Kings are incredibly powerful. In days of yore they were even more powerful, with the power of life and death over their subjects.
How did they get there? I would argue that they got there by only two ways:
2- By seizing power through overt use of weapons, violence or money or influence
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I don't believe there other ways. Neither way is good for anyone other than the king, his family and the small percentage of royals and aristocrats taken with them.
The royalty system is fading, bit it's influence is very much alive, active and a cancer on humanity. And it is fractal.
It repeats at lower, smaller levels and higher levels of magnification, and it has replicated--to the tune of billions of people. At the level of community, organization, company and family, the same kind of grabbing of power is exercised.
It doesn't get any more Top down than royalty. I believe royalty emerged out of civilization and the creation of large gatherings of people. Once it took hold it accumulated and wielded resources in ways that enable its wielders--the royalty--to hold on to their power. Beyond seizing then holding on to the power, they created sociocultural structures. The Castle becomes a national monument and the center of government, but so is the celebration of and reverence for monarchy. Subjects have been immersed in cultural messaging, symbols and values, from birth, so they believe that monarchy is the way things should be--the best and only way.
One of the first companies created, the East India Company, founded in 1600, was owned by wealthy merchants and aristocrats. Things have changed a bit. Now, in theory, anyone can start a company. And sometimes people rise all the way from the bottom economic rungs. But companies have become so big, so powerful that they have replaced royalty. Top officers of corporations and their lobbyists and attorneys are the new aristocracy. Kings Mark, Sergei, Jeff, Steve, Bill (Zuckerberg, Brin, Bezos, Jobs, Gates) are among the most powerful people in the world, with the power to dramatically influence outcomes of elections, opinions, cultural values and what news is seen or shared.
And there are the reverberations of fractal kingery in religion, where men are deemed kings of the household, dominating women and children as kings dominate commoners and serfs.
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