The Secret of Power

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November 10, 2012 by NowhereButPop

by Andrew Doscas

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Fact: everyone LOVES power.  I don’t care who you are or what you say; if you are a human being you love power.  It doesn’t have to be absolute, hell, it doesn’t even have to be much, but everybody wants a little taste of power.  I’m not even talking on a macro-political scale, even in our day to day lives with other people; we crave some semblance of power.

Power is very tricky, because there are some many interpretations of power, but no set definition.  Some see it as control, or the imposing of one’s will and ideals onto others.  The power to be able to express oneself, or the desire thereof is another interpretation of power.  The definition that I most ascribe to, I believe comes from Michel Foucault (pronounced fuck-o)[1], wherein power isn’t a measureable object, you can’t say “I have x amount of power”.  Power comes in your relation to others.  One’s influence or control over another is the enacting of the power one has.

In a relationship, if a guy is a pussy whip he clearly has no power whatsoever because his actions are merely the ramifications of his girlfriend’s will.  Hitherto, her power lies in her ability to make him do as she pleases regardless of his own ideals or standards.  In most budding romantic endeavors, there is one party more invested in the other.  The more powerless of the two unknowingly divests power of their own emotions into the partner.  They give up power of how they feel to the other person.  Think about it this way, if you get sad that someone doesn’t call you back, they have control (power) over how you feel; their action or non-action can make you feel a certain way that you otherwise would not have felt.  This to me is quite possibly the most frightening concept on the planet.  The potential for abuse is absurdly rife if not inviting and overwhelmingly tempting.

But, I digress.  I believe that the truest show of power is in its disutilization.[2]  In other words, to be able to, but choose not to.  And I mean that in a purely positive sense.  If you can save someone from drowning but don’t, that’s fucked up.  But if you are able to manipulate someone and choose not to, therein lies true power.  The reason why I think this is because as a human being, our innate predilection is to make a show of what we can do; to indulge that desire of proving that we can.  There is a need to show that we have power, or control over a situation, or even a person, which is even more sickening.

By association, I mean the internalization of power.  As people we love to show our influence over a person or thing, but we rarely like to show off the power we have over ourselves.  I guess as a result, the definition of power is synonymous with restrain and self-control.  To be able to willingly choose not to indulge in that human desire for acclaim or praise or imposing of the will is a remarkable and rare thing.  The externalization of power, would be to force others to do your bidding, whereas the internalization of power would be to resist that urge.  To me, that is the truest definition of power, to be able to control the self in order to prevent the unjust manipulation of the others.  Think of how many dictators indulge in their positions of influence.  What separates a leader from a dictator is the unlawful indulgence of the position of power.  It comes to the point where they realize that they are able to do something, typically something shitty, and then do it anyway.  The wanton recklessness of abusing one’s power potential within a certain dynamic is the oversaturation of the externalization of power, and as a result the complete lack of the internalization of power.

In any structure, be it occupational, familial, legal, or even in our daily inter-personal relationships there is a preconceived set notion of what we should and should not do.  However, more often than not we are capable doing what we should not do.  Just because we shouldn’t, doesn’t mean that we can’t.  A show of what we can do, even though it may not be what we should do, is powerlessness incarnate.  But to be able to refrain from something that would show influence or control over another represents a power over ourselves which too many people lack.


[1] Editor’s Note: No it isn’t.

[2] Disutilization is not a word, I just made it up, but it means “the not using” of something.

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One thought on “The Secret of Power

  1. Alex Jones says:

    Power is the potential to do something. Power is a tool to an end, not an end in its self.

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