A topic of abiding interest to me is the analogy between the individual person and society, and its limits. We habitually speak of collectives, especially states, as acting, perceiving, desiring, etc, in the same sort of language that we speak of human individuals as doing. Clearly there is some practical use and validity in such a turn of phrase – but equally clearly, we cannot expect a state to precisely mirror an individual. What then, are the precise and detailed differences?
I’ve argued before that one difference is that states are liable to be megalomanic (i.e. pathologically concerned with power) in proportion as they are hierarchical, since the desires of the more powerful will exert a greater influence on collective decision-making (in its most extreme form, a theoretical absolute and total autocracy would act out the particular psychology and desires of its autocrat), and those who have won themselves most power tend to be those with most interest in power.
But I now want to offer up a related observation: states are incapable of submissive desires.