Dissecting power

The "how" of power

Power in operation

Power is the ability to get people to do things you want them to do. It’s the abstract, intangible characteristic a person can acquire to act upon others rather than being acted upon. If we look closely, power operates nearly in every sphere of life such as our relationships, workplace, school or college. A boss may make you have done something at work that goes against your narrative and beliefs because he has more financial power than you do. A horrible spouse may make you stay in the toxic relationship because divorce is a taboo in your society. A school mate may be able to become a better speaker because he, perhaps, is popular. The truth is that wealth, norms and popularity are one of the many aspects of power that amass it with one person and are texts of power worth examining.

In more scientific terms, one can break down power into three laws that govern it’s operation. Examining these laws can the key to becoming more adept with power, which can help you avoid situations where you are being coerced into doing something you don’t necessarily want to do.

Laws of Power

power is never static.

Power either accumulating or decays. So if you aren’t taking action, you’re being acted upon. Theoretically speaking, person not in power will resist being acted upon and hence, amassing power in a specific situation will always be subject to timeless competition.

power is like water

It flows like a current through everyday life. Politics is the work of harnessing that flow in a direction you prefer. Policy-making is an effort to freeze and perpetuate a particular flow of power.
If you’re getting support in numbers, a good educational degree that has given you better financial prospects in life, or if you’re breaking an older social norms and coining the norm, say, freedom of religion, you’re amassing power.

power compounds.

Power begets more power, and so does powerlessness. The only thing that keeps law number three from leading to a situation where only one person has all the power is how we apply laws one and two.

A few people acquiring power

It’s important that we don’t let a few people don’t accumulate too much power, and so that they can’t enshrine their unquestionable privilege. To be literate in the functions of power means to not being taken advantage of, being taken seriously and not be acted upon.

People adept in power have used these laws in change the narrative and get the power back. This can be seen in any news story:

Low wage workers organize to get higher pay. 

Oil companies push to get a big pipeline approved. 

Gay and lesbian couples seek the legal right to marry.

Urban parents demand school vouchers. 

People who have stood up to an already operating pattern of power have made use of the fact that power is never static, and it flows. Whether you get what you want depends on how adept you are with power which is why understanding the laws of power is fundamental to understanding the route to get what you want, even if it is not in your power now.

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