The Origin of Power is Attention and Obedience

Humans have only two things: their bodies, and time. There is nothing more important in our lives than how we manage our bodies and how we make use of our time.

People talk about power in the abstract sense, that someone has power, they’re powerful, and similar. This disguises the underlying truth, that power is simply a measurement of how many people pay attention to what you say, and whether or not people obey you when you ask or tell them to do something.

What is a powerful person? Someone that people listen to, and do as the person wishes. There’s nothing more to it than that. Someone has money? Because others listen to them, and give them money when they ask for or demand it. There’s nothing more to it. Power is simply the willingness of other persons to devote their bodies and time to be obedient to the will of another.

This is the power inherent in protest, to say that no, you will not have the obedience of my body and attention. In fact, I will instead use that body and attention to loudly express my refusal of your will, and exhort others to also refuse your will.

Every concept of power falls apart when people are not obedient, and refuse to devote their time and attention to another’s will.

“He’s the President!” But if nobody listens to him or does what he says, it doesn’t matter. The power is an illusion, and exists only when we give it to them.

“But he’s rich!” Only because people give them money, or accept their money, or do work for them. Most wealthy people are not cash-wealthy, they’re property-rich. If their employees refuse to work for them, if their business partners refuse to work with them, if their clients refuse to buy from them, if their suppliers refuse to provide for them, their wealth vanishes.

“But he has security!” By people who give their bodies and attention to protect the person, and impose that person’s will on others. If their security forces refuse orders, or if that security force is unable to compel others to their will by violence or other methods, the person has no power.

What power does a man have if you won’t listen to him, you won’t do as he says, and you won’t take his money to do as he wishes? And the more people who reject the commands of that person, the less power they have.

No one has innate power. No one has the ability to compel others to do as they wish, against the will of the others. Even in violence, the person being violated can still reject the compulsion of the other, up to and beyond death. Anyone who is powerful must continually earn that power through the obedience of others, and that obedience relies on someone paying attention to the “powerful” and then using their bodies to exact the will of the commander.

The most powerful man is someone who everyone listens to, and the most powerless man is someone who nobody listens to. Only through attention and obedience does anyone have more power than their physical body provides.

Power lies where it is believed to lie. And we can take that power away by simply rejecting any attention or obedience to someone who does not deserve to be empowered. If someone is powerful who does not deserve it, we can simply take that power away from them, and leave them screaming into the void. It’s hard to do, but also very simple – the more people who refuse to obey, the less power that person has.