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  1. #1

    Default The Logic of Power

    The title of this thread is inspired by title of the first chapter in a book Magic Profran recommended in another thread.

    Quote Originally Posted by Magic Poriferan View Post
    I obviously wouldn't say that business people are evil. I usually refrain from using that word in the first place. They are just people, though, and I do priniciply believe that power corrupts. As such, the wealthier a business is, and the larger share of the earnings that goes the executivse, the more distrustful I am of those managing a business.

    We can see in political rulers that the effect of controlling a country is extremely mind warping. Now, you might say that a CEO doesn't have the power of a Soveity Premier, but they do work their way into positions that are prefectly sufficient for building a bubble around them.
    I generally agree with this.
    But, based on the principle that power corrupts, I trust the government even less. Think about how often government officials are at risk at loosing their jobs vs. an execute. Think about how often we hear about corrupt politicians vs. corrupt business leaders, and compare that to the number of them that are actually there.

    Additionally, money only gives purchasing power. Another type of power is positional power. I believe it is this type of power, in both business leadership and in government that is far more corruption laden. I like the way markets work in that there are only a little bit of total positional power, and it is spread out.

    Consider this: Say Bob is willing and able to pay $1-Million Dollars to have something done. However, Bob has neither the will nor the ability to make sure he get what he pays for. His supposed purchasing power is useless.

    A similar scenario exists for positional power.

    The only real power is the ability convince other people to do something. Positional and purchasing power are only two ways to do this, and quite frankly, rather weak ways. Other means include intimidation, sexuality, rhetorical skills, moral authority, quid-pro-quo, and so on.

    I have thoughts on how each source of power (each way of convincing someone) corrupts people. I think each one has its own form of corruption, and that could be an interesting discussion in itself.

    So:
    1) What are the sources of power (that is in the ability to convince othe people to do things)?
    and
    2) How could those sources lead to corruption?

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  2. #2
    Doesn't Read Your Posts Haight's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ygolo View Post
    1) What are the sources of power (that is in the ability to convince othe people to do things)?
    The Big Three:
    a/ Economic power
    b/ Political power
    c/ Military power

    Quote Originally Posted by ygolo View Post
    and
    2) How could those sources lead to corruption?
    a/ By controlling "b" and "c."
    b/ By controlling "a" and "c."
    c/ By controlling "a" and "b."
    "The only time I'm wrong is when I'm questioning myself."
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    ^He pronks, too! Magic Poriferan's Avatar
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    Ack! A whole 'nother topic has been made? I've been missing out.
    Sorry for my absence. You know, I typed that paragraph you quoted very quickly, and now I'm bemoaning all of the typos in it.


    Quote Originally Posted by ygolo View Post
    The title of this thread is inspired by title of the first chapter in a book Magic Profran recommended in another thread.



    I generally agree with this.
    But, based on the principle that power corrupts, I trust the government even less. Think about how often government officials are at risk at loosing their jobs vs. an execute. Think about how often we hear about corrupt politicians vs. corrupt business leaders, and compare that to the number of them that are actually there.
    Are there actual numbers on this?
    One might argue that there appears to be more corrupt politicians because corrupt business men are harder to catch. One might also point out how often corrupt politicians are in step with one business or another.

    Quote Originally Posted by ygolo View Post
    Additionally, money only gives purchasing power. Another type of power is positional power. I believe it is this type of power, in both business leadership and in government that is far more corruption laden. I like the way markets work in that there are only a little bit of total positional power, and it is spread out.

    Consider this: Say Bob is willing and able to pay $1-Million Dollars to have something done. However, Bob has neither the will nor the ability to make sure he get what he pays for. His supposed purchasing power is useless.

    A similar scenario exists for positional power.
    The interesting thing is that once will does exist with someone who has purchasing power, that perons's power can become immense. Through large totals of purchasing power, you can approximately have control of any framework of positional power. I'm speaking of bribery and extortion.
    So long as, for example, money is the most coveted resource, those who have most of it have most of the power. A rich man can promise financial support, threaten financial backlash, or just plainy bribe someone, and they can do it more than any other person could. This gives them great influence over people with positional power, and thus access to their kind of power.

    I often fear that politicians are becoming increasingly more bound to business owners than they are to voters. So rich CEOs can not only hold on to the power they already have, they can effictively reduce the power of voters via government persuasion.

    That being said, most of my concern with business owners compared to politicians is circumstantial. It is the structure and degree of power that matters, no matter what kind of power it is.
    You've seen me talking about democratic business cooperatives here, and I have to say that those kinds of businesses don't worry me nearly as much as the corporations we mostly have now. I fear business because, for however distant the government is, we have marginally more direct influence over politicians than we do over business owners, and all the while what influence we do have is being taken away by business owners that are more persuasive than voters.


    Representative Democracy makes any system more trustworthy.
    Though, I must say, a military force that was handled in a cooperative way would probably lose some of its potency.

    Quote Originally Posted by ygolo View Post
    The only real power is the ability convince other people to do something. Positional and purchasing power are only two ways to do this, and quite frankly, rather weak ways. Other means include intimidation, sexuality, rhetorical skills, moral authority, quid-pro-quo, and so on.

    I have thoughts on how each source of power (each way of convincing someone) corrupts people. I think each one has its own form of corruption, and that could be an interesting discussion in itself.

    So:
    1) What are the sources of power (that is in the ability to convince othe people to do things)?
    and
    2) How could those sources lead to corruption?
    The basics that haight laid out in political, economic, and military power is fairly good for practical purposes, but I think we might want to look at something more abstract.

    One can basically make someone else do something by threatening/punishing them, promising/appeasing them, or by converting them. To summarize the basics:

    If you threaten someone, you are telling them that something negative will happen to them if they fail to do something. They obviously want to avoid that, so if the threat is greater than the cost of the action needed to avoid it in their minds, they will take action to avoid it. It's worth noting that you don't have to make yourself the source of threat. You can use a boogey man or apocalypse to push people around. Punishment is necessary to make people know that threats are real. It can also make people feel powerless (but watch out, this can really backfire).

    By promising or appeasing someone, I mean controlling them by telling people that they will get something they want in return for certain action. It's basically the opposite of a threat. The same logic applies.
    Likewise, appeasement can be to legitimize promises, or to create a general feeling of well being that can pacify people.

    By converting someone, I mean persuading them to think, typically by reasoning (regardless of whether or not it's true or false reasoning) that the things you want them to do are the best things to do. Some more behaviorally minded people feel that threat and promise are the only things that really move people, but I disagree. A person can be very conviced of doing the "right thing" or the "correct thing" in the face of danger and at the loss of comfort. I would say that the best dictators are the ones that figure out how to master converting people. When you use a threat or a promise, you are appealing to a person's id and ego, but when you are trying to convince people of things, you are attacking the super ego, and you are turning people on themselves. You are making them question their own logic, their own morality, and their own worth. If you do it right, you can make them surrender their understanding to you.
    (Anyone here read 1984?)

    Power then, is really determined by your ability to affect people in these ways. This is also where haight's point about one force controlling the other two comes in. A military power had better start adopting other forms of power, otherswise it will be mostly limited to the ability to threaten and punish, and that's going to be too limited to work for long. I believe that dominate powers most have control over all three of these methods.

    An interesting thing to think about is the power of controlling information.
    It is my belief that if some force could somehow take control of the media and education system, without first dominating the government, military, or business world, it would effectively have the power to take control of the rest of society from there. If you can control all the information, then you are the one that does all the threatening, all the promising, and all the converting. Your biggest weakness is that actually punishing or appeasing people would be mostly out of your hands, but I don't think that's too much of a problem. I think control of the other branches could be obtained before it becomes and issue.

    Now, how does power corrupt? All kinds of power corrupt the same way:
    They make the holders of that power feel invulerable, and therefore, unaccountable. It's just that simple. A certain level of power in a person's hands will remove that person's fear of retribution, and it will remove their obligation to reciprocate, because there is nothing anyone can do to make them act otherwise.
    Last edited by Magic Poriferan; 06-20-2008 at 02:23 AM. Reason: Corrected typos, made alterations for the sake of improvement
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    Furry Critter with Claws Kiddo's Avatar
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    Power is simply a tool of self preservation.

    Any form of it, even liberty, which is the power of individual choice, can corrupt.

    After all, integrity is often the farthest thing from the sense of personal safety and comfort that are derived from power.
    Quote Originally Posted by Silently Honest View Post
    OMNi: Wisdom at the cost of Sanity.

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    " Force is the weapon of the weak " - Utah Phillips
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    Furry Critter with Claws Kiddo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AvereX View Post
    " Force is the weapon of the weak " - Utah Phillips
    Depends upon how you define weak.
    Quote Originally Posted by Silently Honest View Post
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    those who cannot influence without fear, opportunism, or manipulation
    I N V I C T U S

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    Furry Critter with Claws Kiddo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AvereX View Post
    those who cannot influence without fear, opportunism, or manipulation
    Ah, but if that is the case, then who is weaker, those who influence via those methods, or those who allow themselves to be influenced?
    Quote Originally Posted by Silently Honest View Post
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kiddo View Post
    Ah, but if that is the case, then who is weaker, those who influence via those methods, or those who allow themselves to be influenced?
    Its a tie in my eyes
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    Wonderer Samuel De Mazarin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AvereX View Post
    " Force is the weapon of the weak " - Utah Phillips
    To take off of Magic P and some of the others in this thread... there are clearly different ways of wielding power, different kinds of influence...

    1) Machiavellian 'prince'/politician/ruler .... mafia power-mongers

    2) Lobbyists and various other kinds of bribers

    3) Gandhian / MLK Jr. / persuaders

    4) Delilah / Mata Hari seducers


    There are probably many more 'kinds' one could think up.

    But what is the difference between a persuader and a power-monger? At first, both must persuade people to join their cause.... everything's mixed up... Gandhi and MLK Jr. both convinced people through words and acts of self-sacrifice... but oratory was necessary... Muhammad and Hitler also used oratory to initially gather support... the only difference was that the latter two then used their supporters to wage wars against different nations or groups to expand power... Gandhi and MLK Jr. simply tried to fight against a system of oppression and their 'conquests' were over when their respective goals were accomplished (freedom for Indians, civil liberties for African-Americans)... there are a lot of differences, but both sets of leaders, in building up their power bases from the ground up, had to rely on persuasive techniques... aren't all forms of power interlinked? Gandhi and MLK Jr., however humble their sources, also had to gather money and media allies to spread their message, just as political tyrants have to... the only difference is the absence of a threat of violence... but doesn't depriving the British (in Gandhi's case) of extra tax-money from India (Indians weren't allowed to produce their own cotton products or salt without having them go through Britain) a kind of violence? A violence on the comfort of the British beneficiaries? Of course one will say that this was not physical violence, but isn't it? That much less money in the coffers means that much less tea and liquor, less spending money... it affects the physical and mental sense of well-being of (overindulged) British monarchists... MLK Jr. plunged hundreds and thousands of Americans into dilemmas, administrators were stressed out and nervous, everyone feared for the stability of the union, because African-Americans weren't cooperating with the government and various municipal powers... they made life difficult for people until white America met their demands (which were reasonable enough, but it doesn't change the methodology: psychological pain).... isn't that a mild form of violence?

    the point of my rambling is this: ultimately, all persuasion, all power, must rest on some form of pain/pleasure... the threat of pain/less pleasure and the promise of more pleasure/less pain.... how one accomplishes this is the only difference.... means of attaining power could be argued to merely have differences of degree, not of kind.

    Hope that made sense... I don't know whether I quite agree with it... it sort of stretches common-sense... but if Mata Hari / Delilah had worked her charm on me, and I was raring to go, and I was threatened with either having blue-balls or getting sex and merely having to put my guard down a bit... it's raising one's hopes, changing one's pain/pleasure status, and tweaking the knobs... a beating would hurt far more than an argument condemning my moral character or my inability to get laid after being tantalized with the promise of sex... but all three situations ultimately rely on the same kind of persuasion...
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