let people depend on you but .. transgression of the law

Sometime in the Middle Ages, a mercenary soldier (a condottiere), whose
name has not been recorded, saved the town of Siena from a foreign aggressor. How could the good citizens of Siena reward hirn? No amount of
money or honor could possibly compare in value to the preservation of a
city's liberty. The citizens thought of making the mercenary the lord of the
city, but even that, they decided, wasn't recompense enough. At last one of
them stood before the assembly called to debate this matter and said, "Let
us kill hirn and then worship hirn as our patron saint." And so they did.
The Count of Carmagnola was ene of the bravest and most successful
of all the condottieri. In 1442, late in his life, he was in the employ of the city
of Venice, which was in the midst of a long war with Florence. The count
was suddenly recalled to Venice. A favorite of the people, he was received
there with all kinds of honor and splendor. That evening he was to dine
with the doge hirnself, in the doge's palace. On the way into the palace,
however, he noticed that the guard was leading hirn in a different direction
from usual. Crossing the famous Bridge of Sighs, he suddenly realized
where they were taking him-to the dunge on.

 He was convicted on a
trumped-up charge and the next day in the Piazza San Marco, before a
horrified crowd who could not understand how his fate had changed so
drastically, he was beheaded.
Many of the great condottieri of Renaissance Italy suffered the same fate as
the patron saint of Siena and the Count of Carmagnola: They won battle
after battle for their employers only to find themselves banished, imprisoned, or executed. The problem was not ingratitude; it was that there were
so many other condottieri as able and valiant as they were. They were replaceable. Nothing was lost by killing them. Meanwhile, the older among
them had grown powerful themselves, and wanted more and more money
for their services. How much better, then, to do away with them and hire a
younger, cheaper mercenary. That was the fate of the Count of Carmagnola,

 who had started to act impudently and independently. He had taken
his power for granted without making sure that he was truly indispensable.
Such is the fate (to a less violent degree, one hopes) of those who do
not make others dependent on them. Sooner or later someone comes along
who can do the job as weIl as they can-someone younger, fresher, less expensive, less threatening.
Be the only one who can do what you do, and make the fate of those who
hire you so entwined with yours that they cannot possibly get rid of you.
Otherwise you will someday be forced to cross your own Bridge of Sighs.
When Qtto von Bismarck became a deputy in the Prussian parliament in
1847, he was thirty-two years old and without an ally or friend. Looking
1 1 1 1,: TII < > 1 1< > lb l:-;
Tivo horses 

' E U
Then the Woman
lallghed and set the Cat
a bowl ofthe warm
white milk ami said, "0
Cat, you are as clever
as a ,nan, hut rememha that your bargain
was not made with the
Man vr the Dog, and I
do not know whal they
will do when Ihey eome
home, " "What is that 10
me? " said the Cat. "If I
have my plaee in the
Cave by the Jire ami my
warm white milk three
times a day, 

I do nol
ellre what the Man or
the Dog ean do. "
. . . Ami from thaI day
to thi.l, Best Beloved,
thre!' proper Men oul
of Jive will always
throw things at a Cat
whcnever they meet
hilll, and all proper
[Jogs will ('hase him up
a tree. But the Cat
keeps his side of the
hllrgain tvo. He will kill
mice, ami he will be
kind to Rabies when he
is in fhe house, JUSf as
long fiS they do not pull
his tail too hard. Bul
when he has done that,
and belween limes, and
when Ihe moon gels IIp
ami Ihe nighl comes, he
is Ihe Cat Iha! walks by
himsel/; and all plaees
are alike fo him. Then
he goes oul to the Wet
Wild Woods or up Ihe
Wel Wild Trces or on
the Wet Wild Roofs,
waving his wild tail
and walking by his
wild lone.
1 865-1936
84 LAW 11
around hirn, he decided that the side to ally hirnself with was not the parliament's liberals or conservatives, not any particular minister, and certainly not the people. It was with the king, Frederick William IV. This was
an odd choice to say the least, for Frederick was at a low point of his power.
A weak, indecisive man, he consistently gave in to the liberals in parliament; in fact he was spineless, and stood for much that Bismarck disliked,
personally and politically. Yet Bismarck courted Frederick night and day.
When other deputies attacked the king for his many inept moves, only Bismarck stood by hirn.
Finally, it all paid off: In 1851 Bismarck was made a minister in the
king's ca))inet. Now he went to work. Time and again he forced the king's
hand, getting rum to build up the military, to stand up to the liberals, to do
exactly as Bismarck wished. He worked on Frederick's insecurity about his
manliness, challenging rum to be firm and to mle with pride. And he
slowly restored the king's powers until the monarchy was once again the
most powernd force in Prussia.
When Frederick died, in 1861, his brother William assumed the
throne. William disliked Bismarck intensely and had no intention of keeping hirn around. But he also inherited the same situation his brother had:
enernies galore, who wanted to rubble his power away. He actually considered abdicating, feeling he lacked the strength to deal with this dangerous
and precarious position. But Bismarck insinuated hirnself once again. He
stood by the new king, gave hirn strength, and urged hirn into firm and decisive action. The king grew dependent on Bismarck's strong-arm tactics to
keep his enemies at bay, and despite his antipathy toward the man, he soon
made rum his prime minister. The two quarreled often over policyBismarck was much more conservative-but the king understood his own
dependency. Whenever the prime minister threatened to resign, the king
gave in to rum, time after time. It was in fact Bismarck who set state policy.
Years later, Bismarck's actions as Prussia's prime minister led the various German state

� to be united into one country. Now Bismarck finagled
the king into letting hirnself be crowned emperor of Germany. Yet it was
really Bismarck who had reached the heights of power. As right-hand man
to the emperor, and as imperial chancellor and knighted prince, he pulled
all the levers.
Most young and ambitious politicians looking out on the political landscape
of 1840s Germany would have tried to build a power base among those
with the most power. Bismarck saw different. Joirung forces with the powernd can be foolish: 

They will swallow you up, just as the doge of Venice
swallowed up the Count of Carmagnola. No one will come to depend on
you if they are already strong. If you are ambitious, it is much wiser to seek
out weak mlers or masters with whom you can create a relationsrup of dependency. You become their strength, their intelligence, their spine. What
power you hold! If they got rid of you the whole edifice would collapse.
Necessity mIes the world. People rarely act unless compelled to. If you
create no need for yourself, then you will be done away with at first opportunity. If, on the other hand, you understand the Laws of Power and make
others depend on you for their welfare, if you can counteract their weakness with your own "iron and blood," in Bismarck's phrase, then you will
sUlvive your masters as Bismarck did. You will have all the benefits of
power without the thoms that come from being a master.
Thus a wise prince will think 0/ ways to keep his citizens 0/ every sart
and under every circumstance dependent on the state and on him;
and then they will always be trustworthy.
Niccolo Machiavelli, 1 469-1527
The ultimate power is the power to get people to do as you wish. When you
can do this without having to force people or hurt them, when they willingly grant you what you desire, then your power is untouchable. The best
way to achieve this position is to create a relationship of dependence. The
master requires your services; he is weak, or unable to function without
you; you have enmeshed yourself in his work so deeply that doing away
with you would bring hirn great difficulty, or at least would mean valuable
time lost in training another to replace you. Once such a relationship is established you have the upper hand, the leverage to make the master do as
you wish. It is the classic case of the man behind the throne, the servant of
the king who actually controls the king. Bismarck did not have to bully either Frederick or William into doing his bidding. He simply made it clear
that unless he got what he wanted he would walk away, leaving the king to
twist in the wind. Both kings soon danced tn Bismarck's tune.
Do not be one of the many who mistakenly believe that the ultimate
form of power is independence. Power involves a relationship between
people; you will always need others as allies, pawns, or even as weak masters who serve as your front. The completely independent man would live
in a cabin in the woods-he would have the freedom to come and go as he
pleased, but he would have no power. The best you can hope for is that
others will grow so dependent on you that you enjoy a kind of reverse independence: Their need for you frees you.
Louis XI (1423-1483), the great Spider King of France, had a weakness for astrology. He kept a court astrologer whom he admired, until one
day the man predicted that a lady of the court would die within eight days.
When the prophecy came true, Louis was terrified, thinking that either the
man had murdered the woman to prove his accuracy or that he was so
versed in his science that his powers threatened Louis hirnself. In either
case he had to be killed.
One evening Louis summoned the astrologer to his room, high in the
castle. Before the man arrived, the king told his servants that when he gave
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1'1 1 1,: \ 1\1-'
An extravagant young
Vinc, vainly amhitious
of irulependencc, and
fond of ramhling al
large, despised the
alliance of a stately elm
Ihat grew near, ami
courted her emhraces.
Having risen to some
small height withoul
any kind o[support,
she shol forth her
flimsy branches to a
very uncomnwn und
super(luous lengI";
calling on her neighhour 

10 lake notice how
!iule she wunled his
assislance. "Poor injllluated shrub, " replied
the elm, "how inconsistent is thy conduct!
Wouldsl tho/l he truly
independent, Ilwu
shouldsl carefully
apply those juices to
Ihe enlargement of Ihy
stem, which thou
lavishest in vain upon
unnecessary j(,!iag!'. J
shortly shall hehold
thee grovelling on the
ground; yet ('ountcnanced, indeerl, hy
many of the human
race, who, intoxicated
wilh vanilY, have
despised economy; and
wh", to supporl for a
moment their emply
hoast of independence,
have exhausted Ihe
verv so/ace of it in frivohms expenses. "

1 703-1 764
LAW 11 85
86 LAW 11
the signal they were to pick the astrologer up, carry him to the window,
and hurl him to the ground, hundreds of feet below.
The astrologer so on arrived, but before giving the signal, Louis de-­
cided to ask him one last question: "You claim to understand astrology and
to know the fate of others, so tell me what your fate will be and how long
you have to live."
"I shall die just three days before Your Majesty," the astrologer replied.
The king's signal was never given. The man's life was spared. The Spider
King not only protected bis astrologer for as long as he was alive, he lavished him with gifts and had him tended by the finest court doctors.
The astrologer survived Louis by several years, disproving his power
of prophecy but proving his mastery of power.
This is the model: Make others dependent on you. To get rid of you
might spell disaster, even death, and your master dares not tempt fate by
finding out. There are many ways to obtain such a position. Foremost
among them is to possess a talent and creative skill that simply cannot be
During the Renaissance, the major obstacle to a painter's success was
finding the right patron. Michelangelo did this better than anyone else: His
patron was Pope Julius H. But he and the pope quarreled over the building
of the pope's marble tomb, and Michelangelo left Rome in disgust. To the
amazement of those in the pope's circle, not only did the pope not fire him,
he sought him out and in his own haughty way begged the artist to stay. 

Michelangelo, he knew, could find another patron, but he could never find
another Michelangelo.
You do not have to have the talent of a Michelangelo; you do have to
have a skill that sets you apart from the crowd. You should create a situation in which you can always latch on to another master or patron but your
master cannot easily find another servant with your particular talent. And
if, in reality, you are not actually indispensable, you must find a way to
make it look as if you are. Having the appearance of specialized knowledge
and skill gives you leeway in your ability to deceive those above you into
thinking they cannot do without you. Real dependence on your master's
part, however, leaves him more vulnerable to you than the faked variety,
and it is always within your power to make your skill indispensable.
This is what is meant by the intertwining of fates: Like creeping ivy,
you have wrapped yourself around the source of power, so that it would
cause great trauma to cut you away. And you do not necessarily have to entwine yourself around the master; another person will do, as long as he or
she too is indispensable in the chain.
One day Harry Cohn, president of Columbia Pictures, was visited in
his office by a gloomy group of his executives. It was 1951, when the witchhunt against Communists in Hollywood, carried on by the U.S. Congress's
House Un-American Activities Committee, was at its height. The executives had bad news:

 One of their employees, the screenwriter John Howard
Lawson, had been singled out as a Communist. They had to get rid of him
right away or suffer the wrath of the committee.
Harry Cohn was no bleeding-heart liberal; in fact, he had always been
a die-hard Republican.
His favorite politician was Benito Mussolini, whom he had once visited, and whose framed photo hung on his wall. If there was someone he
hated Cohn would call him a "Communist bastard." But to the executives'
amazement Cohn told them he would not fire Lawson. He did not keep the
screenwriter on because he was a good writer-there were many good
writers in Hollywood. He kept hirn because of a chain of dependence:
Lawson was Humphrey Bogart's writer and Bogart was Columbia's star. 

Cohn messed with Lawson he would ruin an immensely profitable relationship. That was worth more than the terrible publicity brought to hirn
by his defiance of the committee.
Henry Kissinger managed to survive the many bloodlettings that went
on in the Nixon White House not because he was the best diplomat Nixon
could find-there were other fine negotiators-and not because the two
men got along so well: They did not. Nor did they share their beliefs and
politics. Kissinger survived because he entrenched hirnself in so many
areas of the political structure that to do away with hirn would lead to
chaos. Michelangelo's power was intensive, depending on one skilI, his ability as an artist; Kissinger's was extensive. He got hirnself involved in so
many aspects and departments of the administration that his involvement
became a card in his hand. It also made hirn many allies. If you can
arrange such a position for yourself, getting rid of you becomes
dangerous-all sorts of interdependencies will unravel. Still, the intensive
form of power provides more freedom than the extensive, because those
who have it depend on no particular master, or particular position of
power, for their security.
To make others dependent on you, one route to take is the secretintelligence tactic. By knowing other people's secrets, by holding information that they wouldn't want broadcast, you seal your fate with theirs. You
are untouchable. Ministers of secret police have held this position throughout the ages: They can make or break a king, or, as in the case of J. Edgar
Hoover, a president. But the role is so full of insecurities and paranoia that
the power it provides almost cancels itself out. You cannot rest at ease, and
what good is power if it brings you no peace?
One last waming: Do not imagine that your master's dependence on
you will make him love you. In fact, he may resent and fear you. But, as
Machiavelli said, it is better to be feared than loved. Fear you can control;
love, never. Depending on an emotion as subtle and changeable as love or
friendship will only make you insecure. Better to have others depend on
you out of fear of the consequences of losing you than out of love of your
LAW 11 87
Image: Vines with Many Thorns. Below, the roots grow deep
and wide. Above, the vines push through bushes, entwine themselves
88 LAW 11
around trees and poles and window ledges. To get rid of them
would cost such toil and blood, it is easier to let them climb.
Authority: Make people depend on
you. More is to be gained from
such dependence than courtesy. He
who has slaked his thirst, immediately turns his back on the well,
no longer needing it. When dependence disappears, so does civility
and decency, and then respect.
The first lesson which experience
should te ach you is to keep hope
alive but never satisfied, keeping
even a royal patron ever in need of
you. (Baltasar Graciän, 1601-1658)

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