Monday, June 15, 2020

859: About Power.....

In the previous lecture we saw, that in general Homo Sapiens is not eager to kill. To get to the killer level our friendly nature has to be beaten out first by severe training.


The other solution is, that you keep the enemy you kill at a distance, out of sight. So not a knife or club, but an intercontinental missile. Field artillery is also ok.


There is one group for whom it is easy to keep your distance from the enemy. That's the group at the top. 


The generals of armies and terrorist organizations, autocratic leaders and dictators have to make little effort to suppress their empathy for the opponent. 


After all, they give their orders remotely. And the fascinating thing is: where the soldiers are often ordinary people, that is not true for their leaders.


Terrorism experts and historians invariably point out that a number of people at the top have a completely different profile. 


For example, war criminals such as Adolf Hitler and Joseph Goebbels were clear examples of power-hungry and paranoid narcissists. 


Al-Qaeda and IS leaders are also manipulative and self-centered. They also feel little compassion and rarely feel doubt. 


Here we encounter a mystery. If Homo Sapiens is such a friendly creature by nature, how come egoists and grabbers, narcissists and sociopaths climb up to the top so often? 


How is it that creatures which blush, as such being the only ones in the animal kingdom, let themselves be guided by figures, who are beyond shame?


There is a theory about this phenomenon. To get hold of it we have to go back in time.


In the winter of 1513, after another long evening in the pub, this penniless official, Niccolo Machiavelli, wrote a pamphlet that he saw as "a little joke." 


He called it "Il Principe" (The King). It would become one of the most influential works in Western history. 


"Il Principe" ended up on the bedside tables of Emperor Charles V (1500 - 1558), King Louis XIV (1638 - 1715) and Secretary General Stalin (1953+). 


The mighty chancellor Otto von Bismarck had a copy, as did Churchill, Mussolini and Hitler. A copy was even found in Napoleon's carriage shortly after he was defeated at Waterloo. 


Niccolo Machiavelli's philosophy is directly applicable. Anyone who wants power, he wrote, must seize it. 


You have to be shameless. No principles, no morals. The end justifies the means. If you don't stand up for yourself, others will roll over you.


"Of the people," Machiavelli wrote, "one can generally say that they are ungrateful, shaky, hypocritical, cowardly, and greedy." 


Is someone nice to you? Do not be fooled. It is hypocrisy. "People never do good unless they have no other option". 


There are dozens of plays, movies and series based on his ideas. "The Godfather", "House of Cards", "Game of Thrones", they are all footnotes to the work of that old Italian. 


And so the question is obvious: is Machiavelli's philosophical theory correct? Do people have to shamelessly lie and cheat to gain and maintain power? 


What does modern science say? We'll see.......


Thank you for your attention again.....

Main Sources:
MacMillan The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2nd edition
Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 1995
Rutger Bregman, "De meeste mensen deugen",, 2019



The Discussion

[13:18] Athwale: Thank you Herman

[13:19] herman Bergson: Feel free to take the floor ^_^

[13:20] herman Bergson: Any resemblance  with a present situation is pure coincidence:-)

[13:20] Max Chatnoir is offline.

[13:20] Jack Lust (jacklust): while I don't think you "need" to be those things to keep power, people seem to be fooled by the loudest people in the room, not necessarily the correct ones

[13:20] oola Neruda: I cannot help but think of Ann Rand

[13:22] herman Bergson: The fact is that dictators for instance arent willing to give up their power...

[13:22] herman Bergson: Yes oola Miss Rand  relates to this

[13:23] CB Axel: We need to elect statesmen instead of politicians. People who want to help others rather than people who just want power.

[13:23] herman Bergson: Putin changed the law so that he can stay in power till whenever

[13:23] oola Neruda: YES

[13:24] herman Bergson: Yes CB...and those people exist....

[13:24] Jack Lust (jacklust): and he is supported by people who want to be close to power if they can't have it themselves

[13:24] herman Bergson: I even believe that a majority of dem politicians are like that

[13:24] CB Axel: They do, but the loudest people are the ones who get attention.

[13:24] Jack Lust (jacklust): carnival barkers, essentially

[13:25] herman Bergson: Not everyone is negatively affected by power.....that shows our democratic system

[13:25] Jack Lust (jacklust): promise a lot and deliver little, and just blame "them"

[13:26] herman Bergson: sounds like a campaign slogan, Jack :-))))

[13:26] Jack Lust (jacklust): it seems to work

[13:26] Jack Lust (jacklust): but people enable them to get that far, so probably another topic is why people support ones like that

[13:27] herman Bergson: I didn't write my lecture of today with Trump in mind....not at all....

[13:27] oola Neruda: but it the shoe fits.,..

[13:27] herman Bergson: I was just up to the topic of keeping distance to your enemy

[13:27] herman Bergson: that is what I felt too oola

[13:28] Jack Lust (jacklust): anonymity is powerful, on either side

[13:28] herman Bergson: We are at an historical moment,,,at least in the US, where a narcissist in in power...

[13:28] herman Bergson: what will it be.....

[13:28] Jack Lust (jacklust): my bet is he will at least try for 3 terms, even though it isn't allowed now

[13:28] herman Bergson: will the voters be fed up with this person or cheer him

[13:29] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): Maybe he will change the law too like his friend Poetin

[13:29] CB Axel: His numbers are dropping.

[13:29] herman Bergson: That was my thought too, Jack!

[13:29] herman Bergson: Indeed Beertje

[13:29] herman Bergson: Thought of that too

[13:29] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): he can...

[13:30] CB Axel: I blame the American people. We need to stop listening to the news and to social media and actually listen to what the politicians say and watch what they do.

[13:30] Jack Lust (jacklust): if he loses this election, they will have to remove him from the white house, he won't go peacefully

[13:30] herman Bergson: So the American people has to prove something in November.....

[13:30] Jack Lust (jacklust): he still has a lot of followers though

[13:30] Jack Lust (jacklust): and they are the reason he got as far as he did

[13:30] oola Neruda: still has many

[13:31] Jack Lust (jacklust): indeed, and it scary

[13:31] oola Neruda: YES

[13:31] herman Bergson: I'll be honest.....

[13:31] herman Bergson: I am scared.....what the outcome will be

[13:31] oola Neruda: yes

[13:31] herman Bergson: He is an ultimate Machiavellian

[13:31] Jack Lust (jacklust): and him being at the top, doesn't really care about the rest, he just gives the orders

[13:32] Jack Lust (jacklust): like the generals etc

[13:32] herman Bergson: As I just said, Jack...

[13:32] Jack Lust (jacklust): detached from it all

[13:32] CB Axel: I wish the news would stop reporting everything he says and tweets.

[13:32] CB Axel: He's just hot air.

[13:32] herman Bergson: no empathy, no compassion....even an old man of 75 is probably an Antifa provocateur

[13:32] oola Neruda: even to people he is not directly supposed to order

[13:32] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): we can burn ourselves on hot air CB

[13:32]  Łîly Łŭsŧ (lily11223355): Do you think because he was born into privilege that has shaped the kind of person/politician he is today?

[13:33] CB Axel: We don't listen to everything that comes out of a radiator.

[13:33] Jack Lust (jacklust): I think very much so Lily.  He has never been told "no" I'm pretty sure

[13:33] herman Bergson: We are the product of our education Lily....

[13:33] oola Neruda: was a bully in school

[13:34] Jack Lust (jacklust): any trouble he got in, his father bailed him out

[13:34] CB Axel: The city of Seattle just set up a "no cop" zone where people can protest peacefully. It has been peaceful, but Trump has threatened to go there and "take back the city by force."

[13:34] oola Neruda: he has connections with or experiences with mob behavior

[13:35] herman Bergson: OK CB...I hope that teaches people who Bunker Boy really is

[13:35] CB Axel: The people protesting already know.

[13:35] oola Neruda: ...bunker boy.....smiles

[13:35] CB Axel: It's the people who back him that want control via violence.

[13:35] oola Neruda: yes

[13:36] herman Bergson: It just happened to be so that the present subject of my lecture is so close to actual reality....

[13:36] oola Neruda: conceal and carry laws are being passed and there

[13:36] herman Bergson: The question remains.....what happens to people in power...

[13:37] Jack Lust (jacklust): I don't think the power corrupts them, just adds fuel to the fire

[13:37] oola Neruda: good point

[13:37] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): they change when they get power

[13:37] herman Bergson: No...the power corrupts them Jack....we'll get to that in the next lectures

[13:37] Jack Lust (jacklust): I would say it just amplifies their worst tendencies

[13:38] oola Neruda: i agree

[13:38] Jack Lust (jacklust): but they started out needing that power, once they got it, they let loose

[13:38] herman Bergson: I don't know....

[13:38] oola Neruda: yes

[13:38] CB Axel: I agree with Jack.

[13:38] herman Bergson: idealist revolutionaries who won their struggle and became persident...

[13:38] Jack Lust (jacklust): Trump get worse and worse the more his people support him

[13:38] herman Bergson: in the beginning all goes well and then they become oppressive

[13:39] herman Bergson: Trump will get crazier and crazier by the month now...

[13:39] Jack Lust (jacklust): I think so too

[13:39] oola Neruda: nofd

[13:39] oola Neruda: nods

[13:40] herman Bergson: just watch and see.....

[13:40] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): (een kat in het nauw maakt rare sprongen)

[13:40] CB Axel: Did they get worse or did they get the power they wanted peacefully and then got oppressive when that power was challenged?

[13:40] herman Bergson: Right Beertje :-))

[13:40] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): don't know how to say it in english

[13:41] herman Bergson: When in power you always get challenged to respond to that....?

[13:41] herman Bergson: With elections or oppressing your opponents...

[13:41] herman Bergson: most of the time it is the later

[13:41] CB Axel: Good people would have an election.

[13:41] oola Neruda: yes

[13:42] herman Bergson: In a noraml democratic society this is the case indeed.....

[13:42] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): Trump will say that the elections are fake..

[13:42] herman Bergson: In the US however it is combined with voter suppression, it seems

[13:42] oola Neruda: grrrrrrr

[13:42] Jack Lust (jacklust): he hated the electoral collage right up until it won him the presidency

[13:42] CB Axel: Well, they attack their challengers in campaign ads, but they don't fight it out physically.

[13:43] CB Axel: Maybe we should bring back duels. :)

[13:43]  Łîly Łŭsŧ (lily11223355): Discrediting and bribing also

[13:43] Jack Lust (jacklust): he would claim bone spurrs

[13:43] herman Bergson: and he would want to use a golf club

[13:43] oola Neruda: super pacs and promises to contributors

[13:43] CB Axel: The Republicans know they can't win by the power of their policies, so they have to cheat in elections to win.

[13:44] herman Bergson: No idea what super pacs are...I hear them mentioned...but no clue

[13:44] Jack Lust (jacklust): they need voter suppression to win, that's why mail in ballots scare the shit out of them

[13:44] CB Axel: Gerrymandering. Voter suppression. Lying. Those are what keep them in power.

[13:44] oola Neruda: yes

[13:45] herman Bergson: That is the weird reps are in fact a minority in the US

[13:45] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): what are reps?

[13:45] CB Axel: Super pacs are groups who donate to politicians and influence their votes on issues that affect the super pac people

[13:45] Jack Lust (jacklust): but them redrawing the electoral districts is essentially legal cheating

[13:45] herman Bergson: Republicans

[13:45] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): thank you

[13:46]  Łîly Łŭsŧ (lily11223355): yes, unlimited political spending

[13:46] CB Axel: Yes, Jack. Democrats do that, too, just not as blatantly.

[13:46] herman Bergson: Yes Jack...I have seen examples of the trick.....amazing....

[13:46] herman Bergson: They all do that

[13:46] Jack Lust (jacklust): it's true, they all do it, but it should be done by an independent group

[13:46] CB Axel: Someone came up with a type font using gerrymandered districts to form the letters of the alphabet. :)

[13:47] herman Bergson: Thing is....why  do you have such a stupid system...

[13:47] Jack Lust (jacklust): that won't happen as long a republicans are in power

[13:47] Jack Lust (jacklust): tradition, herman, most of it

[13:47] herman Bergson: In my country...every citizen has the righ to vote and each person is one vote....period

[13:47] herman Bergson: simple as that]

[13:48] CB Axel: I wish the US would do that.

[13:48] herman Bergson: We call it democracy here, CB :-)

[13:48] oola Neruda: on paper it says that it does

[13:48] oola Neruda: hah

[13:48] herman Bergson: all European countries do

[13:48] Jack Lust (jacklust): the way it is now, it will be back and forth, each administration tearing down what the previous one did and getting nowhere in the process

[13:48] Jack Lust (jacklust): tearing*

[13:49] CB Axel: The electoral college was developed to help states with smaller populations to have some say in the elections.

[13:49] herman Bergson: Yes JAck, I have seen that....

[13:49] Jack Lust (jacklust): it's been that way for a while now

[13:49] herman Bergson: All Obama has done is torn dow by Bunker Boy

[13:49] CB Axel nods

[13:49] oola Neruda: grrrrrr

[13:49] Jack Lust (jacklust): and only because it was Obama, a democrat

[13:50] Jack Lust (jacklust): no other reason

[13:50] CB Axel: A black Democrat

[13:50] Jack Lust (jacklust): ok, good point

[13:50] herman Bergson: that is the most painful observation....

[13:50] oola Neruda: yes...race is involved

[13:50] Jack Lust (jacklust): absolutely

[13:50] herman Bergson: because he was black too?

[13:50] CB Axel: That made it worse.

[13:50] Jack Lust (jacklust): on top of being a democrat

[13:51] oola Neruda: it is a trigger for many of his followers

[13:51] herman Bergson: From the Netherlands that was my observation too.....

[13:51] CB Axel: The stupid American public, who votes based on name recognition and popularity, keep voting for dumbass Republicans.

[13:51] herman Bergson: I am not even involved in all of it.....I am just a spectator watching a horror show

[13:52] Jack Lust (jacklust): I'm in Canada, so I have a front row seat to it all

[13:52] herman Bergson smiles

[13:52] herman Bergson: Wonder if I should envy you, Jack

[13:52] CB Axel: Our elections for president have become like elections for homecoming queen. Just a popularity contest.

[13:52] herman Bergson: I like that ocean in between:-)

[13:52] oola Neruda: you may get more people crossing the border to get away from here

[13:52] CB Axel: If I could move to Canada, I'd do it in a heartbeat.

[13:52] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): 'lol, me too Herman

[13:53] Jack Lust (jacklust): Robin Williams said we were like the really nice apartment over the meth lab.  He wasn't wrong with analogy

[13:53] herman Bergson: The situation geopolitically is quite clear at the moment....

[13:53] CB Axel: That ocean won't protect you when Trumps environmental policies heat up the earth to an unbearable degree.

[13:53] herman Bergson: It is Chine , Russia or the US

[13:54] oola Neruda: yes CB

[13:54] CB Axel: And you poor Nederlanders will be the first to go. :(

[13:54] herman Bergson: If Trump is re-elected it will be China

[13:54] Jack Lust (jacklust): they will just build better dykes

[13:54] CB Axel: I hope so.

[13:54] herman Bergson: Yes I know CB, but we are masters in building dikes!

[13:54] oola Neruda: it will be more than ocean rise

[13:54] oola Neruda: lots more

[13:54] CB Axel: Yes. It will affect crops, too.

[13:55] oola Neruda: YES

[13:55] CB Axel: Our food supply will be threatened.

[13:55] oola Neruda: YES

[13:55] herman Bergson: Be not so pessimistic....

[13:55] CB Axel: And if conservatives are worried about the migration of people, just wait.

[13:55] herman Bergson: Eventually most people are OK.....they will win....

[13:55] oola Neruda: it is not pessimism.... the science is there

[13:56] oola Neruda: yes CB

[13:56] CB Axel: We'll see in November, Herman.

[13:56] CB Axel: And I don't think Biden will make all the changes we need.

[13:56] herman Bergson: Oh yes CB....can't wait actually.....OMG

[13:56] CB Axel: He's too conservative...for a liberal. lol

[13:56] oola Neruda: you cannot outlaw bigger and better tornados and hurricanes

[13:57] herman Bergson: I garee CB...

[13:57] herman Bergson: But rather him than Bunker Boy

[13:57] herman Bergson: He is a danger to the world

[13:57] Jack Lust (jacklust): A ham sandwich would do better than Trump, I think

[13:57] herman Bergson: He likes cheese burgers, Jack :-)

[13:58] CB Axel rummages through her inventory for her "Totally unhinged liberal" t-shirt.

[13:58] CB Axel: Please don't ruin ham sandwiches for me, Jack. :)

[13:58] CB Axel: Cheetos have already been ruined.

[13:58] Jack Lust (jacklust): lol, sorry!

[13:59] herman Bergson: Well....let's see in the next lectures how homo sapiens deals with has some answers...

[13:59] herman Bergson: Thank you all again.....

[14:00] CB Axel: Thank you, Herman.

[14:00] herman Bergson: Class dismissed....

[14:00] oola Neruda: there will be a talk this week on what makes people hate

[14:00] Jack Lust (jacklust): thanks herman, thanks everyone

[14:00] Athwale: thank you Herman, was a nice lecture as always

[14:01] CB Axel: Where will that be, oola?

[14:01] bergfrau Apfelbaum: thank you Herman and class

[14:01] CB Axel: I did watch the documentary Herman recommended.

[14:01] CB Axel: Very interesting.

[14:01] herman Bergson: Ohh you did CB....

[14:01] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): dankjewel voor de les

[14:02] herman Bergson: I forgot to tell you

[14:02] herman Bergson: today I tried to view one too....

[14:02] oola Neruda: either  tv or computer..not sure ...but it is getting announced fairly often

[14:02] herman Bergson: and I got the message that all were removed from Youtube due to copyright

[14:02] oola Neruda: it is a  part of a series of talks... i believe

[14:03] herman Bergson: on Tuesday they still were thay were all blocked

[14:03] CB Axel: Really. I found them Tuesday and downloaded them to my computer to watch at my leisure.

[14:03] oola Neruda: saw one yesterday

[14:03] herman Bergson: Lucky you if you got them all CB

[14:03] CB Axel: I had to use my VPN to connect through Germany, but the Netherlands worked, too.

[14:03] CB Axel: It was blocked in the US.

[14:04] herman Bergson: I tried several VPN locations...all the same message....blocked due to copyrights

[14:04] oola Neruda: grrrrrrr

[14:04] CB Axel: Interesting

[14:04] CB Axel: I guess I got lucky.

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