Robert Greene Interview

Monday, October 23rd, 2006, which describes itself as “the largest Sun Tzu website,” interviews Robert Greene (The 48 Laws of Power, The 33 Strategies of War): Flavius Vegetius Renatus said, “Let him who desires peace prepare for war.” Do you think most people are too focused on trying to obtain peace without first learning to how deal with war?

Greene: Yes. That is a major concept in The 33 Strategies. There is too much conflict avoidance in our culture. Some of this comes from a lot of political correctness that has filtered its way through society. Some of it comes from the importance of always appearing to be on the side of peace, cooperation, fairness to one and all. But life involves constant competition and conflict and how you deal with this will determine your fate in life. Being steeped in the art of war does not make you aggressive, at least not under the banner of Sun–tzu. Rather it makes you smarter, more prudent, better able to handle life’s inevitable struggles with intelligence. I want my book to ground the reader in certain basic principles, so when conflict comes, he or she can take the proper stance, like a swordsman.

Besides, I hate the way war is seen as something inherently brutal and ugly. Yes, much of war nowadays brings out the worst part of our nature. But in war, all kinds of noble human traits have been developed, such as discipline, cohesion, pride. All of life involves a kind of warfare, and a lot of Hindu texts spiritualize warfare into a struggle from within, to gain control over your own beastly nature. People with bumperstickers that say “War is not the answer” are such idiots. Tell that to those countries that found themselves invaded by the Nazis. As Heraclitus wrote, “War is the father of everything. Some it makes slaves, others masters.”

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