Machiavellian Maxims (Part 4)

Machiavellian Maxims
The promise given was a necessity of the past: the word broken is a necessity of the present.” – Niccolo Machiavelli

1.) Introduction
2.) The Maxims
3.) Relevant Reading / In Closing

1.) Introduction:

Welcome to part 4 in my series of Machiavellian maxims, as with the previous articles, contained within is a pithy collection of Machiavellian wisdom. If you’ve not read anything in this series before, you can find part 1 here, part 2 here and part 3 here.

META MESSAGE: I made a radio appearance on the Sharpe Reality show yesterday, you can check out the show here.

2.) The Maxims:

1. – Social causes are disguises for the predators and lifestyles for the sheep.

2. – Her first concern is her appearance, her second concern her cunning, both serve the same ends.

3. – Your response should be proportional to the perception of the threat, there’s no need to launch nukes when you can get the job done with a well-aimed bullet.

4. – A leader must be mindful in exercising benevolence, for too much benevolence is perceived as weakness and fosters resentment.

5. – One is wise to openly support freedom of speech, but they should only do so for as long as such speech is not deleterious to their reputation; it is almost always an act of self folly to not censor those biting deep into their repute.

6. – Be mindful of the Streisand effect, if your detractors are persistent and resourceful, censoring will make things worse rather than better.

7. – People are bolder when they’re paying and meeker when they’re paid. Caveat: the latter doesn’t apply to blackmail.

8. – People want to forget, not be reminded. Very powerful. Never forget this.

9. – Tu quoque is the sophist’s most preferred logical fallacy, for it can justify their poor behaviour whilst simultaneously redirecting attention to the misdeeds of others.

10. – Weak and strong in matters of strategy are not effects of appearance in so much as they are a question of the tactical viability and efficacy of a plan.

11. – In financial exchange, the man paid covets payment in advance whilst the man paying seeks to pay after the fact.

12. – When people retroactively change their minds, they will blame you for their change of heart irrespective of whether it’s truly your fault.

13. – “Coincidence” is the term people use to describe a chess move they don’t understand.

14. – To see how ruthless life truly is, all one need do is observe the vast difference in means between people.

15. – Survival of the fittest, there is no greater truism; winners and losers, everyone takes what they can get. Nothing is owed, everything is game.

16. – Let the other man lose his cool, but be sure to keep yours, for it is the man with the most self-control that leaves victorious.

17. – The nicer the man, the more he suffers, for the world does not respect carte blanche kindness. Forget kindness, show only magnanimity – a selective kindness backed by thoughtfulness and strength.

18. – The beauty of a question is it’s in your power to decide whether you’re going to answer it or not.

19. – Sell a person on a thing by making them think you’re not selling anything. The moment they think you’re trying to sell them, they’ll behave as if they hold all the power.

20. – This is as true of physical action as it is of agenda pushing: that which happens suddenly is noticed and reacted to, whilst that which happens gradually is not. In stealth, promote gradualness. Move too quickly and you will be discovered.

21. – A woman being cute is the metaphorical equivalent of a wolf adorning himself in the attire of a woolly sheep – it’s purposefully disarming. Recognise cuteness for the sham that it is. Beauty is not virtue. Cuteness implies innocence, something you can be most emphatically assured she is not.

22. – The problem with trust is everybody needs it, most are too scared to give it, and the most dangerous of humans are incapable of it.

23. – Know when people are trying to earn your trust in order to exploit it. There’s a greater likelihood you will be targeted in this fashion if you’re rich or have notable power within an organisation. Corollary: the higher the stakes, the longer the plays.

24. – Honesty is powerful, transparency is foolish; the difference between honesty and transparency is scale.

25. – Honesty is a micro snapshot of truth, whereas transparency is the macro totality of it, selective honesty as opposed to full disclosure. People like honesty, they rarely want full disclosure.

26. – If you need to keep absolving someone because they consistently maintain plausible deniability, you are being played. Punish them or cease association, do not continue to absolve.

27. – It is generally wise to allow people to project onto you the social or political views they find most appealing.

28. – People love power and want to be as close to it as possible without endangering themselves. Skin in the game separates the wheat from the chaff.

29. – Incompetence can serve as an effective cloak of secrecy with which to hide an agenda. For example, if one were to build a house under a house but wanted nobody to know the second house existed, they’d attribute the additional building time and costs incurred by the creation of the hidden house to the labour and bureaucratic incompetencies of the known house.

30. – Everything people do is strategic irrespective of its effectiveness or deliberateness. There’s always an angle, but it isn’t always insidious.

31. – Polarisation is the precursor to division, and division is a common prerequisite for control.

32. – Be bolder than your enemy, and you paralyse him upon the very nanosecond you confront him.

33. – Simulate your downfall to see who folds and sells you out. Loyalty is gauged in the face of failure, not success.

34. – Unless you’re exchanging blows, move slower than your enemy. The confidence throws them off immensely.

35. – If they’re going to disbelieve you, mirror your accuser, and then by act of disbelieving you, they disbelieve both of you.

36. – He who is most cunning, and furthermore, best equipped to execute the mechanisations of his cunning, will win a hundred wars and a thousand battles.

37. – Magnanimity is a projection of soft power, always leave a tip, it makes you look powerful and buys you favour with those who perform you services.

38. – Boldness almost always rewards, when it doesn’t, disappear.

39. – When you don’t have a good answer, ask a question, be sparing with this however, for abusing it will make you seem disgustingly untrustworthy.

40. – When the enemy is too powerful, it’s more profitable to ally with them than war with them irrespective of your feelings for them.

41. – Treat all unfinalised offers as bait.

42. – If one strategises purely from a position of emotionally driven personal preference and not pragmatism, one will strategise inadequately.

43. – You can’t trust a dark triad who isn’t dependent on you for a thing, and even then, the ruthless temporariness of their loyalty is predicated entirely on the degree to which you are useful.

44. – Breaking silence is tactically unsound. Wait for the other person to speak first, or do not speak at all.

45. – Know your enemies and know yourself, but in knowing your enemies, know your allies, ascertain who is loyal, and ascertain who is mercenary.

46. – If you don’t want war but the enemy does, you’ve lost before the battle’s even begun.

47. – Diplomat is a geopolitical euphemism for “intercontinental Machiavellian negotiator”

48. – The disparity between what a man says and what a man does are the reputational affecting aspects he takes into consideration when speaking.

49. – Bide your time after being attacked. Don’t respond straightaway. Let them think they’ve won, then as soon as they relax, strike.

50. – Whoever makes the first move without being baited holds the advantage, they control the battlefield because the element of surprise shocks and demoralises the enemy, striking a critical blow before they can even fortify themselves.

51. – The difference between a man who can suspend empathy and a man who has none is the latter is existentially incapable of virtue.

52. – Foreign aid is macro level statecraft philanthropy. Step 1: buy favour. Step 2: get a good reputation for your generosity and market it as enlightened altruism.

53. – Predators can destroy other predators, but the difficulty of such a thing persuades them to designate targets who’ll offer less resistance. Be expensive to defeat, and few will even dare to declare war.

54. – “What is left when honour is lost?” Strategy. The only way to lose it is to lose your life, strategy is the essence of life via adaptivity.

55. – People only care about what you have, not what it took to get. As such, if someone’s interested in the how, there’s a 99% chance they want to copy your blueprint or sabotage your achievements.

56. – If you’re afraid to play in the mud, the mud will involuntarily dirty you.

3.) Relevant Reading / In Closing:

I now offer consulting to a limited number of people. You can find out more about that here. If you enjoyed these maxims, check out the following.


Machiavellian Maxims (Part 1)
Machiavellian Maxims (Part 2)
Machiavellian Maxims (Part 3)


The Art of War
The Art of Worldly Wisdom

Rochefoucauld’s Maxims