This is the eighth and final installment of The Masculine Epic’s analysis of Donald Trump’s campaign for president through the lens of Robert Greene’s The 48 Laws of Power. Part seven can be found here.
Law 43: Work on the Hearts and Minds of Others:
Coercion creates a reaction that will eventually work against you. You must seduce others into wanting to move in your direction. A person you have seduced becomes your loyal pawn. And the way to seduce others is to operate on their individual psychologies and weaknesses. Soften up the resistant by working on their emotions, playing on what they hold dear and what they fear. Ignore the hearts and minds of others and they will grow to hate you.
Donald Trump has done this better than anyone. The biggest reason why politicians and the media are so hated is because they are so out of touch. Around two-thirds of Americans now consider political correctness a serious problem, for instance, but the elites just keep pushing it, along with unpopular immigration and trade policies.
By knowing this, and by moving these levers, Donald Trump has built himself an unshakable base of power that refuses to leave him, no matter how many gaffes he may have. It’s easy to abandon someone that you don’t even truly like when he makes a mistake – these are the “laws of political gravity.” When someone says what you long to say and sees your desires, appealing to them, that man is almost immortal.
Law 44: Disarm and Infuriate with the Mirror Effect:
The mirror reflects reality, but it is also the perfect tool for deception: When you mirror your enemies, doing exactly as they do, they cannot figure out your strategy. The Mirror Effect mocks and humiliates them, making them overreact. By holding a mirror up to their psyches, you seduce them with the illusion that you share their values; by holding a mirror up to their actions, you teach them a lesson. Few can resist the power of the Mirror Effect.
There are several components that Robert Greene highlights in this maxim of power:
1. The Neutralizing Effect:
This involves mimicking your opponent’s actions to infuriate him. Robert Greene himself says it is often seen in political campaigning, but what is most interesting to me was that Donald Trump has used it against the media.
The media hates the American people at large. It constantly disparages them, tells them they’re “racist” and evil, and denigrates their way of life. How dare they even be concerned?
But Donald Trump has now done the same against the media, saying that “reporters are scum” to great applause. This has absolutely infuriated them. When Trump supposedly mocked a reporter’s physical disability, is it really out of touch with things the media has done in the past? Does anyone even remember this incident, which got no such outrage?
Had the tables been turned, there’d be an outrage, but because Palin is representative of a class of people the media hates, it turns to glee.
Well, the tables have now, indeed, been turned. The media is feeling the same mockery that it constantly uses against anyone that doesn’t pledge himself entirely to the approved narrative.
And it is glorious.
2. The Narcissus Effect:
This involves finding the inmost desires of your mark and reflecting them back. You become their object of love and desire in this way, and now have immense power over them.
No one has done this better than Donald Trump. One reason for his popularity, as has often been mentioned, is that he is saying the things everyone wants to say but cannot for fear of the politically correct orthodoxy and Inquisition. With all of this anger bubbled up inside, Donald Trump is allowing it to explode through him, catapulting him into a position of immense power.
3. The Moral Effect:
Related to the neutralizing mirror, in this effect, you mirror what other people have done to you.
Donald Trump doesn’t seem to do this. He hits back ten times as hard, and on different, more effective lines.
4. The Hallucinatory Effect:
In this, you create a copy of something and deceive your marks into thinking it’s the real deal.
Donald Trump probably does this, maybe even with his policy prescriptions, but it’s a bit hard to say at the moment.
Law 45: Preach the Need for Change, but Never Reform too Much at Once:
Everyone understands the need for change in the abstract, but on the day-to-day level people are creatures of habit. Too much innovation is traumatic, and will lead to revolt. If you are new to a position of power, or an outsider trying to build a power base, make a show of respecting the old way of doing things. If change is necessary, make it feel like a gentle improvement on the past.
Donald Trump triumphs on this law of power – not breaking too radically with the past and always giving it its due, because he is facing Year Zero revolutionaries. “Social justice” warriors, as I write in my book, are heirs to a long line of revolutionaries who tried to totally destroy the past, leaving chaos and oppression in their wake.
By positioning himself as being opposed to these radicals, Donald Trump has already done his job. The fact that he is radically breaking from Republican politics for example, such as possibly supporting universal healthcare (a claim he denies), goes almost unnoticed.
Donald Trump, with his nationalism, is currently the champion of the past against the far left and their cuckservative enablers who seek to destroy it, and the response he’s gotten has been indicative of this.
Law 46: Never Appear too Perfect:
Appearing better than others is always dangerous, but most dangerous of all is to appear to have no faults or weaknesses. Envy creates silent enemies. It is smart to occasionally display defects, and to admit to harmless vices, in order to deflect envy and appear more human and approachable. Only gods and the dead can seem perfect with impunity.
This doesn’t need to be explained with Donald Trump. No one will ever confuse him for being perfect. This is one of the reasons why Romney was so unlikable. He was such a white-shoe stiff.
However, I do find it humorous that Donald Trump has paid heed to this anyway, most amusingly when he was discussing his People cover a few months ago, mentioning how they made his nose look messy.
Law 47: Do Not Go Past the Mark You Aimed for; in Victory, Know When to Stop:
The moment of victory is often the moment of greatest peril. In the heat of victory, arrogance and overconfidence can push you past the goal you had aimed for, and by going too far, you make more enemies than you defeat. Do not allow success to go to your head. There is no substitute for strategy and careful planning. Set a goal, and when you reach it, stop.
We don’t know yet. Donald Trump has not won anything in the campaign at the moment.
Law 48: Assume Formlessness:
By taking a shape, by having a visible plan, you open yourself to attack. Instead of taking a form for your enemy to grasp, keep yourself adaptable and on the move. Accept the fact that nothing is certain and no law is fixed. The best way to protect yourself is to be as fluid and formless as water; never bet on stability or lasting order. Everything changes.
Donald Trump has done this when his opponents have said that he “lacks specifics.” In a sense, he’s giving them nothing to attack, all the while he creates smokescreens and induces outrage with his bombastic rhetoric. He keeps attention on the spectacle, all the while seeming to gather his plans behind the scenes, which he will be ready to bring in at the most opportune moment.
And that concludes our series! As we head into the new year, it will be very interesting to see how Donald Trump applies Robert Greene’s The 48 Laws of Power to the time of voting in the primaries and beyond. I’m sure there will be much yet to discuss on this topic!
If you want to take your own power plays to the next level, read the spiritual continuation of this series: Stumped: How Trump Triumphed.