#system #power #dynamics #corrupt-systems
Individual control in an organization is derived from as few key supporters as possible.
Supporters are acquired by money. This can be as simple as buying them in a corrupt environment, more legitimate such as proposing subsidies to farmers in a democracy, or more convoluted such as tit for tat. Therefore, controlling the flow of money is primordial.
The money must be calibrated properly. If not enough, then someone else can emerge and propose more to the supporters. Money spent on other things than supporters can be promised by contenders to overthrow the person in charge.
The less these supporters are, the most total the power is. Reciprocally, the most the supporters are, the less powerful authority is going to be. A dictator has little supporters, which have high incentives to remain loyal or be replaced. A democrat's power and money flow is diluted, and their supporters have less incentive for loyalty, therefore more compliance must remain.
Similarly, loyalty is increased by keeping the "selectorate" (potential replacements for key supporters) as large as possible.
The cynical conclusion is that unless the system makes it so the number of supporters required is as large as possible, organizations will inevitably end up concentrating power and revenue onto a very small number of people, and make the larger system worse for everyone else.
This is wildly applicable: governments, corporations, stratas councils, pirates. It can be seen in that organizations (e.g. companies, FIFA) with a small number of people in control is very dictatorial in nature and redirects a small portion, and vice versa (e.g. Co-ops, pirates[^pir]). Politicians use gerrymendering, small parties, make voting more complex to reduce the number of voters they need to appeal (and distribute money) to.
[^pir]: Economics of pirates is an example of a group where number of supporters is effectively large, therefore reducing the effective power of the person in charge (captain)
democracy is an ideology seeking to spread power.
Natural Selection dictates how power gets distributed in an organization: a ruler that does not redistribute the booty to their key supporters will be replaced by one that will.
Bruce Bueno de Mesquita / The dictator's handbook is entirely about the topic.
Rule 1: Keep your winning coalition as small as possible.
Rule 2: Keep your nominal selectorate as large as possible.
Rule 3: Control the flow of revenue.
Rule 4: Pay your key supporters just enough to keep them loyal.
Rule 5: Don’t take money out of your supporter’s pockets to make the people’s lives better.
~ The Dictator's Handbook: Why Bad Behavior is Almost Always Good Politics, Bruce Bueno de Mesquita and Alastair Smith
CGP Grey / Rules for rulers is a video rendition of the book.