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Divide and conquer the policy of maintaining control over one's subordinates or opponents by encouraging dissent between them, thereby preventing them from uniting in opposition.

divide and rule government is more easily maintained if factions are set against each other, and not allowed to unite against the ruler. The saying, recorded in English from the early 17th century, translates the Latin maxim divide et impera; it is sometimes misattributed to Machiavelli, who in fact denounced the principle.

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