Atavistic power is Desmond Morris' phrase for one of the three types of human power. Social power determines who is 'cool'. Who you can and can't listen to, the opinions that you can or can't express in certain company. It's not really backed up by anything but social approval or disapproval- but people have died for that. Then there is the power to get things done: money and influence and contacts. Lastly is atavistic power, the power of violence.
Morris asserts that these powers are always separate. The people who get things done never get to decide who is cool. Bill Gates will never be a trendsetter. President Obama will be crucified for using a joke that Leno would get laughs from. The actors who try to get into politics either become jokes or, if they are successful, lose their pull at influencing public opinion through personality alone. It's a weird dynamic and I can come up with some counter-examples, but very few and mostly weak.
And atavistic power. Thugs don't get elected. Politicos use thugs, they rarely are thugs. (Saddam is the only one I can think of who occasionally enjoyed doing the killing himself.) Same with social power- a star resorting to violence quickly loses his status.
(Strangely, less so in professional sports and only in rap music do I see a set of people trying for all three types of power, with some success. More Hmmm.)
Anyway, there is something very important that I may have to let go. I've exhausted all of the resources I have. Without direct access to XXXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXX or XXXXXXX XX XXX XXXXX, one of which ain't gonna happen and the other is against the rules... there's nothing more I can do here.
But there is and I know it. Atavistic power is usually negative (that doesn't mean bad) it doesn't accomplish something, it just prevents others from accomplishing things. When atavistic power -force- is used to stop (negative) a murder, that's good. There is one instance I can think of where atavistic power can be positive (which, again, doesn't mean good, it just means making something happen, creating).
There are a handful of people who know what to do, who can do it and even agree that it should be done. But no one wants the responsibility. Out of fear of an imaginary downside, they let the issue languish, and it has a real human cost.
So there is one more thing I could do- go to these places and see these people and exert my atavistic power until they were far more afraid of me than of doing the right thing. That's the one place it can be positive (not the same as good): using fear or pain to force action when the hesitation is based on a lesser fear.
That's the dark side calling, by the way. They have cookies.