You may not be interested in power, but power is interested in you.
A derivative of the words spoken by famed orthodox Marxist and Bolshevik–communist, Leon Trotsky, the above phrase essentially sums up human history.
Human history tells the story of the conflict between Power and Liberty.
The famous political essays, Cato’s letters, published in 1720 – 1723, warns against tyranny and centralized political power:
We know, by infinite Examples and Experience, that Men possessed of Power, rather than part with it, will do anything, even the worst and the blackest, to keep it… Alas! Power encroaches daily upon Liberty, with a Success too evident; and the Balance between them is almost lost. Tyranny has engrossed almost the whole Earth, and striking at Mankind Root and Branch, makes the World a Slaughterhouse; and will certainly go on to destroy, till it is either destroyed itself, or, which is most likely, has left nothing else to destroy.
So, let’s start with power..? What is that?
Well, at its most basic level, power is the ability to harm or oppress your will on other human beings. Power invades people’s rights and encroaches on their personal liberties.
The problem of power is solved (or ostensibly so) by the political formulas of communism, socialism etc. – in short, statism.
You see, statism is a political formula that allows the subject to feel a sense of political power. It convinces the subject that he is part of the ruling minority, despite the fact that he is not. In so doing, the political formula of statism convinces the subject to support the organised minority that governs him.
I guess humans are political animals evolved from the chimp lineage to succeed in hierarchically ruled tribal structures; so, feeling powerful seems to be deeply satisfying and ingrained in us humans.
But, and this is an important but, when it comes to the formal governance process of the statist political formula, the subjects are, well, mere subjects and all the “governing” is done by the overlords.
Cheeky analogy: Just as pornography can stimulate the human sex drive without providing any actual sex, democracy (another statist derivative) stimulates the human power drive without providing any actual power.
In classic Trotsky’s Bolshevik communism, for example, who would you say is the revolution actually for? Well, Trotsky would certainly maintain it’s for the workers and peasants. But, who actually makes and benefits from the revolution? Yup, you guessed it; the noble overlords do – Trotsky, Lenin et al.
With history as our guide, we know that the whole Soviet thing didn’t exactly work out for the workers and peasants. The groups in society who are in fact the most distant from the actual workers and peasants benefited from the revolution. And for the workers and peasants, slavery remained the status quo.
Sound familiar, SA?
Then, you must also remember that slavery is dependence, and the default state of any newly “freed” slave is to be, yet again, dependent on a new master. The newly appointed masters then rule over everyone’s person and property in the name of the “people” and of “democracy.”
… and that is how the power cycle is perpetuated.
There is an alternative to this power pornography – and that alternative is liberty.
As Cato declared, centralised power must be kept small and faced with eternal vigilance and hostility on the part of the public to make sure that it always stays within its narrow bounds.
Liberty actually also deals in power (there you go.. primal satisfaction maintained); but not in the power to control or oppress other people, but rather the evolved kind of power – the supreme power and rule of each person over their own life, liberty and property.
This kind of power unleashes human energy, enterprise and markets to create and produce for the benefit of everyone (read: Adam Smith’s invisible hand).
The shackles of control in taxation, regulation, militarism and executive power are lifted from land, labour and capital. Entrepreneurs are set free to compete, develop and create!
The power of personal liberty and free markets supplants subsistence for the masses and luxury consumption limited to the ruling elite, with mass consumption and rising standards of living for all.
This is real power – the kind that doesn’t destroy, but creates; where subjects are turned to rulers of their own domains; where society becomes wealthier as a whole, as a result of unfettered production.
It is no surprise that this philosophy of freedom led people to resist the infringement on their liberties with their lives. Hell, America (world’s largest economy), was born from exactly such a libertarian revolution – every increase in a tax and every new kind of tax was fought bitterly… with tea littering the ocean as a result!
The Western world has, however, ventured very far from these libertarian roots. Centralised coercive power in more and larger governments, central banks, regulations, restrictions – statism.
So yes, you may not be interested in power… but aim to protect your personal power (read: liberty) – at all costs.
Next week, we take a detailed look into the economic consequences of statism, and how exactly to protect your personal liberty.