On 11/5/2013 9:44 PM, Chris de Morsella wrote:

Brent -- Community & compromise are noble ideals, but in practice the exercise of power & realpolitick -- as it has in fact been practiced through history -- has far more to do with facilitating and providing legal cover for predation and securing unwarranted privilege for a reigning elite... be they generals, bankers, comrades, or cardinals. Does it matter?

I agree it does come down to community, but community for whom exactly? Is this community reserved for a small privileged elite dominating the resources of a planet being driven over the cliff into the greatest extinction since the Cretaceous--Paleogene extinction event?

Or, if not how far does the circle of community extend? How far till "they" become identified as the "other" and the world is seen through the optic of us and them?

I agree with your premise that community and compromise are both virtuous and necessary -- on a world with 7+ billion people rocketing towards 9 billion (personally don't see how the bio systems of the planet will hold up under our relentless onslaught so I have my doubts we will get there).

I don't have a particular focus on government as the repository of evil; any system of great power will become an engine of corruption. It is the concentration of power into small entrenched (and often generationally inherited) elites that creates the kinds of social, cultural, economic structures that promote a rapacious, non-thinking yeast like behavior in large masses of people.

It has always been and remains true that power corrupts and great power corrupts greatly. Look at the arc of culture after culture... from Pharaonic Egypt, Sumeria, the Olmecs, the Indus river valley civilizations onwards... the same basic story line of ever increasing concentrations of power as a centralizing elite became ascendant, followed by stagnant periods preceding ultimate decline and collapse. The elites of all the ages, over and over again like some kind of ground hog day joke on us all become cut off insulated and shielded from reality by layers of servants, courtiers and advisors. Look at the feeble minded inbred aristocracies of the ancien régimes of the various courts of Europe immediately preceding WWI, or Hitler (and the Nazi elites) believing almost to the end that things were going well on the Eastern front... or the court of Louis XVI.

Power cuts itself off from reality and those who wield it become drunk with power; it goes to their heads.

Power IS the great social problem. As entrenched power becomes established in any culture that cultures days -- and brilliance -- are surely numbered for power will devour itself as it crushes those unlucky beneath and sucks the air out of everything.

First, you're guilty of extreme cherry picking. According to your view of history we're continually degenerating and falling under the power of fools and knaves, every elite is weak and evil - and yet our well being has continually increased. Look at the arc of culture under Cyrus the Great, Socrates, Aristotle, Solon, Fredrich the Great, Voltaire, Machiavelli, Elizabeth I, Locke, Jefferson, Bismarck, FDR,.... According to you there has been nothing but "ever increasing concentrations of power as a centralizing elite became ascendant, followed by stagnant periods preceding ultimate decline and collapse." So things must by now must be much worse than under the Mesopotamian kings. Are they?

Second, you do not consider any counter arguments to your own. If power is such a problem why do we tolerate it? Has power no uses, no upside? Suppose you live in a society in which no one yielded any power to any leader for any purpose? How would your football team play without a coach and a quarterback?

Basically, you're just kvetching. Do you think we would be better served to have government run by people who did not want to exercise power?

"If one desires to consciously change the world, one must first become conscious of how it works".
    ---Marvin Harris, Cannibals and Kings, 1977


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