Power Broken

Posted on 09 October 2017

Dandelion with butterfly

A dandelion is growing in your garden. If it spreads, it could choke out your newly planted carrots and tomatoes. Cut off its head and leaves, it will quickly grow back. Pull at it and break its root part way and it will also grow back. The only way to get rid of the dandelion is to pull all parts of the plant from the ground and remove it. That’s what getting at the root of the problem means. If you don’t dig deeply enough, you won’t actually rid yourself of some difficulty you are facing.

I remember being at an environmental rally a number of years back. People were running around in “Fuck Abbott” t-shirts. In Australia Prime Ministers represent their party and are not voted into position by the nation. If a party is unhappy with its Prime Minister, they can replace them with a different representative without waiting for a national election.

Tony Abbott was a well hated prime minister. I told people that it was senseless to focus their energy on this one man, because if his party removed him, they would simply replace him with someone else who would continue with the same destructive policies. In the US if Donald Trump were impeached, Michael Pence would be put in his place and continue the classism, race war, and environmental devastation.

We are currently facing two foundational problems to humanity’s existence: mass poverty and environmental crisis. Like leaves on a dandelion, these problems originate from the same root cause.

We have people tearing at a leaf that represents waste, another pulling at equal access to services, still another pulling at a leaf representing police brutality. These are all important, but have we made the culture change that will turn small victories into a world in which we can all live?

The culture change that people may suspect I’m heading for is the removal of capitalism. This certainly needs to happen. It’s part of the root of our problems. Capitalism leads to excessive exploitation of natural resources. It leads to a system whereby some segment of the population will be dehumanised in order to take their money, their labor, and their lives. Capitalism relies on grinding both people and our living world into destitution.

However, capitalism is simply a very effective tool for those who are perpetuating a much worse problem. People rarely want money just to have money. They want money in order to have status. They want status in order to dominate. This is about a toxic will to power.

My will be done.

When every executive act performed by Barack Obama is being systematically undone by the current US president, that’s not about capitalist based policy, that’s about vengeance. That’s about putting someone in their place, so that they are comprehensively invalidated and crushed into dust for daring to claim any power whatsoever.

This sort of power gaming is everywhere. It has even sunk its roots into progressive movements and organisations. Positions of power attract people whose sole interest are positions of power. I’ve watched two independent left-leaning political parties go down in flames because power seekers had insinuated themselves into leading roles. I have seen environmental groups, technology groups, and more go down when sexual abuse and threats of violence became part of the dynamic.

We dominate nature. We dominate one another. Soon no one is cooperating because we are all too busy protecting ourselves, and eventually the world can no longer support us. The end.

We must all learn how to take responsibility and how to share power. We must be able to share power with people of colour, women, young, old, people of diverse genders, those of differing abilities, etc. We must be willing to take responsiblity for doing the work to improve the living conditions of much of humanity and to repair the damage we are doing to the environment. These responsibilities will include replacing capitalism with a more equitable, fair, democratic and sustainable means of distributing goods and services.

We have much to do. Remember that the reward will be great: living in a peaceful world where we can all find contentment.

Peace and kindness,


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