notion and cease all association.
61. – Don’t become the slave of another man’s tastes. Exercise prerogative with association. If you know the taste you can leverage its fantasy, but if the taste is concealed and used as a benchmark for invalidating you, leave.
62. – People decide quickly who they do and do not like. When factions form, anybody not on your side should be assumed to collaborate with the enemy. As for those who do join your cause, analyse their motives.
63. – Whilst punishment should be swift, reward should be gradual.
64. – It is far more profitable to see things from your point of view than from the opposition’s. The more you acknowledge the opposition’s point of view, the more power you give it. Therefore for your point of view to dominate, you must dismiss your enemy’s.
65. – Displays of agility typically indicate one of two things: you’re being mesmerised by a diversion, or you’re witnessing mastery.
66. – Don’t play cards you don’t need to play. Holding all the cards does not make you indestructible, you may still lose if you play your cards poorly. Execution is everything, a poorly played card is worse than one not played.
67. – Tailor your approach to the personality you’re dealing with.
68. – Nothing is more compelling than fantasy, do not underestimate its power to convince or exploit.
3.) Relevant Reading / In Closing:
If you enjoyed these maxims, check out the following material.
Which maxims are your favourites? Let me know in the comments.