The Implications of Social Hierarchy and Questioning the Right to Rule 

Society must return to truth or cease to exist.

— Pyotr Kropotkin, The Conquest of Bread, 1892

In these times the establishment continues to bellow out hippie like rhetoric that we’re all in this together, that we must find unity and peace, put down our differences, sing kum ba yah, and hug this shit out. Great. I want peace too, but forgive me if I find the words coming from those in power to be a little less than authentic.

The way I see it is that peace isn’t found on the top of a bloody mountain of suppressive violence stemming from nation states. Clear truth is not found by wallowing in the muddied waters of agenda driven lies. Love isn’t found in servility and threats. Understanding is not deepened in the wake of massive denial. Real freedom is not found in the world’s largest prison state. And a society worth living in isn’t built on a foundation of selfishness and deceit. The deceit is always required if selfishness is to be maintained, go figure right; when lots of people have almost nothing and a tiny minority have more than they could ever use then you’d better have a pretty good excuse for that inequality — but there never is. Thus copious amounts of lies must be told. And lies to cover up for the first lies you told ad infinitum.

Centralized power normalizes a culture of division that believes in the dangerous other, a criminal archetype only they can protect you from. And so it only stands to reason if they believe in criminal bad guys that must mean they have assumed the role of the good guy. By what measure do they default to being good just because it can be pointed out that another has perceived flaws? Ultimately those in power dictate what will be seen as good and bad for the people. You know, because they are so wise and stuff.

It is those who have seized power who say good humans do this and bad humans do that, and the values chosen to emphasize are arbitrarily chosen by whoever currently holds power and what works for them at that time to maintain a grip on power. Power must be clenched in some capacity with an iron fist otherwise people would never agree to live in this way. So those in power must have a system to properly corral the human herds into their designated roles, and heck, they’ll even let you choose your work detail these days, and this is what the US and capitalists have long defined as “freedom.”

Ruling authority establishes a pecking order by the act of simply putting themselves in power. If they are above, then someone else must be below. From there they assign different people to manage their kingdom and see to it that all the lower ranks sublimate their energies into doing what ruling power wants instead of frivolously choosing to live their own lives. Those lower down on the organizational chart will inevitably be silenced and will have to take the orders from those above them or there will be consequences. A system of punishments and rewards is established that reaches a balanced state when it creates conditions that makes it easier for you to just comply and do what power wishes instead of resisting. Similar to how any work animal is broken in, a horse may not like its saddle at first but after sufficiently breaking its spirit it will soon learn its subservient role, just as humans learn their subservient role to those higher above them in the hierarchy of this culture.

Naturally resentments gradually build in any relationship where inequality exists, as the multitudes on the bottom of the pyramid scheme soon find they are doing all the work and receiving the bulk of the suffering while the ones at the top take all the credit and receive all the pleasure derived from the work of those lower on the hierarchy.

Every step down the chain of command the punishments get a little harsher for disobedience, the work more back breaking, while simultaneously having less of a voice to change any of your circumstances. To make things worse the working class carries the denigrations received at work home with them, the angst and bile workers can’t take out on their superiors who doled out the pain then filters down to family life. So when the boss is a total asshole to you and makes you feel subservient, a common impulse is to take it out on those close to you who you can exert some form of control over.

The concept of hierarchy doling out pain and passing down a chain of command where it is eventually taken out on people with the least amount of power is also displayed in other species, like baboons for instance, where Robert Sapolsky (a neuro-endocrinologist, professor of biology, and author) observed in nature how a baboon troop behaved under the thumb of alpha males. When the alpha males were ruling the troop exhibited high amounts of stress hormones and violence was more common. However after a fortuitous event occurred where the alpha males died from consuming bad food, Sapolsky observed the troop became more peaceful, stress went down, and cooperation increased. There’s a good ten minute clip that summarizes this research and can be seen here, I recommend giving it a watch if you’re unfamiliar with his work.

Domination and ownership culture, despite the claims from those in power, does not make any real progress by doing more of what is already wrong. In the bounds of a social hierarchy and calling any part of what is happening under the rule of nation states, corporations, or central banks progress is like someone who’s addicted to gambling who claims to be progressing at kicking their addiction by getting better at gambling.

In a system of power the culture will inevitably become subservient to what power rewards in some manner, and hence the culture of the masses will over time begin to resemble having the values of those in charge. If those in charge are materialistic pricks then it’s highly likely society will place value on techno-bling-baubles that materialist pricks love. Just as a corporation tends to take on attributes of its CEO by way of hiring habits and enforced culture in the organization, a nation state too will exhibit characteristics of its leaders. When inept, cruel, and frivolous leaders claw their way into power, as is so often the case,  they will predictably pass a multitude of unreasonable laws that future generations after them must follow and are difficult to later overturn; the structure then becomes increasingly corrupt and rigid where only the most naive and sold-out remain patriots.

The powers that be have a relationship to the people similar to an abusive spouse that keeps trying to make up to us and tells us how much they care and how they’ve changed, but then they tell us there’s a curfew for when we have to come home at night, and if there’s a slight possibility we may get sick they’re going to make the decision for us that we can’t go outside at all. And when we tell them we want to leave them they lock us in the closet, and if we try to run away they’ll shoot us in the back. They stole all our stuff and declared it theirs, and if in revolt of our treatment we break things they have stolen from us they’ll beat us over it; maybe stick a knee on our throats, show us how much they love us. They also have a long list of chores we have to get done, most of which are things for their convenience that don’t need to be done at all, but nonetheless if we don’t complete the tasks to their liking they’ll make us sleep in the backyard without being fed as punishment. Then we must grovel to them to be allowed to do more chores to end the torments of hunger and being forced to survive out in the elements.

Sounds like we’ve hooked up with a real asshole here. Worth sacrificing it all to get out from under their grasp. We’ve seen how the establishment acted during the hippie movement whose central message was peace, love, and coming together, and their reaction was to put a jackboot on it. They jailed and assassinated lefty leaders, they shot unarmed students at Kent State, and they passed drug laws to imprison people they didn’t like with zero scientific reasoning for doing so, and as we all know, these laws still exist today and are used for the same purposes. And that’s just a portion of the bullshit they’ve pulled. But that’s what they think about peace and love. They want to snuff it out if it gets in the way of their lust for power. They’ll murder you in the street over money and material things they plundered themselves.

The emotional plaque of suffering & servility builds over time and is handed down through lineage to children who grow up to see the ones they love needlessly suffer because of a puerile system where the emotionally arrested fools in charge will kill everyone in their path with their pew-pew murder toys to keep the pain train rolling along. The means of production have been taken away from the people and all power placed in the dollar with control mechanisms in place to violently defend money; it creates a world of people who are subservient to power and will do anything to get their hands on money so they can live. Money then becomes a false god capable of demanding people to do the most wretched of things, all because ruling power has made it so. This system is chosen because it’s the most efficient way to break your spirit, make you fall in line and conform to serving the desires of power. It’s not a conspiracy over the ages, it’s just a collection of idiots who are all lost to the same temptation of grasping after the drug of power which consumes anyone who reaches for it.

The tragedy here is how unnecessary it all is. How all this iniquitous power present on earth now doesn’t have to be this way, but humans still have lessons to learn before the suffering begins to lessen. Those in power are abusers, but the people continue to enable them, and the suffering won’t stop until the people learn to overcome their fear of independence and fight for something worth having instead of fighting for half measures that do nothing to correct our relationships to power and each other.

Related:
The Utility of Rules and Hierarchy
Human Hierarchies, Competition, and Anarchism

Jason Holland is a writer and a proponent of peaceful revolution. He can be reached at jason.holland@reasonbowl.com or follow him on twitter @ReasonBowl. Youtube content at Reason Bowl Radio. Read other articles by Jason, or visit Jason's website.