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07 November 2009

Thoughts on Power


1) Power subsumes and consumes; it tries to bring the Other into its Self (though it never fully succeeds). It is an inward pulling force.

2) Systems need inward pulling forces or else they melt into the aether. Systems also need multiplicity and difference or they become like icicles - fragile, cold and dead. (Laura Huxley says, don't try to make ice cubes out of a river)

3) Power must always be kept in check through intense competition or systemic limits. Competition between multiple powers makes it impossible for any one power to grow too large. Another strategy is counter-power, that is, when a particular power grows too large, there is an automatic, culturally embedded mechanism which acts to cut it down to size. If these limitations are not in play, then the system will become too homogeneous and fragile. (Imagine an ecosystem in which a single species consumes every other species - have we seen this before?)

4) Power is not the only inward pulling force; there is also identity, solidarity, cooperation. These inward pulling forces allow the Other to exist in its own right. By focusing on the relationships between within a heterogeneous network of entities, these forces promote justice and resilience.

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