Soob

Politics, Foreign Policy, Current Events and Occasional Outbursts Lacking Couth

Friday, May 23, 2008

On the Super Empowered Individual


At least in the terms that it's popularly discussed, visions of a "rise" of single human beings who through their actions wreak havoc or great change upon society. A brief look at some of my questions/thoughts regarding this concept:

1. It would seem to presume that super empowered individuals are some new and coming threat as opposed to a rather well documented phenomena that transcends the concepts of war theory, GMW, XGW or otherwise.

2. That the actions of these individuals will be encapsulated by both plurality and yet some method of viral coincidence. The mere concept suggests unilateral action that produces results on a massive scale and the indulgence of colorful adjectives suggests this phenomena will be numerous but not concerted (hence "individual.") Seems a bit like eating ones cake and having it too.

3. Zenpundit, some years ago, noted:

Previously, such " empowered individuals" were forced to act through some kind of collectivity, be it a Mongol horde or a modern state. In the near future, perhaps today, that will not be the case.

In what context do we place this? Would the Mongol "horde" have succeeded to the extent that they did had Temujin not gone after his newlywed? Would Hitler have ascended without first penning Mein Kampf? Would Alexander have been great without Aristotle? In other words did the empires make the emperors or is it the other way around?

4. To what extent does one have to effect a society to earn such distinction? Certainly the above all acted on their own prior to their ascent to greatness and subsequent marks on both history and their own societies. Do we relegate these to super empowered ideas? Or super empowered luck? Super empowered situations?

5. How do you define super empowerment? Why is it often viewed as a theoretical addition (5GW) to the XGW or the GMW instead of a possible tool or element in the same sense of a tank or rifle? What's the threshold that divides it from, say, the simple criminality of the likes of John Hinckley or Jesse Timmendequas both of whom had a considerable effect on their societies? Are these two SEI's? What of Jim Jones? The DC snipers? Rosa Parks? Karl Marx? 50 Cent?

6 comments:

Adrian said...

"Previously, such " empowered individuals" were forced to act through some kind of collectivity, be it a Mongol horde or a modern state. In the near future, perhaps today, that will not be the case."

I don't understand that argument. I thought individuals were only super-empowered because they leverage things like the internet, transportation networks, financial systems, technology (invented by other people), etc. So individuals still act through a collectivity...

subadei said...

I think Marks purpose is to illustrate that SEI's will operate against the fabric of collectivity rather than within it. One of my points regarding this is that, for example, Hitler did exactly that and attained massive influence for it.

On the flip side, so did John Hinckley and yet no granduer. But both are, presumably, SEI's. Or maybe not. Which is the objective of this post.

Justin Boland said...

Jim Jones -- Possibly. He did rely on shadowy/sketchy funding, but there's no question his charisma and brain were the foundation of his legacy.

DC Snipers -- Yes. Their willingness to totally ignore all civilized customs was precisely what empowered them.

Rosa Parks -- No. Her power was a random event, there were thousands of acts of civil disobedience, hers happened to become symbolic and then mythic.

Karl Marx -- Oh hell no. Couldn't even support his own family, never would have caught on without a literal academic conspiracy to elevate his works.

50 Cent -- Definitely. His success goes way beyond what major label support would have enabled, and his relentless business hustle has empowered him beyond what anyone thought possible when he was pushing freestyle CDs in NYC back in the 90s.

subadei said...

Justin,
Thanks much for your response. By your analysis of my examples I'm gathering you put the SEI as one who acts without the benefit of society? Is this the case?
"50 Cent -- Definitely. His success goes way beyond what major label support would have enabled, and his relentless business hustle has empowered him beyond what anyone thought possible when he was pushing freestyle CDs in NYC back in the 90s."

Without a willing audience (like, say, academia in the case of Marx) would 50 Cent be what he is today? This seems a bit contradictory.

How would you define an SEI?

subadei said...

Actually I should rephrase "benefit of society" as "leverage of society."

Justin Boland said...

I'd say I'm more focused on the speed and power of the individual's OODA loop.

For instance, 50 Cent accomplished his goals early, and has used that to continue to expand his empire and build his personal power.

Whereas Karl Marx died before he completed his first loop. I don't view ideology as a theatre of war, just another tool. I'm much more impressed with Ralph Reed's ability to leverage conservative Christianity into personal power and major social consequences.

As another example, it's clear by his investments and personal life that Al Gore is less than concerned about Global Warming, but he's manipulated that discussion to immense personal benefit.