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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The End of Power

You heard it here first…well, sort of. A thinker named Baudrillard once wrote of another thinker called Foucault and accused of him being obsolete. That Foucault could speak in such detail of power, extending so deeply into the social fabric as to be ‘capillary,’ only proves that power no longer matters, to ‘forget’ it, that it is dead.

What has been witnessed in Tunisia, Egypt and perhaps shortly, in Wisconsin all suggest that the standard locus of modern political power, the state or government, elected or not, is weakening. By this I mean that if power means getting another to do what they would otherwise not do, sustainably, then such power is surely dead. If there is power or influence today it is only the result of inertia, of nothing else ‘better’ for the moment until, of course, something else comes along (and it will come along, guaranteed, just ask Mubarak). 

My prediction therefore is for increased opportunism, smash and grab. Where power can no longer achieve its aims sustainably (i.e. without resort to force, or advertising, which are both expensive tools and which therefore detract from power) it shall settle for small, sudden windfalls instead. Case in point: Libya’s foreign assets totaling from 30-60 billion dollars. No sooner does one power node find itself unable to be sustained, does another then step in. It took very little time for western governments to freeze those massive assets, for the sake of the people of course…

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