Sex, childhood, marriage, family. These are some invisible behavioral tools our species uses to thrive. We should understand them as tools, and make them better. The more we think of them as tools, the better we use them, making our own lives easier.
Every tool can vary in quality. Take any one of the items mentioned up front. I’m sure you can think of both good and bad examples. Please don’t dwell on the first one.
The family is most important here, because humans have gone far beyond the original tool. In fact, this set of families are so different that they may need their own category. It’s easiest to think of them as a “super-family.”
Your average, run-of-the-mill family has parents and kids. A bigger family has grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins. An even bigger family may have some “greats” scattered here and there. And some of the biggest families may have a celebration of relatives including hundreds of people.
Then there is the super-family. The dynasty. This is family taken to the highest level. For not only can this family get large, it extends far back in time. The dynasty becomes history unto itself.
The most famous dynasties are those that are connected to great wealth. And that’s another feature of a successful dynasty, they are very good at passing wealth from one generation to another. But that’s only the part we see.
The part we don’t see is that they also pass on secrets; teaching the next generation about keeping the dynasty together, growing its leadership, and increasing its wealth.
We don’t do a good job of tracking dynasties today. Most are interested in conspicuous individuals. Too bad, because it’s like only looking at the tip of an iceberg.
Most of the dynasty is hidden, just as interesting, and very powerful. It will have branches embedded in government, commerce, and finance. It will transcend nationalities, and can think on time scales most of us can’t conceive.
Are family dynasties bad or good? Not our job, not today. The advantages are great power. The disadvantage is the same. The only question is this:
Does a dynasty want the same thing that is good for society in general?
Let’s tackle that next.