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Is it part of human nature to have a hierarchy?

This question was mainly inspired by my history class. We were going over some Russian Marxists, and I thought it was interesting that even a communist regime will have a leader. This brought up the question, "Is it natural for humans to have a leader?" I thought about any organization and realized they all have a decently-defined hierarchy. I also thought about our cavemen ancestors and the sort of familial hierarchy with the father as the provider of food and safety (I haven't really studied anthropology, so tell me if I'm incorrect).

Feel free to ask clarifying questions, and I am looking forward to your responses!


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  • Oct 21 2013: The important thing is to distinguish between voluntary hierarchy and coercive hierarchy. People marched with Martin Luther King because of the power of his ideas. People worked for Steve Jobs because he created value. On the other hand, political hierarchies are unchosen. We are forced at the point of a gun to submit to the IRS and the National Debt and the millions of pages of laws. At a smaller level, children are told to submit to parents or teachers because they are bigger and older. This kind of hierarchy is the opposite of law and order and society, and I think we should be very careful not to confuse them.
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      Oct 22 2013: Very good point Russell. People need to agree with those in power to truly want to follow them. When you think about elections, what percentage of people truly believe in their options? Of course people tend to lean one way or another, but it's very black and white (Republican or Democrat for instance). When this decision is made, they are "stuck" with this decision until the next election.

      Maybe the key is that people need more flexibility in who they follow in a hierarchy? More finely broken down responsibilities and more frequent voting opportunities, and therefore greater ability to choose who they are following when it comes to issues and leader ship roles.
      • Oct 22 2013: What does it really mean, though, to have power? There is physical power, from my muscles, or from electricity, which I can use to build a house or to get from place to place. There is economic power, which can be used to incentivize others to do things for you by providing value in exchange. But political power is something much different I think. What do you all think it is?
        • Oct 25 2013: I tend to think that political power is influence, in the purest way of speaking. He who knows a lot of people, and is diplomatic with this people, is surely the one they will think first when asking for a favor. So it's the power of persuasion, maybe.
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          Nov 5 2013: I would suggest that political power is defined as the authority to influence and even control a community's decision making processes and agencies. Authoritarian groups do this with stealth, manipulation and intimidation. Authoritative groups use persuasion and reason. Which group do you think created and runs the U.S. homeland security agency?

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