Originally posted on Facebook Notes
OK, in case you haven’t figured out by reading my other notes, I love cosmology and ontology – i.e. philosophy. Question everything! To quote Aristotle, the “unexamined life is not worth living”. A subject that seems to keep getting bounced off me as of late is the concept of power, who has it, how they get it and what they do (right or wrong) with it.
One of the things that keeps bringing it up is the obvious, politics. I tend to examine just about everything and anything by breaking it down to basic truths. I tend to think it is a basic truth that any form of governmental control attracts and/or breeds within it power hungry people. And as they say, power corrupts. It’s just the nature of the beast. (although I am prone to disagree with this on face value. Instead I think ‘the nature of power attracts corruptible men’. And by consequence, ‘corruptible men should be granted as little power as possible’)
This led me to consider the nature of power and then in turn led me to the following conclusion:
No man has power over another without it being granted or taken and allowed.
Let’s start with the second part because the two concepts really have to go together. Once someone has power, the most likely means to get more if they are corrupt is to take it. If they have no power in the first place other than what was granted to them by someone (or a group of someones), then the only way they can take power unwillingly from one of those someones is for the rest of the someones to ‘allow’ them to get away with it.
But of course the easier way to get power is to have it given to you. This led me to another consideration. What is the easiest way to get someone to give away power? There’s one simple answer that repeats itself throughout our society and history:
convince them that there is something greater then themselves or their own self-interest
Without drawing specific conclusions on whether each is right or wrong, good or bad, we can see examples of things deemed ‘greater than one’s self’ in everything from religion (god) to environmentalism (earth/nature) and even collectivism/marxism (the state).
As a note in conclusion, all of this sounds kind of selfish – well guess what? it is! But it does not have to be a denunciation of the things we find good in any or all of the above. After all, ideas do not gain support if there is not some truth or good in them.
So how can you put your own self-interest before everything else and still exist in society? Simple! Simple because it is in our self interest to maintain and improve our environment, it is in our self interest to be on good terms with our neighbors and for our neighbors to share a similar social and financial status (not identical, but similar). I could go on, but I think you get the idea – self interest does not preclude being a good citizen, good neighbor or good patron to our world – but denying self-interest is the quickest way to grant someone else (potentially tyrannical) power over you.