Law 15: Crush Your Enemy Totally

The 48 Laws Of Power Summary Series


“All great leaders since Moses have known that a feared enemy must be crushed completely. (Sometimes they have learned this the hard way.) if one ember is left alight, no matter how dimly it smolders, a fire will eventually break out. More is lost through stopping halfway than through total annihilation: The enemy will recover, and will seek revenge. Crush him, not only in body but in spirit.”

Keys To Power

“The remnants of an enemy can become active like those of a disease or fire. Hence, these should be exterminated completely. One should never ignore an enemy, knowing him to be weak. He becomes dangerous in due course, like the spark of fire in a haystack.” — Kautilya, Indian Philosopher, Third Centuryb. BC.

Chinese history contains many examples of enemies that have been left alive only to end up returning for revengeful chaos. As a result, a moral within Chinese culture became ‘crush the enemy’.

Some may think this is a very aggressive and extreme approach.

So how might we apply this to our life?

You may think …

Crush my enemy?

I don’t want to kill anybody. I’m not a Chinese leader.

I’m not about to take over a country.

If we look beyond the surface level there are many practical applications to this law. Example: What’s a competitive environment you see yourself in that may require you to defeat and crush your opponent?

How about sports?

It’s fair to say a large portion of the population have played some type of competitive sport. We often see teams come back from large deficits in the last portion of games because possessing a lead gives us a certain psychological comfort and complacency. This can be seen frequently within basketball. You can’t afford to take your foot off the pedal. You must crush your enemy totally with a relentlessness alike to Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant.

Michael Jordan is a prime example of this law. While he’s not contained in this book he was a true competitor who never gave up no matter how much time was left on the clock. He possessed a hyper focused mindset to keep attacking his opponent until he had beaten them into psychological and physical submission. Michael Jordan strived to crush his enemy totally. There was no remorse for his opponent. He was going to win by any means necessary.

But it’s not just sports that can apply this law. It’s any type of competitive field.

What about a business?

What if you were an actor or musician?

If you don’t believe this law applies to fields like those I would encourage you to analyse the mentality of how you approach your field.

What I think doesn’t get conveyed in this law effectively is that you don’t have to physically “crush your enemy”. You do not have to commit moral unjust in order to execute this law. “Crushing your enemy” is a mentality from which you approach your field in order to dominate your competition and adversaries. This can be applied through simply outworking everyone in your office and/or outsmarting those around you.

Robert notes a short anecdote that many religious people may resonate with.

“The wisdom behind “crushing the enemy” is as ancient as the Bible: Its first practitioner may have been Moses, who learned it from God himself, when he parted the Red Sea for the Jews, then let the water flow back over the pursuing Egyptians so that “not so much as one of them remained…

When Moses returned from Mount Sinai with the Ten Commandments and found his people worshiping the Golden Calf, he had every last of fender slaughtered. And just before he died, he told his followers, finally about to enter the Promised Land, that when they had defeated the tribes of Canaan they should “utterly destroy them… make no covenant with them, and show no mercy to them.”

Once again, looking beyond the initial title of this law is paramount to creating a deeper understanding and application of knowledge.

Who sais your “goals” cannot be your enemy to which you crush? I don’t know about you but I want to CRUSH my goals entirely. When lofty goals are created, massive action is needed. If one possess exceptional expectations for their life they are mistaken in thinking they can simply stroll through their goals. You need to attack every single day. That’s the enemy: the day — because our days are running out. This gift that we call life is running out. To take full advantage of it is to give everything we can and crush it entirely.

Life as the enemy, and the friend.

It’s the enemy to which you destroy and beat into submission squeezing everything you can out of it … and it’s the friend to which you surrender, dance and make love to.



Constantly attacking and being so aggressive to crush whatever is in your path may garner a certain negative reputation among a specific minority. Though these minorities are probably the same that believe The 48 Laws Of Power is an evil and manipulative book that should be destroyed. Regardless of their misinformed nature it’s important to note that it’s a possible reality.

To them I may ask, rather than let other’s plot revenge around you (because they eventually will). Isn’t it wiser to prepare yourself, go on the offence and crush them first?

Originally Posted

Self reflective writings & book summaries on philosophy, psychology and human behaviour.

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