We could define power by calling it the ability to actualize the ideal of freedom. As resistance to our desires decreases, power increases. With absolute freedom then comes absolute power. Without freedom, power becomes slavery.
Where liberty is idealized, power is most respected. It makes sense considering that liberty empowers those who have it, and limiting those who dont. People may speak of liberty, but liberty is a means to an end for most of us. Without power, liberty is mere anarchy. With power, liberty becomes more than just a dangerous ideal, it acquires purpose.
For the materialist, power is what makes liberty most worthwhile. Power is having the money to live as one chooses, to travel where one pleases and never to have to answer to someone else. Power is being able to say no when you mean no and yes when you mean yes. Power is saying what you think, when you think it. And power is never having to say youre sorry, unless, of course, you do feel sorry for having something that others dont have.
Since the Church That Is No Church is not in the business of acquisition, we have nothing that others may want. This, however, does not necessarily make others more powerful, although it may make them wealthier or more acquisitive. Power does not come from possessions, which, as discussed, have a tendency to limit our movements and keep us from living as freely as we would like. Power, as mentioned, comes from freedom and freedom is still an idea which can be viewed as broadly as we like.
To the materialist, power implies more than mere freedom from control, it implies the ability to assert control over the world and its inhabitants. For the materialist, power implies ownership, and its that ownership that provides proof of that power; conspicuous ownership designed to showcase that power.
Whether power comes from freedom or ownership, or perhaps a combination of both, theres no question that nation-states are the most powerful organizations in transglobal economy; although some corporations are more powerful than some nation-states. Only nation-states have the capacity to wage war on other nation-states, and, by waging war, to claim ownership of greater territory. The most cost-effective alternative to war is the exercise of economic influence through state loans and through the corporate sales.
With power comes greater power, until only those with great power can ever hope to grow more powerful still, the rest of us losing what self-reliance we once had until only the powerful can provide our wants and protect us. The state is powerful for promising security and for promising ideals of equality and liberty that, were assured, are equally available to all. The corporations are also powerful for promising happiness and fulfillment from ownership. In truth, that ownership is self-perpetuating, requiring increased ownership to provide the same satisfaction. More becomes less, until everything feels like nothing.
Power by ownership has the potential to take everything and give nothing in return. It requires more to sustain itself and gives only grudgingly. We provide the state increased power to defend itself against not only outsiders but against us as well. Like the drive for ownership, the state is a self-perpetuating entity, much like corporations.
The goal of any corporation, of course, is to increase profits, and profits empower those who receive them since profits provide for the freedom to own. Power permits the accumulation of greater power either by force or through influence. Fortunately both state and corporation prefer influence to force, but influence is far more effective than force because theres less resistance to influence. We might refuse power by force, but power by influence can be very convincing.
If money provides power, we surrender that power by purchasing the goods and services of both state and corporation. We want safety and we pay our taxes. We want to live the good life, and we become owners of possessions. With each possession, we gain in status, and yet those possessions require a commitment. They must be protected, after all. The more possessions we own, the less freedom we have to do as we please.
And so it is that the more we buy, the less money we have to devote to the business of ownership. We want, we buy, and we accumulate, reducing our disposable income while burdening ourselves with possessions.
Its the state and the corporation that increase in wealth and, consequently, gain in power. The consumer-citizen, on the other hand, loses and when money is insufficient to purchase ownership, the consumer-citizen becomes beholden to the state and the corporation. This, of course, is debt.
We can define debt, or the promise to pay, as the opposite of power. Its not collateral and its definitely not profit. Its not even ownership; rather, its the pretence of ownership at the price of freedom.
Debt is what happens when consumers value ownership over freedom; and, no, theyre not the same thing, as weve already seen. Ownership is more akin to servitude; and with ownership purchased by debt, it becomes outright slavery. The debtor has only himself to blame, however; but how can anyone willingly agree to be enslaved in the name of freedom and power? The ideas of power and freedom persist, but only the debtee can actualize that power and freedom.
Who benefits from debt? The corporations, of course. And if youre not careful, youre likely to remain in debt the rest of your life. The Church That Is No Church cant promise to get you out of debt. But what we can do is remind you not to make it any worse. Your power should be yours to keep. Why surrender it so readily, all for the passing thrill of ownership thats still someone elses ownership?
Corporations are quick to foster the illusion of ownership, the better to hone your taste for wanting more. The illusion of ownership makes people uneasy about losing what they have. They therefore value security and invariably turn to the state to provide that security; and the state benefits from a docile and compliant populace that values the illusion of security only the state can provide.
The promise of living a better life is the foundation of the transglobal economy. Those in power promise to share that power with others, and do so by selling the idea of ownership and security. People purchase these promises, often in exchange for the promise to pay at a later date, after considerable interest is paid. In short, a promise pays for a promise and nothing ever changes. Those in power remain in power and those without enjoy the illusion of ownership.
Those in power werent necessarily always in power. Some inherit power, others take it from others. The rest come into possession through a careful application of ambition, timing, perception and luck. Most importantly, its the desire for power that is most likely to achieve that power. Its not the desire for possessions. Its desire for power which, as mentioned, requires freedom. Freedom is only an idea, of course, but its as big an idea as you want it to be; and for some, freedom has no limitations.
The Church That Is No Church is not advising power over others, for theres no power in influencing or even coercing others to accommodate your self-interest. Thats a dependence on others which can be the most deceptive and limiting slavery of all. By regarding people as objects to acquire, ownership replaces power; and ownership. more than anything, displaces the idea of freedom by filling it with stuff.
Power is not achieved through fear either, although the state and corporation do this quite well. Power through fear is still an illusion, but one that holds only as long as people fail to see through the illusion to the truth that neither state nor corporation are empowered to do anything we dont wish them to do. The state and corporation serve those in power, and thats only because we support that power, or, most likely, because we do nothing to challenge it.
In a world of seeming scarcity, the acquisition of commodities, either through fear or by virtue of an agreed promise to make easy monthly payments, increases scarcity. This thereby increases the price of the desired commodity, and the power of the owner of that commodity. This also makes those without the commodity envious of those who have it, thereby giving the ownership of such things a privileged status. Power reinforces itself, and makes the commodities less affordable, purchased only at the expense of debt.
However you look at it, power is not easy to attain. Its the ultimate goal in a so-called free society, but nothing can be more difficult when those in power refuse to share it and those without power settle for the mere promise of ownership.
While resources may be scarce, freedom, however, is limitless. Fortunately, power resides not in the accumulation of resources but in freedom. The state flexes its freedom by requiring taxes, claiming property for itself and punishing those who place the state at risk. The corporation enjoys freedom by promising nothing and by also securing consumer dependence in the form of debt.
That freedom is not the exclusive preserve of the powerful. It can be accessed by every consumer-citizen, and most dont because they dont see the possibilities. The key to achieving power is self-mastery. While the mastery over others tends to enslave more than it empowers, self-mastery has no such limitations. It is what you want from it, not what others are willing to give; and what others are willing to give likely wont amount to much.
Self-mastery achieves power through independence of the customary exchange of promises we call the marketplace. By independence, we mean refusing the label of consumer-citizen and insisting on self-definition. By independence, we mean refusing to believe in empty promises of security and ownership and also refusing to make your own empty promises. By independence we mean being as self-reliant as possible, to keep others from empowering themselves at your expense.
Self-mastery is an idea, but, then again, so is power. Power depends on others. Self-mastery, however, doesnt. Power tends to restriction and debt. Self-mastery, on the other hand, means avoiding the restrictions imposed by others. Power is the illusion of control. Self-mastery, however, is as much control as is possible for an individual to possess.
Self-mastery is not defined by people or commodities. It needs no definition but your own. So define it and empower yourself as much as you know you deserve. Its time our ideas are made to serve us not enslave us.
The goals of every human being should be independence and empowerment. What were given, instead, is an illusion of self-sufficiency and power. What were given are promises which require only that we return those promises with empty promises of our own. What were given are ideas that are limiting and never generous.
The Church That is No Church declares that it is time to dispense with illusion and false promises, and that its time to assert your independence. That independence comes from defining your own worth and unfettering your own expectations; and in that independence lies the empowerment youve been wanting. It was yours all along, only youd believed you had to wait for someone to give it to you. To think, all you had to do was believe yourself worthy and give it to yourself.