Power: Lust Or Addiction?

After six decades of life, I still can’t believe how eagerly people bend over backward to deny the obvious and swallow whale-sized lies just so they can cling to myths of the need and merit of following “leaders”. For all the supposed sophistication of “developed” societies, when it comes to running a society, we think and act like invalids terrified of the death-dealing chaos we’re sure would erupt if not for our adored guardian gods in whom we trust.

We’ve been so thoroughly beaten down that most of us can’t fathom how we’d ever get along without others telling us what to do. Authority addicts eager to argue against the idea of trust-based society hardly tolerate so much as visualizing life managed together cooperatively, unthreatened and uncoerced, as peers. I try to get people to do it, but most avoid it or refuse; and those who try quickly fail and break back into more arguments against what to them is a ridiculously Utopian fantasy. Not as a recognition of the patently unfeasible, but rather in blind aversion of imprisoned minds, they lack the psychic wherewithal even to imagine such a prospect.

Having summarily refused to consider it (which would mean, you know, actually thinking through how trust-based, cooperative society could work instead of just stacking up arguments why it never will; or maybe running controlled studies — imagine, what a novel idea! — to find out what actually does happen if you try it; ignoring the fact that we do it on small scales all the time under the label “friendship”), pseudo-realists declare that peer society is impossible. Never underestimate the baffling, fallacious power of arguments from ignorance. The confidence inspired by prematurely concluding that every alternative has already been exhausted has few rivals; but I’m being generous. More often than not we argue our loyalty to authoritarianism from the stubborn, uninformed ignorance of denial — denial of, among other things, the implications of the kinds of psyches that drive people to lust for power.

People who can’t rest until they ensure themselves superior positions — whether in terms of offensive power to control others or defensive power to prevent others from controlling them — see themselves as otherwise vulnerable and comparatively weak in the light of presumed threats, not actual ones. Their senses of inadequacy are so dire that they dare not allow the chance for threat to materialize, so they sacrifice all to avoid the prospect: banding together, strapping on guns, sporting badges or emblems or colors, donning the garb and toting the paraphernalia of the entitled, just to feel secure enough to interact with us unarmed, unaffiliated plebs. These are deeply impaired individuals compensating externally for inner impotence.They don’t become powerful that way, but they foist myths of power — and we the credulous lap it up and swallow it down.

The power-obsessed who end up ruling are mentally and emotionally deficient beings. Dehumanized, inadequate, feeling acutely disadvantaged if placed on equal footing with others — the very same footing on which peers thrive. The debilitated bolster the scant remnants of their torn humanity and offset their lack of authentic power with intimidating demonstrations and spectacular accouterments: projections of power enabled by theft. They leverage the power of others with which they absconded.

This is not power, but violence: a means of control extorted by capitalizing on the reluctance of normal, healthy people who naturally shrink back from violence as something abhorrent. But violence is not abhorrent to the humanity-deprived and power-craving, who euphemize their fraud as “authority” and legitimize it by sacrosanct, thought-terminating clichés like “greater good”, “security”, “growth”, and “profit”. On the contrary: Violence is their foundation — “In killing we trust!” They see others like they see themselves and proceed to prove their view right by objectifying, subjugating, and exploiting their brothers, sisters, and children, having demoted them to vassals and chattel and squeezed them into line. Then they turn around, step back from the press, point at results as if they were reasons, and vindicate themselves:

“There! See? Just like we told you. The masses are nothing but dumb beasts begging to be dominated and herded — otherwise, why would they let us dominate and herd them? So why shouldn’t we profit from them? We’re smart enough and powerful enough to do it, so we deserve it. And besides, no one tries to stop us, which proves it’s what they want!”

If they were so obviously right, what need of vindication would they have? And if we weren’t so gullibly subservient, what vindication could ever convince us?

Tolstoy was right on. From Chapter 10 of The Kingdom of God Is Within You:

The good cannot seize power, nor retain it; to do this men must love power. And love of power is inconsistent with goodness; but quite consistent with the very opposite qualities— pride, cunning, cruelty.

The same goes for money. You don’t hoard money unless you love money, and the only way to succeed in hoarding heaps of it is to love it more than you love the people you sacrificed loving relationships with to get it, even sacrificing them as persons on your part, implying disdain for their dignity and preciousness as unworthy compared to acquiring “wealth”, betraying your rank cluelessness about what constitutes real wealth.

We’ve all seen how easily power gets abused, and both history and daily news reinforce the truth of the corrupting potential of power over other people; but the mere fact that some people lust for power isn’t self-explanatory. Kevin Duffy’s essay has been making the rounds lately, asking What Drives the Lust for Power? What is it that renders human beings into dehumans who cannot feel safe on a peer footing with their fellows, driving them to secure superiority, privilege, and advantage before they’ll let anything else transpire? Well-adjusted people have no trouble dealing with each other without even raising — let alone settling — the question that burns in the psyches of the power-obsessed: dominance.

Calling addiction to dominance a “lust for power” dignifies it as a desire rather than the flight from terror that it actually is. What are the “powerful” terrified of? They are scared fucking shitless (and those expletives don’t come close to capturing their abject dread) of dealing with others as peers. You can prove this easily for yourself. The next time you interact with a dominating type — or a submissive type, for that matter — make it clear that you only deal with others as peers, that you won’t participate either as dominant or submissive, and that you won’t even entertain such a dehumanizing proposition — it’s peers or nothing. Then watch the person’s reaction. It will tell you exactly what they’re really about.

So what traumatized these decrepit people so terribly that merely meeting other human beings on level ground triggers their survival threat alarms, which is exactly what domination, aka “lust for power”, is a response to?

When we finally get honest about child abuse — meaning that parents and teachers abandon the two main preconditions for all forms of abuse — that is, WHEN WE STOP DOMINATING AND LYING TO OUR CHILDREN, then the noxious fogs of wars for dominance will begin to clear, we’ll finally start getting answers, and we’ll realize that true peace on Earth is not a pipe dream. Far from it. Peace is just what normal, untraumatized, unabused people naturally do with each other when crazed, decrepit idiots aren’t holding guns to their heads.

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