Wall Street and the Psychology of Power

AtlasJames Curcio writes on Modern Mythology:

The Occupy Wall Street movement has taken aim at “the 1%,” but so far there has not been a great deal of consideration given to the culture or psychology of power.

Countering the charged, idealistic cry of the protesters comes the more cynical stance that “there will always be a 1%.” That, perhaps, it is human nature to claw our way to the “top of the pile,” to slay the sitting King and take the throne. Certainly, that is a model we see mirrored in the heroic myths of antiquity.

As a result of our nature, are we forever cursed to live out a narrative of master / slave, of fascist dictator, of oppressor and oppressed? Should we resign ourselves to the “grim meathook future” that seems the inevitable outcome of the myth of the Leviathan, supposing no agents of chaos destabilize the true obsession of fascism? Not control as an end in itself, but rather control as the means to order and homogenization. This is the true face of the New American Century: one of peace secured through violence, possibly tooled atop a myth of racial purity.

The “natural” claim of the will to power — in the sense of “nature” rather than “nurture” — is the first that should be considered. There is no absolutely solid, demonstrable proof that the inclination to power is a natural human instinct rather than a culturally re-enforced or selected one, or that power “always” corrupts. There is a high burden of proof for such claims, and investigation of such questions tends more towards myth-making than the method of science.

Nevertheless, the stance of an inherent “will to power” seems to be supported by Neitzsche’s stance, that even survival is of lesser concern to animals than this drive. Due to his aphoristic style it is particularly easy to misrepresent Neitzsche’s position on anything, but it is possible his love of the heroic myths that do center on the will to power, versus the “slave” mythos of Christianity, makes the role of the will to power seem like a force of nature. Certainly in one way or another, many uphold myths about human nature and the nature of political power that have their origin in treatises many hundreds of years old.

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  • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

    The Ouroboros will always demand sacrifice, but what is the end result of eating your own tail?

  • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

    The Ouroboros will always demand sacrifice, but what is the end result of eating your own tail?

  • quartz99

    No natural will to power… have you ever actually studied nature or our closest animal relatives or the history of humanity? A pack-like group structure is common and shows up in pretty much every human society we have any experience or documentation of. All groups have an alpha, whether they call themselves a leader, a chief, a king, or a facilitator, whether they are “first among equals” or “tyrant”. And there are a whole lot of people willing to simply follow the alpha because it makes organizational sense. A group with a strong leader who has their eye on all the logistics will always be more efficient at resource gathering and utilization than a group with no alpha whose members just do whatever they feel like. Those groups will thrive and over time their genes will come to dominate, especially the alpha’s, who is more likely to have their choice of mate.

    It might be fairer to say that rather than there being no natural will to power in humans, that there are people who are more likely to be alphas and people who are more likely to follow them.

    Also, you seem to have mistaken “will to power” for requiring violence, and argue from whether or not violence is part of human nature. Violence is one possible route to power but by no means the only one. In fact, it’s often the last refuge of hacks who can’t manage to reach their aims in any more efficient manner. It’s an effective tool. But whether violence is inherent in all humans or not is irrelevant to the will to power.

  • Anonymous

    No natural will to power… have you ever actually studied nature or our closest animal relatives or the history of humanity? A pack-like group structure is common and shows up in pretty much every human society we have any experience or documentation of. All groups have an alpha, whether they call themselves a leader, a chief, a king, or a facilitator, whether they are “first among equals” or “tyrant”. And there are a whole lot of people willing to simply follow the alpha because it makes organizational sense. A group with a strong leader who has their eye on all the logistics will always be more efficient at resource gathering and utilization than a group with no alpha whose members just do whatever they feel like. Those groups will thrive and over time their genes will come to dominate, especially the alpha’s, who is more likely to have their choice of mate.

    It might be fairer to say that rather than there being no natural will to power in humans, that there are people who are more likely to be alphas and people who are more likely to follow them.

    Also, you seem to have mistaken “will to power” for requiring violence, and argue from whether or not violence is part of human nature. Violence is one possible route to power but by no means the only one. In fact, it’s often the last refuge of hacks who can’t manage to reach their aims in any more efficient manner. It’s an effective tool. But whether violence is inherent in all humans or not is irrelevant to the will to power.

  • Reasor

    Arguments from nature carry an unspoken assumption that man is an unthinking vehicle for his DNA.

  • Anonymous

    Arguments from nature carry an unspoken assumption that man is an unthinking vehicle for his DNA.

  • Oyu

    MASSIVE WITHDRAWAL – Are You with Me?

    I propose that the next phase for Occupy Wall Street is a token but powerful show of force. The aim would be to show the banks the potential power of the 99%.

    The action would be called: Massive Withdrawal (get the addiction to capitalist society withdrawal reference?). The vision: on Halloween all 99%ers withdraw $100 from the bank at noon EST. The goal: A scary Halloween for corporate America: Demonstrating to the banks the potential power of the people.

    Are you with me?

  • Oyu

    MASSIVE WITHDRAWAL – Are You with Me?

    I propose that the next phase for Occupy Wall Street is a token but powerful show of force. The aim would be to show the banks the potential power of the 99%.

    The action would be called: Massive Withdrawal (get the addiction to capitalist society withdrawal reference?). The vision: on Halloween all 99%ers withdraw $100 from the bank at noon EST. The goal: A scary Halloween for corporate America: Demonstrating to the banks the potential power of the people.

    Are you with me?

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