I wanted to sidetrack a bit from my main journal, which focuses on my journey to become a pop star, and do a feature follow-up on a comment I wrote in response to Dimitri Seneca Snowden‘s post social power and morality.
Before I begin, not only that post, but in overall Dimitri’s blog impressed me and has better than average content on wide variety of subjects regarding betterment of our society and so on, so you should definitely check it out. And the above post made me want to write a response, which I also posted there.
[...] there is a great deal of research concerning the link between social power and morality, and most of it suggests that absolute power is not required to change people’s morals; sadly it tends to show that more power leads to less care for others, and less moral behavior. – Dimitri Seneca Snowden
Social Class Rank, Threat Vigilance, and Hostile Reactivity (University of California), a study lead by Michael W. Kraus, discusses in layman’s terms on how very rich and successful people tend to have less perception of empathy and harder time to relate to the people not from their social class. At the same time one can make an argument that most of the middle class cannot relate to highly successful, highly ambitious or wealthy people.
To treat the difference between poor and rich, or those without power and those in power, by default as an unwanted or unjust part of a society seems prejudicial too. My argument is that there are those who get in power through being a good leaders or gain wealth providing something masses want to support, thus making rags to riches stories a reality, rich even richer or unknown talents to reach fame and fortune.
Deeper underlying reason for corruption of any kind is because deep down we all want easy life in some way – to be content. So seeing other people rise into power and reach the riches gives middle-class same time a reason to be jealous, but also (often false) hope that they have a shot for better life if they also exploit every opportunity selfishly.
Again, an argument can be made that people who have poor background and who view themselves to have good intentions and more empathy toward other people than most people they know (one form of feeling superiority as well) might have biased view against power and wealth and people who have both.
Because if a person who has not gained said riches they perhaps think they deserve more than seemingly selfish people they see out there reaping the rewards, it leads into generalization that everyone gaining power and accumulating riches cannot be as good spirited or as unselfish than those who stay poor.
Most are just distracted though and without aim, like I pointed in my first post All good things start somewhere.
Yet, everybody wants to be a star or at least to make their mark right up to their dreams being drowned by the noise that is overwhelming due to the scattered (social) media and dumbed down expectations from every jealous person they encounter, defining the ignostic spirit of our almost spiritless age of mainstream culture – the Zeitgeist-lessness, if you will.
In continuation, it can be also said that the most people without tendencies for leadership or focus in their life are constantly looking for some guidance and direction of what to do next, in order feel that they belong and have some purpose, especially in unknown situations.
Letting people with more initiative or an upper hand get away with exploiting that power in an unjust way without an objection can be seen to degrade your dignity and affects all the way you perceive yourself. It is another thing to look away from wrongs of this world you encounter in your daily life, we all do that from time to time, but to be subjected to it and say nothing, makes you a puppet.
This does not mean that everyone should in every situation bang heads against each other, just to get their way, but it means that even if you choose to adapt temporarily to unjust circumstances, it does not have to mean that you have to accept it.
All being said, life is too complex to make an assumption that more power automatically leads to less caring for other’s well being. While it might be true that to becoming highly successful in any field, you have to be selfish to some degree, there is different degrees and forms of power.
To begin with, you have will power in your own personal life to choose what you do or create next without letting other’s getting in your way. There is political power or financial leverage without malice (Bill Gates). Cultural influence by artists and celebrities. Technological power that changes the way we partake in media and entertainment (Apple) and so on.
In this time and age, the brands, entertainment culture and scattered media has taken our attention and then some. So in some way the culture around us is a power without a clear source that affects our thinking and our way of living and evolving as a society.
I also made an argument in my original comment that public scrutiny and pressure from the masses to reveal wrong-doings counterweights to keep those in power honest. As Dimitri pointed out, and in my own words, this notion is a tad naive, due to life being as complex as it is and the huge gap between poor and rich, but it has some truth to it.
But society needs competition and I think any civilization goes through different extremes to learn what works and what does not work for the common good. In some ways Earth as a whole acts still a bit like a teenager, learning our limits as we go. Thus we will need visionary people in the future, we will need new great leaders to inspire the masses and we also need extremely rich individuals with good intents.
I know I want to be a billionaire.
Because you cannot move the masses without having some power to direct the workforce or attention and money is the most universal form of power there is. It is possible to remove the malice in your intentions and those who come from rags to riches through hard work and perseverance, usually do the better the more unselfish their ultimate goals are, even if you have to be extremely selfish and competitive to get where you are.
Good example of the good-will that lies beneath, is Bill Gates. While he originally just did what he thought he was best at – an operating system that would revolutionize the way we operate modern computers, the real reason why he was so successful was in his character, best summarized by the following quote by Malcolm Gladwell
I firmly believe that 50 years from now he’ll be remembered for his charitable work. No one will even remember what Microsoft is, and all the great entrepreneurs of this era, people will have forgotten Steve Jobs. There will be statues of Gates across the third world and … there’s a reasonable shot … because of his money, we will cure malaria. – Malcolm Gladwell
Anyway, this was my short take on the subject of power and morality and thanks again Dimitri for an interesting posts in general. Without them I might have just kept on dwelling on my journey to become the most successful artist alive. Though, which is what I am doing. It is good to keep an open mind to all ideas, since fame and fortune will lead inevitably to some form of power and influence over thinking masses. Just want to be prepared to how to yield that kind of power and influence well.
- Just Another Superstar