Human civilization is really about ***holes. All of the systems that we use to create stability are born out of a need to cope with the existence of ***holes, and their craft, which I assume is called ***holery.
Laws - The idea here is that you can only be so much of an a**hole, then you get in trouble. That helps the problem, although some ***holes are crafty enough to work around the laws.
Governments - These are systems created to deal with those crafty ***holes. Since most real ***holes want power, you can use it as bait to funnel them into a single place. That doesn't exactly deal with the ***holes, but at least you can see what you're dealing with.
Once you've done that, you need some way to minimize the effect of the ***holes.
Monarchy - There's only one ***hole. He's a really big a**hole and he's got all the power, but he keeps a lot of other ***holes from getting very far.
Democracy - There are lots of ***holes, but they're constantly tied up fighting with one another. And since they depend on votes to gain control, they at least have to be careful about how and when they act like ***holes.
Oligarchy - Let's just all be ***holes, but collectively, and toward some other people. People who aren't us.
What's interesting about all our solutions to the "***hole Conundrum" is that they are passive. They are designed for people who are not willing to lead revolutions, lobby for change, or tell other people that they shouldn't be acting like ***holes in the first place. The good, by grace of being good, are not motivated to seek power, not even enough to keep ***holes out of power.
And this creates a perception that ***holes are indestructible, that they are everywhere and everyone, that they are always after you.
Wikipedia - There aren't as many ***holes as you think.
The people behind Wikipedia have put forth a really interesting idea. Give everyone real, direct control over something. Give each person power over every other person. Let each one create and destroy.* And most importantly, keep everyone on exactly the same level.
And in doing this, they have made an assumption: that good and useful information will rule, that lies and vandalism will be held back, that eventually ***holes get bored and go home.
Like the other solutions, it's not perfect, but it's something to think about.
*Except on the Harry Potter article, which is locked until further notice.