There is only power, and those who are too weak to take it. So says one of the most prominent fictional villains of all time, and it is this obiter dicta of a non-judicial Lord, that I have found myself compelled to spend a little while considering. I’ve not always been very interested in power. Power you see, in its most meaningful sense is power over people, and my reaction to the enforced extra interaction with others that such power would bring is easily understood as an undesirable result that could never be compensated for by the perks of power inside my inwards facing soul.
In my naivety I convinced myself that I had nothing to do with power, would actually consider myself more morally upright and beyond the vulgarity of playing the power game. I would maintain the Spartan whiteness of my moral complexion. I would shut my eyes to this misdirection of the human will and suffer no folly for this willful blindness. I would be wary of it impeding upon me and my life. The power demands of others would be considered and blocked, but I, spotless, harmless, me, would refrain from ever being entangled with anything beyond defense against the dark arts.
I wish I could say that I was still of this persuasion, that I could honestly say that I would refrain from playing the little mental and mind games that are concomitant with the power game, but I don’t think I want to be that person anymore. Power is useful, it is the definitive ingredient in many a human life, and its absence or presence, its gradients and its affiliations will do much to untangle the spiders web of allegiances, allegations and actions that cross and re-cross life in all its essence.
More essentially, to take the moral stand that I am aloof from power games inflicts on me two detriments, first it tells all that in fact I am weak, and must depend on convention or morality to hold my ground, both bases that are fickle and grounded in the Mob. Secondly, in and of itself, the moral claim to aloofness is a power play in and of itself it is the use of this moral cudgel to gain power over others. Better honestly and fully in the game, that truly inescapable and most worldly of games, than dishonestly out of it. I do believe that it is possible to turn the moral force into tremendous power, through the invocation of the divine or the spiritual, but inside my value system I have no inherent access to either, and so must not look to them to be manipulated as a power base.
There is a darker side to my desire to understand power. I begin to understand that the only way to be immune to the pressure that the power of others can exert against you, is to be able to deconstruct their movements, to understand where their power originates, how it can be applied and therefore where its weaknesses lies and what counter forces can be applied against it. Similarly it is patently clear that the only genuine counter to a force exerted in one direction is to exert a force in the exact opposite direction. Therefore when power bases will be wielded against me, I will be required to have a power base, or the appearance of one of my own to stand up. The weak and innocent are always the first to suffer in any conflict, and I have no desire to be described as either. How much better to be secure in your own strength or confident of the weakness of your enemies rather then to fear the strength of others and not know the disposition of their forces.
Like all the great Hegemonic Empires, I am convinced that I only do this for good. I have no ill will towards anyone that I wish to unleash my rage against by the manipulation of power, but rather that I do not wish to be exposed to the misdirected blasts of another. I desire safety. At least that’s what I’m currently telling myself. I’m sure that at some point I will use any power I ever accrue, if it is significant to achieve any ends, in the manner I have so carefully circumscribed above. I don’t imagine myself immune from this process. As we all famously know, Power Corrupts.