A Student of Power & War
Excerpt (Via Robert Greene)
ll of these figures from 50 Cent and Napoleon Bonaparte to Cleopatra to John F. Kennedy, I believe they all share this kind of attitude. So, I am going to talk, hopefully not too long, because I really want to get to your questions, and I encourage you to barrage me with all kinds of difficult questions. I want to talk about three aspects of this attitude. The first is, what I call, Machiavellian realism or the Machiavellian reality. The second is existential reality, what it really means to be a human being. The third is what I call aesthetic realism.
So, the first one, as I said, is what I call our Machiavellian reality. There is a concept that lately fascinates me that I have been using for my next book. It is a term called Machiavellian intelligence. And it is something that came about in the sixties and seventies, where various scientists, people studying the brain, they are trying to understand why is it that the human brain is so much larger than anything else we have in nature? How did this happen? Why did our brains develop in this way so rapidly and become so much more complex than any other animal on the planet?
There are three types of people in this world in dealing with this social reality. There are, what I call, the deniers, the people who deny this reality exists. They almost want to pretend that we are descended from angels and not from primates. That what I am talking about here is cynical. It doesn’t really exist. It doesn’t happen.
Among these deniers, you will find two types. You will find people who are genuinely disturbed by the politicking aspect of human nature. They don’t want any kind of job in which they have to do that. You will find that they are slowly marginalized. They can be happy that way. They are never going to assume a position of great responsibility because it involves all of this.
The other branch of the deniers are the people that are the passive-aggressors. I would classify this woman who had tortured me as a kind of a classic passive-aggressor. People who consciously don’t want to admit that there is any kind of manipulation involved, but unconsciously are playing all kinds of games. In my books, I often describe the many different kinds, the trickiest kind of person to deal with, the passive-aggressors.
The second type of person besides the deniers are those who love this Machiavellian part of our nature and revel in it and are master manipulators, and con artists, and connivers and are very aggressive. They have no problem handling this part. In fact, they love it. This type of person, which usually you will find one or two in an office or in an environment. They can get pretty far, but eventually they are tripped up in life because they are too Machiavellian. They don’t understand that there is the other side to that whole idea of theory of mind and the mirror neurons, which is empathy and cooperation and seducing people and getting them to work with you. They are too much involved with themselves and their own ego and they love manipulating until they go too far and they have a fall in life. There is a wall. They can never get past it.
The third type is what I am calling the radical realist. It is what I am proposing that you adopt. And it goes as follows