Power & Politics Revisited

I once gave a at the NY Speech Communication Association about the practice of power and politics in small groups. It was not based on The Prince (Machiavelli). My main point was that although the group leader has the organizational power in the small group setting, the leader needs political skills to rein in members who have the power to derail stated group objectives. “Because I said so,” doesn’t work.

I ran though a list of typical counterproductive attitudes that can make a group effort a minefield and tactics a leader can use to discover and disarm objections. Mine was a gentle treatment because I couldn’t stomach the notion that hard-line politics would operate in a “friendly” small group.

Several years later, Robert Greene published his blockbuster book, The 48 Laws of Power. I read reviews, but not the book, because the book seemed to be a rehash of Machiavelli, who I thought was cynical and beyond the pale of everyman’s daily challenges in today’s world.

That was then, when I when I was a goody-goody. I also thought Mark Twain and P.T. Barnum, among others, were edgy.

My perspective has changed. I now think it’s wise to go out into the jungle of civilization armed to the teeth with hard-nosed survival tactics, just in case. I still like to think Greene’s laws are overkill, yet, the places I laughed hardest are the ones I sat back to think about, hardest.

I heartily recommend that The 48 Laws of Power be standard reading. My question: Am I the only one who sees not-so-amusing parallels in U.S. politics today? Knowing how to create the illusions is key to thwarting their ability to influence you.