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Article :: Human Nature

10. What is Power?


10. What is Power?

In physics, power is defined as work per unit time where work is defined as force applied times displacement of a mass. In other words, power is a measure of the exercise of force over time in achieving the movement of a mass. This basic measure may be converted into equivalent measures of power such as horsepower of an engine or watts of electrical power.

Power = Work / Time = Force x Distance / Time

Note that if force is applied against an immovable mass such as a mountain, there is no displacement and thus, no work or power, independent of the amount of force used. If no result is achieved by the exercise of force, there is no power.

In the affairs of man, power is the "ability to achieve results in the physical world". Note that results may be personally achieved or achieved by convincing others to do your bidding.

10.1 Personal Power

This section covers the most common methods available to individuals to achieve results in the real world. This list is far from exhaustive, since achieving results ultimately resolves to choice from the available possibilities. As previously proven, within the bounds of natural law, the number of possible choices is still infinite. It is unknown whether the number of possible choices that can achieve results is finite or infinite. Under specified environmental conditions, the number of possible choices is limited by environment. This is the basic reason why the PTBs attempt to manage our perceptions and control our environments.

Power always resolves to achieving something in the physical world since it is defined by results. A force applied without effect has no power. This is the reason that brave Iraqis, considering death preferable to slavery (and therefore immune to threat of forceful consequences) will ultimately eject the US from their lives and rightful affairs. Hopefully, the rest of the civilized world will demand reparations from the US.

10.1.1 Physical Power

We all have the power to apply a force and move objects over distance using manual labor. Thus, we can dig holes, pile rocks, etc. This power can be described in terms of force, distance and time.

10.1.2 Power of Wealth

Wealth (things people consider valuable and therefore want) is a measure of abstract power. Wealth may be traded to others in exchange for them exercising their power to achieve results desired by those who possess wealth. Note that it is not necessary for wealth to have real value, just the perception of value.

For this reason, a one thousand dollar bill (fiat currency, value set by decree) which costs pennies to manufacture and is printed at will is considered to be wealth, when in reality, it has no fixed linkage to any objective value such as gold. Thus, the perceived value of fiat currency is trust in the future purchasing power from the economy which promises to redeem it. It is for this reason that land is called "real estate", since it does have real, objective value.

Historically, entire peoples have been impoverished when their currencies became valueless by loss of trust in the economy’s ability to produce or reneging trading partners. When Nazi Germany was defeated, a single loaf of bread could not be purchased with wheelbarrows of German currency. This is the inevitable fate of any fiat currency when it is concluded that there is too much of it with little underlying value and it is thus irredeemable, a bad debt.

10.1.3 Power of Choice

In addition to understanding the choices from the possible ways you can exercise your personal power, you also have choices in resisting the exercise of the power of others over you. You can choose both how to achieve results and how to prevent others from achieving their results at your unwilling expense.

Gandhi used this power to evict British Colonialism from India. The strategy was peaceful passive resistance, the act of not violently opposing nor being bullied into co-operating. The British were faced with both loss of resources extracted from the population with the choice of violent repression of a peaceful population which the British people would not tolerate or leaving India. It was a brilliant realization by Gandhi that violent resistance on the part of the people was being used as a moral pretext for violent repression on the part of the British who claimed it was a necessary response. Removing violence from the resistance made it perfectly clear who was initiating violence and who was oppressing who and who the savages were.

It is for this reason that the Sunni clerics in Iraq are counseling their followers not to get sucked into reactionary violence to remain on the moral high ground.

10.1.4 Power of Fear

Everybody is afraid of something, including loss of their life, income and property.

When you warn an unproductive employee that they must improve, no matter how politically correct you may be, you are using the power of fear.

If you can prove that someone has broken the law, you can use the threat of reporting them to extort something.

Given the biased divorce courts, a wife can use the threat of divorce to achieve advantages in the relationship with her husband, based on fear of the courts.

Given expensive to the point of unachievable justice, the unscrupulous can initiate un-winnable lawsuits which are expensive to litigate, forcing the defenders to settle for a lesser amount out of fear of both the expense and unpredictability of the courts.

An unscrupulous minority employee can use false allegations of discrimination to achieve favorable concessions from an employer.

If you have a gun, you can threaten to use it if your demands are not met.

10.1.5 Intellectual Power (Knowledge)

Consider the power required to dig holes and the first man to invent the shovel. It is a safe bet to assume this man was forced either by circumstance or overseers to dig holes and was in an intellectual environment where the dominant facts of life were dirt, hole, sore back, exhaustion and necessity to dig as much as possible.

The invention of the shovel increased the ability of this man to perform more work per unit time and therefore increased his personal power. If this man had been able to exclusively retain control of the shovel, he would have had a major advantage in the economy of hole diggers and would have been in high demand, since more work per unit time means less worker cost whether it be food for slaves or wages. Since exclusive control of something as basic as a shovel cannot be maintained, all of society benefited from the reduced cost of digging. The inventions of the wheelbarrow, steam shovel and other digging and earth moving machinery has similarly benefited all of society.

As another example, you find that your car will not start. You pop the hood and see a collection of interconnected units but have no idea of what is wrong and what the functions of the various parts are. You have no power to repair your car for the simple reason that you do not have the knowledge and perhaps tools to do so. You must trade a portion of your power (measured in currency) for the services of a mechanic who does have the knowledge (power) to determine and repair the fault. The mechanic uses very little physical power (a few turns of a screwdriver) directed by the power of his knowledge to repair the fault. For this reason, it is said that knowledge is power.

Intellectual power allows the understanding of an environment and allows results (more work) to be achieved at lower cost compared to brute force. In addition, force alone is unable to achieve some results such as repairing a car.

In general, the more you understand your environment, the world and people, the more choices you are able to perceive and thus make in the game of survival.

Given that knowledge is power, is it a good idea to trust the dissemination of knowledge (education) to governments whose historical behavior has consistently been to collect as much power for themselves and their cronies as possible until civilization collapses? By definition, concentration of power requires denying it to others, including monopolizing knowledge.

10.1.6 Power of Tools

From the example above, if the man who invented an improved earth moving tool managed to retain exclusive control, his power would be increased to the sum of his physical power plus the power of the tool plus the power of the knowledge required to use the tool, measured by ability to achieve results.

From the car repair example above, the mechanic (by possession of car repair tools) and the tow truck owner (if required) have the power to achieve the desired result (your car repaired) and can thus demand something in return from you for the usage of their tools. Thus, you must exchange a portion of your power in order to have the mechanic and tow truck owner exercise their power on your behalf.

10.1.7 Power of Monopoly

If you are in sole control of something that people value such as exclusive access to a region’s water or a proprietary manufacturing process allowing cheaper production of some good or service, you have an advantage for the simple reason that people will provide you with more of their power in exchange for what you control as opposed to an environment without monopoly control where suppliers must compete for consumers who have choice (alternatives).

10.1.8 Power of Environmental Position

If you live in a defensible cave or impregnable fortress, those who covet your property or wish to harm you cannot achieve their ends for the simple reason that you are protected by the natural strength of your position and an unachievable amount of force is required to dislodge you. You are protected by the physical laws of nature acting in this environment.

If you are a tax collector, protected by the force of law, your organizational position (environment) allows the possibility that you can reduce taxes for some in exchange for kickbacks. Because of this position, others will be willing to give you a portion of their power (money) in exchange for favorable treatment and avoidance of a greater loss of power.

If you are a land zoning planner and become aware that a large factory or other project which will increase land values is in the works, this environmental position allows you to use advance information to buy land low and sell high. Similarly, this position can also be used to delay zoning approval until the requisite bribes are paid.

If you happen to be in the right place and time to provably catch someone with wealth or power in a compromising act, you can use the proof of this for blackmail. Similarly, you can also entrap someone by placing them in a compromising position, such as photos of a judge with underage boys or girls. To preserve their power and position, they will use their power to do your bidding, to avoid a greater loss of power.

10.1.9 Power of Persuasion

This means the power to convince others to do what you want or to give you something of theirs that you want orto let you do what you want at their expense.

Convincing a potential employer that they want to take a risk that your claims of ability and references are true is persuasive power.

Convincing others that your claim to knowledge (socialism can work, terrorists can be defeated…, political promises will be kept) is true is persuasive power.

Convincing others that what you are selling has value worth the cost is persuasive power.

10.2 Organized Power

An organization is a collection of individuals acting in a coordinated manner. As individuals, each has the ability to exercise their individual powers on behalf of the organization and its goals. As members of the organization, individuals are also subject to the organizations rules. At a minimum, organizations have all individual powers above, plus the following powers.

10.2.1 Power of Cooperation
10.2.2 Power of Camaraderie
10.2.3 Power of Numbers
10.2.4 Power of Protecting Each Other
10.2.5 Fear of Negative Group Image
10.2.6 Power of Proprietary Information

10.3 Government Power

10.3.1 Power of Force
10.3.2 Power of Intimidation
10.3.3 Power of No Appeal
10.3.4 Power of Dependency
10.3.5 Power of Pervasiveness
10.3.6 Power of Suppressing Dissent

10.4 Balance of Power

10.5 Government DisOrganization

<< 9. Absurdity of Applied Philosophy 11. Factors Affecting Mankind's Survival Choices >>
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