"...it's not the training to be mean but the training to be kind that is used to keep us leashed best." ~ Black Dog Red

"In case you haven't recognized the trend: it proceeds action, dissent, speech." ~ davidly, on how wars get done

"...What sort of meager, unerotic existence must a man live to find himself moved to such ecstatic heights by the mundane sniping of a congressional budget fight. The fate of human existence does not hang in the balance. The gods are not arrayed on either side. Poseiden, earth-shaker, has regrettably set his sights on the poor fishermen of northern Japan and not on Washington, D.C. where his ire might do some good--I can think of no better spot for a little wetland reclamation project, if you know what I mean. The fight is neither revolution nor apocalypse; it is hardly even a fight. A lot of apparatchiks are moving a lot of phony numbers with more zeros than a century of soccer scores around, weaving a brittle chrysalis around a gross worm that, some time hence, will emerge, untransformed, still a worm." ~ IOZ

Nov 13, 2010

Recapitulating a Recapitulation

"...a recapitulation:

Societies change, sometimes rapidly, sometimes slowly - but, inexorably. How human persons live together remains relatively fluid, beyond a certain threshold. Some sort of family unit - a mammalian trait, I imagine - defines the interior of that threshold. Beyond the family, which social group itself shows remarkable flexibility, and especially since the development of agriculture, human societies demonstrate an enormous range of potential forms, hybrids and rising and declining types.

Time seems an unforgiving milieu, and the human memory itself variable in the face of the pressures of time. We forget. We rethink memories. We recast old beliefs about our memories - personal and shared, encased in the individual brain, and stored exosomatically - according to new successes, innovations, failures and traumas.

We do not share a common perspective. The same event, seen from different vantages and different epochs, provides a variety of meanings, dependent upon the observers, and the way those observers understand their material conditions.

Human social groupings show every indication of constant flux.

The human power structure does not. The form of power remains almost exclusively stable. Since the parts of the form of power - persons - do not remain stable over time, and in fact live exceedingly brief existences, the form of power does not derive from an external imposition on human behavior, or from some innate tendency to organize thusly. It arises from the material conditions of human and extra-human interaction. And more importantly, it replicates.

People make the form of power, and they continuously remake it according to a surprisingly enduring structure, regardless of place or time.

Persons shape others to assume power. And we cannot really understand power without understanding, at a fundamental level, that it invariably means power over.

The form of power constitutes a way of living which allows a very small number of persons, proportionally, to rule over the larger bodies of their constituent and governed populations. Those governed populations groups present a tremendous range of potential forms, and yet the stable form of power does not tend to vary.

Let us, then, restate this form of power: a small order of ranks, with several adjutants answerable to a primary authority, assisted by a body of councilors and a lesser organ which interacts with the ruled parts symbolically, with enforcement done by members drawn from the population group itself and trained to identify further with power.

And let's remember that persons replicate this form towards a very specific and durable end, namely to force others to labor, converting raw materials into luxury, weapons and controllable territory.

Power has a function. I humbly submit that we cannot understand this stable form of power unless we understand its very material function."


Charles F. Oxtrot said...


Jack, have you ever read Robert Greene's The 48 Laws of Power?

I think it does a fine job of giving many examples --throughout human history, not just recently-- of how power is manifest in human society. How people seek it. How people assume it. How people wield it. And the varieties of subtlety in the acquisition, use and loss of power are astonishing, and often beyond what I thought I knew, and I thought I knew a whole lot of shit. Apparently, I did not.

Which your entry today does well to remind me.

Jack Crow said...

I haven't read it, Charles. I have a long list, but I'll try to remember to add this book to it.

Thank you, kindly.

With respect,


PS - I just recently revisted ADO, but the conversation has moved on. I, for one, don't think you're a troll or a contrarian. Sometimes you're sandpaper - but that's not a bad thing, and it's neither here nor there, to me. I don't really see any reason to play the tone grundy, and I'm not inclined to give much of an ear to those who do.

Jack Crow said...


Charles F. Oxtrot said...

Troll? Trolling is for misanthropes. While I hate the actions of many of my fellow humans, I tend to love humanity generally, though not as much as I love other species of animal, species which do not actively destroy each other for fleeting senses of "power" or "security" or "advantage." Dogs, for example. Wolves. Coyotes. Lions. Tigers. Cheetahs. Foxes.

Abrasion? Yes, of course. I am rough where others are polished. I tried the polished-up route in my 20s and 30s and found it made me more fraudulent, although I was much better paid/rewarded for my behavior in those days and had I kept on that path, I'd be rich now, by most Americans' standards. Why would I give that up?

One of the things I like to do (and always have liked) in internet discussion is to serve as a mirror of sorts, to reflect back onto people the shit their communications throw at me. Revealing what their communications do, in other words. Libs and pwogs are especially bad at understanding their condescending remarks' impact on others. I try to help them see that, by insulting them with their own form of communication used back at them.