The Corruption of Power

   The question of exactly what is “The Corruption of Power” has come up in conjunction with the Mandate of Heaven Courtier Rulership School for Legend of the Five Rings. A quick check on Google reveals that the term is widely used and – presumably – understood, although, like most common phrases, it is rarely defined in precise terms. It is, however, generally taken as a series of undesirable, and more or less predictable, behavioral changes which commonly occur in individuals who come into long-term positions of power.

   The notion that power breeds corruption was old when Caligula ruled Rome – and, like most very old ideas, the underlying observation has some merit, although the classical interpretation may or may not. While those who are unstable, obnoxious, or severely flawed, tend to misuse power in obnoxious and eccentric ways – and rarely improve with time – quite a few apparently well-meaning, idealistic, and presumably stable individuals become more and more obnoxious over time.

   Is this just a consequence of power allowing hidden flaws to manifest? This is very likely true in some cases – many people who come into power begin to misuse it immediately – but is insufficient to explain the gradual progression observed in many other cases. Furthermore, symptoms commonly continue after an individual is removed from power, although they may gradually recover. The notion of a simple triggering condition is not sufficient in more complex cases, ergo, one or more internal adaptive, feedback, or gradual-failure effects must be involved.

   To locate that effect or effects, we’ll have to start with the symptoms:

   There seem to be three underlying elements of The Corruption of Power:

   1) Infallibility Syndrome. The belief that the your decisions and plans – however hasty, ill-considered, driven by personal desires and motivations, or influenced by extraneous factors or lack of information – are invariably the best ones possible. In really extreme cases this may become the belief that – since your decisions are “obviously-to-everyone” the best possible for everyone – opponents (however well-meaning, innocent, or rational they may appear to be) are making themselves traitors to humanity for some bizarre personal reason or insanity, and deserve nothing less than immediate execution. Any undeniable failures can only be the result of active sabotage by traitors, natural disaster, or supernatural interference – hence the proper course of action is to take measures against such interference and try the same plan again. In less extreme cases, this usually leads to a tendency to discount the human, resource, and monetary costs of executing your decisions. After all, since your plans are “obviously” the best possible for everyone, such costs will “obviously” be even higher if any other decision is made. Even in mild cases it often leads to decisions that any unafflicted individual can see are counterproductive, such as displays of conspicuous consumption in the midst of famine or economic depression to “keep everyone’s spirits up”.

   2) Entitlement Syndrome. Any position of power comes with perks – whether those are financial, sexual (a study of reproductive success as a function of power-positions through history is quite revealing – and shows why men tend to be more attracted to power-positions than women: the genetic benefits for them are considerably greater), physical, legal, or social. Those in positions of power tend to arrange for themselves to be extremely well-paid (whether in monetary terms or in goods and services), to get the best of personal care, to be respected by many (and insulated from those who don’t respect them), and for the suppression of their opponents. They also tend to push constantly for the extension of those privileges, and soon come to see them as things they are personally entitled to rather than as special allowances for their position – or things that they were lucky enough to get away with. Shortly thereafter, they come to see anyone who opposes the extension of those privileges, benefits, and perks as a criminal who is attempting to “steal” those items from them – and thereby deserves severe punishment.

   3) Privileged Position Syndrome: The rules don’t apply to you. In fact, you are above consequences of all kinds and may do as you please, indulge your every desire, and eliminate your enemies on a whim. The populace will bow to your will rather than forming raging mobs, assassins cannot touch you, the law does not apply, god meant for you to have this position, no one can possibly defeat you, etc, etc, etc… Mild cases may simply expect everyone to overlook minor indiscretions, such as lovers, undue pomp and ceremony, excessive personal spending, and similar behavior. In fact, mild cases are often aided and abetted by other powerful individuals and even by the population at large – after all, such minor failures are only to be expected, and who wants to tarnish the image of a great man or woman? The kids need role models.

   And that stage is harmless enough. It may – for reasons discussed below – even be beneficial later on.

   Things get worse when you start taking bribes, jailing opponents on trumped-up charges, having troublesome witnesses eliminated, deploying your private army of thugs to squash your opposition, kidnaping scores of adolescent girls for your harem, forcing your religious beliefs on everyone else, enslaving nations, or massacring populations – all, unfortunately, popular pastimes for powerful individuals throughout history.

   So what causes these syndromes?

   Well, they’re all progressive behavioral aberrations which proceed either to some limit or – in at least some cases – to the point of complete dysfunction. In behavior – and in living organisms in general – that’s a characteristic feature of an unbalanced feedback loop. So what feedback loops might lead to these outcomes?

   Human beings – and, I suspect, almost all sentient lifeforms – come up with various ideas and plans and then evaluate them – comparing them with their memories of the results of previous plans. That serves to remind them of factors they tend to forget, of how often their unmodified plans are successful – and thus how much additional thought and consultation should go into them – of which advisors suggestions worked out best, and whether or not their assumptions are good ones.

   People do like to hear good news though – and when you’re in a position of power, you can reward those who bring you good news. Bad news is never welcome. Competent subordinates tend to take it as a part of their jobs to compensate for, and correct, weaknesses in their bosses plans. Incompetent ones quietly cover up failures for fear of losing their jobs or otherwise being punished – or lay the blame for failures on external forces. The normal tendency for individuals in positions of power is to hear that their plans – no matter how ill-conceived – were either great successes or were foiled by external interference or “acts of god”. As the “success” tally builds, it becomes – quite rationally in many ways – more and more natural for them to assume that their unconsidered plans and ideas are inerrant and without flaw.

   So why doesn’t every long-term ruler succumb to a full-blown case of Infallibility Syndrome? Well, there are several possible compensating factors. Some have a long record of personal failure and self-doubt – making them far more welcoming of negative feedback and possibly even wanting and expecting it. Others are simply so introspective that they constantly find flaws in their own ideas and plans and remember doing so – leading them to evaluate their ideas on the grounds that “the last fifteen plans I came up with were no good, so chances are that this one is no good too – even if I can’t see why just yet”. Still others take great pains to employ temporary foreign advisors – who are less impressed with their positions and have little stake in attempting to cover up their own errors and none at all in extending their jobs. Feedback from old friends, spiritual leaders, and other advisors may work if the powerful individual can avoid the collection of sycophants. Finally, the simple tendency to admit errors and change your mind when you get new information is helpful. It makes it easier for what negative feedback does get through to have an effect.

   There are aggravating circumstances as well. Anyone who’s inclined to reason from “principles” or ideology, already believes that they have some sort of “mission”, is inclined to justify “temporary difficulties” in pursuit of the “greater good”, or any similar tendency has already begun detaching their evaluation of plans from their results in favor of conformance to a set of preconceived ideas. In such individuals it doesn’t take much more in the way of unwarranted reports of “success” to achieve complete detachment from reality – and a full-blown case of Infallibility Syndrome.

   Secondarily, anyone who prides themselves on decisiveness, dependability, or not changing their mind, is at higher risk: they are already irrationally attached to their first ideas – and it will not take much to convince them that their first idea was another success.

   The loop that leads to Entitlement Syndrome is more fundamental. It’s roots lie in elementary biology and early childhood. Elementary biology tells us that living organisms tend to try to secure more and more of the available resources – whatever their nature – for themselves and their progeny. Any species that didn’t was crowded into extinction long ago by the species that did. That basic tendency may be modified by the virtues of cooperation, by intelligent consideration of consequences, and by simple physical limitations – such as only being able to eat so much – but the basic drive to “grab everything you can and hang onto it” still lurks at the instinctual core of every human being. Such a tendency is reinforced in humans – one of the reasons why they’ve pushed themselves into every human-survivable environment on earth (no matter how uncomfortable) and into near-total dominance over the planet – by their extended childhoods. Human children face many years of learning, of pushing their way past parental limitations, of driving to improve their strength and skills, of competition with other children and adolescents, and growth before they can begin their adult lives – and to survive and reproduce they must hang onto their gains and try to match any gains that other children manage. Humans are pretty fiercely competitive and possessive.

   You can easily see the loop in small children. Put them to bed at eight, and they are soon agitating for nine. Let them have nine for a few weeks – perhaps as a reward for good behavior or a special privilege – and it becomes a right, switching back to eight becomes a punishment to be resisted as desperately as possible – and the campaign for ten has already been opened.

   Under normal circumstances, the restraining factor on this particular loop is simple and obvious: other organisms fight back when you try to shove them aside and take their stuff. No single tactic or individual has the advantage under all circumstances – so things tend to stabilize at some point. Things tend to get a bit out of control when a particular individual wields a great deal of personal or organizational power however. At that point you have to fall back on secondary restraints.

   Some people are simply aware enough of their instincts and drives to recognize “enough” – at least at some point (often well past the point when it was actually “enough”) or have trusted advisors who are so blessed to help restrain them. Rather more control themselves intellectually – either by recognizing that pushing everyone else into rebellion will imperil their current privileges or, quite commonly, by modeling their behavior on the reported behavior of some successful figure from the past that they admire – attempting to emulate their success through similar behaviors and restraints. This is why – as noted earlier – the tendency to quietly sweep the flaws of powerful figures under the rug and out of sight may be a net social benefit later on. Still others manage to compensate by embracing the concept of an extended kinship group – consciously or unconsciously extending their drive to optimize conditions and opportunities for their offspring and close genetic relatives to larger groups defined by a common faith, nationality, or – in very rare cases – even species.

   Privileged Position Syndrome is really the simplest loop of all: every creature – whether by genetic programming developed over the eons or by conscious awareness – regulates its behavior and tests its limits by going on until it’s satisfied (almost never for most organisms), hits a practical limit, or it becomes painful, exhausting, or otherwise more trouble than it’s worth. Lifting weights? You lift them until you get tired, bored, or start to feel the strain. Determining your drinking capacity? You drink until you’re either too sick to go on or you suddenly wake up with a headache, count the empties, and subtract one. Hiking? When you start getting too tired or your legs or feet hurt more than it’s worth to go on, it’s time to stop. Driving at 60 and doing fine? That speedometer will start to creep towards 70 unless the pain in your wallet overcomes the desire for speed. Angry at your spouse? Small assaults will become full-fledged abuse soon enough unless something is done about them.

   If the escalation goes on unchecked, eventually you’ll pull a muscle, ruin your liver, develop blisters, get an expensive speeding ticket/have a serious accident, or get yourself arrested – unless your spotter, Alcoholics Anonymous, orthopedic specialist, old car engine, or marriage counselor intervenes first.

   Power, like wealth, has a tendency to insulate the possessor from the consequences of many of their actions. There may be bodyguards to keep upset people from hitting you, spare cash to pay people or fines, lawyers to fend off lawsuits, a staff to clean up after you, or a corps of assassins ready to eliminate accusers. The wealthy and powerful find – like celebrities – that they have close friends that they’ve never met ready and willing to help them out.

   Restraining factors here are equally simple: some people are simply clever – and thoughtful – enough to recognize the limits of the protection their power or wealth offers and refrain from passing them. Others place their trust in less privileged advisors, model their behavior – and its limitations – on some successful past example, or adhere to a set of principles which they believe will lead to lifelong success.

   Unfortunately, you never quite know whether any of those limits apply – or at what point they’re going to kick in – until someone actually obtains a major position of power, by which time it’s far too late for second-guessing if they happen to be inclined to go in for indulging their appetites, whims, or aggression without restraint.

   As might be expected, those who reason from evidence and observation, focusing on expediency rather than principles, tend to be more vulnerable to this particular feedback loop than those who base their decisions on more abstract principles.

   What’s the point of all this analysis? Well, it’s an interesting topic – and, in terms of this blog, it’s a useful set of considerations when you’re creating a background for your game setting. Is the local ruler relying on foreign advisors? Do they have agendas of their own? What is restraining the local overlord? How will he or she react to a group of adventurers who defy him or her?

   When you’ve got a set of principles to work with, you can usually get along with a few notes – or even improvise credibly on the fly.

   Could I have missed something or be entirely wrong? Of course I could! I am in no way infallible – although I suspect that I am considerably more inclined to detailed analysis than most. That belief could, obviously, be a symptom of my own Intellectual Arrogance – another feedback driven syndrome related to the Corruption of Power, but one often held in check if the victim is willing to debate and defend his or her views (especially in writing, where they can be picked apart at leisure). Personally, if you see something I’ve missed – or feel that one of my arguments or deductions is seriously in error – go ahead and leave a comment. Who knows? I may have to revise this entire essay.

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6 Responses

  1. I like the idea of temporary foreign advisors. Although care must be taken to ensure that no ulterior motives are at play. Also pitting your advisors against each other in rivalry can be a nice and effective check and balance.

  2. Now, if you had set down this first, rather than tossing crap out and then getting pissy when I call you on your statement which doesnt say anything, I wouldn’t have been so irritated. But you’re *never* wrong no matter what you claim here. Everyone else has to define their ideas at length before you will majestically deign to evaluate them. You never explain anything until after the fact. And here you are still oversimplifying by reducing everything down to feedback loops.

    Heck, you never acknowledged you were wrong about spelling and grammar.

    Moreover, I still have numerous issues with the ability. But it doesn’t matter, since at this point you will never change it.

  3. You are limiting yourself to ways by which power can directly corrupt someone, rather than other problems which power brings to light or makes worse, such as the inability to scale empathy past a certain point or giving into the active impulse to be evil.

    I wasn’t there to know whether this was part of the original question, but those are issues with power in the context of ruling large areas, and it would seem to fit with the objections raised if what’s lacking is just “this is a reasonable technique because I’m going to be incredibly specific about interpreting what it means, i.e., really all it does is give you the equivalent of a little shoulder angel that suggests you ought not to lose perspective and be a dick”. Or something. Mostly I just like picking at you folks to see why you say the things you do, y’know, until I find the reason.

    I’d also like to voice, once again, the token objection that elementary natural selection doesn’t always scale 1:1 to instincts, and that because of human biology, genetic propagation is often secondary to social concerns or plain ol’ cultural programming. But that’s not immediately relevant.

  4. I would also wonder why the fuck we’re all up at like 9 in the morning, but whatever. I guess you guys have slow work-days.

  5. 1) Your point #1 ignores that people tend to become less popular, regardless of the effectivess of their rules, over time (or at least from a time point when they were popular, not always at the beginning). This alters perceptions and makes outsiders less generous in interpreting the power-figure’s actions. Which of course gets carried over in histories.

    2) I didn’t say it was a matter of moral flaws in individuals, although that can be a large part of it. Rather, outside influences (generally individuals or small groups seeking to exploit organization poewr for their own gain) over time learn to exploit whatever flaws do exist, and exploit them more effectively.

    3) I believe your point (1), about Infallibility Syndrome certainly exists but tends to be more concentrated near the beginning. When people haven’t learned all the numerous damaging counter-factors which disrupt and hunder their plans. Over time, people tend to become the opposite. They become *more* timid in making plans and *less* likely to take risks.

    Example: With some exceptions, generals in the Civil War took more risks the younger they were. One of the few who did not was Lee, but even in the government offices, younger leaders were more bold and brash in acting. Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles was assisted by a much more active Junior Secretary (whose name escapes me at the moment). In fact, the Junior secretary would have been a very poor leader on his own, being too willing to try risky strategies. But the filter of Welles’s conservativism allowed just enough ideas through to be useful without being damaging.

    4) I have no argument with your point #2. This is one of the problems I include under the category of Organizational Protection. After a certain point, it no longer has to do with the personal, individual gains made (which may be entirely irrelevant). Instead, the individual leader wants to increase the size iof organization. I am convinced that there is some strange psychological phenomenon going-on here, and suspect it has to do with careerists who readily identify themselves with an organization. I am not sure any detailed study has actually solved or definitively answered this.

    5) As a minor note the vague concept that more power == more sex may be partly true, but by this time has largely become it’s own unrelated brain function with little or no validity. It’s too easy to pick up women in any case.

    6) As to your point #3, it is largely the same thing as #2, except that it tends to rely on something shakier. The individual keeps things quiet until it’s already a done deal. Then, he or she believes (or wants to believe that it’s his or her right to continue. Some people are fully capable of manufacturing rights to suit themselves upon demand.

    7) I note these are not the same a the ones you presented previously.

    8) The Consequentialist Problem. If this can be done, so can other things, and they would have completely altered the reality as given. If this minimalist technqiue (easily teachable to everyone with a year or so of training, which is not exclusive with ueful work), then the Yodotai, for example, sold have a fully-functional communist society of incredible, frightening efficiency. And they should be capable of obliterating everyone and their brother. In fact, so far they seem quite ineffective, with loyalty largely induced through fear.

    However, a simple “lock down loyalty now and forever” would essentially similar in methodology would be similar to what you created here. You said that, as a supernatural ability, there were no or unimpotant side effects. A period of a one-year indoctrination on a military base or farm or whatever would be more than sufficient loyalty. Anf the first culture who did this would be nearly guarranteed to ultimately outcompete and obliterate the surrounding cultures. It can expand more effectively – even a large conquest can be fully digeste within 1 or 2 generations. And it wil have no reason not to expand.

    I restate that this doesn’t even need to be handled by a technique. An emphasis would suffice, as would a high skill in “Administration” or whatever. The fact that you introduced a single-act based technique does not mean such things are appropriate, or appropriate here. if you even want to include this as an Immunity to *Self Deception*, there’s no problem*. But it isn’t the same thing as Corruption of Power, except under your limited definition of it.

    There could be other issues, such as complex self-esteem problems or whatnot. But this at least would be in keeping with the concept that messing around with your own mind causes other problems. Heck, for all I care, have them all use a mind control spell on themselves which lasts a day or two, with requirement they do it every day. But by your own words, this ought to cause side effects such as not trying hard enough (not pushing things to find a limit) , not using experiments to determine efficaacy (likewise), not

    ____________________________
    My “version” of Corruption of power refers to actual corruption by which the system is undermined. Your version allows for the system to continue functioning as intended, with numerous personal and individual failings, but essentially doing what it is supposed to.

    My version “Corruption” is as follows:

    (1) Outside influences in the form of individuals seeking personal gain at the expense of the organization locate weaknesses in the methodology (regulations and laws) or character of individuals. They exploit these failings as systematically as possible.

    (2) This largely reflects your points #2 and #3. I do not seperate them. If the individual chooses to relate his or her identity to the larger organization, he or she will seek to extend its wellbeing much as he or she might his or her own.

    (3) Individuals with corrupt character are *attracted* to the organization and seek to join it. They may act to protect each other and promote each other, excluding those who object and making future alteration difficult without a wholesale demolishing of the organization.

  6. Editorial 0:

    1) “Rather than tossing crap out and then getting pissy when I call you on your statement which doesnt say anything”
    -Really? The general meaning of the term “The Corruption of Power” – as per the noted google search – seems to be fairly well understood. As for “pissy”, you are the one who started announcing that you would have to stop playing if you didn’t get your way.
    -Would it be a cheap reply to note that you’ve left the apostrophe out of “doesn’t”?

    2) And here you are still oversimplifying by reducing everything down to feedback loops.
    -All internal regulatory processes in living organisms are feedback loops. That is how a regulating mechanism works.

    3) Everyone else has to define their ideas at length before you will majestically deign to evaluate them.
    -Ideas that are not well defined cannot be evaluated. That’s why I define mine in detail when it’s requested.

    4) “Heck, you never acknowledged you were wrong about spelling and grammar.”
    -Ah, the joys of selective memory. That’s why I never throw away my notes… Let me check one of the (several) files on corrections for Eclipse: Hm. 10 Pages, 3800 words, more than 150 pages needing corrections in that particular file (Eclipse Mods.Txt), many with more than one. Those of course were major corrections: I also still have the proofread copy with all the scribbling about punctuation and the accompanying notepads.

    5) “Your point #1 ignores that people tend to become less popular…”
    -Hm. Point #1 seems to be the description of Infallibility Syndrome. Are you referring to the note about the tendency to sweep the minor failings of historical figures “under the rug”? I could point to some relatively recent history, where, due to modern record-keeping, a number of U.S.A presidential foibles that would otherwise have been lost – and were known to reporters but passed unreported at the time – have been revealed now that they’re principally of interest to scholars alone – but the basic objection (if this is indeed the point of this comment) is more fundamental: many leaders do become less popular over time. A few become more popular. Others seem to stay about the same. Many powerful figures hire their own historians. Some suppress historians who annoy them. Many historians tend to sanitize the records of those figures they favor, and may malign those they do not. Outright works of fiction are fairly often accepted as historical facts later on. The tendency to ignore the defects, and romanticize, historical figures is well established: consider the ongoing argument over Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemmings. If this was not a challenge to well-established and cherished beliefs, why would anyone care? Still, barring the sudden acquisition of omniscience, there isn’t any way to prove this. I do think that the evidence tends to support the hypothesis though.

    6) “I didn’t say it was a matter of moral flaws in individuals”
    -As noted, the aforementioned google search indicates that the term is fairly widely understood as a progression of psychological changes that occur in individuals in positions of power. For an actual sermon on the subject you can look here: http://pgregoryspringer.com/8am/wrfu/power.html . Individual and group exploitations of weaknesses in organizations do occur – but they are unrelated to whether or not said group has any actual power. The 3’rd grade “student government” had no actual power, but it certainly had weaknesses – a few of which I exploited to get the other children to react entertainingly. That would be me, exploiting my personal power of talking faster than the other kids for my own amusement. Organizational weaknesses are not necessarily progressive, and are not necessarily related to the presence or absence of power. They therefore cannot be characteristics of “The Corruption of Power”.

    7) “I believe your point (1), about Infallibility Syndrome certainly exists but tends to be more concentrated near the beginning.”.
    -Youngsters – with their previous plans generally supervised by older and more experienced people and thus with an unrealistically high success record in their memory – often do have an overinflated opinion of their talents. As negative feedback from failures accumulates, they tend to arrive at a more realistic assessment of their abilities. If they are insulated from such negative feedback, their plans tend to become more and more unrealistic – which is what leads to Infallibility Syndrome. Again, like all regulatory mechanisms, this is an interlocking set of positive and negative feedback loops. It certainly is true, however, that their interaction may produce a progression of overconfidence – decreasing overconfidence (which may reach realistic levels and even stabilize if sufficient negative feedback continues to be applied) – exponentially increasing overconfidence (if negative feedback is progressively reduced).

    8) “After a certain point, it no longer has to do with the personal, individual gains made (which may be entirely irrelevant). Instead, the individual leader wants to increase the size iof organization. I am convinced that there is some strange psychological phenomenon going-on here.”
    -I suspect that its really pretty straightforward: any manager, however minor, in an organization has – by definition of being a manager – some degree of control over some portion of its resources. Significantly, new managers are almost invariably added in subordinate positions. The expansion of an organization invariably results in personal, individual gains for those managing it. Identification with organizations certainly does occur – for example, football fans commonly identify with teams (“We Won! We Won!”), but doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with corruption.

    9) “As a minor note the vague concept that more power == more sex may be partly true, but by this time has largely become it’s own unrelated brain function with little or no validity. It’s too easy to pick up women in any case.”
    -Both true and untrue. Contemporary genetic studies continue to show powerful links between power and wealth (another form of power of course) and reproductive success through the industrial revolution. Human genetics and neurology haven’t changed much in the last couple of hundred years. As for “more sex” and “picking up women”, both are involved, but not really the point: reproductive success is measured in children who successfully produce grandchildren, not in numbers of sexual encounters. Positions of Power such as “local gang leader” also tend to show reproductive benefits.

    10) “As to your point #3, it is largely the same thing as #2, except that it tends to rely on something shakier. The individual keeps things quiet until it’s already a done deal. Then, he or she believes (or wants to believe that it’s his or her right to continue. Some people are fully capable of manufacturing rights to suit themselves upon demand.”
    -I’m not sure what you are referring to here. If it’s to the “Privileged Position Syndrome” itself, then I must disagree: an individual who feels it necessary to keep “things quiet until it’s already a done deal” is not – or at least is not yet – suffering from the full-blown syndrome as defined. He or she is still recognizing the likelihood of being restrained. This may well develop into the belief that it is his or her “right” to continue if such concealment succeeds – neatly demonstrating the feedback-driven nature of the syndrome.

    11) I note these are not the same a the ones you presented previously.
    -If you’re referring to the syndromes and associated feedback loops, actually they are. I made notes in the car on the way up the other day, and I have that sheet (partially stained blue, since the bottle of windex leaked on the pad some time ago) here. I’ll have to refer you back to note #4.

    11 1/2) (Ha! Ha! I can break the integer rule!). Actually, there is a minimum school rank for immunity techniques: you cannot get them as a “Natural Mastery” – and this school stretches it by having it at “2″ instead of “3″ simply because the immunity chosen has no actual game effect. The player – who’s governing the behavior of the character – has no real power to be corrupted by. Now, a trained technique must first be developed – which means that someone must have intentionally trained themselves in absolute loyalty to someone and then would be self-compelled to train others in loyalty to that particular focus if the technique was specific. If it was general, I suspect loyalty to friends/spouses/children would tend to be the one that got latched onto. This also confuses “loyalty” with “sanity”. A fixed belief is a mental disorder known as paranoia. Those who suffer from it are known for irrational behavior centered on those beliefs. Consider “It is my duty to protect you from all possible harm! I must kidnap you and hold you securely so that no one can ever harm you!” “I must do what I THINK you would want if you understood things the way I do!”. Of course, you already note here that this technique makes perfect sense under the provided definition of the corruption of power – so “this works fine unless I redefine it?”.

    12) My “version” of Corruption of power refers to actual corruption by which the system is undermined.
    -You are indeed defining something quite different here. This is one of the modes of systems failure – however, your definition also neatly describes the infiltration of the body of a living organism by diseases and parasitic multicellular organisms. It could even apply to the development of cancers. Given that (1) this does not necessarily involve Power, or its effects (the “of” in “The Corruption of Power”), (2) that this discussion started with an Immunity Technique – an ability which can only protect against things that personally affect the user, thus eliminating the interpertation of “The Corruption of Power” as “How Power itself becomes Corrupted”, (3) that – as previously noted – that the term is widely understood (the easiest test was to google for “the corruption of power” with and without the term “define” outside the quotation marks – although a particular book about Caligula turned up annoyingly often in the first hundred results) to refer to the effects of power on individuals rather than to organizational problems, and that (4) this definition is too broad to be particularly useful (it merely redefines feedback loops on a more general and larger scale – but since human social systems are made up of individual humans, anything affecting them can be reduced to effects on, and the activities of, individual humans), this does not seem to be more than a statement that “I have a definition here that does not apply”.

    Littlegodofshadows:
    -Since there are only three paragraphs, the quoted subheadings do not appear necessary in this section.

    1) You are limiting yourself to ways by which power can directly corrupt someone rather than other problems which power brings to light or makes worse,
    -Yes. Corruption is a progressive effect. Existing problems, however revealed, are not part of this particular process.

    2) I wasn’t there to know whether this was part of the original question, but those are issues with power in the context of ruling large areas.
    -The original question series is under the “Mandate of Heaven”. There are indeed a wide variety of other organizational, communications, and management issues involved in ruling large areas: they are not, however, a part of “The Corruption of Power” – and the original technique in question was simply a 5-point Immunity: “Immune to the Corruption of Power”. The behavior patterns normally described as “The Corruption of Power” can be observed in social groups consisting of as few as two individuals, hence the note about spouse abuse.

    3) Oh, elementary natural selection indeed doesn’t always scale 1 to 1 with instincts. Natural selection involves both an extremely complex set of feedback loops and numerous random inputs. It’s still where the instincts come from though.

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