Altruism and Autocracy

Early attempts at describing societies by philosopher’s and sociologists have all tried to analyse the nature of the groups in which we work, whether it is the family, tribe or nation state.

There has been much debate about power and influence and male/female societies and the distribution of decision making structures and institutions of social life have described various states of existence and the predominant forces of elitism, wealth and power.

In business we have many gurus telling us to be open, transparent and democratic (nay even republican) and entrepreneurs should develop empathy, practice mindfulness, embracing and empowering the strength of the individuals with whom they come into contact- a truly open and engaging attitude bordering on the ‘will of the people’, especially when they are customers and want your product in exchange for money. Add to this mix a smattering of positivity , happiness and enjoying the moment and you can appreciate that life in happy valley could not be happier.

The question for us all then is how this state hasn’t solved issues like short termism, greed, bonuses and resource management. Wealth and influence seem to be concentrated in the hands of a few and preserving the status quo seems to be the prevailing norm.

So too with business structures, at what stage in the development of a business does the ‘leader’ turn from teacher to tyrant, democrat to despot, mentor to maniac and the very traits that led to their success soon spill over into overbearing egos and narcissism and a self-delusion that they are always right? Recent research has shown that narcissistic traits can be a force for good if not taken to extremes, -what happens to the person who strays and stays in this extreme state?.

The Tech Titans have proved a good example of Owners/CEOs moving along to this more extreme edge of behaviour and ignoring their democratic constituents that made them powerful in the first place- becoming despots .

My gripe with all the latest thinking and pursuits of ideas such as empathy, excellence and engagement is that such ideas don’t get the reception they should from the people that matter. We need a better reality check. So, my idea, if you don’t like what is happening with certain businesses, (Facebook, Uber, Oxfam,) don’t use their services – vote with your money, feet or own data- simply do something about it and take back your ‘ rights’. Failure to do so is an act of omission and also compliant commission

To quote JS Mill-‘Despotism is a legitimate form of government when dealing with barbarians’

My view is that we don’t want to live in a barbarian society