Power corrupts?

I don’t think the “power corrupts” narrative is true.

I think it’s more likely that the traits that make people want power are the same traits that will make them more likely to abuse that power.

I think this narrative is harmful by suggesting that everyone with that power would also abuse it, thereby removing responsibility from the abusers.


This. There’s some truth to the idea that the only people who should be given power over others are those who don’t want it.


Probably the mother… :roll_eyes:


At some point you’re the “parent”. And need to take responsibility for not just your behavior, but the world we make. At 52 years old- he’s lapped that point twice. We can’t control the world by ourselves- but we have a lot more agency over ourselves.


Indeed. I fully agree. But some people are incapable of taking responsibility or treating others with respect, and their upbringing is more often than not the root cause. Blaming the parents does not mean not also blaming the person.


People who can’t control themselves have responsibility to remove themselves from situations where they’re a risk to others.


Yeah, but that’s a contradiction in terms. If they cannot control themselves, they are unlikely to have the self-knowledge to realise their responsibility. If they had the self-knowledge, they’d likely realise their responsibility and likely be able to control themselves.

I’m not disagreeing with your moral position - not at all. Just noting that in practice arseholes gonna arsehole because they are arseholes. If they knew they were arseholes and/or how not to be arseholes, chances are they’d not be such arseholes.

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Then they belong in prison.


We don’t get those messages from only our parents, or we’d all behave just like our parents. Many of us didn’t end up being just like our parents, including many men who were raised to treat women like garbage. They have looked at their own behavior, listened to women (and men) who have been exploited in these kinds of relationships, and did better. :woman_shrugging: The whole idea that we are set in stone at 18 is absurd, because we constantly change and grow over the course of our lives, unless we make the choice NOT to do so.

Ellis made a choice to ignore the very many counter-messages in our culture about not exploiting people who are less powerful than him, because he wanted to do so. Plus, there are enough messages in our culture, especially in comics, that reinforce and celebrate his actions, so he continued despite countermessaging.

On top of that, we are speculating about his upbringing. We have no idea about his parents. We DO see, everyday, the misogyny that exists in our culture, however. Discussing THAT can help us to change it for the better as well as send the message to people who think it makes actions like this okay to themselves do better.


No, we don’t - agreed. I said it starts there. I believe it is a critical foundation. Yes we change through our lives, and are not set in stone at 18, but without the foundation during one’s most formative years it is much harder to get mature, responsible, civilised adults. Or rather, with such a foundation it is much more likely that we will get that outcome.


If we change our culture, we stand a better chance of improving shitty parenting, or at least giving people with shitty parents alternative models. So does giving women more freedom, but we are moving backwards on that issue.


I would argue against this. There are plenty of examples (see small town politicians who swim in progressively larger ponds), who start out with the best intentions, then end up participating in the corruption, then end up becoming dependent on it.

It seems like there’s a more base cause of this. Life itself is largely selfish. Everything consumes something, selfishly. Even plants will grow above to block the sun out from their competitors if possible. Power, in the loosest of definitions, favors reproductive success. Life favors power because life selfishly competes for existence. Power corrupts because it confers benefits to the life that has it.

But, as humans, since we are self-aware, we can move beyond that. If we want to live in a moral society, then we are duty bound to do so. If we don’t, we are going to tear ourselves apart as a society. Far too often the “biological” drive is thrown out as an excuse for the powerful to exploit the less so.

If we could not rise above our “baser” survival instincts, we wouldn’t have built up a civilization like this. That doesn’t just mean having technologies that makes our lives easier, it means finding better ways to interact and shape a society. [ETA: grammar dumbness]


The flux of nutrients and water through hyphal networks has been proposed to be driven by a source–sink model,[1] where plants growing under conditions of relatively high resource availability (e.g., high-light or high-nitrogen environments) transfer carbon or nutrients to plants located in less favorable conditions. A common example is the transfer of carbon from plants with leaves located in high-light conditions in the forest canopy, to plants located in the shaded understory where light availability limits photosynthesis.


I agree completely, but as we can see with all the non-masked Covidiots around, this drive to be better than our biology is an effort that a lot of people fail. I’m definitely not arguing that this shouldn’t be the case, just that it exists, and that a lot of people get caught up in it.

Agreed. IMO, humans aren’t a great example of the selfishness of life. Compared with other creatures, we’re born pretty helpless. It takes us a very long time to become self-sufficient. That there is so much misogyny in the world seems like a very poor payback for all that went into getting people to the point of self-awareness.


I’m arguing that’s an active choice they’ve made, in part due to the surrounding culture which actively encourages that.

I don’t think our natural state is selfishness, as we would never had gotten further than being a nice meal for a lion if we were ultimately selfish.


and one could also point out hymenoptera societies, vampire bat feeding altruism, etc… they all exist because there’s a reciprocal resource sharing or “altruistic” sharing of resources with related individuals that carry the same genetics.

In this case, the transfer of elements like carbon to below canopy plants and other elements up (like nitrogen) just means that this is an interesting mutually beneficial (but still selfish) multi-organism symbiosis.

The topic isn’t biology, it’s people making active choices to exploit others. Can we get it back on topic, perhaps?


You are reminding me about all the times people (including in some cases actual therapists) have said to me that my parents couldn’t have been all that bad, because look how well I turned out.

That’s insulting.

Of course, one’s childhood has an effect on one’s development. But people are more than the sum of their parents. Bad parents shouldn’t get credit if their child grows up to be a good person, despite their bad influence, nor should good parents be blamed if their child grows up to be someone who exhibits worse values than the ones modeled in their childhood.