48 Laws of Power: Law #2 Never put too much trust in friends, learn to use enemies

Law 2: Never put too much trust in friends, learn to use enemies

  •      Friends will quickly betray you.
  •      Hire former enemies, they’ll be loyal.

This law is particularly useful for men in middle/high positions of power who need to stop rival underdogs (people who are violating law 1) in their tracks. For people low on the totem pole, using your enemies has far more limited application, the stakes are so low you can usually afford to ignore them instead.

An example of this law in action was when John Kennedy picked Lyndon Johnson to be his running mate. For those who aren’t into American history, Johnson was one of Kennedy’s primary opponents for the Democratic nomination, and not much love was lost between the two camps. Johnson thought Kennedy was a lazy, unserious, do nothing Senator who had only gotten elected to the House and then later the Senate because his father was rich. The Kennnedys thought Johnson was an uncouth, uneducated, power mad fool. Kennedy’s brother Robert–Kennedy’s campaign manager and later Attorney General–especially hated Johnson. But, that didn’t prevent JFK from picking LBJ as VP for several reasons: (1) it got Johnson out of the Senate where, as Majority Leader, he could be a real pain in the ass when JFK was trying to pass legislation; (2) he removed Johnson as a potential threat in the next election cycle; (3) Johnson’s Senatorial expertise could be used to benefit the administration as opposed to it being used against the administration; and (4) having Johnson on the ticket would probably mean Texas would vote for the Kennedy ticket, notwithstanding Kennedy being perceived by many Texans as just another Northeastern liberal. Once JFK was elected, LBJ was largely marginalized in the administration (which of course, LBJ hated, but what was he going to do, quit?).

To use an example about figureheads from popular culture (SPOILER ALERT,) it’s like in Game of Thrones after Joffrey dies, his mother becomes the Queen Regent (the acting Monarch) and is acting leader until his younger brother “The King” comes of age. The King is the head monarch only in name, because of his age. Even when he comes of age though, because his mother would have been Queen Regent for such a long time and be far more competently Machiavellian than he is (he is as a character, very naive to the ways of manipulation,) it is his mother Cersei who will be the real power in King’s Landing long after he is declared acting king. She will rule through her son, he will be a puppet ruler. Things like this naturally happened in our own history, Machiavellian queens ruling through the authoritarian legitimacy of their kings be it a son or a husband. Alas, it is women who have always typically been far more naturally apt in the art of Machiavellianism than men, and they will use “the love connection” to rule, in fact they are dependent on it. Female leaders rarely rule independent of men, but instead, through men. There are exceptions, and of course they prove the trend.


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