Human Power

I think we are often confused about what the word ‘power’ means (in the sense of the human power to make things happen).

Power – real human power – is the power to make amazing, wonderful things happen.

The highest form of this power involves organising a group of human minds to work in concert, to produce beautiful and useful things that would be impossible for a single mind or body to achieve alone (and an individual human is capable of some amazing things…).

The concept of power has been corrupted to mean something else: the power to coerce or manipulate others, to their detriment, for one’s own narrow interests.

This pseudo-power, the ability to coerce and manipulate, is orders of magnitude less effective at producing amazing things. Fundamentally, this is because coercion and manipulation can only work by keeping people’s minds preoccupied with fear and confusion. This results in each individual mind operating at a small fraction of its effectiveness.

(It’s useful to note that the person doing the coercing or manipulating is no less scared or confused – that’s why they’re doing it! more…)

It’s not possible to coerce or manipulate a group of people who are confident in their own minds, and in the solid support of those around them. This is why both coercion and manipulation depend on creating suspicion and fear of others.

So, in order to overpower people using coercion and manipulation, you have to sabotage cooperation. This results in each group of minds operating at a small fraction of its potential combined effectiveness.

No group of people, able to cooperate fully, would allow themselves to be divided against each other. They would be impossible to manipulate or coerce. They would be powerful, in the true sense of the word.

Further, since they would necessarily understand the logic of cooperation and of rejecting narrow self interest,* such a group would adopt a policy of working for the benefit of all people, not just their own group.

[* Narrow self interest never produces the best outcome for the individual, though it may appear to in the context of a society that has come to operate on the basis of undermining cooperation.]

Comments

[From Facebook – this article started out as a post on Facebook]

Helen East: Interesting! Not sure I agree with all your arguments. For example, if a group of nice co-operative people think they are right in seeing something one way, then they might work together to prevent other views from entering their part of the community. This does not act in the best interests of the whole, bigger community, and can easily lead to factions.

Karl Lam: Thanks for the observation
What you describe certainly occurs continually in our present societies.
The present social system functions so as to keep every individual or group scared of others, and so feeling a strong need to act in their narrow self interest. (Elsewhere I’ve written: ‘It is a network of inhuman relationships that has persisted and reproduced itself, but which serves no human purpose.’)
But if a group has nothing to fear, from either the truth or from lies, then why would they need or desire to exclude any views from their community?

Links

A framework for understanding exploitative societies

Ending the legacy of divide and rule

Central Ideas

Human beings are capable of high levels of cooperation, love and caring. However, for thousands of years most of us have been living in societies that systematically suppress these human qualities. These inhuman social systems now function to sustain themselves, the systems, not the people within them...

Divide and rule has been used to control populations for thousands of years... This division is not natural or inevitable – we can understand it and undo it; we can build a society organised for the benefit of all people and all life...

When we humans are very young, our fragile minds are sometimes overwhelmed by experiences they can’t yet handle...

Human minds seem to be vulnerable to being hurt emotionally, but also equipped with emotional healing processes...

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