Saturday, March 20, 2010

Open Letter to The Economist magazine

SIR - It is most interesting to read your report of the research by Dr Lammers and Dr Galinsky (The psychology of power, Jan 21st 2010). Their findings are the more powerful because they fit everyday observation and commonsense understanding.

If one strips away the evolutionary and academic jargon, it is clear that when individuals emerge to positions of leadership, they have one of only two possible explanations to themselves of what has happened to them.

Some leaders actually believe that they have somehow deserved to get to positions of leadership because of their own abilities and exertions - and therefore tend to abuse their power to benefit themselves (and perhaps a small circle around them).

Other leaders really believe that though their abilities and exertions were essential, they have got to positions of power primarily because of luck, destiny or God - and therefore tend to handle their power responsibly.

This reinforces a suspicion that some of us have: that the rise of power-abuse in the West since the 80s is intimately related to loss of belief in God and the rise of belief in philosophies such as those propounded at a sophisticated level by Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche and retailed at a fictional level by Ayn Rand.

Naturally, the above discussion tells us nothing about the objective validity of theism or Randism. But the discussion may throw some light on whether theism or Randism is socially more useful.

Professor Prabhu Guptara
William Carey University
Shillong, India Sphere: Related Content

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