After seeing a headline about a Stalin-like purge in China, the following thought occurred to me.
Why does absolute power corrupt absolutely?
“Absolute power” means you have no boss. If you have a boss, you think one way. If you have no boss, you think another way. Why?
If I have a boss, I want to please my boss. Almost all of us operate that way. I mean “boss” in a general sense. Even if you own your own business, your “boss” is the market. If you can’t please the market, your business will expire. So the market is your boss.
With a boss, your path to enrichment and thriving is to please your boss.
Think of modern China. It is a communist, non-democratic state. Those in the highest levels of government have no boss, because there is no market. What happens when one has no boss?
There is no longer a need to please one’s boss. Without a boss, you can start plotting a different path to enrichment and thriving. Enrichment basically comes about by inventing rules that make you rich. You need “rules” because you get rich by taking from others. So, the rule is: give stuff to me. That makes you rich.
You also want to remove anyone who makes their own rules, and who does not like you. So, another path to enrichment is to remove those who interfere with your rule making.
I think I’ve just described “absolute corruption.”
I haven’t completely answered my question. Why do those who have a boss behave so differently than those who do not? I’ve left out one critical element: “the motor”. (Term borrowed from Adam Carolla).
Common through all of this is the desire for self-enrichment. There are those obsessed with self-enrichment (ambition), and those who just let things slide. Whether you are a top dog in the Communist party, or a captain of industry, you have a motor. A strong motor that pushes you. Your “boss”, or lack thereof, will determine your path to enrichment. That desire for self-enrichment (aka “ambition”) varies from individual to individual.
Now I think I understand why absolute power corrupts absolutely: one has no boss, and one is very ambitious.