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The Transformation of Power: A Cynical Critique

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Lord Swan
Written by Lord Wallace-Swan

24 min read

How Power Transforms the Radical, and Why Idealism Kills, then Dies

 


I have written this as part of a reflection of my own experience in life and in history; in part I wrote this piece as an Ode to our long suffering ancestors from time immemorial. They perhaps suffered so we may not have to, yet like Cassandra their spirits are doomed to watch as their warnings go unheeded, as their own kin repeat the same errors and mistakes as their forebears and their long passed lives did. I write this not fully knowing the complete experience of these forebears other than limited quips and excerpts from their lives, and to that only but few in number, but as my Thirty-Six Generations past Great Grandfather Alfred the Great once said: “I embrace the purpose of God and the doom assigned. It becomes no man to nurse despair, but, in the teeth of clenched antagonisms, to follow up the worthiest until he die.” I hope you enjoy the article.” 

-Lord Wallace-Swan


 

The gates breach. Old structures will be made new; old ways of thinking cast away. The radical told you what they planned. A massive wrecking ball swinging towards society, everyone with eyes cast upon its force gasped in horror at the coming terror. Suddenly, their momentum halts. What happened?

Their nature changed. People seek power like a dog chasing a car; if it caught the thing it wouldn’t know what to do with it. This is history with few exceptions. Power rarely shifts into a new paradigm, and rarer for that power transformation to last for long. Pushes to power are forced by passion and romance, like a love story sweeps people off their feet in pursuit of transcendency. Transformation is rarely logical or rational, and to be executed as annunciated.

 

The Rollercoaster

Power carries romanticism, inflated expectations. You imagine the things you will do with this new person. You’re having fun, so much that you can’t believe it. You’re on a rollercoaster to the heights of positive emotion, but you cannot see where you are heading. At the peak, you feel on top of the world, and you let out a relieved sigh. Suddenly, something happens. The coordination is off. Romance is gone. You see the ground rushing up. You hold onto the faintest hope as long as you can, until the end. Reality hits you with a rush, washing your expectations into the sea. It is not different from the transformation of power.

 

The Elephant and His Rider

Power is a proposition of a minority over a majority. The minority in power is in a precarious position, but they benefit being the decider. It is indifferent whether the political system is democratic or dictatorial. Each is minority rule. It is possible for the majority to be free under a monarchy, and shackled under a democracy; in terms of liberty, it is undifferentiated. The majority is an elephant; the minority is a trainer or driver. The driver must be cautious controlling the elephant, for control is precarious, and ultimately at the mercy of the elephant and its energy and passions. Historically, the driver is thrown and stomped into oblivion. It doesn’t matter if the driver offers reason or logic to the elephant in order to halt the rampage. The elephant is irrational, fickle, erratic, and impulsive. It remains this way no matter the nature of the driver. This is the mob. This is similar and inspired by the comparison of human psychology made by social psychologist Johnathan Haidt of New York University.

Just as the mob will cast off its leaders, new leaders arise from the chaos to again take the reins. People ask, 

“What would you do with power?” 

This is the question for our representatives when we ask them, 

“What is your political platform?”

 

And then what?

Someone is elected; the voters are disappointed in the results. We were told the plan and voted based upon the plan. It was reasonable, yet failed. Why? The elephant gets a new driver after crushing the previous, and finds it no different than before. The mark of a good driver being negotiating the overwhelming destructive enormity while getting it to provide sustenance and plenty, and successfully steer this power in a way which benefits all. The driver makes promises of all sorts to it, and the elephant may allow the driver limited credit. But, if his emotions are toyed with, a destructive outburst becomes inevitable and the elephant collects what’s owed from the driver, like a fruit juicer. 

Another driver will replace the previous, and the cycle will continue. Prospective drivers gaze up, and see the current driver corralling it, ignorantly thinking the driver’s height should make it easy. They wonder why there is such a fuss about driving it; why so often these drivers fail. People overestimate their own capacity at difficult tasks. They realize how difficult a job it is once they are in it. Captaining ships looks pretty simple to the uninitiated passenger. But operating a ship is complicated. It takes years of training and decades of combined experience. Ask many though, and they will tell you exactly how it is done.

 

The Thin Line which Veils

Analogies are useful visualizations, although the previous analogy was crude, it was accurate. We need to apply it to reality. We need to address framing. Do politicians (drivers) steer the nation, or the opposite? It would not be proper to definitively say one or the other. It is also incorrect to say it is equal. Political science could be said to be the attempt to define where the divide lies.     

This divide is the knowledge of one’s capacity, avoiding trial and error, given the steep costs. Politicians discover problems, convince people of solutions, so they achieve power. If people are unimpressed with the plans, they won’t allow him power, and will elect someone making wishful promises. One of the problems of democracy is it is based on the irrational mob. Measuring human progress by wealth, or infrastructure, democracy is not causal. It isn’t infrastructure development itself, but the liberty to act which creates it. This is not to devalue having a voice, for that holds up strongly to scrutiny. It is important to emphasize that progress is determined by infrastructure development, done best in liberty to act, with an open and (more) free market.

 

Logic, Liberty, and Law: Form and Wealth

Logic itself shows that free markets rapidly build more infrastructure. Evidence in the real world demonstrates this, which has little to do with democracy, but economic freedom. The top nation in the world for GDP per capita (in 2020) is Qatar. Qatar is a Monarchy, it’s Head of State an Emir, not a president. Of the top ten GDP nations, five are a form of dictatorship or monarchy (Qatar [1], Singapore [3], Brunei [5], United Arab Emirates [7], Kuwait [8]), four are small, highly developed European representative democracies (Luxembourg [2], Ireland [4], Norway [6], Switzerland [9], and the United States ranks tenth. Chinese free market zones, Macau [2] and Hong Kong [11], would be ranked very closely in this group if they were counted on their own (outside of China). This wealth is the result of a free market system, which allows for the free flow of goods and services.  Of the lowest ten GDPs per capita, you have a series of socialist states, democratically elected governments which take the shape of a corrupt dictatorship, and unstable regimes. Venezuela [unranked] is too low to rank; Syria [unranked] is so chaotic that it cannot be measured, Burundi [185] a presidential republic with an average GDP of under 1000 “International Dollars”; Central African Republic [184] a presidential republic with under 1000 “International dollars” average GDP; The Democratic Republic of the Congo [183] a democratic state with just over 1000 “International dollars” average GDP; followed by Eritrea [182]; Niger [181]; Malawi [180]; Mozambique [179]; and Liberia [178]; all making under 1500 “International dollars” average GDP per year. All of these are democracies (or Socialist states) which cannot muster up the necessary action to develop decent living standards.

We can criticize these points by saying they were corrupt democracies or were not “truly” socialist states. Those are fine, but not a very good criticism. The fact is there is no proof that democracy is what foments wealth, but liberty of action. Detractors from this don’t consider the precedence of individual action in an economy. They look at the collective will, and view things from the end rather than the beginning, confusing the two and putting the cart before the horse.

 

Judging Cause from Ends: a Dangerous Miscalculation

Imagine you are looking at our economy,  you see its products. You buy shoes, the detractor will say that you couldn’t have bought those shoes had the seller not procured them. This is true. But the seller couldn’t have procured those shoes for sale without a supplier. That supplier in turn couldn’t have supplied those shoes without a manufacturer. The manufacturer couldn’t have made those shoes without material suppliers, and in turn those suppliers couldn’t have made those supplies without the raw materials, and those materials require some form of harvesting. So you see, the detractor says, it took the collective will to produce those shoes, that these shoes cannot possibly have been manufactured without collective action. They conclude collectivism produces things, and individuals don’t. 

The detractor is wrong. It wasn’t collective action making those shoes. No central planning created them. None of the people in the supply chain were friends. Each part of the it consisted of individual actions of self-interest. It is true that these individuals cooperated to produce and sell shoes, but at no point did any sort of collective action take place. Individualism doesn’t entail that one single person does it all, but that each person acts in their own interest. Not one person in cooperative production acted to produce shoes, they only acted in order to extract value from their own actions. 

The leather-maker for the shoe manufacturer perhaps also supplies for the manufacture of belts, jackets, and uncomfortable pants. Everywhere touched by central planning, is far less productive than places LACKING this. High productivity in a planned economy happens DESPITE central planning. This is universal. Outliers have specific causes, and are comparisons of imperfect scenarios in every case (less free versus more free). In a perfect world the cause and effect would be clear. However, we don’t nor have we ever lived in a perfect world, so we are stuck with relativity. The logic stands and supports free markets: where people are more free to act, unbound by red tape and bureaucracy, the faster infrastructure will be developed, the overall wealth will increase, and people are richer. Thus the inverse must be true.

 

Death by a Thousand Good Intentions

The world is imperfect, fallen. People rule irrationally and emotionally, regardless of who leads. What a mess. The problem isn’t a lack of leadership. The problem isn’t that leaders hide intentions, are lazy, or unconcerned (though this can be a case.) Power has a transformative effect upon people. Power gives insight into things which previously went unobserved. On that front, Power blinds, it rushes a leader's head into the clouds, separating him from the mud. The truth is solutions cannot come from politicians who act, but politicians who enhance individual liberty of action. Only through this can things change for the better, the negotiation amongst individual actors cooperating for their mutual benefit, and the benefit of all. Regulation, statute laws, cannot increase infrastructure. By-laws, building codes, victimless crimes, all harms whose damages cannot be recovered.

Following the logic of regulatory proponents, note it is rooted in the same arguments which support feudal serfdom. Calls for “order” appear reasonable to most, because the counter-position is “chaos”. Let’s examine this “logic” and see what we find. Regulators’ argue that we must regulate the public-facing aspects of people’s lives, because they could interfere with the wellbeing of others. Such thinking has led to regulations on building, employment, and business (amongst others). Building regulations act as a set of state-enforced restrictions limiting actions of individuals concerning building projects. 

The concept starts with good intentions (public safety,) but falls short. Housing falls into a market framework, a system of supply and demand. Regulatory restrictions create a barrier of entry. If this barrier is set too high, market entry is limited; it creates a ceiling that many cannot achieve,  legally halting someone from doing non-ideal actions, despite being an improvement. Otherwise if someone was inclined they could take a parcel of their land and develop it in a manner that doesn’t negatively impact surrounding properties so that others may use it, on the lower end of market value, creating a low bar for entering the market. These need not be unsafe nor dangerous, they are simply affordable. Regulations make this is a legal impossibility; the State through its by-laws enforces “order” with force, destroying these buildings which do not technically meet the “regulatory standards”, despite being safe and used by parties of their own free choice. 

Many defend this, feeling order is important. But the results speak for themselves. It results in some people being priced out, and so they become homeless or reliant upon charity or welfare. These individuals on welfare become afraid of losing it. If they leave they know they won’t have enough wealth to overcome the barriers, and so are unmotivated to strategize their way out. These people become deadweight on the economy as they aren’t self reliant; in this setup they are more motivated to remain stagnant than risking rising above it. The incentives favour stagnation.

This in turn raises all bars, decreases competition, and increases costs. Any regulation must be enforced at cost. The more influential you are the less it will affect you, but you feel it. Where many people could be housed in low-cost shacks, they now must live in full-cost, fully wired, fully plumbed, and fully regulated homes. The result ideally would be that everyone gets to have a fully regulated home. This is the ideal that the regulatory supporters claim to aim at, but we have never seen this result. Instead there is shortage; people resort to secretly living in a camper van, or other arrangement including tents, couch surfing, cars, dumpsters, alleyways, doorways, or storage units. We live in an unideal world, and these regulations come from short-sighted idealists sitting in ivory towers proclaiming their victory to the plebeians, which takes the form of the managerial conquest we see today.

 

Red Tape Power: Directing The Masses to Serfdom

Until now it would be reasonable for the reader to object to my earlier claim that this regulatory system was akin to feudal serfdom, but I will show it is true. Arguments for regulatory action come from existing homeowners, who exercise political power in order to disrupt the market needs of those who do not hold property. By exercising their political power to manipulate the market through regulatory standards in their political sphere, they can guarantee that their own property will rise in value by leveragy state force to inflate the value of their properties. 

It must be asked, how is this not considered corruption? It is public theft to apply public resources in order to benefit a party maintaining the power held by that party in the market. This isn’t unique to housing, nor is it to our current socio-political paradigm. It spawns from utopic-autocratic thinking. Only autocrats believe utopia possible: that by their design hand they can manipulate the world and mankind into perfection. 

Power held by feeble-minds is more dangerous than giving a loaded handgun to a toddler; they don’t understand the violence that the weapon can unleash, nor the consequences that would result from its use; nor could they control it. There is no way certain to determine who is feeble-minded. Thinking like an autocrat is not necessarily indicative. An autocrat understands power within the living world. The real indicator of feeble mind is one which proposes and truly believes in their Utopic vision. They truly believe that their “vision” is unique, (an indication of their poor cognition and naïveté). It is difficult to reason with such thinking, for how does one convince them that their Utopic vision will become barbarism? They don’t think it through to the end. They will reframe evidence, and say “real communism was never tried”,  a “no true Scotsman” logical fallacy. Since “true” communism requires a Utopic ends, anything that doesn’t or hasn’t yet achieved a Utopic ends must not be communism. This is just an example, as weak minded people exist in all the socio-political world. To be a Utopian thinker, one must be blind to suffering, or an unsympathetic sociopath.

Suffering is real to anyone with sense. It takes an enormous scale of privilege to overcome the natural state of being: complete and utter impoverishment, the state of shivering cold, near starvation, zero allies or friends, being preyed upon constantly, utterly despotic hopelessness punctuated by a self-realisation of worthlessness. That is the natural state of mankind, and is ONLY overcome through taming the real world to harness it, to make it work for mankind itself, rather than lay down and be ever victim to it, rather than literally proclaim: “Get Thee behind me, Satan!” -like some deranged harlot in the midst of adulterous depravity.

 

The Nature of Power is a Natural Law

The nature of power is deep. Resounding from the origins of mankind as a species. Competent leaders engaging reality led societies more successful than groups with incompetent leadership which, ignored the world around them for their own Utopic vision of how things ought to be. But an ought doesn’t make for an is. Over aeons, this competency was continuously tested, eventually leading to leadership standards that remain true today. Firstly, you cannot ignore the suffering of your people (but beware of liars.) Secondly, you cannot substitute for reality and must always be aware of your capacity to be blinded by idealism: none are immune to propaganda. Thirdly, don’t mistake your position in power for power itself, for you are but flesh and bone and no less interchangeable than any other flesh and bone; you must be a cognizant mind, and hone your perception. Fourth, it isn’t just thinking nor perception, but being active, acting, doing, which leads. 

Failure leaves you useless. Any challenge to your position will be a pen and a sword. The sword is mightier than the pen when it comes to POWER. Any notion of the might of the pen is a bastardization of reality. It is only true symbolically that the pen is mightier, and it may be that in time, the pen directs the narrative which villainizes the sword, but in the moment the sword is always victor. Always retain your capacity to be a sword, especially amongst swords, and you will be better for it. The pens will do what pens do, regardless of how you act. You however live and exist in material reality, while the cause of your infamy is immaterial. The only rational purpose for power outside of personal wealth and infamy is the advancement of human wellbeing, through the expansion of societal infrastructure in order to reduce the state of absolute poverty mankind finds itself in naturally. That is how it is historically perceived, those leaders who have ushered in great works, great technologies, are remembered as pioneering heroes; while those who destroy are remembered as villains. The pen does not decide the fates of men, the sword does.

 

The Power of the One Ring

The radical views themselves as historically unique and revolutionary. This is false. There have always been rivals to power in history. The framing isn’t that the radical sees themselves as a power-centre in competition with existing power-centres. The reality is they are competing for the position of power-wielder. The centre of power remains unchanged. It is longer lived, older, stronger, and more resilient than dozens of generations of radical. When the radical moves into the position of power they don’t radicalise it: they can’t. They are only capable of wielding it or tyrannising it. In wielding it they are possessed by it, unified within it, overwhelmed by it. If, alternatively, they tyrannize it, they won’t be able to overcome their relative feebleness, they are consumed in their effort to wrestle control from the narrative substructures of that society. Soon, everyone will recognize the tyranny, and once this occurs it’s only a matter of time before the collapse. Tyranny is temporary, as is radical power. The result is the narrative societal substructures overpower the radical, making them conservative in the long run.

Over time the power structure itself tames the radical, their original goals cannot be achieved. There are plenty of examples: Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany; former President of Brazil Dilma Rouseff; former US President Barack Obama, all relatively radical in their beginnings, and now fully consumed by the machinery of state since tasting power. It cannot be a coincidence that leaders of such vastly different nations have gone through the exact same phenomenon as this. It isn’t age which does it, Obama promised radical change during his first campaign for President, such as universal healthcare within his first term. This didn’t occur; his radicalism was tamed, not by age but by the power structure itself, and the same goes for President Rouseff, who had been a socialist revolutionary in her youth, had been jailed and tortured by the Brazilian Dictatorship. She promised radical socialist reforms, but what ended up happening? She did nothing. Accomplished nothing. She was even impeached and lost her power. You find such patterns around the globe, in all systems of power, because power structures preserve themselves, otherwise they wouldn’t exist, and so all change that does occur is only that which is consented to by the structure.

 

The Problem with Dropping the Plunger

The radical recognizes the power structures that exist around them, that they are a part of it. It isn’t logical to claim that every person bears the same burden of complicity within this structure, but all bear some. This is the origin of the social justice advocate claim that the structure is the problem and therefore one must tear it down and begin anew. But to tear it all down would be far more disastrous and accomplish none of the idealism they purport. The “year zero” they aim for could never accomplish something positive. You cannot root out the suffering of the past and enact justice upon it, all that they would is expand injustice into the future. There’s no satisfaction to be found in resentment, it can only be destructive. In some sense, to destroy the structure would only maximize the necessity of conserving whatever remains, leading to ultra-conservatism.

All the evidence presented in history, mythology, and religion, proves this. It is proven through logic. As stated earlier, infrastructure takes work and time to enhance. This development of infrastructure has value if we give value to the reduction of human suffering, because the function of infrastructure is to reduce human suffering. We must conclude that any destruction of infrastructure increases human suffering. If we also regard the desire to increase suffering as evil, then we have it that destroying infrastructure is evil (because it increases suffering). Therefore all those who wish to destroy our infrastructure are evil. Anyone with any sense, given the aforementioned logic, should immediately abandon all post-Marxist ideals, unless they are evil.

One of the things I find most strange in leftist idealism, is that they see all individuals as being victims if they are not living ideally, and believe through that collectivism will rescue them from the plight of imperfection. The truth is there isn’t escape from imperfection, no matter how many hands you’re holding, all hands find themselves controlled by individuals going through their own existential experience. Even in a loving embrace with a person of your affection, you can’t escape existential fear. Leftists advocate for collectivism but are unconscious to the existing collectivism that surrounds them, the infrastructural efforts of society, from which all benefit. 

The call for equality, the collective “good”, is based in individual resentment and greed. “Eating the rich” is to be a farmer and eat his seed grain, stored for next spring. You may find yourself hungry in the midst of winter, doomed. That seed grain for the next season sits there tempting you. Eating it may satisfy you for a short time, but a realization will come to you and absolutely crush you into dust. You have doomed your future self into oblivion. But if you instead suffer brutally, you not only get to live, but in a state of prosperity. People don’t look at the property of others and think that it’s the result of the collective effort of millions, but it is! The leftist today sees only greed and malice in those people. They cannot see past their own narrow vision! They don’t realize that wealth doesn’t have anywhere else to go, that wealth is an abstraction of organizational resource direction, as well as a direct feedback system to reward progress and efficiencies, while punishing damages or inefficiencies. 

People don’t get wealthy for damaging infrastructure and harming society’s development, they get wealth for both the maintenance of and expansion of societal infrastructure. The wealth they earn is the society holding these people to account and rewarding their contributions. Everyone contributing gets rewarded, some a little more and some a little less. 

 

Resentment of Being makes for Hell on Earth

The scales vary but are structurally universal. There exists no alternative reality in this framing. It is an accurate and objective assessment of how things work in the world. I reject all claims that resentment is meritorious, but instead anti-human, and anti-individualist. Look closely, marxism and social justice is anti-cooperative. They are blind to the voluntary and cooperative collectivism capitalists find themselves within, and plan to replace it with involuntary collectivism. That is the undeniable historical result. But wait, they say, what about those individuals who are not as successful as others, or who are left behind by technological advancement, tragedy of being, or any grievances which one might produce? Should they not be cared for? Should they be left behind? Well, all life is as the Red Queen states in “Through the looking Glass”: 

"Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!"


Some are left behind. But we’re human beings and not machines. We engage in charitable works, to lift others up. We don’t do so as a requirement, but as an act of good, an act of will, of goodwill if you goodly will. This is ultimately an act of faith, that those you help will too help themselves and be raised out of the depths of suffering. What does the alternative propose? Entitlement; not merely to laze and sloth, but to the social infrastructure built by others. There lay in such no real case for this entitlement, it is a farce. It’s an act of injustice. If you want a part you must play a part in it. Any other alternative is to play parasite upon all. Suffering despite society is a choice. Suffering being merely the return to your natural state of being, there is none to blame but yourself. 

There are real victims of criminal action, and rest assured I don’t mean to remove justice, but enhance it. If someone harms you then you should be made whole. The truth is that within a society there are more heroes than villains, but when you dispossess heroes from their works by placing it into the hands of the state, you remove the heroes while the villains remain. Casting people onto state welfare is to disempower their individuality, to dispossess them of their chance to contribute, and to force them into a state of weakness, entitlement, and disillusionment; they exist like free-floating serfs of the mediaeval era, but instead of labouring lands, they labour existentially for grievance politics.

The Marxian notion of collectivism is fundamentally flawed. On the one hand it chastises capitalism for not tending to failed individuals, and on the other it demands that the voluntary and peaceful collective action taken within the free market (uncoerced) must be cancelled in favour of coercive force because of “inequality”. What it appears to be however is different: a resentful chaos-producing, utopian idealism, which wishes to punish successful infrastructure development and destroy existing infrastructures because of a mischaracterization of reality. 

Suffering is what it is, it is a part of conscious being. You cannot relieve it by destroying things that relieve it, that can only make it worse. There exists no better objective proof of the State’s incompetence at delivering us from suffering, than any government program that is aimed at such. Because of the Marxist framing of reality, they cannot see their march for power for what it truly is, a march for power in the grand game of musical chairs. In each case along the historical record, every new establishment of leadership becomes party to the socio-cultural substructures, they become conservative because the worst possible outcome is to fall from the grace of power, so this becomes their focus. All idealism becomes moot in the face of power, because idealism is immaterial, and men are not.

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