Do people prefer the illusion of power and control over actual power and control? - Politics Forum.org | PoFo

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#14930024
Lately I've been writing a lot about the intersection between power and responsibility. I was watching a YouTube video and there was this guy who said that people don't want control, they want the illusion of control.

I feel a little bad going there but this is a politics forum, so this seems like the best analogy that comes to mind. There are a million other examples I could use besides "Trump derangement syndrome" but I'm going to use that here. A lot of the smarter, calmer liberals are telling people that the Maxine Waters strategy (bordering on AntiFA-like behavior) wherein people physically harass others is not an effective path towards regaining control, which I'm conflating with power here, although the concept of control is arguably broader than this. I would think the idea that these kinds of behaviors will not be effective should be obvious, yet it's clear that large numbers of people are rejecting that seemingly obvious thing.

So the YouTube video got me thinking about this phenomenon, naturally in relation to other things I've been thinking about. Maybe it's true and lots of people do unconsciously prefer the illusion of control to actual control. Instead of just writing what the video says though, I'd like to posit an explanation for this: people, perhaps unconsciously, recognize the existence of the relationship between power/control and responsibility. They don't want the responsibility but they do want the power, therefore the illusion of control and power is more attractive to them than possession of the actual thing is.

Do you agree/disagree and if you disagree but think that some people prefer the illusion to the reality, can you imagine any reasons why this would be?
Last edited by Hong Wu on 04 Jul 2018 16:23, edited 1 time in total.
#14930028
This sounds a lot like "appearance vs substance". If appearance is used as proxy for substance, why wouldnt the illusion of power (influence, change, hope, etc..) be enough to appease? Its understood one is not the other, but the acceptance of proxies seems to be ingrained in people, and I believe the level of acceptance is dependant on how harsh the outcomes of false proxies.
#14930034
Most of us enjoy power. Just ask yourself if you would rather be the boss or the employee? The teacher or the student? So I believe we are talking about desired ‘levels’ of power from the perspective of the imaginary average person.
The average person enjoys his assumed superiority and this results in attempts at what you describe as illusionary power. The example that comes to mind :) is those having zero tolerance for those who do not share their views on equality. They enjoy exerting power over ‘inferiors’. It is necessary to prove their superiority, but it is the superiority that is more important than the power. There is no better way to rationalize your superiority and exercise your power than to be a defender of the downtrodden.
#14930036
One Degree wrote:Most of us enjoy power. Just ask yourself if you would rather be the boss or the employee? The teacher or the student? So I believe we are talking about desired ‘levels’ of power from the perspective of the imaginary average person.
The average person enjoys his assumed superiority and this results in attempts at what you describe as illusionary power. The example that comes to mind :) is those having zero tolerance for those who do not share their views on equality. They enjoy exerting power over ‘inferiors’. It is necessary to prove their superiority, but it is the superiority that is more important than the power. There is no better way to rationalize your superiority and exercise your power than to be a defender of the downtrodden.

I like the term "rationalize your superiority", I think that's definitely something that happens a lot.
#14930038
I'd say there's not such a clear distinction; often power is just as legitimate when it is illusory. Lots of entities that don't have any sort of physical reality are nonetheless endowed with huge amounts of power: money, corporations, law, all things that exist exclusively in our collective consciousness, but will smite us (sometimes in equally imaginary ways) should we disobey.

If I believe someone has power over me, then they can use this to their advantage, which would result in a palpable power relation. So really, power is constructed just as much by belief in the threat of force as by force itself. I'd even say that this threat is mostly imaginary. How often do we acquiesce out of fear of violence, rather than "anxiety about" violence? Not too often.
#14930044
Justin_S wrote:I'd say there's not such a clear distinction; often power is just as legitimate when it is illusory. Lots of entities that don't have any sort of physical reality are nonetheless endowed with huge amounts of power: money, corporations, law, all things that exist exclusively in our collective consciousness, but will smite us (sometimes in equally imaginary ways) should we disobey.

If I believe someone has power over me, then they can use this to their advantage, which would result in a palpable power relation. So really, power is constructed just as much by belief in the threat of force as by force itself. I'd even say that this threat is mostly imaginary. How often do we acquiesce out of fear of violence, rather than "anxiety about" violence? Not too often.

This is a good point, thanks for contributing. Perhaps the desire for an illusion of control, instead of actual control, is also related to a tenuous understanding people have re: the power of institutions and culture.

Also not related to this post in specific but re: rationalizing superiority. I suspect that a lot of SJWs (which I honestly believe would have been some other group in a past, such as overbearing Christians) have some form of narcissistic personality disorder. A hallmark of this disorder is the constant need for them to convince themselves of their superiority, which to put it another way requires repeated rationalizations as proof of superiority.

I'm also dreading what I view as the inevitable moment when Trump's victory is undeniably solidified and all the narcissists become Trump supporters because they view it as the winning team...
#14931863
Would you perfer to be a figure head king, or the power behind the throne?
What kind of knowledge, favours, money and politicking do you believe is required to be the power behind the throne? Do you think such people ever have a day off?
A figure head has a lot of power and little responsibility, while the power behind the curtains has more power but a huge amount of responsibility and stress. Seems like the upkeep cost for Enjoyment - what you can do given what it takes from you - is much better being a figure head. Extrapolate this into lower levels of power, where there are many levels above you. A lot of work is needed for a little more power and there is ever higher levels with more difficult requirements. Why not forgo more (real) power and excercise what you already have?

Would you rather spend your whole life, 60hrs/week amassing $100 million when you die, or work 30/week amass $10million and then enjoy it for 40 years?
#14931875
Thunderhawk wrote:Would you perfer to be a figure head king, or the power behind the throne?
What kind of knowledge, favours, money and politicking do you believe is required to be the power behind the throne? Do you think such people ever have a day off?
A figure head has a lot of power and little responsibility, while the power behind the curtains has more power but a huge amount of responsibility and stress. Seems like the upkeep cost for Enjoyment - what you can do given what it takes from you - is much better being a figure head. Extrapolate this into lower levels of power, where there are many levels above you. A lot of work is needed for a little more power and there is ever higher levels with more difficult requirements. Why not forgo more (real) power and excercise what you already have?

Would you rather spend your whole life, 60hrs/week amassing $100 million when you die, or work 30/week amass $10million and then enjoy it for 40 years?


Actually this is a bit more complicated. Some of the rulers choose to become figureheads of sorts. One part of ruling is the ability to delegate your power to others. Even Napoleon have to delegate his responsibilities although he was good at great many things.

So some rulers consider the power to delegate their responsibilities to the right and competent people to be the most important role the ruler takes. I think a good example of this is Catherine the Great of Russia. She delegated a lot of her responsibilities to the right people which let her whore around and do her own things she was more interested in instead of leading the military, for example. :excited:

So does that power structure make her a figurehead? I guess as long as she retained the ability to remove those delegates she still was the top dog though.
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