Power

Essays like this are where this is supposed to eventually go. Will they ever be understood by anyone? I hope so. Eventually this will be re-written or moved into something else, but this is what I am thinking about now. I see that it refers to economics, politics and tribal vs Civilization topics.


The ultimate goal of this book is translating moral instincts and moral systems into words that can be understood, retained and manipulated by cultural tools such as language, so that strategy can become a body of knowledge. As such "power" translates into "Control" in moral terms. A desire for control is a desire for power. It also translates into "Status", but just about everything does, so that is less important.


This essay may look like it is rambling, in ways it is because this describes a very key concept and it has to pull a lot of things together. It is about Power. "Power is the power to kill". Maybe Power is the power to control. The desire for power has been one of the most destructive forces in human history. Unfortunately, the desire for power may also be what built Civilization.

A question is, where does Power fit into morality? When does it make sense as a strategy? This has to be asked in the context of the tribes, since that is the only relevant source of any behavior like this. From that beginning, maybe we can make sense of what it is now and what it means to humanity in the future.

Something that struck me as odd was that in C.D. Darlington's description of the Civil Castes, he did not include Merchant. The Persians of modern day Iran have always greatly impressed me as individuals I have known and as a people through a long history. I make a joke that I hope is not too politically incorrect, that if you put one hundred Persians in the desert with only some food and water, in two months they will have a thriving market. They tend to be amazing merchants. There are many other individuals and peoples with that talent.

Power is also wealth. I tend to usually look at wealth in terms of status, but it is also a form of power. In a sense it is more versatile than the power to kill, because it can build as well as pay for an army. Actually, wealth is an essential component of power in any social system larger than a tribe, whether to build or destroy.

There is an ecological principle that where there is prey, there will be predators.

(This paragraph makes a point used further on.) In the endless convoluted mess that is the "modern world", one must ask the meaning of wealth. Some people would say it goes to the meritorious who create it, which can be true, but it is more true to say it eventually goes to those that desire it. In human history has been a situation where warrior groups (tribes, nations, civilizations) have fought (used aggression - ability and strategy) to dominate other social groups. Some of those "social groups", especially farming groups, couldn't even really fight back. Currently that warrior strategy is failing for a few reasons. Since the American Civil War, weapon development has meant that the professional / hereditary warrior has lost much of their advantage. The other reason is that the warrior has had such an advantage that just about all modern peoples are hybridized with warriors and so can effectively fight back. (link to argument for this) Just about the only effective method of stopping aggression is deterrence. Enough people in the world are capable of fighting back that aggression is a far less effective strategy in general.

Again the question is, where does Power fit into morality? Notice that various moral leaders including Jesus and Gandhi have suggested a rejection of wealth, which makes sense as so much evil has been done in the pursuit of it. Is the moral message to not accumulate wealth that "predators" can "take"? The society we are creating, a technological based civilization, is already very wealthy and likely to get far more so. (Elsewhere is discussed all kinds of issues related to this.) The system we have has led to great economic inequality or is it the system? Is it instead a desire for power? All economic, political and social systems come in ranges. Capitalism can be regulated or not and that allows for great differences. Socialism could be only for mutual defense all the way to state ownership and centralized economic planning. The name or system doesn't matter. Look underneath at what the result is. Just as the warrior dominated the society for a long time and were able to visibly dictate the moral environment, much of the current moral environment is actively dictated by the wealthy. Still, even with that, many people don't seem to care about wealth that much. They want the wealth necessary to raise a family and be comfortable, but have no interest in amassing fortunes. This suggests that the desire for power leads to both wealth and war. Some do though and who are they? It is a moral instinct and strategy that comes to us from herding tribes just as war did. It makes sense. Herding tribes have always existed where the environment could not support agriculture. Their resources were very limited and had to be fought over against other humans. Farmers fighting over farms is not productive. Farmers struggle against the soil (though their ruling class may be warriors). Winning that struggle when competing against other humans rather than nature, is power.

So a question arises. Will wealth be like aggression. Everyone (or some critical mass percent of people in a society) needs enough ability for aggression to be able to deter aggression to the point that it is a bad strategy. Will everyone need to be "good enough at wealth" to deter predation by those that want power? Anyway I look at this, you end up with a "us vs them" situation which is essentially predator vs prey and it's easy to see that the prey are going to lose. Civilization cannot exist with a competition for survival between those that want economic power and those that don't. For that matter, civilization cannot exist with any system that allows "winning" on the scale that economics does. That is feudalism and for many reasons it would be hard for that to be compatible with civilization. Violence is mostly illegal as a strategy in modern society and lethal violence is supposed to be the monopoly of the military. Both moral and civil law regulates violence in a society so that resources are not wasted, the society is not damaged and because many peoples of a civilization are not warriors. There are many reasons to think that what is and has been considered wealth, will not be so common in the future. The normal situation will be (as described elsewhere) where wealth is what is necessary for survival and raising the next generation to where it too can survive.

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This essay describes something important, but also illustrates foundational essays that must be put in place for support of this argument.