November 7, 2012

Power

Bertrand Russell

Bertrand Russell (1872 – 1970):
[In ancient times a] man who took no interest in politics was frowned upon, and was called an 'idiot', which is Greek for 'given over to private interests'.
(Wisdom of the West, 1959, p 11)

It is not ultimately by violence that men are ruled, but by the wisdom of those who appeal to the common desires of mankind,
  • for happiness,
  • for inward and outward peace, and
  • for the understanding of the world in which, by no choice of our own, we [all] have to live.
(Power, 1938, p 185)

The Taming of Power


[It] must be evident that democracy … is an essential part of the solution [to the problem of the taming of power.]
[However, the] complete solution is not to be found by confining ourselves to political conditions …
[We] must take account also of economics, of propaganda, and of psychology as affected by circumstances and education.
(p 187)

[There] should be toleration of all propaganda not involving incitement to break the law …
[And] the law, should be as tolerant as is compatible with technical efficiency and the maintenance of order.
(p 189)

If there were ever an international government, it would obviously have to be a federation of national governments, with strictly defined powers.
(p 191)

[As] a result of modern technique, organisations tend to grow and to coalesce and to increase their scope …
[Hence,] the political State must either increasingly take over economic functions, or partially abdicate in favour of vast private enterprises which are sufficiently powerful to defy or control it.
If the State does not acquire supremacy over such enterprises, it becomes their puppet, and they become the real State.
(p 194)

[And, if] concentration of power in a single organisation — the State — is not to produce the evils of despotism in an extreme form, it is essential that power within that organisation should be widely distributed, and that subordinate groups should have a large measure of autonomy.
Without democracy, devolution, and immunity from extra-legal punishment, the coalescence of economic and political power is nothing but a new and appalling instrument of tyranny.
(p 198)

[Fear,] rage, and all kinds of violent collective excitement, tend to make men blindly follow a leader, who, in most cases, takes advantage of their trust to establish himself as a tyrant. …
[And where] a spirit of ferocious dogmatism prevails, any opinion with which men disagree is liable to provoke a breach of the peace.
(p 200)

Revivalist enthusiasm, such as that of the Nazis, rouses admiration in many through the energy and apparent self-abnegation that it generates.
Collective excitement, involving indifference to pain and even to death, is historically not uncommon.
Where it exists, liberty is impossible. …

To admire collective enthusiasm is reckless and irresponsible, for its fruits are fierceness, war, death, and slavery.
War is the chief promoter of despotism …
[If,] once the world were freed from the fear of war, under no matter what form of government or what economic system, it would in time find ways of curbing the ferocity of its rulers.
On the other hand, all war, but especially modern war, promotes dictatorship by causing the timid to seek a leader and by converting the bolder spirits from a society into a pack.

The risk of war causes a certain kind of mass psychology, and reciprocally this kind, where it exists, increases the risk of war, as well as the likelihood of despotism.
(p 201)

The temper required to make a success of democracy is, in the practical life, exactly what the scientific temper is in the intellectual life; it is a half-way house between scepticism and dogmatism.
Truth, it holds, is neither completely attainable nor completely unattainable …
[It] is attainable to a certain degree, and that only with difficulty. …

Wherever there is autocracy, a set of beliefs is instilled into the minds of the young before they are capable of thinking, and these beliefs are taught so constantly and so persistently that it is hoped the pupils will never afterwards be able to escape from the hypnotic effect of their early lessons.
(p 203)

To acquire immunity to eloquence is of the utmost importance to the citizens of a democracy.
Modern propagandists have learnt from advertisers, who led the way in the technique of producing irrational belief.
Education should be designed to counteract the natural credulity and the natural incredulity of the uneducated:
[The] habit
  • of believing an emphatic statement without reasons, and
  • of disbelieving an unemphatic statement even when accompanied by the best of reasons. …
There have been in the past eminent orators and writers who defended, with an appearance of great wisdom, positions which no one now holds: the reality of witchcraft, the beneficence of slavery, and so on.
(p 204)

[Wisdom] is not merely intellectual …
[Intellect] may guide and direct, but [it] does not generate the force that leads to action.
[That] force must be derived from the emotions.
Emotions that have desirable social consequences are not so easily generated as hate and rage and fear.
(p 205)


The Love of Power


The love of power is a part of normal human nature, but power-philosophies are, in a certain precise sense, insane.
The existence of the external world, both that of matter and that of other human beings, is a datum, which may be humiliating to a certain kind of pride, but can only be denied by a madman.
(p 176)

Certified lunatics are shut up because of their proneness to violence when their pretensions are questioned …
[The] uncertified variety are given the control of powerful armies, and can inflict death and disaster upon all sane men within their reach.
The success of insanity, in literature, in philosophy, and in politics, is one of the peculiarities of our age, and the successful form of insanity proceeds almost entirely from impulses towards power.
(p 177)


The Biology of Organisations


[The] sentiments which are the most important psychological sources of power [are:] (p 107)


Forms of Power


Power not based on tradition or assent I call ‘naked’ power. …
[It] is usually military, and may take the form [of internal tyranny or] foreign conquest. …
(p 27, italics added)

Conquest by force of arms has had more to do with the spread of civilisation than any other single agency.
Nevertheless, military power is, in most cases, based upon some other form of power, such as (p 28)


Organisations and the Individual


Loyalty to the State … is connected with love of home and family [—] reinforced by … love of power and fear of foreign aggression. …
No other organisation rouses anything like the loyalty aroused by the national State.
And the chief activity of the State is preparation for large-scale homicide.
It is loyalty to this organisation for death that causes men to endure the totalitarian State, and to risk the destruction of home and children and our whole civilisation rather than submit to alien rule.

Individual psychology and governmental organisation have effected a tragic synthesis from which we, and our children, must suffer if we continue powerless to find an issue except through disaster.
(p 145)

Would you like to know more?


Contents


Forms

Traditional Power
Force

Revolution

Money

Propaganda

Fanaticism

Organisations

Forms of Governments

Organisations and the Individual

Competition

Moral Codes

Power Philosophies

The Ethics of Power

The Taming of Power


Bertrand Russell (1872 – 1970)


Nobel Prize for Literature (1950).

  • Power: A New Social Analysis, George Allen & Unwin, London, 1938 / 1975.

    The Forms Of Power


    An individual may be influenced:

    1. By direct physical power over his body, eg when he is imprisoned or killed;
    2. By rewards and punishments as inducements, eg in giving or withholding employment;
    3. By influence on opinion, ie propaganda in its broadest sense. …

    (p 25)

    The most important organisations are approximately distinguishable by the kind of power that they exert.
    • The army and the police exercise coercive power over the body;
    • economic organisations, in the main, use rewards and punishments as incentives and deterrents;
    • schools, churches, and political parties [by] influencing opinion.
    [However,] every organisation uses other forms of power in addition to the one which is most characteristic. …

    [For example, t] he ultimate power of the Law is the coercive power of the State. …
    (p 26)

    [Nevertheless, its effectiveness] depends upon opinion and sentiment … more than upon the powers of the police.
    The degree of feeling in favour of Law is one of the most important characteristics of a community. …

    Traditional power has on its side the force of habit …
    [Since] it feels secure, [it] is not on the look-out for traitors, and is likely to avoid much active political tyranny …
    [On] the other hand … the injustices to which holders of power are always prone have the sanction of immemorial custom, and can therefore be more glaring than would be possible under a new form of government which [is more dependent] popular support. (p 27)


    [Traditional power may be supplanted] by a revolutionary authority commanding the willing assent of the majority or a large minority of the population. …
    [If] it is to succeed … without much use of naked power, [a revolutionary authority] requires much more vigorous and active popular support than is needed by a traditional authority.

    The distinction between traditional, revolutionary, and naked power is psychological.
    [Traditional power commands] respect which is partly due to custom.
    As this respect decays, traditional power gradually passes over into naked power. …

    [Power is] revolutionary when it depends upon a large group united by a new creed, programme, or sentiment, such as Protestantism, Communism, or desire for national independence.
    [Naked power] results merely from the powerloving impulses of individuals or groups, and wins from its subjects only submission through fear, not active cooperation.
    (p 28)

    [The] nakedness of power is a matter of degree.
    In a democratic country, the power of the government is not naked in relation to opposing political parties, but is naked in relation to a convinced anarchist …
    [The] power of the Church is naked in relation to heretics, but not in relation to orthodox sinners.

    [There is a distinction] between the power of organisations and the power of individuals. …
    Different types of organisation bring different types of individuals to the top, and so do different states of society. …

    Hereditary power has given rise to our notion of a ‘gentleman’.
    [This] has a long history, from magic properties of chiefs, through the divinity of kings, to knightly chivalry and the blueblooded aristocrat.
    (p 29, italics added)

    The qualities which are admired … are such as result from leisure and unquestioned superiority. …
    What survives in the way of admiration of the ‘gentleman’ depends upon inherited wealth …

    A very different type of character comes to the fore where power is achieved through learning or wisdom, real or supposed.

    The intellectual, as we know him, is a spiritual descendant of the priest; but the spread of education has robbed him of power. …
    (p 30)

    While the typical virtue of the gentleman is honour, that of the man who achieves power through learning is wisdom. …
    The sage is a very different type of character from the knightly warrior, and produces, where he rules, a very different society.

    [Historically, the] respect accorded to men of learning was never bestowed for genuine knowledge, but for the supposed possession of magical powers.
    Science, in giving some real acquaintance with natural processes, has destroyed the belief in magic, and therefore the respect for the intellectual. …

    The growth of large economic organisations has produced a new type of powerful individual: the ‘executive’, as he is called in America.
    (p 31)

    The typical ‘executive’ impresses others as a man of rapid decisions, quick insight into character, and iron will; he must have a firm jaw, tightly closed lips, and a habit of brief and the incisive speech.

    He must be able to inspire respect in equals, and confidence in subordinates …
    He must combine the qualities of a great general and a great diplomatist …
    [Ruthlessness] in battle [with] a capacity for skilful concession in negotiation.
    It is by such qualities that men acquire control of important economic organisations. …

    The qualities which make a successful politician in a democracy vary according to the character of the times …
    In quiet times, a man may succeed by giving an impression of solidity and sound judgement …

    In excited times, a politician needs no power of reasoning, no apprehension of impersonal facts, and no shred of wisdom.
    What he must have is the capacity of persuading the multitude that what they passionately desire is attainable, and that he, through his ruthless determination, is the man to attain it.
    (p 32)

    The most successful democratic politicians are those who succeed in abolishing democracy and becoming dictators. …
    Lenin, Mussolini, and Hitler owed their rise to democracy.
    (p 33)


    The Biology of Organisations


    We come now to … the study of the organisations through which power is exercised …
    • as organisms with a life of their own …
    • in relation to their forms of government, and
    • as affecting the lives of the individuals who compose them. …

    [An organisation can be thought of as] an organism, with a life of its own, and a tendency to growth and decay.
    Competition between organisations [can, therefore,] be viewed in a more or less Darwinian manner.
    But this analogy … must not be pressed too far …
    [We] must not [for example] assume that decay is inevitable where social organisations are concerned. …

    Purely psychological power, such as that of Plato or Galileo, may exist without any corresponding social institution.
    But as a rule even such power is not important unless it is propagated by a Church, a political party, or some analogous social organism.
    (p 107)

    An organisation is a set of people who are combined in virtue of activities directed to common ends.
    • It may be purely voluntary, like a club;
    • it may be a natural biological group, like a family or a clan;
    • it may be compulsory, like a State; or
    • it may be a complicated mixture, like a railway company. …
    Every organisation … involves some redistribution of power.
    There must be a government, which takes decisions in the name of the whole body, and has more power than the single members have …
    As men grow more civilised and technique grows more complicated, the advantages of combination become increasingly evident. …
    [Hence, more] and more, the important decisions are those of bodies of men, not of single individuals.
    And the decisions of bodies of men, unless the members are very few, have to be effected through governments. …

    Even a completely democratic government — if such a thing were possible — involves a redistribution of power.
    If every man has an equal voice in joint decisions, and if there are (say) a million members, every man has a millionth part of the power over the whole million, instead of complete power over himself and none over others …
    The larger the organisation, the greater the power of the executive.
    Thus every increase in the size of organisations increases inequalities of power by simultaneously diminishing the independence of ordinary members and enlarging the scope of the initiative of the government.
    (p 108)

    Competition for power is of two sorts:
    • between organisations, and
    • between individuals for leadership within an organisation. …
    The technique of acquiring dictatorship over what has been a democracy has been familiar since Greek times, and always involves [some] mixture of bribery, propaganda and violence. …

    There are two important respects in which organisations may differ:
    • one is size,
    • the other is … density of power [ie] the degree of control which they exert over their members.
    Owing to the love of power which is to be expected in those who acquire governmental posts, every organisation will, in the absence of any counteracting force, tend to grow both in size and in density of power. …
    • growth in size is only stopped [by either]
      • the pressure of other organisations, or
      • by the organisation … becoming world-wide [ie the elimination or absorption of all its competitors;
      and
    • growth in density [of power (intensity of organisation)] is only stopped where love of personal independence becomes overwhelmingly strong.
    (p 109)


    Size


    Every State which is sufficiently powerful aims at foreign conquest …
    [A] State conquers what it can, and stops only when it reaches a frontier at which some other State or States can exert a pressure as strong as its own. …
    Since war is a serious business, a [weak] State may, for a considerable time, retain territory which it would lose if any strong State chose to take it.
    But such considerations … only introduce frictional forces which delay the operation of crude power. …

    It might be urged that the United States is an exception to the principle that a State conquers what it can. …
    Before the Civil War, the Southern States had imperialistic tendencies, which found an outlet in the Mexican War, leading to the annexation of an immense territory.
    After the Civil War, the settlement and economic development of the West was a sufficient task to absorb the energies of even the most energetic national.
    (p 110)

    [TheSpanish-American War of 1898 gave vent to a fresh impulse of imperialism.

    [However, the] annexation of territory [creates] difficulties under the American Constitution:
    • it involves the admission of new voters, who may be thought undesirable, and …
    • it extends the area of internal free trade, and is therefore damaging to important economic interests.
    The Monroe Doctrine, which involves a virtual protectorate over Latin America, is therefore more satisfactory to the dominant interests than annexation would be.
    If political conquest were economically advantageous, [undoubtedly] it would soon take place. …

    The most urgent problem for ancient monarchs was that of mobility.
    In Egypt and Babylonia, this was facilitated by the great rivers …
    … Persian rule depended upon roads.
    (p 111)

    The Roman Empire learnt from the Persians, through the Macedonians, how to fortify the central government by means of roads.
    [In modern times, steamships,] railways, and finally aeroplanes have made it possible for governments to exercise power quickly at great distances. …

    Quite as important as the mobility of persons and goods is the rapidity in the transmission of news {and still more, the fact that messages travel faster than human beings.}
    In the war of 1812, the battle of New Orleans was fought after the conclusion of peace, though neither of the opposing armies was aware of this fact.
    At the end of the Seven Years War, British forces captured Cuba and the Philippines, but this was not known in Europe until peace had been signed.
    Until the invention of the telegraph, ambassadors in time of peace and generals in time of war had necessarily a very great latitude, since their instructions could not take account of the most recent occurrences. …

    Modern technique, not only through the rapidity in the transmission of messages, but also through railways, telegraph, motor traffic, and governmental propaganda, has made large empires much more capable of stability than they were in former times. …
    (p 113)

    A World State is now a technical possibility, and might be established by a victor in some really serious world-war, or, more probably, by the most powerful of the neutrals.


    Density or Intensity


    Since … on the average, those who achieve power love it more than most, the men who control the State may be expected … to desire an increase of its internal activities just as much as an increase of its territory.
    Since there are solid reasons for augmenting the functions of the State, there will be a predisposition, on the part of ordinary citizens, in favour of acquiescing in the wishes of the government in this respect.
    There is, however, a certain desire for independence, which will, at some point, become strong enough to prevent, at least temporarily, any further increase in the intensity of the organisation.
    (p 114)

    Love of independence is, in most cases, not an abstract dislike of external interference, but aversion from some one form of control which the government thinks desirable — prohibition, conscription, religious conformity …
    Sometimes such sentiments can be gradually overcome by propaganda and education …
    How far the internal power of the State may be gradually increased without provoking revolt it is impossible to say …
    [But] there seems no reason to doubt that, given time, it can be increased far beyond the point at present reached even in the most autocratic States.


    Churches, Political Parties and Secret Societies


    Organisations other than States are, in the main, subject to laws of the same kind as those that we have been considering, except that they cannot use force. …
    The power impulses of Churches, with some exceptions, have been limited only by lack of opportunity, and by the fear of revolt in the shape of heresy or schism.
    Nationalism, however, has greatly diminished their power in many countries, and has transferred to the State many emotions which formerly found their outlet in religion.
    (p 115)

    The diminution in the strength of religion is partly the cause and partly the effect of nationalism and the increased strength of national States. …

    Political parties were, until recently, very loose organisations …
    Throughout the nineteenth century, Members of Parliament frequently voted against their Party leaders, with the consequence that the results of divisions were far more unpredictable than they are now.
    Now[adays], especially in the Labour Party, men are pledged to orthodoxy, and failure to keep this pledge usually involves both political extinction and financial loss.
    Two kinds of loyalty are demanded:
    • to the programme, in the opinions professed; and
    • to the leaders, in the action taken from day to day.
    The programme is decided in a manner which is nominally democratic, but is very much influenced by a small number of wire-pullers.
    It is left to the leaders to decide, in their parliamentary or governmental activities, whether they shall attempt to carry out the programme …
    [If] they decide not to do so, it is the duty of their followers to support their breach of faith by their votes, while denying, in their speeches, that it has taken place.
    It is this system that has given to leaders the power to thwart their rank-and-file supporters, and to advocate reforms without having to enact them.

    But although the density of organisation in all political parties has greatly increased, it is still immeasurably less, in democratic parties, than among Communists, Fascists, and Nazis.
    These latter are a development, historically and psychologically, not of the political party, but of the secret society.

    Under an autocratic government, men who aim at any radical change are driven to secrecy, and, when they combine, fear of treachery leads to a very strict discipline.
    It is natural to demand a certain way of life, as a safeguard against spies.
    The risk, the secrecy, the present suffering, and the hope of future triumph, produce a quasireligious exaltation, and attract those to whom this mood comes easily.
    (p 116)

    Both Russian Communists and Italian Fascists were deeply impregnated with the mentality of the secret society, and the Nazis were modelled on them.
    When their several leaders acquired the government, they ruled the State in the same spirit in which they had formerly ruled their parties.
    And the correlative spirit of submission is demanded of their followers throughout the world. …


    Combination


    The tendency has been, in [economic] production, to give rise to trusts that are coextensive with some great State and its satellites, but seldom, outside the armament industry, to the formation of world-wide trusts.
    Tariffs and colonies have caused big business to be intimately associated with the State.
    Foreign conquest in the economic sphere has come to be dependent upon the military strength of the nation to which the trust in question belongs …
    [It] is no longer [conducted by] purely business competition.

    When two organisations with different but not incompatible objects coalesce, the result is something more powerful than either previous one, or even both together.
    (p 117)

    Hence, there is a natural tendency to combination [that operates] not only in the economic sphere.

    The logical outcome of this process is for the most powerful organisation, usually the State, to absorb all others.
    The same tendency would lead in time to the creation of one World-State, if the purposes of different States were not incompatible.
    If the purpose of States were the wealth, health, intelligence, or happiness of their citizens there would be no incompatibility …
    [But] since these … are thought less important than national power, the purposes of different States conflict, and cannot be furthered by amalgamation.
    Consequently a World-State is only to be expected, if at all, through the conquest of the world by some one national State, or through the universal adoption of some creed transcending nationalism …


    Purpose


    The desires of an individual can be collected into groups, each group constituting what some psychologists call a ‘sentiment’.
    There will be — to take politically important sentiments — love of home, of family, of country, love of power, love of enjoyment …
    [There] will also be sentiments of aversion, such as fear of pain, laziness, dislike of foreigners, hatred of alien creeds …
    A man’s sentiments at any given moment are a complicated product of his nature, his past history, and his present circumstances.
    Each sentiment, in so far as it is one which many men can gratify cooperatively better than singly, will, given opportunity, generate one or more organisations designed for its gratification.
    Take, for example, family sentiment.
    (p 118)

    Aristocracies are organisations of certain families to procure their own privileges at the expense of the rest of the community.
    Such organisations always involve, in a greater or less degree, sentiments of aversion: fear, hatred, contempt, and so on.
    Where such sentiments are strongly felt, they are an obstacle to the growth of organisations. …

    The Jews, except during a few centuries round about the beginning of the Christian era, have had no wish to convert the Gentiles …
    [They] have been content with the feeling of superiority which they derived from being the Chosen People.
    (p 119)


    Decline and Fall


    What makes an organisation grow old is habit based upon success …
    [When] new circumstances arise, the habit is too strong to be shaken off.
    In revolutionary times, those who have the habit of command never realise soon enough that they can no longer count upon the correlative habit of obedience. …

    Kings can no longer lead in battle because they are too sacred …
    [They] cannot be told unpalatable truths, because they would execute the teller.
    In time they become mere symbols, and [one] day people wake up to the fact that they symbolise nothing of any value.
    (p 120)

    [By contrast the] American Constitution, for example, does not invest any man or body of men with the kind of reverence that leads to ignorance and impotence, nor does it readily lend itself, except to some extent in relation to the Supreme Court, to the accumulation of habits and maxims which prevent adaptation to new circumstances.
    There is no obvious reason why an organisation of this sort should not persist indefinitely.
    (p 121)


    Organisations and the Individual


    Human beings find it profitable to live in communities, but their desires, unlike those of bees in a hive, remain largely individual …
    • [On] the one hand, government is [essential.] …
      [Without] it, only a very small percentage of the population of civilised countries could hope to survive, and that in a state of pitiable destitution.
    • [On] the other hand [it necessarily] involves inequalities of power, and those who have most power will use it to further their own desires [at the expense] of ordinary citizens.
    Thus anarchy and despotism are alike disastrous, and some compromise is necessary if human beings are to be happy. …


    Organisations Concerned with a Given Individual


    Organisations, both public and private, affect an individual in two ways.
    • There are those that are designed to facilitate the realisation of his own wishes, or of what are considered to be his interests; and
    • there are those intended to prevent him from thwarting the legitimate interests of others.
    The distinction is not clear-cut: the police exist to further the interests of honest men, as well as to thwart burglars, but their impact on the lives of burglars is much more emphatic than their contacts with those who abide by the law.
    (p 139)

    To begin with birth: the services of a doctor and/or a midwife are considered essential, and … a certain level of skill, determined by a public authority, is now exacted.
    Throughout infancy and childhood health is to some extent the concern of the State …
    If the parents fail too egregiously in their parental duty, the child can be taken from them by the public authority, and assigned to the care of foster-parents or of an institution.

    At the age of five or six, the child comes under the education authorities, and thenceforward, for a number of years, is compelled to learn those things that the government thinks every citizen should know.
    At the end of this process, in the majority of cases, most opinions and mental habits are fixed for life. …

    If the parents are religious or political, they will teach the tenets of a creed or a party.
    As the child grows older [and if] he is rather intelligent, but not very, he may be influenced by the Press.
    [He also] imbibes a moral code which is that of his age and class and nation. …
    Moral codes applicable to the whole population are mainly, though by no means wholly, the result of religious tradition, operating through religious organisations, but capable of surviving their decay for a longer or shorter time.
    (p 140)

    The employer is usually an organisation …
    The trade union and the State both control important aspects of the work …

    Marriage and duties to children again bring a man into relations with the law, and also with a moral code mainly derived from the Church.

    If he lives long enough and is sufficiently poor, he may at last enjoy an old age pension; and his death is carefully supervised by the law and the medical profession, to make sure that it has not occurred by his own wish or by anyone else’s.
    (p 141)


    Power Philosophies


    Christianity and Buddhism seek salvation, and, in their more mystical forms, union with God or with the universe.
    Empirical philosophies seek truth …
    [And] idealist philosophies, from Descartes to Kant, seek certainty …
    [Practically] all the great philosophers, down to Kant (inclusive) are concerned mainly with desires belonging to the cognitive part of human nature.

    The philosophy of Bentham and the Manchester School considers pleasure the end, and wealth the principal means.
    The power philosophies of modern times have arisen largely as a reaction against [this view of life as] a series of pleasures …

    Human life [is] a perpetual interaction between volition and uncontrollable facts …
    [The] philosopher who is guided by his power impulses seeks to minimise … the part played by facts that are not the result of our own will.
    [These are] not merely of men who glorify naked power [—] like Machiavelli and Thrasymachus in the Republic [— but those] who invent theories which veil their own love of power beneath a garment of metaphysics or ethics.
    (p 174)

    Hegelians maintain that truth does not consist in agreement with fact, but in the mutual consistency of the whole system of our beliefs.
    All your beliefs are true if, like the events in a good novel, they all fit together …

    For [some forms of] pragmatism, a belief is ‘true’ if its consequences are pleasant.
    (p 175)

    Pleasant to whom?
    Belief in Stalin is pleasant for him, but unpleasant for Trotsky.
    Belief in Hitler is pleasant for the Nazis, but unpleasant for those whom they put in concentration camps.
    Nothing but naked force can decide the question: who is to enjoy the pleasant consequences which prove that a belief is true?
    (p 178)

    [For Nietzsche] the herd have no value on their own account, but only as means to the greatness of the hero, who has a right to inflict injury upon them if thereby he can further his own self-development. …
    (p 175)


    The Ethics of Power


    The ethics of power cannot consist in distinguishing some kinds of power as legitimate and others as illegitimate.
    (p 183)

    The attempt to deal with the question by abstract general principles, praising acts of one type and blaming acts of another, is futile …
    [We] must judge the exercise of power by its effects, and [therefore, we must] first make up our minds as to what effects we desire. …

    Some objects of desire are such as can, logically, be enjoyed by all, while others must, by their very nature, be confined to a portion of the community.
    All might — with a little rational cooperation — be fairly well off, but it is impossible for all to enjoy a pleasure of being richer than their neighbours.
    All can enjoy a certain degree of self-direction, but it is impossible for all to be dictators over others.
    Perhaps in time there will be a population, in which everybody is fairly intelligent, but it is not possible for all to secure the rewards bestowed on exceptional intelligence. …

    Social cooperation is possible in regard to the good things that are capable of being universal — adequate material well-being, health, intelligence, and every form of happiness which does not consist in superiority to others.
    But the forms of happiness which consist of victory in a competition cannot be universal.
    The former kind of happiness is promoted by friendly feeling, the latter (and its correlative unhappiness) by unfriendly feeling.
    (p 184)

    The ultimate aim of those who have power (and we all have some) should be to promote social cooperation, not in one group as against another, but in the whole human race.
    The chief obstacle to this end at present is the existence of feelings of unfriendliness and desire for superiority. …

    The Great War, and its aftermath of dictatorships, has caused many to underestimate all forms of power except military and governmental force.
    This is a short-sighted and unhistorical view.
    If I had to select four men who have had more power than any others, I should mention Buddha and Christ, Pythagoras and Galileo.
    No one of these four had the support of the State until after his propaganda had achieved a great measure of success.
    No one of the four had much success in his own lifetime.
    No one of the four would have affected human life as he has done if power had been his primary object.
    No one of the four sought the kind of power that enslaves others, but the kind that sets them free —
    • in the case of the first two, by showing how to master the desires that lead to strife, and thence to defeat slavery and subjection;
    • in the case of the second two, by pointing the way towards control of natural forces.
    (p 185)

No comments:

Post a Comment