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  • GeneticPsychosMom (Tina) 10:05 on February 9, 2016 Permalink | Reply
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    Propaganda: Psycho-Linguistics and Political Psychopathy 

    {A very thorough examination of the different methods employed in propaganda}

    Propaganda is generally to be defined as a calculated, coordinated campaign carried out through media that are capable of reaching a large amount of people, to further a primarily political agenda, (although principles of propaganda can be applied equally to further a religious or commercial agenda also).

    A number of techniques founded on social psychological research are used to generate propaganda. Many of these same techniques can be found under logical fallacies, since propagandists use arguments that, while sometimes convincing, are not necessarily valid.

    A basic assertion is an enthusiastic or energetic proposition presented as a statement of fact, although of course it is not necessarily true. Assertions often imply that the statement requires no explanation or evidence, but that it should merely be accepted without question.

    Examples of assertions can be found often in advertising propaganda. Any time an advertiser states that their product is the best without providing evidence, they are using an assertion. The subjects are supposed to simply agree with the assertion without searching for additional information, or applying any reasoning. Assertions, although usually simple to spot, are often dangerous forms of propaganda because they often include damaging falsehoods or lies.

    “Glittering generalities” is one of the seven main propaganda techniques identified by the Institute for Propaganda Analysis in 1938. It also arises very often in politics and political propaganda. Glittering generalities are words that have different positive meaning for individual subjects, but are linked to highly valued concepts. For example, when a person is asked to do something in “defence of democracy” or “freedom” they are more likely to agree. The concepts of democracy and freedom have positive connotations to them because they are regarded as highly valued principles by the majority of people.

    The “lesser of two evils” technique is an attempt to convince us of an idea or proposal by presenting it as the least offensive option. This technique is often implemented during wartime or economic recession to convince people of the need for sacrifices. This technique is often accompanied by adding blame on an enemy country or political group.

    In the UK, we currently have a Government that exercises an unhealthy and considerable control of the media. It’s often possible to predict when the next round of cuts and austerity measures are going to be inflicted on us because the announcement of policy is typically preceded by media justification prior to the event, usually involving the demarcation and scapegoating of the social group to be affected by the policy.

    We usually have a few weeks of the press stereotyping immigrants as a “free-loading drain on the taxpayer”, or poor sick and disabled people as “fraudsters” and “con artists”. Or unemployed people are portrayed as feckless, idle “spongers”, or lone parents as immoral and irresponsible “burdens”. But how else could a corrupt and authoritarian Government attempt to justify taking so much money from the poorest and most vulnerable citizens, whilst rewarding the wealthy with enormous tax cuts?

    The current Government are most certainly outrageous propagandists, on par with the Nazi Reichsministerium für Volksaufklärung und Propaganda, controlling the news media in particular, with the aim of shaping and controlling public opinion. They create and justify neo-feudal subordination, oppressive hierarchical social structures, and the end of our humanist ideal and practice of shared citizenship.

    I almost forgot to mention Cameron’s one remarkable but accidental, blurted out truth: We are raising more money for the richThat is verifiable fact.

    We must challenge this and we must fight it.

    Habitually search for the evidence that refutes what you are being told by any of the Coalition.

    It’s worth bearing in mind that when someone speaks or writes, they are trying to convince you of somethingAsk yourself what it is that they want you to believe, then analyse their basic proposition carefully. Examine what they are saying, look for consistency, coherence, reasoning and logic, and look for the evidence to support the proposition, of course.

    Critical thinking is essential to spark cogent, rational, open debate and provide a framework to support and guide the public to participate in well-informed discussions on current issues responsibly. The Institute for Propaganda Analysis in the US arose “to teach people how to think rather than what to think.”

    Ad hominem – A Latin phrase which has come to mean attacking your opponent, as opposed to attacking their arguments. David Cameron employs this strategy with considerable psychopathic expertise in Parliamentary debate. (See Prime Ministers Questions).

    Ad nauseam – This approach uses tireless repetition of an idea. An idea, especially a simple slogan, that is repeated enough times, may begin to be taken as the truth. This approach works best when media sources are limited and controlled by the propagator. Joseph Goebbels, not known to be driven by the passionate inspiration of the moment, but by the result of sober psychological calculation, was particularly talented in utilising this approach. Iain Duncan Smith has a similar penchant for repeated mendacity. A serial offender.

    To justify his cruel and unwarranted welfare “reforms”, Iain Duncan Smith says that he has taken money that is essential for meeting the basic survival needs from the poorest people because “It’s fair to taxpayers.” Repeatedly.

    Appeals to authority – this technique involves citing prominent figures to support a position, idea, argument, or course of action. The Tories, however, believe there are none who know better, or have more authority than the Tories. According to the Tories. See also Authoritarianism.

    The Tories tend to “unload” or “neutralise” some of their language too, especially in discussion and debate about their policies. For example, using the word “reforms” rather than a more neutral word like changesor a negative (and accurate) one like cuts. This is used to conceal the true aims and consequences of policies, and draws on Orwellian Doublespeak:  language that deliberately disguises, distorts, or even reverses the normative meaning of words.

    Ad Horribilis – Appeals to fear seek to build support by instilling anxieties and panic in the general population. For example Goebbels exploited Theodore N. Kaufman’s Germany Must Perish! to claim that the Allies sought the extermination of the German people.

    This strategy is often employed to justify racism.

    Bandwagon – Bandwagon and “inevitable-victory” attempt to persuade the target audience to join in and take the course of action that “everyone else is taking.”

    • Inevitable victory: invites those not already on the bandwagon to join those already on the road to certain victory. Those already, or at least partially on the bandwagon, are reassured that staying aboard is their best course of action.
    • Join the crowd: This technique reinforces people’s natural desire to be on the winning side. See also Behaviourism.

    Black and White fallacy – Presenting only two choices, with the product or idea being propagated as the better choice (e.g. “You are either with us, or you are with the enemy”). So this involves reducing complex issues to overly simplified and contrived oppositional dichotomies, and uncritically favouring one of the two schemata.

    Big Lie – See also Disinformation. The repeated articulation of a complex of series of events that justify subsequent action. The descriptions of these events have elements of truth, and the “big lie” generalisations merge and eventually supplant the public’s accurate perception of the underlying events.

    Common man – The ordinary folks or Common man approach is an attempt to convince the audience that the propagandist’s positions reflect the common sense of the people. It is designed to win the confidence of the audience by communicating in the common manner and style of the target audience. Propagandists use ordinary language and mannerisms (and clothe their message in face-to-face and audiovisual communications) in attempting to identify their point of view with that of the average person.

    A common example of this type of propaganda is a political figure portrayed in a humble backyard, doing daily routine things. This image appeals to the “common person”. The Tories frequently try this one to attempt to shake off the solid, privileged, aristocratic and insular anti-social situation they inhabit, in vain attempts to appear “ordinary”.

    Demonising the enemy – Making individuals from the opposing nation, from a different ethnic group, or those who support the opposing viewpoint appear to be subhuman. The systematic media demonisation of the recipients of any social support and welfare is an example. This is done to erode public sympathy and support for the poor, so that the Government can then remove such “costly” support and hand out taxpayer’s money to the wealthy and private companies instead.

    Direct order – This technique is an attempt to simplify the decision-making process by using images and words to tell the audience exactly what actions to take, eliminating any other possible choices. Authority figures can be used to give the order, overlapping it with the Appeal to authority technique, but not necessarily.

    Disinformation – The creation or deletion of information from public records, in the purpose of making a false record of an event or the actions of a person or organisation, including outright forgery of photographs, motion pictures, broadcasts, and sound recordings as well as printed documents. And in the case of the Tories, statistics (Iain Duncan Smith). See David “paying down the debt” Cameron also.

    An example is Iain Duncan Smith’s lie about his education and qualifications, as stated in his biography on the Conservative Party website, his entry in Who’s Who, and various other places, which make the claim that he went to the Universita di Perugia in Italy. Mr Duncan Smith’s office has been forced to admit to Newsnight researchers investigating his academic background that he didn’t get any qualifications in Perugia, or even finish his exams. It’s easy to see why Mr Duncan Smith has made it his very own personal campaign to “monitor” the BBC for “left-wing bias.”

    Euphoria – The use of an event that generates euphoria or “feel good”, happiness, or using an appealing event to boost morale, such as the Olympic games. Euphoria can also be created by declaring a holiday, or mounting a military parade with marching bands and patriotic messages. Royal weddings and births are elevated and spotlighted by the media for this purpose.

    Flag-waving – An attempt to justify an action on the grounds that doing so will make one more patriotic, or in some way benefit a group, country, or idea. The feeling of patriotism which this technique attempts to inspire may not necessarily diminish or entirely omit one’s capability for rational examination of the matter in question.

    In the most recent budget announcement by the Chancellor George Osborne, a measure was declared that proposes people who have “unfavourable English language skills should have their benefits cut”. A shallow, populist appeal to the shallow “common man” Daily Mail readers. Those who frequent the far-right saw this as a moment of national pride: “keeping Britain for the British”.

    Intentional vagueness – Generalities are deliberately vague so that the audience may supply its own interpretations. The intention is to move the audience by use of undefined phrases, without analysing their validity or attempting to determine their reasonableness or application. The intent is to cause people to draw their own interpretations rather than simply being presented with an explicit idea. In trying to “figure out” the propaganda, the audience forgoes judgement of the ideas presented. Their validity, reasonableness and application may still be considered.

    Not to be confused with “completely ignoring questions”. This is something of a speciality technique of David Cameron. He also mastered the technique of “getting away with it”, but that tends to come with experienced, psychopathic, aristocratic authoritarians.

    Labeling – A Euphemism is used when the propagandist attempts to increase the perceived quality, credibility, or credence of a particular ideal. A Dysphemism is used when the intent of the propagandist is to discredit, diminish the perceived quality

    Name-calling – Propagandists use this technique to incite fears and arouse prejudices in their hearers with the intent that the bad names will cause hearers to construct a negative opinion about a group or set of beliefs or ideas that the propagandist would wish hearers to denounce. The method is intended to provoke conclusions about a matter apart from impartial examinations of facts. Name-calling is thus a substitute for rational, fact-based arguments against the an idea or belief on its own merits.

    Obtain disapproval or Reductio ad Hitlerum – This technique is used to persuade a target audience to disapprove of an action or idea by suggesting that the idea is popular with groups hated or feared by the target audience.

    Red herring – Presenting data or issues that, while compelling, are irrelevant to the argument at hand, and then claiming that it validates the argument. Or if you are Iain Duncan Smith, invention of statistics is the preferred sub-set technique here.

    Repetition – This type of propaganda deals with a jingle or word that is repeated over and over again, thus getting it stuck in someone’s head, so they can buy the product. The “Repetition” method has been described previously. A good example is “making work pay”, which has also become something of a Tory slogan, (see below). The phrase has come to mean stripping social security, and welfare provision, whilst driving down wages at the same time. Another example is Cameron’s unconvincing “Big Society”. There is definitely Orwellian Doublespeak going on there.

    Slogans – A slogan is a brief, striking phrase that may include labeling and stereotyping. Although slogans may be enlisted to support reasoned ideas, in practice they tend to act only as emotional appeals. Opponents of the US’s invasion and occupation of Iraq use the slogan “blood for oil” to suggest that the invasion and its human losses was done to access Iraq’s oil riches. On the other hand, “hawks” who argued that the US should continue to fight in Iraq use the slogan “cut and run” to suggest that it would be cowardly or weak to withdraw from Iraq. Similarly, the names of the military campaigns, such as “enduring freedom” or “just cause”, may also be regarded as slogans, devised to influence people.

    A Tory slogan of epic farce value is: “we are all in it together”. We know that whilst the majority endure austerity, and life changing cuts to our basic income, the minority of very wealthy individuals are enjoying an increase in their already considerable standard of living, at our expense.

    Stereotyping (Name-Calling or Labeling) – This technique attempts to arouse prejudices in an audience by labeling the object of the propaganda campaign as something the target audience fears, hates, loathes, or finds undesirable. For instance, reporting on a foreign country or social group may focus on the stereotypical traits that the reader expects, even though they are far from being representative of the whole country or group; such reporting often focuses on the constructed and amplified negative traits.

    Testimonial – Testimonials are quotations, in or out of context, especially cited to support or reject a given policy, action, program, or personality. The reputation or the role (expert, respected public figure, etc.) of the individual giving the statement is exploited. The testimonial places the official sanction of a respected person or authority in a propaganda message.

    Transfer – Also known as Association, this is a technique of projecting positive or negative qualities (praise or blame) of a person, entity, object, or value (an individual, group, organisation, nation, patriotism, etc.) to another to make the second more acceptable or to discredit it. It evokes an emotional response.

    Unstated assumption – This technique is used when the propaganda concept that the propagandist intends to transmit would seem less credible if explicitly stated. The concept is instead repeatedly assumed or implied.

    An example of this is the current Tory notion of the “trickle down” effect. This is to justify tax breaks or other economic benefits provided by Government to businesses and the wealthy, on the basis that this will benefit poorer members of society eventually by improving the economy as a whole.

    The term has been attributed to humorist Will Rogers, who said, during the Great Depression, that “money was all appropriated for the top in hopes that it would trickle down to the needy.” Worth remembering that the term was originally mostly used ironically or as pejorative. So to clarify the implicit Tory policy directive, money is taken from the poorest, and handed to the wealthiest, with the hope of it being “trickled” back down to the poorest at some point in the future.

    Virtue words – These are words in the value system of the target audience which tend to produce a positive image when attached to a person or issue. Peace, happiness, security, wise leadership, freedom, “The Truth”, striver etc. are virtue words. In countries such as the U.S. religiosity is seen as a virtue, making associations to this quality effectively beneficial.

    Straw man – This type of argument is an informal fallacy based on misrepresentation of an opponent’s position. To “attack a straw man” is to create the illusion of having refuted a proposition by substituting a superficially similar proposition (the “straw man”), and refuting it, without ever having actually refuted the original position.

    Excerpted from: From Psycho-Linguistics to the Politics of Psychopathy. Part 1: Propaganda.  by Kitty S. Jones, July 2013

     

    Psychopath Test Politicians

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  • GeneticPsychosMom (Tina) 09:51 on October 26, 2015 Permalink | Reply
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    A Profoundly Sick Society 

    King Henry VIII, Fat Cat CEO

    I wish to draw attention to researcher Stefan Verstappen who provides valuable insight into how individual agency has shaped and continues to shape society (1).

    While Machiavellianism has long been associated with politics and public conduct, Verstappen shifts focus somewhat by arguing that people with psychopathic personalities have for thousands of years tended to grasp power and impose their views and deeds on the rest of us. In order to get power, he concludes that people cheat, kill or lie their way to the top. Whether it has been due to the butchery or lies of royalty, religious leaders, politicians or corporate oligarchs, nice guys have tended to finish last.

    What leads him to conclude this?

    Psychopathy is a personality disorder identified by characteristics such as a lack of empathy and remorse, criminality, anti-social behaviour, egocentricity, superficial charm, manipulativeness, irresponsibility, impulsivity and a parasitic lifestyle (2).

    With that definition in mind, look around: the criminal, parasitic activities by bankers that have plunged millions into poverty; the destruction, war and death brought to countries in order that corporations profit by stealing resources; the dropping of atom bombs on innocent civilians in 1945 or the use of depleted uranium which again impacts innocent civilians; and the many other acts, from the use of death squads to false flag terror, that have brought untold misery to countless others just because powerholders wanted to hold onto power or to gain more power, or the wealthy wanted to hold onto their wealth or gain even more.

    Based on these terrible deeds, it becomes easy to argue that the people ultimately responsible for them do not adhere to the same values as ordinary people. It may be even easier to conclude that it’s not the cream that rises to the top, but, in many cases, the scum.

    Now such a scenario might seem awful enough, but the people who tend to control the world, the ones responsible for these acts, try to impose their warped world view and twisted values on everyone else. Hollywood films, commercials and political ideology are all engaged in forwarding the belief that it’s a dog eat dog world, war and violence abroad is necessary, competition and not cooperative is what counts, aggression and not passivity is the key to ‘success’ and that success equates with amassing huge amounts of personal wealth and lavish displays of conspicuous consumption.

    “A person with a psychopathic personality, which manifests as amoral and antisocial behavior, lack of ability to love or establish meaningful  personal relationships, extreme egocentricity, failure to learn from experience, etc.” – definition of a psychopath from Dictionary.com

    Again, bearing this definition in mind too, the acts mentioned above are not those of properly functioning social beings that contribute to a sense of communality, altruism, love or morality; quite the opposite in fact.

    Yet this is the type of stuff that is rammed down our throats as constituting normality every day. Whether it’s the ‘Big Brother’ TV show or ‘The Apprentice’ show, these values are promoted day and night. The ‘Big Brother’ winner is the one who can survive and outdo the competition in terms of the duplicity and backstabbing involved along the way. The winner of ‘The Apprentice’ must be more aggressive, more duplicitous, more devious and cunning and more willing to trample over everyone else. And the winner is judged as such by a multi-millionaire who himself was cunning and ruthless enough to have made it to the top of the pile and has amassed millions for his own personal benefit. These are the role models to be admired and emulated!

    These are the measures of success, of sanity, of normality.

    “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” – Jiddu Krishnamurti

    Apprentice competitors are highly driven individuals: not driven by a need to help humanity, but by egocentricity and greed. And, ultimately, these are the values that many mainstream opinion leaders, senior politicians and their corporate masters hold dear.

    These values of egocentricity, aggression, competitiveness, duplicity and greed are not confined to some TV show. There are part of a much more sinister process. They are inextricably linked to and underpin the actions that resulted in the killing of half a million children in Iraq for geo-political gain (3) and the sending in of military forces into the jungles of India to beat, rape and dispose of a nation’s poorest people because they stand in the way of profit and greed (4). From Congo and Libya to Syria and beyond, we witness the outcome of a terrifying mindset that is nurtured and encouraged throughout society.

    Too many people have become “well adjusted to the values of a profoundly sick society,” whether residing in middle England, middle America or the gated communities of south Delhi or Mumbai. Humanity is being beaten down to be neurotic, vicious and to regard these traits as constituting normal, acceptable behaviour. Thanks to the media, this becomes engrained from an early age as comprising ‘common sense’, and those who question it are merely sneered at or ridiculed by a system that promotes a mass mindset immune to its own lies.

    Whether this is all due to psychopathy, narcissism or ‘Machiavellian personalities’ is open to debate. Moreover, as implied at the outset, historical and sociological factors often compel usually decent people to act in terrible ways. The debate within academic sociology between structure and human agency is after all a very long one (5). Whatever the underlying reason, however, as a global community we are being force fed a diet of perverse values and destructive actions, all spuriously justified on the basis that ‘there is no alternative’ and ‘needs must’.   

    Corporate capitalism, consumerism, the new world order, a war on terror (or drugs or poverty, take your pick), neo-liberalism – call it what you will, but it’s all based on the filthy lie that those in control have wider humanity’s interests at heart. They don’t. By any means possible – war, murder, torture or propaganda, they seek to convince people otherwise. What price human life? None whatsoever for such people.

    Notes:

    1) Defense Against the Psychopath (2013): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQkDvO3hz1w

    2) Polaschek, D. L. L., Patrick, C. J., Lilienfeld, S. O. (15 December 2011). “Psychopathic Personality: Bridging the Gap Between Scientific Evidence and Public Policy”. Psychological Science in the Public Interest 12 (3): 95–162. 

    3) Reuters report (2000), UN Says Sanctions Have Killed Some 500,000 Iraqi Children: http://www.commondreams.org/headlines/072100-03.htm

    4) BBC Newsnight interview with Arundhati Roy (2011):http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XrYQmRBdMPQ

    5) Colin Hay (2001), What Place for Ideas in the Structure-Agency Debate? Globalisation as a ‘Process Without a Subject’:http://www.criticalrealism.com/archive/cshay_wpisad.html

    Excerpt from “Psychopathy, Politics and The New World Order” by Colin Todhunter, Global Research May 2013

     
    • nowve666 10:30 on October 26, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I’m tired of all the evils of society being blamed on psychopaths. For 1% of the population to accomplish all that, we must be some sort of superior being. Or do “regular people” have a hand in it too? Here’s a thought. Instead of just giving brain scans to politicians, give them to all “evil doers” before labeling them “psychopaths.”

      You say you are not against us and yet, in this very article, you call us “scum.” Let’s face it. Competion is indemic to our society. By the time they go to school, children have already mastered the tender art of bullying. Is this the fault of psychopaths? Or is human nature darker than you wish to believe?

      Like

    • James 11:27 on October 26, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      So those on top want to brainwash people into becoming more like themselves. Right…
      How does creating more competition benefit those on top exactly?

      Like

  • GeneticPsychosMom (Tina) 10:55 on September 23, 2015 Permalink | Reply
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    The Sneaky Bastard’s (Sociopath) Playbook 

    The Sociopath's PlaybookExcerpt from BOOK REVIEW: The 48 Laws of Power By Ox Drover

    Many times on Lovefraud, bloggers have joked with me that a particular phrase or behavior “came out of the ‘Psychopath’s play book,’“ the kind of book in which a football team would write all their usual plays.

    I recently bought a book entitled, The 48 Laws of Power, by Robert Greene, because it sounded like an interesting book. But the more I got into it, I realized that the heretofore-thought-mythical “Psychopathic Play book” does exist, and this is it!

    Robert Greene, by the way, also wrote The Art of Seduction.

    Here’s what the jacket blurb on the back of The 48 Laws of Power says about its content:

    The best-selling book for those who want POWER, watch POWER, or want to arm themselves against POWER. Amoral, cunning, ruthless and instructive, this piercing work distills three thousand years of the history of power into forty-eight well explicated laws. As attention-grabbing in its design as in its content, this bold volume outlines the laws of power in their unvarnished essence, synthesizing the philosophies of Machiavelli, Sun Tzu, Carol Von Clausewitz and other great thinkers. Some laws require prudence, some stealth, some total absence of mercy, but like it or not, all have applications in real-life situations. Illustrated through the tactics of Queen Elizabeth I, Henry Kissinger, P. T. Barnum, and other famous figures who have wielded, or been victimized by power, these laws will fascinate any reader interested in gaining, observing, or defending against ultimate control.

    The 48 laws are listed in the contentsWolf in Sheep's Clothing

    Law 1: Never outshine the master

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

    Law 3: Conceal your intentions

    Law 4: Always say less than necessary

    Law 5: So much depends on reputation—guard it with your life

    Law 6: Court attention at all cost

    Law 7: Get others to do the work for you, but always take the credit

    Law 8: Make other people come to you—use bait if necessary

    Law 9: Win through your actions, never through argument

    Law 10: Infection: avoid the unhappy and unlucky

    Law 11: Learn to keep people dependent on you

    LiesLaw 12: Use selective honesty and generosity to disarm your victim

    Law 13: When asking for help, appeal to people’s self-interest, never to their mercy or gratitude

    Law 14: Pose as a friend, work as a spy

    Law 15: Crush your enemy totally

    Law 16: Use absence to increase respect and honor

    Law 17: Cultivate an air of unpredictability

    Law 18: Do not built fortresses to protect yourself, isolation is dangerous

    Law 19: Know who you’re dealing with—do not offend the wrong person

    Law 20: Do not commit to anyone

    Law 21: Play a sucker to catch a sucker—seem dumber than your mark

    Law 22: Use the surrender tactic: Transform weakness into power

    Law 23: Concentrate your forces

    Law 24: Play the perfect courtier

    Get a makeoverLaw 25: Re-create yourself

    Law 26: Keep your hands clean

    Law 27: Play on people’s ‘need to believe’ to create a cult-like following

    Law 28: Enter action with boldness

    Law 29: Play all the way to the end

    Law 30: Make your accomplishments seem effortless

    Law 31: Control the options: Get others to play with the cards you deal

    Law 32: Play to people’s fantasies

    Law 33: Discover each man’s thumb screw

    Law 34:Be royal in your own fashion: Act like a king to be treated like a king

    Law 35: Master the art of timing

    Law 36: Disdain things you cannot have: Ignoring them is the best revenge

    Amazing spectacleLaw 37: Create compelling spectacles

    Law 38: Think as you like but behave like others

    Law 39: Stir up waters to catch fish

    Law 40: Despise the free lunch

    Law 41: Avoid stepping into a great man’s shoes

    Law 42 Strike the shepherd and the sheep will scatter

    Law 43: Work on the hearts and minds of others

    Law 44: Disarm and infuriate with the mirror effect

    Law 45: Preach the need for change, but never reform too much at once

    Law 46: Never appear too perfect

    Law 47: Do not go past the mark you aimed for; in victory, learn when to stop

    Law 48: Assume formlessness

    Perfect advice for psychopaths

    The preface of the book gets right down to business:

    No one wants less power, everyone wants more … in the world today, however, it is dangerous to seem too power hungry, to be overt with your power moves. We have to seem fair and decent. So we need to be subtle—congenial yet cunning, democratic, yet devious.

    This game of constant duplicity most resembles the power dynamic that existed in the scheming world of the old aristocratic court(s).

    The author, Greene, then goes on to perfectly describe the psychopath’s ways, without naming him such “…those who make a show or display of innocence are the least innocent of all.” What else but a psychopath could “recognize…by the way they flaunt their moral qualities, their piety, their exquisite sense of justice … but (they) are merely throwing dust in our eyes distracting us from their power plays with their air of moral superiority….you will see they are often the ones most skillful at indirect manipulation, …and they greatly resent any publicizing of the tactics they use.”

    Emotions

    In directing his readers how to master the most important skills in acquiring power, Greene tells them that the most important foundation is to “master your emotions.” He states that an emotional response is the single greatest barrier to gaining power. In this particular thing, I totally agree with him, because if we are emotional about a situation, we lose sight of the ultimate goal, and as he says, “cannot prepare for and respond to it with any degree of control.”

    Greene goes on to say that anger is the most destructive of emotional responses, and “clouds your vision the most.” Again, I totally agree with Greene in this statement, but then he goes on to add what I would think is directed more toward the vengeful psychopath than to less pathological people, “If you are trying to destroy an enemy who has hurt you, far better to keep him off-guard by feigning friendliness than showing your anger.”

    The mask

    Psychopaths have been described by many writers as “wearing a mask” or even “the mask of sanity.” Greene seems to be very aware of this “masking” when he advises his readers that, “You cannot succeed at deception unless you take a somewhat distanced approach to yourself—unless you can be many different people, wearing the mask that the day and moment require.”

    Psychopaths tend to project blame for their behavior on to other people, to refuse to assume responsibility for any of the things they have done. They lie “when the truth would fit better.” Greene says, “Power requires the ability to play with appearances. To this end you must learn to wear many masks and keep a bag full of deceptive tricks.” He goes on to say, “Playing with appearances and mastering arts of deception are among the aesthetic pleasures of life. They are also the key components in the acquisition of power.”

    Green does not seem to view deception or the acquisition of power as anything immoral, and he actually says, “Power is essentially amoral…power is a game…and in games you do not judge your opponents by their intentions but by the effect of their actions.” He goes on to advise the reader to not be caught by assuming that someone has good intentions, or that their good intentions matter. Greene advises his readers that some sets of moral judgments are “really an excuse for the accumulation of power.” I can definitely agree with that last statement. Frequently, religion and moral judgments are used as justification for a power stance that has no other legitimacy, and does great harm to the victims.

    Chapter One

    For each of the 48 laws of power, Green has a short chapter that consists of the name of the law, the first being, “Never Outshine the Master.”  Then he has a section called “Judgment,” in which he explains more fully the named law of power. The first law is reasonably self-explanatory and makes sense, really, because if you show your boss you are superior to him/her, then he/she will resent you.

    After giving several good examples of using this law, or failing to use this law, Greene finishes up Chapter One by saying, “You cannot worry about upsetting every person you come across, but you must be selectively cruel. If your superior is a falling star, there is nothing to fear in outshining him. Do not be merciful—your master had no such scruples in his own cold-blooded climb to the top. Gauge his strength. If he is weak, discreetly hasten his downfall: Outdo, outcharm, outsmart him at key moments.”

    While this book seems aimed at the “amoral-wannabe-politician on the way up,” rather than the psychopathic “wannabe-gang-banger thug” on the corner who is illiterate, I think that those of us who have had or even will have associations with psychopaths, or “Snakes in Suits” (to highjack the name of the book as a noun), should read this to learn how to discern when we are being played by the power-seeker. If we can recognize the masks for their deceptive cover, we can avoid the consequences of being played, or possibly turn the play back on to the player.

    Disturbing, but necessary, reading

    Frankly, this book made me uncomfortable while I was reading it, I think possibly by showing me “red flags” of power plays that I had experienced in the past, but had not quite recognized at the time I was being played. However, I do think the knowledge I gained by reading this book is well worth the slight discomfort. It isn’t a book that you can “zip through” quickly, but one that must, like the textbook that it is, read and ponder, and even re-read, and ponder again.

    The most personally disturbing part of the book was one in which he was discussing the siege of Troy, and he said, “Image: The Trojan Horse. Your guile is hidden inside a magnificent gift that proves irresistible to your opponent. The walls open. Once inside, wreak havoc.”

    We must learn to protect ourselves from those power-players who have no conscience, the power players who will use calculated acts of kindness or proffered gifts to earn our trust. Selective kindness can be the biggest part of the arsenal of deception. “Aimed for the heart, it corrodes the will to fight back.”

    The 48 Laws of Power is available on Amazon.com.

    Source:  BOOK REVIEW: The 48 Laws of Power, by Ox Drover, December 2010

    Photos courtesy Ged Carroll, Kris Krug, Mary Doodles

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    Psychopath Test Politicians

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