Tuesday 22 January 2008

Power- The Strange Engine of The Species

The dominant ape. The pack leader.

Each and every male strives for it.

I suppose this is as a good a place to explain it, before we return to human systematic history.

We cannot fail to understand it. We have failed to do so before. It CANNOT be elimated. Because ultimately, it really does drive the species. IT IS FAVOURED BY EVOLUTION.

It is, as I shall discuss in later posts, a crucial part of any successful system. Successful systems are those which arrange themselves to most completely facilitate the dominance game.
It is a sign of systematic decline when the system fails to follow laws of natural selection.

Why it is failing to do so, will become apparent in later posts.

In our species, there is a genetic bonus for becoming the dominant ape. Put simply, you get to breed more.
It is the genes of the dominant ape which flood the gene pool.

We all carry in us the genes of leaders. The genes of followers, have to a greater degree fallen by the wayside.

It doesn't take long for ALL your genes to die out. Your children will each carry half of your genes. If you have three children, there is a good chance MOST, but not all your genes will be passed on.
But, a million years from now, it is LIKELY, that not one of the genes you possess, will exist on the face of the globe.

It is ALSO true, that if ANY of your genes HAVE survived, they WILL be carried by EVERY SINGLE MEMBER OF THE SPECIES.

Long term, passing your genes on is an all or nothing game.

A striking example of this. If you see a figure in the Anglo-Saxon Royal family that is a direct ancestor of the Queen, it is STATISTICALLY true, that there is a high chance they are ALSO YOUR ancestor. Remember, there are about 500 people already who claim descent from Queen Victoria. Go back a thousand years.

Dominant apes passed on dominant genes.

There's a huge genetic payload for your genes in being in bodies of those members of a collective species who use dominance as a survival tactic.

Evolution dictates that that urge will increase. Bigger cultures create greater stamping grounds, evolution fast favours those who are really good at the game.
It favours the intelligent, the charming, the forceful, it favours those who sieze centre stage.

These people will always be with us, because they will always breed more, leaving behind a generation who's members wll strive just that little bit harder to sieze the great prize of controlling those around them.

It is the striving of these few, for that little bit more, for more power, for more mastery that has driven every system upwards, and clogged it's decline.

And this is why the key to the whole thing, to life, the universe, EVERYTHING, is power.

Because it really is what drives us.

And it really is man's desire for power which will lead us to sieze the stars, or blow ourselves up in the next few years.
It is the eternal conundrum. It is the fire of Prometheus.

And this really is the whole point about human systems. How to use that dynamic.

Is it being used to blast a way forward, or hold us back?

Note: My genes are really annoying me right now for some reason. I'm going through one of those interludes where they get fixated on a particular individual. And I really am trying to get some work done, but these genes have their own ideas. I'm looking at this as a kind of endurance test. But it's definitely become a thing. Hmmm. Maybe it's because I'm about to become Middle Aged.


Anonymous said...

(1) 30 years isn't anywhere close to middle age.

(2) If your genes are annoying you, you can always get a bigger size.

(3) I would caution against ascribing to biological determinism. It's an intellectual trap. Some traits are obviously inherited (looks, skin color, eye color). Others take a combination of genetic and environmental factors (height, laterality). Many are learned behaviors.

Genes, or more precisely DNA, can help form predispositions, or slight tendencies. That doesn't mean much, however. There's a lot of things a parent can do that her children cannot, and vice versa.

Sure, we can see families maintaining certain facility with occupations over a span of generations. For example, there's been a Barrymore on stage or screen for over a century now. But then too, you're talking about a family where acting is discussed, known about, exemplified, and most likely taught from a very early age. There wouldn't be anything necessarily advantageous in their genetic code that would make them great actors.

Then too, since everyone's DNA is passed down from generation to generation, the only way to really kill off someone's physical progeny would be through genocide. Thus, just as the alpha males have reproduced, sometimes in great numbers (often not), so have followers.

In Western history too, you have the case where people married within established families. After a few generations, it's not difficult to see a bit of inbreeding going on. Yes, these families still weld power, but it isn't through genetic strength, for there genes have become quite damaged over the centuries (the Hapsbourgs are excellent examples of this).

Anonymous said...

"And this is why the key to the whole thing, to life, the universe, EVERYTHING, is power." Possibly the most depressing sentence I've ever read. In fact, it's so depressing that I don't even care if it's true or not. Reductionism, another unfortunate consequence of Social Darwinism, a philosophy so ugly it's truth value is irrelevant and which only explains your history of power, not my history of art, all though I am sure you will attempt to find a way,

Anonymous said...

I like this concept of survival of the fittest. I subscribe to it too; wouldn't want to breed with inferior genes *and by extension, thus mave to marry a mate with good genes*

Anonymous said...

(Evolution) favours the intelligent, the charming, the forceful, it favours those who seize centre stage.

These people will always be with us, because they will always breed more, leaving behind a generation who's members will strive just that little bit harder to seize the great prize of controlling those around them.

I just don't see that this is true anymore because in this modern age those at the top of the power tree and the intelligence tree, etc.,the "dominant apes" are breeding less while those at the bottom are breeding more. Now I know evolutionary trends are over very long periods but it seems to me we are at a plateau here.
I'm sure you'll put me right here but I see this as being the historic past, not necessarily the future.

Nope, not middleaged yet, maturing nicely, right into the peak years, which will last for a goodly time to come.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting post but I would agree with the first commenter here about environmental factors. And I agree withy everybody that you are nowhere near middle age!!

Anonymous said...

X.dell- Well, probably close to MY middle age.

I think it does follow to a certain degree that the tendancy to seek doiminance does get stronger, because it is favoured, in much the same way as ability to understand symbols, is favoured. I do actually think that the average human today learns reading and writing with greater ease than Cro-Magnon man would have done, because human society has favoured the literate.

The Habsburgs are an interesting point.
One of the interesting points about monarchy was that the fate of nations really did depend on good genes, one of which, crucially was, the ability to father sons. It is actually genetic. Men tend to father either sons or daughters. My own family is a clear illustratiion of this. You have to go back to the ninettenth century to find a female born in to the family.

Some royal families do stand out as producing certain character types.
The Plantagenets must stand out as being a family of generaly gifted members, most were great kings, and the bad ones weren't so bad.
Compare that to the Capets, and one can see why the Plantagenets conquered France over time (Though it only took one royal minority to lose all that).
The Bourbons on the other hand, hard as nails most of them, almost all with a tendancy to despotism.

The Habsburgs are often maligned, but I think they had a strange creative genius, which made them either dazzling, or mad.
Joseph II was a late Habsburg, but probably was the finest European rler of the day.

Paul- There's a lot about the Universe that seems depressing, if you look at it from our point of view. Nematode worms, for example aren't overly glorious creatures.

Depressing as the mechanism might appear, we should look at it's acheivements.
Evolution DOES mean survival of the fittest. Beings that understand the world around them survive better.
Beings that can communicate their thoughts to others survive better.

Art is the crown of communication, it is the conceptualisation of our psyche.
Through it, we express what drives us, and it helps us understand it.

Ozymandias? :)

jmb- Because the system is no longer working.

In any new system, those who lead it's construction, will be the dominant apes. The system, as designed, will facilitate the rise of the best to the top.
As the system progresses, that changes. The system starts to facilitate the rise of the obedient to the top, the followers, the yes men.
John Major is not a dominant ape. Gordon Brown is not a dominant ape. Dominant apes control these people, behind the scenes of course.

But in practice, most dominant apes were too bust engaged in dominant ape activities whilst teenagers and students to gain easy access to the top jobs.
Our society is largely run today, by the plodders.

Welshcakes- Partly. Environmental factors cause switches to be flicked, I think. But the switch has to be there. It is partly a temperament thing.