Quora – Is there any alternative to Might is Right?

Is there any alternative to Might is Right? (by this I ask is there any disproving this idea, even considering how Might isn’t right, but it determines who has control and therefore who has the right to control).

[ 30/3/20 ]

There is a Machiavellian sense of power being the ability to destroy something, which is certainly one of the many measures of power.

It is worth considering that power is often very context sensitive. A small shift in context can change the power relations significantly. At a 100m distance a man with a gun will beat a man with a knife consistently, at a 1m range the knife probably has an advantage. That sort of thing can happen at many different levels (often simultaneously).

We now have so many different groups with the ability to destroy everyone (or a significant fraction of them) that the entire idea of power being the ability to destroy is now a problem to all, in and of itself.

We now need to be very clear that it is the ability to create that is much more important than the ability to destroy, and by definition it is always there – always a point past which people cannot be pushed.

We now need to accept that at our level of complexity, both evolution and survival are much more about cooperation than they are about competition; and that needs to rapidly reflect through the entire global economic system – which needs some fundamental changes for the sake of both life and liberty.

So yes – to a degree there is something in might is right, but not nearly as much as there used to be. Someone into bio-terrorism can do a lot more damage than a Nimitz class aircraft carrier and far more cheaply. What constitutes “might” isn’t nearly as clear as it once was.

There is a very real sense now in which “right” must be determined by some level of agreement (in as much as the idea of “right” makes sense).

In order to survive, we must learn to respect and honour difference and diversity (the outcome of real freedom), and we must all respect all individual sapient life (human and non-human, biological and non-biological). At the same time, we must acknowledge that all real systems of complexity have boundaries necessary for their survival. Sometimes those boundaries are uncertain and variable, but they are no less real for that.

We must also accept that people under stress have subconsciously reduced resolution in their experience of reality – so in that context it often does come down to simple binaries – right/wrong, friend/foe, good/evil – even if the reality is infinitely more subtle and varied than that. Evolution worked out long ago that sometimes the need to make a decision quickly necessitates the use of overly simplistic models, and that is hard coded into the structure of our brains, as to how reality occurs for us.

About Ted Howard NZ

Seems like I might be a cancer survivor. Thinking about the systemic incentives within the world we find ourselves in, and how we might adjust them to provide an environment that supports everyone (no exceptions) - see www.tedhowardnz.com/money
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