Let’s consider this made up society:
1. A superior can dispose any of his/her subordinates at will
2. A subordinate can take over his/her supervisor by disposing the latter
3. A supervisor can order his/her subordinates to protect him/herself from being disposed
4. A subordinate can help his/her colleagues to dispose their common supervisor
How would you survive there? There are at least 3 approaches:
1. You’re incredibly strong at the very beginning — You can simply take over your supervisors by disposing them all by yourself. You can repeat this over and over until you’re at the top of the food chain as you’re just born to be much stronger than everyone else combined. Or, if you don’t want to ascend even when you’re that strong, you can simply stay where you’re and no one will ever be able to do anything to you. Eventually they’ll know that the best way to deal with you is to leave you alone as much as possible to quarantine you.
2. You’re not that strong at the very beginning and you don’t want to ascend — You need to be useful enough for your supervisor to keep utilizing you, but not so “useful” to become a nontrivial threat to him/her(unless you become literally indispensable for him/her). If you’re not useful enough, your supervisor will dispose you to prevent further wasting his/her resources; If you become a nontrivial threat to him/her, he/she’ll dispose you for fearing that you’ll eventually be strong enough and dispose him/her instead.
3. You’re not that strong at the very beginning but you still want to ascend — You need to keep useful enough for your supervisor to keep utilizing you, so you’ll have enough time to become indispensable to him/her. After that, you can become strong enough to be a nontrivial threat for him/her. As he/she can’t dispose you while still fearing that you’ll eventually dispose him/her, he/she will have to devote on becoming stronger and stronger while at the same time making you less and less indispensable. Thus it’s a race that, if you can eventually be strong enough to dispose him/her while keeping to be indispensable all along, you’ll be able to dispose him/her and ascend. If you eventually become dispensable while still not strong enough to dispose him/her, he/she’ll instead dispose you immediately. You either dispose him/her or be disposed by him/her. It’s almost impossible for both you and him/her to coexist for long as it’s an extremely fragile and unstable balance waiting to be broken violently. Mercy here means being disposed.
When it comes to collaborators(those helping the supervisor/colleagues taking over the supervisor), things can become even more complicated and convoluted. If they’ve made a stance for helping either side, it’d be almost impossible to switch sides and/or withdraw without being disposed immediately, for them having critical secrets and/or being perceived by threatening traitors. On the other hand, if they’ve made a stance that’ll eventually lose, they’ll likely be disposed unless they’re useful enough for the winning side instead. Even if they remain neutral, at least 1 side may fear that they’ll join the other side so they might be disposed as well.
1. If they’re completely useless to either side, they’d have been disposed in the 1st place, as there’s no reason for any dark manager to keep useless subordinates around him/her.
2. If they’re useful to side A but not side B, they’d only be useful to side B by being traitors to side A due to them having critical secrets of side A. If side B wins, they’ll be disposed as they were traitors before, meaning that they’re completely untrustworthy; If side B loses, they’ll be disposed too as side A will want to dispose all traitors to warn everyone.Therefore they shouldn’t side with side B. On the other hand, if they remain neutral, side B will want to dispose them before they join side A, so remaining neutral isn’t an option either. So the only option other than joining side A is to withdraw from the system. Whether they should withdraw depends on how likely side A will win, side A will need scapegoats after winning and side A will pick them as scapegoats. As for being useful, being too “useful” can become threats to side A, so it’ll also dispose them right after using them to secure victory. On the other hand, being not useful enough after side A wins will also lead to them being disposed. If they’ve critical secrets of side A after being disposed, they’ll even face character assassination to ensure no one will trust them even when they expose all those secrets. Bear in mind that, if they already have critical secrets of side A and withdraw instead of siding with side A, they’ll also face immediate character assassination right after being immediately disposed. So it’s possible that they’ll be disposed no matter what they do, especially when their usefulness isn’t just right.
One exception to this fate is to become indispensable to side A, but even a typical dark manager, let alone the best one, will ensure that no one’s indispensable from him/her.
3. If they’re useful to both sides, then remaining neutral is clearly not an option, as both sides will want to dispose them before they join the other side. As for withdrawal, it depends on whether they’ve critical secrets of either side, as having that when choosing withdrawal will risk facing character assassination. On the other hand, if they decide to take sides, they’ll need to evaluate which side will win and make an educated guess. While taking the losing side will lead to them being disposed unless they’re useful enough for the winning side, taking the winning side can also lead to them being disposed if the winning side needs scapegoats and they’re perceived as the best choices. So the only reason to choose the losing side is to be useful enough for the winning side while avoiding to become its scapegoats right after it wins. However, even this choice has a danger — The losing side might use the scorched earth policy when it’s about to lose, causing them to be disposed with the losing side. Otherwise, they should either choose the winning side or withdraw, depending on which choice will lead to them being disposed. Again, it’s also possible for them to be disposed no matter what they do.
When dark management dominates every last part of a system, dark managers will be everywhere and that system will behave much like the aforementioned made up society. While being disposed in such systems doesn’t necessary means death, sometimes the consequences can be worse than death — character assassination. Also, unlike that made up society where everything’s straightforward and obvious, dark management’s meant to operate under the dark so someone can be disposed without even knowing what’s going on. Such systems appear to be utopias while actually being dystopias full of seemingly reasonable but actually dark managers.