The Secret Link between Power and Culture.

Friday Mango meadows had this amazing daal bhati lunch. While Kesariya the visiting cook was assembling my plate, I browsed through the indispire.

Prompt is when power diminishes …culture flourishes what is your take?   The hashtag goes #promotingcreativity.

Instantly it reminds me of my mother because maybe because I am not able to find the right equation.

It is kind of confusing to put it in the language of mathematics I have forgotten the stars of mathematics)I can only remember my mother, and her mother before her both are math scholars, it sounds like power is inversely proportional to culture, and culture is directly proportional to creativity.

In the medical college we were told that culture is the technical that is used in microbiology instead of grow. I won’t say we grow the microbe in chicken sauce media, it is expressed as the micro-organism is cultured in soans media. Get it, then you have the cultured pearls you can contact Jives to get the details of this process, he has taken a course on it.

so how does this flourishing of culture with decline of power work? Yup it kills me to say so but mom is right the equation does not balance.  But mathematicians always throw something up, Prof. Prahalad from the mathematics department of Goa university tells me,

“hey you are looking at proportions, when you have to use integration and differentiation. Better still, try permutation and combination.”

Integration and differentiation if I remember goes if “if X tends to Y then the rest is in the sky” I remember very vaguely that we learnt integration and differentiation in calculus and we were told it had something to do with derivatives, and it was the instantaneous rate of change of a function with respect to one of the variable…hmm… now it sounds intellectual enough to match the glove tossed by indiblogger.

If I like Bertie Wooster had Jives in my life, I would probably ask him if the above statement was true, since Jives is non-existent in my life and Mr.D is out of town, I have to resort to inputs from Merriam Webster. Who tell me

Culture is the customary belief social norms and material traits of a racial religious or social group. The character of everyday existence let’s call it popular culture. it is also the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practises that characterises an institution or organization let’s call it corporate culture.  Then there are the set of values, conventions, or social practises associated with a particular field, activity or societal characteristics. culture could also mean integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief and behaviour that depends upon the capacity for learning and transmitting knowledge to succeeding generations. Finally it could mean enlightment and excellence of taste acquired by intellectual and aesthetic training we refer to a person of culture, in a broad sense we are talking about fine arts and humanities differentiating it from science and technical skills.

While POWER is the ability to act or produce an effect. It is the possession of control, authority or influence over others. It could be a sovereign state or establishment. Power is also physical might, mental or moral efficacy and political control or influence. Power is also the source of energy, like electricity or the abstract motivation. We also refer to the time and rate at which work is done or energy is emitted or transferred as power.

How does decline in power bring about flourishing of any of the above things. before we differentiate it, maybe it is time to visit Pop Glossop’s session on power

Pop Glossop’s version is what is popularly called the Paradox Of Power. That is the very traits that helped the leaders to accumulate control might disappear once they rise to power. Instead of being polite, honest and outgoing they become impulsive, reckless, maybe even rude. Many a times these habits help the leader become more decisive and single-minded and they might land up making choices that bring profit over popularity.

A survey conducted by Dacher Keltner in Berkeley had an interesting outcome. He conducted a survey interviewing freshmen at a campus dorm, at the beginning of the year, he conducted the survey again at the end of the year, both times he bribed the people with free pizza. The outcome was the students at the top of the social hierarchy that they were most powerful and respected, they were considered more outgoing and most considerate they had scored high measures on agreeableness and extroversion. In short the nice guys finished first. This study has given similar outcomes in various sphere. Mr.Keltner concludes that “People Give Authority To People They Genuinely Like.

This of course contradicts the cliché of power that the only way to rise to the top is to engage in self-serving and morally dubious behaviour.

The 16th century Italian philosopher  Niccolo Machiavelli (I presume his marketing manager was excellent, was on top of the pops then)  insists that compassion was detrimental to eminence and a leader  should always choose fear over love. Now Mr.Keltner and Cameron Anderson decided to prove this so they measured the “Machiavellian” tendencies, they got moles in sorority sisters who were willing to spread malicious gossip. Guess what, these sorority members were quickly identified and isolated, they lost their popularity pin and never became powerful.

The issue is what happens when these nice guys actually get into power. Now compassion that seems to help the ascend seem to do the disappearing act, observes Mr.Keltner. maybe power and authority damages the area that is crucial for empathy and decision making. If I remember right the area is the orbito-frontal lobe. It is not as if power makes people flirt with interns or solicit bribes, the problem with authority is it renders us less sympathetic to concerns and emotions of others.

A study made in 2009 by Mr.Galinsky (I am not going through the details) revealed that people always know the right thing to do—people know that cheating is wrong but the sense of power makes it easier to rationalize away the ethical lapse.

This blog is written for the weekly prompt on Indiblogger

So when power declines does culture flourish? Well, the answer is power is irrelevant culture flourishes for culture is about beliefs, values and attitudes, it is about the innate grace of person. Whether we acknowledge it or not, we all exhibit a behaviour pattern that comes from enlightment and excellence of taste acquired by intellectual and aesthetic training we refer to a person of culture, these are highly individualistic and are handed from generation to generation.

written for Indispire #257 prompt  when power diminishes culture flourishes do you agree.  by Sri Arvind Passey.


2 thoughts on “The Secret Link between Power and Culture.

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  1. The link between culture and power may seem tenuous but there is a link, I think. It is quite difficult for refinement to grow let alone flourish when the political power is monstrous. The present India provides ample examples though I don’t want to elaborate that here.

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