"Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely." Lord Acton
I read this really interesting piece of psychological research on the causes of corruption called "the metamorphic effect of power". Not only does
power corrupt, be even worse, having power changes the powerholder to have "contempt" for those they have power over. Once the powerholder has this
contempt, the powerholder no longer sees their subordinates as people deserving any human respect. Instead, the powerholder sees their subordinates
as worthless ants that can stepped on without any moral consequence. This idea of having power over others will change a person's psyche is very
important. It's only by having awareness of it that its negative affects can be avoided.
Here's a really good analysis on the idea:
"Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely." So said Lord Acton, and most anarchists would agree. Any hierarchical system provides
positions of power which are sought by the worst sort of people, namely the ambitious, unscrupulous and ruthless. Furthermore, even if by some chance
sensitive and honest individuals obtain positions of power, they can quickly become corrupted. This is the experience with governments, corporations,
churches, political parties and other institutions.
But why does power corrupt? For the answer, it is worth consulting the excellent work by David Kipnis, a professor of psychology at Temple University.
He has carried out numerous experiments showing just how power corrupts.
For a person to be autonomous is widely considered to be a good thing. It is a feature of being fully human. When a person exercises power over
others, the powerholder gains the impression that the others do not control their own behaviour or, in other words, they are not autonomous. Hence,
they are seen as less worthy. In short, a person who successfully exercises power over others is more likely to believe that they are less deserving
of respect. They thus become good prospects to be exploited.
For example, Kipnis organised experiments in which a "boss" oversees the work of "subordinates" in a simulated situation. The experiment is contrived
so that all subordinates do the same work. But the subordinate who is thought to be self-motivated is rated much more highly -- for exactly the same
work -- than the subordinate who is thought to have done the work only under instruction. As well as laboratory studies, Kipnis examines the effects
of power on the powerholder through studies of couples, managers and protagonists in Shakespeare's dramas. The results are always the same.
Kipnis follows through the implications of such evidence in a number of areas involving technology, including medical technology, workplace technology
and the technology of repression. For example, technologies for surveillance or torture serve to control others: that is the obvious effect. But in
addition, the psychology of the powerholder is changed when the technology promotes the reality or impression that others lack autonomy. Those
subject to the technology are treated as less worthy, and any prospects for equality are ruled out.
Kipnis rightly points out that few studies have looked at the effects of power on the powerholder.
He has done an admirable job of redressing
As a result of his investigations, Kipnis is quite pessimistic about solving the problems of power and the technology that reinforces it, precisely
because the usual prescriptions ignore the effects of power on the powerholder. It seems, though, that Kipnis is unaware of anarchism and the
longstanding anarchist critique of all forms of hierarchy.
However, this gap need not detract from the value of Kipnis's studies for anarchists. Besides the points mentioned above, he deals with tactics of
influence, use of rewards, inhibition of the exercise of power, motivations for power and other corruptions of power. This work bears close study by
all who want to understand better the psychological dynamics of power."
edit on 29-10-2016 by dfnj2015 because: (no reason given)