On Power: Part 2

A deeper analysis will show that the ultimate source of power is found at the individual level. All power is created by the individual, and from here it flows towards his desired goal. Even collectives ultimately source their power from the individual. As mentioned before, all collective action is, in essence, a manifestation of individual desires aligning themselves with one goal. Power cannot be drawn from these collectives or tools of power since they only serve the function of funneling/conducting power that originates from individuals. This is due to the fact that only individuals can accrue resources and obtain the influence necessary to generate power. From a simple observation, we can confirm that all effective human organization is structured in the form of hierarchies, with a single source of power at the top of the hierarchy, from which power flows down to subordinate tiers.

Furthermore, attempts to structure organizations under egalitarian ideals of equal distribution of power lead to inefficiencies and conflicts in collective action. Inefficiencies arise due to the lack of an established leader who can be held accountable for consequences of decision making as well as the inability to override conflicting orders. This, inevitably, leads to conflict across the entire organization, since all the levels of the hierarchy break down, leaving individuals lost and confused, often having to deal with responsibilities that are beyond their capabilities. Because of these reasons, there can only be one source of power at the top in any given hierarchy.

Hierarchies can suffer from scalability issues in which a hierarchy grows beyond its natural capabilities and overextension becomes a problem. Overextension can be observed in any given organization that presents difficulties such as miscommunication, corruption, lack of command, general inefficiency, and many other things along those lines. This is a natural consequence that occurs when power is no longer flowing from the source to all points of the hierarchy effectively. In essence, the subordinates stop performing their designated function and/or begin abusing their delegated power. At this point, the hierarchy has reached its final stages and begins a path to decomposition.

Solutions to this situation can be summed up in the centralization vs. decentralization debate. Those who favor centralization argue that if the majority of power is kept at the source then the source is sufficiently empowered as to take quick and decisive action to fix difficulties and problems that present themselves with the passing of time.In this system, the source of power has the say in most things and can generally be shaped into what he desires. In contrast, those who favor decentralization argue for a hierarchy that divides itself into predominantly independent units were the source of power delegates a significant amount of authority to other members of the organization. This system empowers the members closest to the problem who can then take action to fix it without having to pass the problem up into the hierarchy and await an answer. It prioritizes the needs of the different organizations over that of the dominant hierarchy and one can generally find multiple influential individuals operating throughout it. This permits an organization that maximizes action in the least amount of time possible. In contrast with the centralized structure, the decentralized hierarchy will have multiple ways of handling problems and generally have different cultures within it.

I find that in business a hybrid form, that incorporates elements of centralization and decentralization, is what most of the influential writers advocate for. The consensus seems to be that while it is no way close to what is desired it is the only known way of organizing an enterprise of significant size without developing critical failures in the hierarchy. Throughout history, we can observe that in other forms of human organization a centralized model works under the direction of a brilliant leader while decentralized models seem to favor the objective of long-term growth and prosperity. Centralized models quickly fail when the brilliant leader is no more and a more incompetent person fills in the role. An overdependence on a single individual can wreak havoc on an unprepared hierarchy. Decentralized models can more easily handle difficulties as they tend to empower the individuals that form it and since individuals are potential creators of power the effect is soon magnified across the entire hierarchy. The best model is ultimately dependent on what organizational structure is desired and what sphere of human society is being discussed. It is my opinion that decentralized models work best for politics, hybrid models work best for business, and centralized models work best for the exertion of power but they tend to ultimately become tyrannical and stifling because of this.

The way we understand and conceptualize the origins of power has many implications on our ideological conclusions and it is of crucial importance that we can establish the basic concepts of what power is. This allows us to study it and draw more logical conclusions as to how power should be used throughout society. Through a greater understanding of power dynamics, we can develop a superior version of justice and find more effective forms of organization that benefit mankind in the long run.

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