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How Power Eats Life

It begins with its own energy and offers people a way out, a new hope to believe in. A new ideology that links all that is wrong in the world to one final cause – this one thing that humanity or society is unable to see until the ideology points it out. It creates new structures and agendas, new laws, new trends, new fashions and gadgets. It proposes new ways of seeing ourselves as men, women, parents, children, workers, managers. Ideologies such as those that serve capitalism, communism, socialism, conservatism, are the first that come to mind.

They begin with serious study, interrogation of the current model, academic discipline and then public distribution – through sophisticated broadcasting. Resources are invested and people are rewarded by learning the skills advocated within perimeters of this new truth. Those that resist are punished by being marginalised and isolated from the resources they need to survive.

As long as the majority are comfortable working within the governing system most people won’t question it. They, we, feel this is the natural way. We enjoy its benefits and become philosophical about its structural confines. We serve the model, we become the labour force, we learn the rules of the game, and we find ways to climb the ladder of influence.

By serving the ideology we make it more powerful. The system becomes the monster that we must obey. We are obliged to do what the system tells us to do, which we learn from those, who through hard work, or privilege, interpret the system’s needs. The more we serve it, the hungrier the monster becomes.

There are times when the monster demands more than labour, unquestioning obedience and unrenewable resources – it requires war, tsunami, hurricane, flood and fire. And all the while, no matter what the crisis or the threat to nations or races, or the future of the planet – it requires a numbness from its food source.

Remember the pastoral scene in (H. G. Well’s) The Time Machine, eight hundred thousand years into a seemingly leisurely future where all the young inhabitants, hypnotized by a siren, enter an underground world to feed Morlocks? Isn’t this how the masses serve power?

We might name that hungry monster Capitalism as we watch millions of jobs lost throughout the world while huge companies gain ever larger profits, and nations go bankrupt. We might call that monster Fundamentalism as culture wars are inflamed between different religions. But the monster never dies even though its name may change. And the bigger it gets, the more it eats.

What means do we have to manage this power so that it serves life? In what ways do we already negotiate with injustice, violence, change and the future?

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