True Power: Mark Cuban Getting Magic Johnson Kicked off a Plane

March 11, 2014

Realism is the study of human relations with a focus on power and strategy. Mearsheimer argues that power “is based on the particular material capabilities that a state possesses.” This, he argues, comes down to “its military forces and how they compare with the military forces of rival states.” But Mearsheimer has clearly never traveled with billionaire Mark Cuban.

Business Insider relates a speech by Cuban at South by Southwest.

As part of a business deal, Mark Cuban was given an airline pass that allowed himself and one other individual to fly first class anywhere in the world with an unlimited number of miles.

He explained:

I used to go to clubs in LA and wherever and say, “Let’s go somewhere! Let’s go to Vegas,” and drag somebody [with me]. It was a first-class ticket for me and somebody else and if there weren’t seats available they’d have to kick somebody off [the flight].

One day Magic Johnson comes bitching and moaning off the plane. He was the victim I guess. It made me look really good with that girl.

Let’s break that out into ends-ways-means. Mark Cuban’s end (policy aim) was impressing beautiful young women to…well, you know. His ways? Extravagance, wining, dining, and travel. His means were clearly his wealth and personal resources.  The resource that was most decisive in the Battle of the First Class Seat was a pass that allowed him and a guest to fly anywhere in the world in 1st class whenever he wanted, even if it required someone else getting kicked off the plane (in this case one of the greatest basketball players of all time).

This is another reason why I prefer Morgenthau to Mearsheimer.  The former thinker took a broader view of power: “Power may comprise anything that establishes and maintains the control of man over man. Thus power covers all social relationships which serve that end, from physical violence to the most subtle psychological ties by which one mind controls another.”

Power, thy name is Cuban.

Image: Brian Solis