When Politicians “Pull a Richelieu”

Pulling a Richelieu


Cardinal Richelieu, born in France in 1585, was an expert in discerning how to manipulate or motivate the subjects of the Crown (King Louis XIII at that time and place in history). In his Political Testament, he noted that “… most people can be held to their duty through either fear or hope.” Leaders throughout human history, whether politicians, religious figureheads, or elders of a tribe, have long known the power of hope and fear in getting people to do what they otherwise would not have done by either terrifying them or inspiring them.


For this reason, the use of the phrase mind control is incomplete. The concept of controlling a group or civilization’s thoughts is rooted in influencing – asserting authority over – their emotions first. The two most primal emotions we feel, after love for our offspring (which is attachment, not desire for happiness) are hope and fear. Our emotions cause our thoughts; then, feelings and thoughts combine to lead to a specific perception of reality. For example, “life is what you make of it” is a perception of reality that doesn’t acknowledge the influence of people and events outside ourselves. “Shit happens” is a perception of reality that doesn’t acknowledge that good events happen randomly too. This three step recipe for influencing the feelings, thoughts, and complex perceptions of a people would more completely be described as behavior control. And it always starts with the planting of a seed: the seed of hope or the seed of fear.


So what’s the difference between Motivation and Manipulation?




When we use our Power of influence to get someone to do something they would not have otherwise done, and they are glad they did it, we have motivated them. When we use our power of influence to get someone to do something they would not have otherwise done, and they regret it, we have manipulated them. 

• People (regardless of whether or not their hearts are open or closed) will often feel motivated, safe and/or protected by that display of confidence, even if it is also an attempt to assert dominance, under certain circumstances. You probably know that a con artist is someone who convinces you to take part in an activity that you would not have participated in had you been aware of the true nature of the activity. Con is short for confidence. Why? Because the con artist gains your confidence before he convinces you to take part or gains your consent to act (illegally) on your behalf. Confidence indicates a low level of fear, and fearless people can make other people feel safe. Their intrepidity inspires (or convinces) us to trust them. Trust is another inversion, a practice that allows us to deny the symptoms instead of treating the underlying cause. In this case, trust is the denial of risk. Because we don’t want to be afraid as human beings, because fear is uncomfortable, we are eager to deny its presence in our bodies. When someone says, “trust me,” they are holding up a red neon sign that says, “deny the feeling in your stomach that something is not right.”


Want to read more about trading in trust for calculated risk? Click here.



Thoughts? Your comment will not immediately appear. It will first be approved by the moderator.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s