User Tools

Site Tools


the_anatomy_of_power

Differences

This shows you the differences between two versions of the page.

Link to this comparison view

the_anatomy_of_power [2008/11/05 00:34]
dan
the_anatomy_of_power [2008/11/08 12:00] (current)
Line 37: Line 37:
 The loss of this condign power is mourned by conservatives as a loss of motivation to submit to power. The loss of this condign power is mourned by conservatives as a loss of motivation to submit to power.
  
-> Work has always been thought peculiarly ethical for less well-paid workers in tedious employment; in the upper reaches of the social order, an imaginatively conceived use of leisure affirms a civilised tendency in those who indulge it. --page 19+> Work has always been thought peculiarly ethical for less well-paid workers in tedious employment; in the upper reaches of the social order, an imaginatively conceived use of leisure affirms a civilised tendency in those who indulge it. ---page 19
  
 The conservative'​s preference for forms of condign power that have already become unfashionable may also be put down to his "​natural business":​ "to conserve or retrieve from the past" --- including capital punishment, corporal punishment in schools, the dominance of men over women, more rights of the police to use violence, search and seizure. The conservative'​s preference for forms of condign power that have already become unfashionable may also be put down to his "​natural business":​ "to conserve or retrieve from the past" --- including capital punishment, corporal punishment in schools, the dominance of men over women, more rights of the police to use violence, search and seizure.
Line 46: Line 46:
 ===== Conditioned Power ===== ===== Conditioned Power =====
  
-> Textbook content shall promote citizenship and the understanding of the free-enterprise system, emphasise patriotism and respect for recognised authority... Textbook content shall not encourage life-styles deviating from generally accepted standards of society. --Proclamation of the Texas State Board of Education, 1982+> Textbook content shall promote citizenship and the understanding of the free-enterprise system, emphasise patriotism and respect for recognised authority... Textbook content shall not encourage life-styles deviating from generally accepted standards of society. ​---Proclamation of the Texas State Board of Education, 1982
  
 Conditioned power varies across a wide spectrum from explicit (such as education and persuasion) through to more implicit means (the culture discreetly imposes the view of the right or proper action over time). ​ The more implicit mechanisms tend to generate a more reliable bond, and are less noticeable and therefore less often seen as illegitimate. ​ For this reason, mechanisms of deploying conditioned power frequently try to paint themselves as being less explicit rather than more: Conditioned power varies across a wide spectrum from explicit (such as education and persuasion) through to more implicit means (the culture discreetly imposes the view of the right or proper action over time). ​ The more implicit mechanisms tend to generate a more reliable bond, and are less noticeable and therefore less often seen as illegitimate. ​ For this reason, mechanisms of deploying conditioned power frequently try to paint themselves as being less explicit rather than more:
Line 52: Line 52:
 > [P]artly because advertising is a wholly ostentatious attempt to capture belief, it is not a fully reputable way of winning it... while a corporation seeking the subordination of consumers to the purchase of its products launches an advertising campaign, if it wishes to subordinate citizens to its political purposes --- and escape from onerous regulation of allegedly unrighteous taxation --- it launches an educational campaign... education, as compared with advertising,​ is socially far more reputable. > [P]artly because advertising is a wholly ostentatious attempt to capture belief, it is not a fully reputable way of winning it... while a corporation seeking the subordination of consumers to the purchase of its products launches an advertising campaign, if it wishes to subordinate citizens to its political purposes --- and escape from onerous regulation of allegedly unrighteous taxation --- it launches an educational campaign... education, as compared with advertising,​ is socially far more reputable.
 > >
-> There are problems, too, with education. ​ It also can, on occasion, be too overt. ​ A politician can speak of informing his people; he cannot, without seeming to demean their intelligence,​ say they need education. ​ A President can say in private that this or that is a matter on which people need instruction. ​ When he goes on television, it is to tell them of what they as citizens should be aware. ​ Press, television and radio... are thought to have a large educational function. ​ This they do not usually avow; their more tactful purpose is simply to inform their readers, viewers, or listeners. --page 30-31+> There are problems, too, with education. ​ It also can, on occasion, be too overt. ​ A politician can speak of informing his people; he cannot, without seeming to demean their intelligence,​ say they need education. ​ A President can say in private that this or that is a matter on which people need instruction. ​ When he goes on television, it is to tell them of what they as citizens should be aware. ​ Press, television and radio... are thought to have a large educational function. ​ This they do not usually avow; their more tactful purpose is simply to inform their readers, viewers, or listeners. ​---page 30-31
  
 Advertising is clearly an exercise of power, and no less so because of the commitment and submission that it wins is routinely capricious and shallow. ​ Nonetheless it represents one of the greatest human efforts to exercise power in modern society. Advertising is clearly an exercise of power, and no less so because of the commitment and submission that it wins is routinely capricious and shallow. ​ Nonetheless it represents one of the greatest human efforts to exercise power in modern society.
  
-> Once belief is won, whether by explicit or implicit conditioning,​ the resulting subordination to the will of others is thought to be the product of the individual'​s own moral or social sense --- his or her feeling as to what is right or good. --page 35+> Once belief is won, whether by explicit or implicit conditioning,​ the resulting subordination to the will of others is thought to be the product of the individual'​s own moral or social sense --- his or her feeling as to what is right or good. ---page 35
  
 In a real situation, all forms of power are normally involved to some degree. In a real situation, all forms of power are normally involved to some degree.
Line 70: Line 70:
 However, in modern times personality is most associated with conditioned power --- the ability to win submission by persuasion. However, in modern times personality is most associated with conditioned power --- the ability to win submission by persuasion.
  
-> There are other personal qualities giving access to conditioned power that have no close relationship either to intelligence or expression. ​ A supreme certainty in the individual'​s own belief and assertion is of prime importance for winning belief and submission in others, and this personal trait is not necessarily related to intelligence. ​ It can, indeed, be the reverse. ​ It is a basic characteristic of economic, foreign, and military policy, and much business policy, that the connection between any particular action and its result is uncertain at best and quite frequently unknown. ​ No one can say for sure what the ultimate consequence of a particular increase in interest rates, a proposed elaborately planned military or war initiative, will be.  Or what the return will be from some business endeavour. ​ Power in these cases --- submission to will --- regularly passes to those who are able to assert the unknown with the greatest conviction. ​ Power accrues not to the individual who knows; it goes to the one who, often out of obtuseness, believes that he knows and who can persuade others to that belief. --page 41+> There are other personal qualities giving access to conditioned power that have no close relationship either to intelligence or expression. ​ A supreme certainty in the individual'​s own belief and assertion is of prime importance for winning belief and submission in others, and this personal trait is not necessarily related to intelligence. ​ It can, indeed, be the reverse. ​ It is a basic characteristic of economic, foreign, and military policy, and much business policy, that the connection between any particular action and its result is uncertain at best and quite frequently unknown. ​ No one can say for sure what the ultimate consequence of a particular increase in interest rates, a proposed elaborately planned military or war initiative, will be.  Or what the return will be from some business endeavour. ​ Power in these cases --- submission to will --- regularly passes to those who are able to assert the unknown with the greatest conviction. ​ Power accrues not to the individual who knows; it goes to the one who, often out of obtuseness, believes that he knows and who can persuade others to that belief. ​---page 41
  
 The importance of personality as a source of power is commonly overestimated. ​ There are a couple of reasons for this: The importance of personality as a source of power is commonly overestimated. ​ There are a couple of reasons for this:
Line 104: Line 104:
 The state plays a special role in the regulation, control and protection of the exercise of power --- this is its principle role. The state plays a special role in the regulation, control and protection of the exercise of power --- this is its principle role.
  
-Since the state has a monopoly on the use of condign power,​(("​...with some residual use on wives and children."​ --p82.)) those wishing to exercise condign power are forced to appeal to the state to do so on their behalf. ​ The state, in turn, is closely limited in its own use of condign power, to the extent that the precision and effectiveness of the regulation of the use of condign power is perhaps the clearest measure of the level of civilisation of a community.+Since the state has a monopoly on the use of condign power,​(("​...with some residual use on wives and children." ​---p82.)) those wishing to exercise condign power are forced to appeal to the state to do so on their behalf. ​ The state, in turn, is closely limited in its own use of condign power, to the extent that the precision and effectiveness of the regulation of the use of condign power is perhaps the clearest measure of the level of civilisation of a community.
  
 Compensatory power is also regulated by the state, but it is also widely protected by it.  Only relatively few uses of compensatory power are outlawed, such as the less subtle forms of bribery. ​ In most other areas the right to use compensatory power is protected by law and custom. Compensatory power is also regulated by the state, but it is also widely protected by it.  Only relatively few uses of compensatory power are outlawed, such as the less subtle forms of bribery. ​ In most other areas the right to use compensatory power is protected by law and custom.
Line 110: Line 110:
 Conditioned power is remarkable in the extent to which it is actively protected by the state across so much of the world. Conditioned power is remarkable in the extent to which it is actively protected by the state across so much of the world.
  
-> [T]he constitutional guarantee of the right of free speech owes much to the accident of time.  It was enacted before the use of conditioned power became commonplace and central to the exercise of power --- at a time when such use was a privilege of a small minority in the polity. ​ Were the First Amendment being considered today, there would be fervent debate, and it would be passed only after notable exceptions --- subversive political propaganda, pornography,​ encouragement of homosexuality or abortion --- were carefully excluded from its protection. ​ Or such would be the effort. --page 85-86+> [T]he constitutional guarantee of the right of free speech owes much to the accident of time.  It was enacted before the use of conditioned power became commonplace and central to the exercise of power --- at a time when such use was a privilege of a small minority in the polity. ​ Were the First Amendment being considered today, there would be fervent debate, and it would be passed only after notable exceptions --- subversive political propaganda, pornography,​ encouragement of homosexuality or abortion --- were carefully excluded from its protection. ​ Or such would be the effort. ​---page 85-86
  
 Generally, there is no attempt by the state to limit the use of personality,​ although there have been historical exceptions (such as the British gaoling of Gandhi). Generally, there is no attempt by the state to limit the use of personality,​ although there have been historical exceptions (such as the British gaoling of Gandhi).
  
-The regulation of property is perhaps the key ideological division in the world: socialists believe that it is such a great source of power that most of it must be kept in public hands, whereas in nonsocialist doctrine property is such a great source of power that it cannot wisely be concentrated in the hands of government.(("​On some occasion bringing a convergence between the conservative defence of property as a personal right and the liberal (or left) assertion of its importance as a source of power. ​ Called some years ago before a deeply conservative committee of the Texas legislature to explain and defend his ideas, the late Robert Montgomery of the University of Texas, a brilliant scholar of seriously suspect views, was asked sternly if he believed in private property. ​ He replied, 'I do, sir, and I believe in it so strongly that I want everyone in Texas to have some.'"​ --p87.))+The regulation of property is perhaps the key ideological division in the world: socialists believe that it is such a great source of power that most of it must be kept in public hands, whereas in nonsocialist doctrine property is such a great source of power that it cannot wisely be concentrated in the hands of government.(("​On some occasion bringing a convergence between the conservative defence of property as a personal right and the liberal (or left) assertion of its importance as a source of power. ​ Called some years ago before a deeply conservative committee of the Texas legislature to explain and defend his ideas, the late Robert Montgomery of the University of Texas, a brilliant scholar of seriously suspect views, was asked sternly if he believed in private property. ​ He replied, 'I do, sir, and I believe in it so strongly that I want everyone in Texas to have some.'" ​---p87.))
  
 Organisation is subject to protection (the right of free assembly) by the state, just as the results of this organisation are often viewed with grave alarm (such as in the case of the Ku Klux Klan or Communist Party). ​ Subversive organisations are considered a much graver threat than subversive individuals. ​ On balance, the state protects organisation to a far greater extent than it regulates them. Organisation is subject to protection (the right of free assembly) by the state, just as the results of this organisation are often viewed with grave alarm (such as in the case of the Ku Klux Klan or Communist Party). ​ Subversive organisations are considered a much graver threat than subversive individuals. ​ On balance, the state protects organisation to a far greater extent than it regulates them.
Line 121: Line 121:
  
 One means of presenting history is as the waxing and waning of sources and types of power and the contours of the interplay between different powers. One means of presenting history is as the waxing and waning of sources and types of power and the contours of the interplay between different powers.
 +
  
 ===== The Precapitalist World ===== ===== The Precapitalist World =====
Line 126: Line 127:
 This history begins around 1500, just after the first exploratory voyages to the Americas. ​ The two main sources of power in Europe were the Church and network of feudal lords. This history begins around 1500, just after the first exploratory voyages to the Americas. ​ The two main sources of power in Europe were the Church and network of feudal lords.
  
-The Church'​s primary mechanism of power was conditioning,​ both explicit (through regular religious services and sermons) and implicit (the acceptance of the Church'​s role and doctrines were accepted implicitly by the entire community, an unconscious status quo).  But the Church had other sources of power too: the Church owned extensive lands which generated the income that sustained a considerable organisation (combining property, compensatory and organisational power). ​ Pope Urban II was careful to urge the spoils of land which would be won when urging the First Crusade in 1095.  This was not the Church'​s only claim to condign power --- more usual applications ranged from the burning of heretics to the Inquisition. ​ And personality was also important --- both of Christ and of God --- personalities which both managed to overcome the usual weakness of personality-derived power, its mortality.+The Church'​s primary mechanism of power was conditioning,​ both explicit (through regular religious services and sermons) and implicit (the acceptance of the Church'​s role and doctrines were accepted implicitly by the entire community, an unconscious status quo).  But the Church had other sources of power too: the Church owned extensive lands which generated the income that sustained a considerable organisation (combining property, compensatory and organisational power). ​ Pope Urban II was aware of the spoils of land which would be won when urging the First Crusade in 1095.  This was not the Church'​s only claim to condign power --- more usual applications ranged from the burning of heretics to the Inquisition. ​ And personality was also important --- both of Christ and of God --- personalities which managed to overcome the usual weakness of personality-derived power, its mortality.
  
 A feudal lord's power was more predominantly property in source and condign in mechanism, although he also provided compensation to those who worked his land and benefited from a significant implicit conditioning affirming his right to rule.  Personality was certainly of great importance in the more successful secular figures, those who were able to increase the stock of property that they commanded. A feudal lord's power was more predominantly property in source and condign in mechanism, although he also provided compensation to those who worked his land and benefited from a significant implicit conditioning affirming his right to rule.  Personality was certainly of great importance in the more successful secular figures, those who were able to increase the stock of property that they commanded.
 +
  
 ===== The Emergence of Capitalism ===== ===== The Emergence of Capitalism =====
Line 136: Line 138:
 In the principle trading centres (Amsterdam, Bruges, Venice) the interests of merchant capitalism and that of the state were essentially one and the same; in other areas there was an ongoing conflict between feudal and mercantilist interests. ​ Merchants also derived their power principally from property, although in their case this property was embodied in inventory, transport infrastructure (particularly shipping) and specie rather than the land of the feudal system. ​ Their principal source of power was compensatory,​ which they used to command the labour of craftsmen and artisans and those they needed to manage the navigation of their shipping. ​ Personality was far less important than in the feudal case.  Organisation became increasingly important as the period progressed, as chartered companies came to be necessary to manage long-distance transit, and gradually to increase in size and power. ​ Chartered companies, as they became more substantial,​ gained access to increasing quantities of condign power, to protect their own shipping and dominate areas of land important to the pursuit of their commerce. ​ Companies such as the East India and Hudson Bay companies thereby came to closely resemble national governments --- and indeed the areas they commanded and the organisation that commanded them gradually morphed into nation-states. ​ Such organisations commanded formidable property but rarely any significant personality. In the principle trading centres (Amsterdam, Bruges, Venice) the interests of merchant capitalism and that of the state were essentially one and the same; in other areas there was an ongoing conflict between feudal and mercantilist interests. ​ Merchants also derived their power principally from property, although in their case this property was embodied in inventory, transport infrastructure (particularly shipping) and specie rather than the land of the feudal system. ​ Their principal source of power was compensatory,​ which they used to command the labour of craftsmen and artisans and those they needed to manage the navigation of their shipping. ​ Personality was far less important than in the feudal case.  Organisation became increasingly important as the period progressed, as chartered companies came to be necessary to manage long-distance transit, and gradually to increase in size and power. ​ Chartered companies, as they became more substantial,​ gained access to increasing quantities of condign power, to protect their own shipping and dominate areas of land important to the pursuit of their commerce. ​ Companies such as the East India and Hudson Bay companies thereby came to closely resemble national governments --- and indeed the areas they commanded and the organisation that commanded them gradually morphed into nation-states. ​ Such organisations commanded formidable property but rarely any significant personality.
  
-> It was their singular advantage that, almost everywhere, they moved into what rather precisely could be called a power vacuum. ​ The term, though rarely ​ever defined in modern usage, aptly describes a community or territory where all the sources of power --- effective personality,​ property, organisation --- are feeble or absent, as also, in consequence,​ are all the instruments of its enforcement. ​ This accurately describes the East Indies and the subarctic reaches of North America as they were invaded by the trading companies ​ In northern America there was, in these terms, nearly nothing; in the East Indies there were occasional personalities,​ some property, and some slight organisation. ​ But these, and especially the organisation,​ were weak compared with those possessed by the Europeans, and so were the resulting instruments of enforcement. --page 105-6+> It was their singular advantage that, almost everywhere, they moved into what rather precisely could be called a power vacuum. ​ The term, though rarely ​if ever defined in modern usage, aptly describes a community or territory where all the sources of power --- effective personality,​ property, organisation --- are feeble or absent, as also, in consequence,​ are all the instruments of its enforcement. ​ This accurately describes the East Indies and the subarctic reaches of North America as they were invaded by the trading companies In northern America there was, in these terms, nearly nothing; in the East Indies there were occasional personalities,​ some property, and some slight organisation. ​ But these, and especially the organisation,​ were weak compared with those possessed by the Europeans, and so were the resulting instruments of enforcement. ​---page 105-6
  
 With the Industrial Revolution a further shift came with the waxing of the industrialists. ​ Here, yet again, the source of power was property but, yet again, of a different sort than that possessed by the existing classes. ​ The industrialists'​ property existed in the form of the factories and machinery with which they worked. ​ History enjoys focus on the personalities involved, and though under entrepreneurial capitalism these were significant,​ it is easy to exaggerate their influence. ​ The organisational form, too, of the industrial firm represented a significant advance and new source of power. ​ In form, the use of condign power continued to decline although it was still available from the state where necessary --- but it was far less important than compensatory power. ​ Conditioning played a similar role as it had for the mercantilists. ​ Although neither managed to convince the general population of much, both managed to convince the relevant legislature that their interest was broadly the same as the national interest. ​ The mercantilists managed to convince governments of the value of protection, trading monopolies and to support the chartered companies --- in turn, the industrialists would convince their governments of the unique benefits of free trade. With the Industrial Revolution a further shift came with the waxing of the industrialists. ​ Here, yet again, the source of power was property but, yet again, of a different sort than that possessed by the existing classes. ​ The industrialists'​ property existed in the form of the factories and machinery with which they worked. ​ History enjoys focus on the personalities involved, and though under entrepreneurial capitalism these were significant,​ it is easy to exaggerate their influence. ​ The organisational form, too, of the industrial firm represented a significant advance and new source of power. ​ In form, the use of condign power continued to decline although it was still available from the state where necessary --- but it was far less important than compensatory power. ​ Conditioning played a similar role as it had for the mercantilists. ​ Although neither managed to convince the general population of much, both managed to convince the relevant legislature that their interest was broadly the same as the national interest. ​ The mercantilists managed to convince governments of the value of protection, trading monopolies and to support the chartered companies --- in turn, the industrialists would convince their governments of the unique benefits of free trade.
Line 144: Line 146:
 With the rise of industrialism came ever greater organisational power secured by compensation,​ but the rise of conditioned power was also very important. ​ To a large extent, the state fell under the thrall of the conditioning of industrial capitalism. With the rise of industrialism came ever greater organisational power secured by compensation,​ but the rise of conditioned power was also very important. ​ To a large extent, the state fell under the thrall of the conditioning of industrial capitalism.
  
-This trend began with Adam Smith, whose work primarily attacked the waning mercantilists in favour of emerging industrialism. ​ He did so on the basis that, provided collusion could be prevented, the support of industrialism through free-trade policy would bring the greatest benefit to the consumer. ​ Whilst subjected to the market, the industrialist was bound to act for the public'​s benefit, no matter how selfish his private aims.((Smith recognised that they would never voluntarily act in the public good: "I have never known much good done by those who affected to trade for the public good." --Wealth of Nations, Book I))  No other idea could possibly serve so widely and usefully in the defence of capitalism than that the market forced the capitalist to do what was best for the consumer --- and this usefulness has been reflected in the incredible longevity of Smith'​s ideas, or a selective and slightly distorted scattering of them, perhaps.+This trend began with Adam Smith, whose work primarily attacked the waning mercantilists in favour of emerging industrialism. ​ He did so on the basis that, provided collusion could be prevented, the support of industrialism through free-trade policy would bring the greatest benefit to the consumer. ​ Whilst subjected to the market, the industrialist was bound to act for the public'​s benefit, no matter how selfish his private aims.((Smith recognised that they would never voluntarily act in the public good: "I have never known much good done by those who affected to trade for the public good." ​---Wealth of Nations, Book I))  No other idea could possibly serve so widely and usefully in the defence of capitalism than that the market forced the capitalist to do what was best for the consumer --- and this usefulness has been reflected in the incredible longevity of Smith'​s ideas, or a selective and slightly distorted scattering of them, perhaps.
  
 In the hundred years following the Wealth of Nations, personality both rose and fell as a source of power --- initially personalities such as Vanderbilt, Rockefeller and Harriman replaced anonymous merchants, but ultimately their power would gradually diffuse into the organisation that replaced them.  Compensatory power stemming from their vast wealth remained the dominant mechanism, although occasional use of the condign power of the state or company police. ​ However, the rest of high capitalism to conditioning continued unabated and undiminished. ​ Britain, until modern times "​remained pre-eminent"​ as a source of this conditioning. ​ A summary of notable contributions:​ In the hundred years following the Wealth of Nations, personality both rose and fell as a source of power --- initially personalities such as Vanderbilt, Rockefeller and Harriman replaced anonymous merchants, but ultimately their power would gradually diffuse into the organisation that replaced them.  Compensatory power stemming from their vast wealth remained the dominant mechanism, although occasional use of the condign power of the state or company police. ​ However, the rest of high capitalism to conditioning continued unabated and undiminished. ​ Britain, until modern times "​remained pre-eminent"​ as a source of this conditioning. ​ A summary of notable contributions:​
Line 156: Line 158:
 Throughout, celebration of the market continued. Throughout, celebration of the market continued.
  
-> Prices were set by the market. ​ Wages were set by the market. ​ So were the prices of all the other requisites of production. ​ Production decisions were in response to the market. ​ On none of these matters did the industrialist have power; hence there could be no legitimate concern as to its exercise. ​ Only those insufficiently instructed in the nature of the market could believe his power to exist. ​ Here was the supreme conditioning achievement of what has come to be called classical economics. ​ It guided the power of the industrialist,​ however against his intention, to good social ends; it also denied the existence of such power. ​ And it taught this to all who sought to understand the workings of the system. ​ This instruction,​ needless to say, still persists. ​ Nothing is so important to the defence of the modern corporation as the argument that its power does not exist...and nothing is more serviceable than the resulting conditioning of the young to that belief. --page 119-20+> Prices were set by the market. ​ Wages were set by the market. ​ So were the prices of all the other requisites of production. ​ Production decisions were in response to the market. ​ On none of these matters did the industrialist have power; hence there could be no legitimate concern as to its exercise. ​ Only those insufficiently instructed in the nature of the market could believe his power to exist. ​ Here was the supreme conditioning achievement of what has come to be called classical economics. ​ It guided the power of the industrialist,​ however against his intention, to good social ends; it also denied the existence of such power. ​ And it taught this to all who sought to understand the workings of the system. ​ This instruction,​ needless to say, still persists. ​ Nothing is so important to the defence of the modern corporation as the argument that its power does not exist...and nothing is more serviceable than the resulting conditioning of the young to that belief. ​---page 119-20
  
 ===== The Response ===== ===== The Response =====
Line 166: Line 168:
 But there was a countervailing response in the United States, although it largely accepted the basic assumptions of the benign effect of free trade and thus focused on the evils of monopoly, resulting in the anti-trust laws.  They is no evidence that they ever had the slightest effect, other than providing employment to lawyers and the mildest irritation to capitalists. But there was a countervailing response in the United States, although it largely accepted the basic assumptions of the benign effect of free trade and thus focused on the evils of monopoly, resulting in the anti-trust laws.  They is no evidence that they ever had the slightest effect, other than providing employment to lawyers and the mildest irritation to capitalists.
  
-> [T]he emotion and effort of those who reacted to industrial power were channelled harmlessly into demands and hopes that the antitrust laws might be enforced --- a hope that, transcending all experience, is not yet quite dead.  And even those most opposed to industrial power could continue to instruct the young in the desirability of market competition and in the prospect that one day it would be achieved. ​ Had industrial capitalism designed the conditioned response to its own power, it could scarcely have done better. --page 127+> [T]he emotion and effort of those who reacted to industrial power were channelled harmlessly into demands and hopes that the antitrust laws might be enforced --- a hope that, transcending all experience, is not yet quite dead.  And even those most opposed to industrial power could continue to instruct the young in the desirability of market competition and in the prospect that one day it would be achieved. ​ Had industrial capitalism designed the conditioned response to its own power, it could scarcely have done better. ​---page 127
  
 The became largely the instrument of the industrialists although Marx's description of it as the executive committee of the governing classes is an exaggeration. ​ Other interests were represented and protected --- farmers, small businesses, religious groups and in some countries the landed classes. ​ Not only that, but little by little the state developed power to act on its own behalf as an independent agent. The became largely the instrument of the industrialists although Marx's description of it as the executive committee of the governing classes is an exaggeration. ​ Other interests were represented and protected --- farmers, small businesses, religious groups and in some countries the landed classes. ​ Not only that, but little by little the state developed power to act on its own behalf as an independent agent.
 +
  
  
Line 186: Line 189:
  
 > Hundreds of thousands of otherwise intelligent young people have their thoughts guided innocuously away from the exercise of industrial power. ​ We have seen that power is served in many ways and that no service is more useful than the cultivation of the belief that it does not exist... > Hundreds of thousands of otherwise intelligent young people have their thoughts guided innocuously away from the exercise of industrial power. ​ We have seen that power is served in many ways and that no service is more useful than the cultivation of the belief that it does not exist...
->+
-> But social conditioning,​ however deep and pervasive, cannot collide too obviously with reality. ​ The presence and power of the modern great corporations... are hidden only with increasing difficulty behind the market ​facade.  In consequence,​ a reference to neoclassical economics, the conditioning medium of instruction,​ has come to have a vaguely pejorative sound; something no longer quite real is implied. ​ Once economic instruction is perceived not as the reality but as the guidance away from the reality, its conditioning value is, not surprisingly,​ impaired... +> But social conditioning,​ however deep and pervasive, cannot collide too obviously with reality. ​ The presence and power of the modern great corporations... are hidden only with increasing difficulty behind the market ​façade.  In consequence,​ a reference to neoclassical economics, the conditioning medium of instruction,​ has come to have a vaguely pejorative sound; something no longer quite real is implied. ​ Once economic instruction is perceived not as the reality but as the guidance away from the reality, its conditioning value is, not surprisingly,​ impaired... 
->+
-> [A]n important effect of the social conditioning of corporate propaganda, as significantly it is often called, is to cultivate disbelief. ​ There must be some misuse of power when those who so obviously possess it are so at pains to deny having it.  In the industrial countries it is now a minor mark of sophistication that one does not believe what one reads or hears in the public-interest advertising of the great corporation. --page 141-2+> [A]n important effect of the social conditioning of corporate propaganda, as significantly it is often called, is to cultivate disbelief. ​ There must be some misuse of power when those who so obviously possess it are so at pains to deny having it.  In the industrial countries it is now a minor mark of sophistication that one does not believe what one reads or hears in the public-interest advertising of the great corporation. ​---page 141-2 
  
 ===== Organisation and the State ===== ===== Organisation and the State =====
Line 200: Line 204:
 Standing between the two is often an intermediary process --- in the US the President and his staff. ​ Although this intermediary often appears to have a large amount of power, the reality can often be that this is an exaggeration:​ what appears to be an exercise of power is often a mediation between autonomous and exterior claimants on power. Standing between the two is often an intermediary process --- in the US the President and his staff. ​ Although this intermediary often appears to have a large amount of power, the reality can often be that this is an exaggeration:​ what appears to be an exercise of power is often a mediation between autonomous and exterior claimants on power.
  
-> A similar design [to the myth that corporations are subject to the ultimate authority of the market] operates regarding the power of the government. ​ Nothing better conceals the exercise of power in and through the state than the political litany, undertaken virtually as a form of religious office, that all men and women come equally in their sovereignty to the polling place and are subject to the result in accordance with the will of the majority. ​ This the young are told; this the truly good citizen accepts. ​ And this the daily practice openly, visibly, comprehensively denies. --page 147+> A similar design [to the myth that corporations are subject to the ultimate authority of the market] operates regarding the power of the government. ​ Nothing better conceals the exercise of power in and through the state than the political litany, undertaken virtually as a form of religious office, that all men and women come equally in their sovereignty to the polling place and are subject to the result in accordance with the will of the majority. ​ This the young are told; this the truly good citizen accepts. ​ And this the daily practice openly, visibly, comprehensively denies. ​---page 147
  
-The dominant instrument in controlling government is the conditioned power that organisation possesses over both the voter and the legislature. ​ This power is certainly less visible than the compensatory power of previous times, and indeed less absolute --- but still of great importance and intensity. ​ Predictably,​ it invites a response from those resisting it --- each special interest group has an opposing group stressing the counterpoint. ​ And because conditioned power of this type is so readily available it is used without end, and the result is a cacophonic ​blur of conflicting messages+The dominant instrument in controlling government is the conditioned power that organisation possesses over both the voter and the legislature. ​ This power is certainly less visible than the compensatory power of previous times, and indeed less absolute --- but still of great importance and intensity. ​ Predictably,​ it invites a response from those resisting it --- each special interest group has an opposing group stressing the counterpoint. ​ And because conditioned power of this type is so readily available it is used without end, and the result is a cacophonous ​blur of conflicting messages:
  
-> ...voters and legislators develop an immunity to what the mind cannot conceivably absorb. ​ That so much exercise of conditioned power has little or no practical effect --- wins slight or no submission --- dos not, however, lessen its use. --page 149+> ...voters and legislators develop an immunity to what the mind cannot conceivably absorb. ​ That so much exercise of conditioned power has little or no practical effect --- wins slight or no submission --- does not, however, lessen its use. ---page 149
  
 Very often, the ultimate result is a confusion between a resort to an instrument of power and the exercise of power itself. ​ An attempt to condition is mistaken for a successful exercise of conditioning. Very often, the ultimate result is a confusion between a resort to an instrument of power and the exercise of power itself. ​ An attempt to condition is mistaken for a successful exercise of conditioning.
Line 210: Line 214:
 Also important are the principles enunciated earlier: an organisation seeking submission will be strong if its members submit completely and if its focus is narrow. ​ The NRA, for instance, has a very simple objective and large conformity of its membership to that objective. Also important are the principles enunciated earlier: an organisation seeking submission will be strong if its members submit completely and if its focus is narrow. ​ The NRA, for instance, has a very simple objective and large conformity of its membership to that objective.
  
-> It may be noted in this connection that the power of conservative organisations in the exterior processes of government is likely always to be greater in proportion to the number of their participants than that of liberal organisations. ​ Thus organisations opposing women'​s rights and abortion, though repeatedly shown to be less numerous in the electorate as a whole, have, at least in the past, proved themselves to be stronger in legislative effect. ​ The reason is the greater conservative instinct for discipline. ​ The conservative mood accepts the established beliefs, the social conditioning;​ the liberal instinct is to question, challenge, and debate. --page 150-1+> It may be noted in this connection that the power of conservative organisations in the exterior processes of government is likely always to be greater in proportion to the number of their participants than that of liberal organisations. ​ Thus organisations opposing women'​s rights and abortion, though repeatedly shown to be less numerous in the electorate as a whole, have, at least in the past, proved themselves to be stronger in legislative effect. ​ The reason is the greater conservative instinct for discipline. ​ The conservative mood accepts the established beliefs, the social conditioning;​ the liberal instinct is to question, challenge, and debate. ​---page 150-1
  
 The autonomous processes of government have access to all sources and mechanisms of power although conditioned power stemming from organisation is, again, of primary importance. ​ Implicit conditioning (a general acceptance of the purposes of the particular agency) is supported by a continual flow of information. ​ Those agencies with the capacity to manage information (including the resort to condign power for the release of inconvenient information) and who have a high degree of internal submission --- particularly the Department of Defence, CIA, Department of State and NSC --- naturally have particular power advantages relative to other agencies. The autonomous processes of government have access to all sources and mechanisms of power although conditioned power stemming from organisation is, again, of primary importance. ​ Implicit conditioning (a general acceptance of the purposes of the particular agency) is supported by a continual flow of information. ​ Those agencies with the capacity to manage information (including the resort to condign power for the release of inconvenient information) and who have a high degree of internal submission --- particularly the Department of Defence, CIA, Department of State and NSC --- naturally have particular power advantages relative to other agencies.
  
-> The public agency that extracts from its members a large measure of submission to its purposes includes in that submission the surrender of their freedom of expression. ​ This is one vital aspect of a more general submission, which, in the extreme but by no means exceptional case, means the abandonment of independent thought to whatever reflects the goals of the organisation. ​ It is then that one is known as a good soldier, a good public employee, a good "​agency man", a good foreign service officer, a person who "​really believes"​ in what he is doing. --page 153+> The public agency that extracts from its members a large measure of submission to its purposes includes in that submission the surrender of their freedom of expression. ​ This is one vital aspect of a more general submission, which, in the extreme but by no means exceptional case, means the abandonment of independent thought to whatever reflects the goals of the organisation. ​ It is then that one is known as a good soldier, a good public employee, a good "​agency man", a good foreign service officer, a person who "​really believes"​ in what he is doing. ​---page 153
  
 The power of autonomous processes is greatly enhanced by the size and complexity of the modern tasks of state --- this has enabled a further conditioned power to be exercised whereby there is general acceptance that such tasks 'must be left to the experts',​ being too complex for the layman to understand. ​ These perceptions change with time, however --- particularly the degree to which foreign policy was so regarded as an expert field has reduced over time.  Autonomous processes'​ power is augmented when they operate in tandem with organisations in the exterior processes (eg Department of Defence with weapons firms) but where they are in opposition to exterior processes the familiar dialectic develops. The power of autonomous processes is greatly enhanced by the size and complexity of the modern tasks of state --- this has enabled a further conditioned power to be exercised whereby there is general acceptance that such tasks 'must be left to the experts',​ being too complex for the layman to understand. ​ These perceptions change with time, however --- particularly the degree to which foreign policy was so regarded as an expert field has reduced over time.  Autonomous processes'​ power is augmented when they operate in tandem with organisations in the exterior processes (eg Department of Defence with weapons firms) but where they are in opposition to exterior processes the familiar dialectic develops.
 +
 +
  
 ===== The Military Power ===== ===== The Military Power =====
Line 222: Line 228:
 The military'​s sources of power are primarily organisation and property --- personality has played a significant role in the past, but has been of marginal importance since World War II.  It has unrivalled access to all three mechanisms of power: a unique claim to the internal use of condign power, property resources which "far exceed any similar source of power" and extremely deep conditioning both internally (an environment in which individual thought is perceived to be not merely heretical but abnormal) and externally (based on the implicit conditioning of every truly good citizen to be a '​patriot'​). ​ Discipline is less strong in the external component of the military power --- the nexus of weapons and ordinance firms --- and yet it is extremely rare to hear a member of that nexus express dissent against military purposes. The military'​s sources of power are primarily organisation and property --- personality has played a significant role in the past, but has been of marginal importance since World War II.  It has unrivalled access to all three mechanisms of power: a unique claim to the internal use of condign power, property resources which "far exceed any similar source of power" and extremely deep conditioning both internally (an environment in which individual thought is perceived to be not merely heretical but abnormal) and externally (based on the implicit conditioning of every truly good citizen to be a '​patriot'​). ​ Discipline is less strong in the external component of the military power --- the nexus of weapons and ordinance firms --- and yet it is extremely rare to hear a member of that nexus express dissent against military purposes.
  
-A specific enemy is a vital need of the conditioned power of the military. ​ It is also very important for the appropriation of property --- military expenditure in the US has closely followed the nature of diplomatic relations with the USSR.  Control of information is a similarly important means of maintaining conditioned power --- military organisation is uniquely able to prevent information which might undermine its conditioned influence from reaching a wider audience. ​ Even without such constraints,​ the mere technical complexity (real or imagined) is leveraged as a barrier sustaining conditioned power --- it is strongly argued that those outside of the military establishment do not have the expertise to undermine military declarations of fact.  The extent of this power may be of supreme in the case of the nuclear arms community:+A specific enemy is a vital need of the conditioned power of the military. ​ It is also very important for the appropriation of property --- military expenditure in the US has closely followed the nature of diplomatic relations with the USSR.  Control of information is a similarly important means of maintaining conditioned power --- military organisation is uniquely able to prevent information which might undermine its conditioned influence from reaching a wider audience. ​ Even without such constraints,​ the mere technical complexity (real or imagined) is leveraged as a barrier sustaining conditioned power --- it is strongly argued that those outside of the military establishment do not have the expertise to undermine military declarations of fact.  The extent of this power may be of supreme ​importance ​in the case of the nuclear arms community:
  
-> Almost casually the nuclear arms community assumes and defends power to arbitrate and control not only questions of individual life and death but the question of the survival of the human race.  Of all the expressions of power cited in these pages this one is transcendent,​ for inherent in its exercise is the power to end all other exercises of power. --page 167+> Almost casually the nuclear arms community assumes and defends power to arbitrate and control not only questions of individual life and death but the question of the survival of the human race.  Of all the expressions of power cited in these pages this one is transcendent,​ for inherent in its exercise is the power to end all other exercises of power. ​---page 167
  
 Although there is a wide belief that the military power is carefully and effectively kept subservient to civilian governance, the reality is different. Although there is a wide belief that the military power is carefully and effectively kept subservient to civilian governance, the reality is different.
  
-> In nearly all recent Pentagon confrontations,​ when faced with the strongly conditioned attitudes of the military establishment,​ civilians have surrendered thereto. ​ They wish to be thought forthright, decisive, heroic, and otherwise in keeping with the conditioned military virtue. ​ They must show that they can master the intricacies of military operations and of weaponry, that they are no less aware than soldiers of the need for military defence. ​ In consequence,​ many civilians --- on the NSC, frequently in the State Department, in the intelligence agencies, and notably in the Department of Defence itself --have ended up being more warlike, more committee ​to weapons systems and large budgets, than the members of the armed forces themselves. --page 168+> In nearly all recent Pentagon confrontations,​ when faced with the strongly conditioned attitudes of the military establishment,​ civilians have surrendered thereto. ​ They wish to be thought forthright, decisive, heroic, and otherwise in keeping with the conditioned military virtue. ​ They must show that they can master the intricacies of military operations and of weaponry, that they are no less aware than soldiers of the need for military defence. ​ In consequence,​ many civilians --- on the NSC, frequently in the State Department, in the intelligence agencies, and notably in the Department of Defence itself ​--- have ended up being more warlike, more committed ​to weapons systems and large budgets, than the members of the armed forces themselves. ​---page 168
  
 But the military power is not without opposition --- not without, most significantly,​ organisation committed to countering its conditioning --- the symmetric response to calls for patriotic support or military purpose. ​ This organisation became decisive during the Vietnam War, with particular effectiveness as the draft extended into university campuses, and therefore communities of people skilled and experienced in the prosecution of conditioned power. But the military power is not without opposition --- not without, most significantly,​ organisation committed to countering its conditioning --- the symmetric response to calls for patriotic support or military purpose. ​ This organisation became decisive during the Vietnam War, with particular effectiveness as the draft extended into university campuses, and therefore communities of people skilled and experienced in the prosecution of conditioned power.
  
-> The military power overreached its resources of conditioned power; the result was a substantial reverse. ​ Now, a decade later, there continues to be the publicly expressed hope that Vietnam has been forgotten. ​ That, in the present terminology,​ is to express the wish that the social conditioning that was then so adverse to the military power is no longer operative. --page 169+> The military power overreached its resources of conditioned power; the result was a substantial reverse. ​ Now, a decade later, there continues to be the publicly expressed hope that Vietnam has been forgotten. ​ That, in the present terminology,​ is to express the wish that the social conditioning that was then so adverse to the military power is no longer operative. ​---page 169
  
-This opposition continues in the present (1983) with the growing organisation calling for a freeze on nuclear weapons tests, development and deployment. ​ "It seems proper to ask...that all who read these pages involve themselves with this countervailing effort."​+This opposition continues in the present (1983) with the growing organisation calling for a freeze on nuclear weapons tests, development and deployment. ​ "It seems proper to ask... that all who read these pages involve themselves with this countervailing effort."​
  
  
Line 241: Line 247:
 All sources and mechanisms of the power of Christianity have declined sharply over the course of the last century or so.  Church personalities are less influential,​ church property is tiny relative to secular resources and Christian organisation has splintered into endless fractured and independent units with no internal coherence. ​ Without internal discipline, the ability of organisation to project power externally is small. ​ Condign power is no longer available in life or widely believed in death and compensatory power is similarly reduced relative to secular alternatives and doubted in the afterlife. ​ Only conditioned power remains to any significant degree, and this is extremely diminished over the church'​s previous reach. ​ To a large extent, this reflects the modern competition between different forces for conditioned belief --- from secular education, the press, the scientific establishment as well as the church. ​ The church has lost its virtual monopoly of access to this form of power projection, which was maintained largely by church control of the education system. ​ Interestingly,​ science now commands a level of internal discipline and belief similar to that once achieved by religion: All sources and mechanisms of the power of Christianity have declined sharply over the course of the last century or so.  Church personalities are less influential,​ church property is tiny relative to secular resources and Christian organisation has splintered into endless fractured and independent units with no internal coherence. ​ Without internal discipline, the ability of organisation to project power externally is small. ​ Condign power is no longer available in life or widely believed in death and compensatory power is similarly reduced relative to secular alternatives and doubted in the afterlife. ​ Only conditioned power remains to any significant degree, and this is extremely diminished over the church'​s previous reach. ​ To a large extent, this reflects the modern competition between different forces for conditioned belief --- from secular education, the press, the scientific establishment as well as the church. ​ The church has lost its virtual monopoly of access to this form of power projection, which was maintained largely by church control of the education system. ​ Interestingly,​ science now commands a level of internal discipline and belief similar to that once achieved by religion:
  
-> As a manifestation of conditioned power, the conditioning of science is, on the whole, far more rigorous and far more disciplined than that of modern religion. ​ The religious mind is thought to be pliable and diverse; the scientific mind is a precise, strictly channelled instrument. ​ Religious observances are loosely structured; scientific procedures have rigid parameters. --page 174+> As a manifestation of conditioned power, the conditioning of science is, on the whole, far more rigorous and far more disciplined than that of modern religion. ​ The religious mind is thought to be pliable and diverse; the scientific mind is a precise, strictly channelled instrument. ​ Religious observances are loosely structured; scientific procedures have rigid parameters. ​---page 174
  
 Despite noisy claims to the contrary, they are clearly in direct competition for conditioned submission and science is winning. Despite noisy claims to the contrary, they are clearly in direct competition for conditioned submission and science is winning.
Line 249: Line 255:
 The power of the press is remarkably similar to that of the church --- it is the power of conditioned belief stemming from organisation. ​ The power of the media is undoubtedly great, but there is perhaps a greater danger in overestimating than in underestimating it.  The press is far less involved in vibrant advocacy than it was in earlier times, as personality has given way to organisation,​ so the presentation of views has become more balanced. ​ Election coverage now focuses on the minutiae of who is ahead, who is behind, rather than an outright effort to convince voters of the wisdom of supporting one particular candidate or party. ​ The sheer volume of information the press produces further invites its audience to ignore or forget the vast majority, diminishing its influence. ​ The power of the press is exaggerated by the familiar processes of vanity and the tendency to mistake the applause of the already-converted as evidence of persuasion. The power of the press is remarkably similar to that of the church --- it is the power of conditioned belief stemming from organisation. ​ The power of the media is undoubtedly great, but there is perhaps a greater danger in overestimating than in underestimating it.  The press is far less involved in vibrant advocacy than it was in earlier times, as personality has given way to organisation,​ so the presentation of views has become more balanced. ​ Election coverage now focuses on the minutiae of who is ahead, who is behind, rather than an outright effort to convince voters of the wisdom of supporting one particular candidate or party. ​ The sheer volume of information the press produces further invites its audience to ignore or forget the vast majority, diminishing its influence. ​ The power of the press is exaggerated by the familiar processes of vanity and the tendency to mistake the applause of the already-converted as evidence of persuasion.
  
-> Finally, influence --- the achievement of belief --- is reduced by the overt improbability of much that is urged. ​ This is especially so of television. ​ Commercials on the high therapeutic powers of commonplace medicinal preparations,​ the social gains from whiter clothing, the avowed moral tone of aspiring politicians,​ all invite a compelling disbelief. ​ Since this is the tendency regarding some of what is seen and heard, there is a tendency to disbelieve all. --page 179+> Finally, influence --- the achievement of belief --- is reduced by the overt improbability of much that is urged. ​ This is especially so of television. ​ Commercials on the high therapeutic powers of commonplace medicinal preparations,​ the social gains from whiter clothing, the avowed moral tone of aspiring politicians,​ all invite a compelling disbelief. ​ Since this is the tendency regarding some of what is seen and heard, there is a tendency to disbelieve all. ---page 179
  
 However, there has been wide acceptance of the idea that the media do have a lot of influence. ​ Partly this is due to the role of political frustration --- in sending a letter to the editor of a newspaper, one feels one has done something --- this relies crucially on the belief that the newspaper is somehow influential. ​ Finally, there is the '​residual effect'​ --- as the availability of condign power and the effectiveness of compensatory power have declined, conditioned power remains as the modern source of influence and to this the media has an obvious relationship. ​ Although its power ought not be underestimated,​ it should be seen in the context of an overall decline in the exercise of power --- that in the modern world there is less submission of some to the purposes of others. ​ It is against this background that the great modern sources of power: the state, the corporation and the military, should be analysed. However, there has been wide acceptance of the idea that the media do have a lot of influence. ​ Partly this is due to the role of political frustration --- in sending a letter to the editor of a newspaper, one feels one has done something --- this relies crucially on the belief that the newspaper is somehow influential. ​ Finally, there is the '​residual effect'​ --- as the availability of condign power and the effectiveness of compensatory power have declined, conditioned power remains as the modern source of influence and to this the media has an obvious relationship. ​ Although its power ought not be underestimated,​ it should be seen in the context of an overall decline in the exercise of power --- that in the modern world there is less submission of some to the purposes of others. ​ It is against this background that the great modern sources of power: the state, the corporation and the military, should be analysed.
Line 263: Line 269:
 The main exceptions to the wide diffusion of power and the familiar dialectic of countervailing power are the modern corporation and the military establishment. ​ Neither has a significant countervailing force --- criticism of the military purpose or the corporatised free market are extremely marginal. ​ And the internal discipline which these organisations achieve permits them an external projection of power which sets them apart from other forces in modern society. ​ It is important to recognise that in any attempt to limit their power can be effective only to the extent that it can achieve internal discipline: The main exceptions to the wide diffusion of power and the familiar dialectic of countervailing power are the modern corporation and the military establishment. ​ Neither has a significant countervailing force --- criticism of the military purpose or the corporatised free market are extremely marginal. ​ And the internal discipline which these organisations achieve permits them an external projection of power which sets them apart from other forces in modern society. ​ It is important to recognise that in any attempt to limit their power can be effective only to the extent that it can achieve internal discipline:
  
-> No one in a democracy should be in doubt as to the real effectiveness of organised opposition to concentrated power. ​ But all must have an acute understanding of the weakness arising from the diffusion of power and the difference between illusion and practical effect. --page 188+> No one in a democracy should be in doubt as to the real effectiveness of organised opposition to concentrated power. ​ But all must have an acute understanding of the weakness arising from the diffusion of power and the difference between illusion and practical effect. ​---page 188
  
the_anatomy_of_power.1225845262.txt.gz · Last modified: 2008/11/05 12:00 (external edit)