Measures of Power

Have you ever wondered what makes powerful people powerful?  Is it the amount of fear and intimidation that they generate?  Is it the intimidation factor of standing in their presence?  What separates the powerful from the dis-empowered?

There is the power of doing things.  Yet when most people think of power they don't think of an architect, engineer, or cook.  No, we tend to think of people, usually male and European, who have large bank accounts and go to work dressed in strange looking suites that probably would have passed for the court fool's outfit before the mid 1800's.   Yet, these same funny looking outfits are supposed to display one's status in society as a "mover" and "shaker".  Public perception and reality, though are often quite different.  The vast majority of men and women in suits are nothing more than what we refer to as empty suites.  They are the messenger boys for those who hold the real power.

The power to make a decision is often considered to be an important demonstration of power.  But the real test of individual power comes from demonstrating commitment with follow through to conclusion.  "Getting what you want" thus is often the most immediate measure of someone's power in society as it demonstrates decision, commitment, and follow through.  This is one of the many reasons that money and power are often confused.  Someone with money often gets what they want just be using it.  However, things are never really that simple in reality.

The nature of power is more akin to a complex balance of force through command.  Individuals with great command can at times make large impacts.  However, few people, even heads of state, wield that kind of power in the present day.  This is because power must be exercised with reason and justification and in our present collective contradiction is subject to debate from media and the peanut gallery of the internet.  Because we do not agree, our systems are in paralysis and our heads of state cannot create plans that are effective because of the level of disagreement.

In order to wield power effectively, one must be quite clear about who one is, what one is doing, and what one is trying to accomplish.   Identity is the rock upon which power twists and turns.  Power is psychological in nature, it flows with the mind.  Knowledge is the root of power, and what one knows for certain can become a very powerful force for good or evil depending on how one chooses to use one's words.  Words convey the meaning and measure of power to those who would choose to align themselves with the powerful as followers, the minions, which are ever present around the masters of power.

Commanding the heights of psychological dialogue gives access to powerful mental motivators in human beings.  People make choices based upon certain preconceived values, whether derived consciously or unconsciously.  Knowing what those are allows a master of power to drive someone else's motivations to a forgone conclusion.  While the ability to manipulate others is often seen as a sign of great power, it is an even greater power to clarify someone else's thinking to the point where they see what it they must do given certain considerations.  It is easy for those with great prestige to manipulate others minds and wills to do their bidding, but much harder for them to secure the true loyalty through real commitment as leaders.  This is one of the great failures of modern politics.  Without loyal followers committed to meaningful projects our leaders no longer can command the loyalty and obedience of the people.  Power has been redistributed to groups whose interests are primary monetary.

The inevitable result is the expansion of monetary activity and the hoarding of monetary resources.  Yet money is not power and is a very poor choice of resources to hoard (not to mention that hoarding is a bad strategy in general in most real world situations).  Money is a disposable means of manipulating individuals who lack intelligence, and this means that it has no real value to the powerful except in the momentary convenience it may convey.  Tomorrow, those with real power could re-value the monetary system as they see fit.  This has happened many times in what we refer to as the 2nd and 3rd world in the form of a change of currency or hyperinflation of one form or another.   Those who trade in higher levels of power know this.  The weak minded are always one step behind.

How do we measure power?  It is by the yardstick of what we accomplish?  Is it by the our ability to destroy things that get in our way?  Is it by the number of followers we have lined up behind us?  Is it by the strength of the foundations of our position in society?  All of these constructs are ways to measure certain elements of position and possibility within the realms of power.  Yet power cannot really be measured for sure, it must be tested and tested again through use until its full measure is revealed in action.  Indeed, we do not know the limits of our power until usually we exceed it.  Such is the way of our nature.