7. What is power? How the mafia and the 1% use power and how the 99% can become powerful

“Power never takes a back step, only in the face of more power”. (Malcolm X)
In a Humane World in which all people have the same status, all people should have the same power. The top of the mafia has a lot of power but takes not all decisions. Most decisions are taken on a lower level by capos but the top knows which decisions are taken. When the money stream to the top falters they interfere with their power based on money and violence. The godfathers determine the general guidelines for the kind of decisions that has to be taken. The reasons to interfere concern the safety of the top leaders and the organisation, the amount of money that streams to the top or the kind of products that is sold. As in the big society everything turns around money, not about the interests of buyers, sellers or common citizens.

Only godfathers determine the general guidelines and have the power to impose these rules on lower echelons. Lower leaders take decisions based on what they think the top wants. The top controls, vetoes and eventually punishes capos who do not comply with the general guidelines, who violate the well-being of the top. In the mafia the application of power goes from the top to the lower echelons, never the other way around. In the bigger society is works the same way. The 1% has power, decision-takers on lower levels and the 99% are expected to comply.

Power has two sides, the possibility to draw up general guidelines and to have the means to implement them and the possibility to correct decisions from lower levels that are not compatible with the general guidelines.

The godfathers of the mafia are as unassailable as the 1%. They do not have to listen to arguments from beneath, they have an army of lawyers and experts to defend their decisions and they have a security apparatus to control and pacify dangerous opponents. This apparatus cost money but decisions-makers have enough money at their disposal to secure their positions and their decisions.

Just as in the mafia family ties are important in the 1%. Just as in the mafia, money and violence are important instruments for the power of the 1%. The threat to use violence is often more important than the use of violence.

The 1% control the money stream to the top. Mark Zuckerberg, owner and CEO of Facebook, changed his ideas about advertising on Facebook because of the dubious introduction of Facebook on the Stock Exchange. Stockholders had the power to force Zuckerberg to change his policy and to take different decisions. The 99% was not involved in this process that was determined by getting more money for the stockholders. If the 99% liked or disliked the new policy was of no importance, some money people who preferred a more profitable advertisement policy had more status and power than the many 99% who use Facebook.

Also violence and the threat of violence is used. This is obvious in conflicts between countries. Investment money can be withheld but when lower countries do not listen violence is used. The bosses of countries as Vietnam or Iraq were not allowed to pursue their own policy, they had to listen to the highest bosses from rich Western countries. Some leaders who wanted a new policy for their country as Lumumba of The Congo or Allende of Chili were even murdered.

The use of violence against strikers or protesters is wide-spread. The imprisonment of millions or people because they do not obey the laws that are favourable for the top is direct violence. People on higher levels are differently judged than people down under. Prisons are full of people who only want to have some more money and who even comply with the money paradigm. Or with drugs users who buy drugs that are prohibited to keep prices and thus profits high. Hundreds of billions of drugs money enter each year via “legal” banks the economy, a stream that stops when drugs become free available. Bankers are not imprisoned.

The 99% need power to defend their freedom and well-being when that is violated by selfish leaders. In a Humane Society where all people have the same status power is available for everyone, not dependent on the amount of money someone has. The top of the power pyramid uses power to protect their decisions. Critics are silenced,  they may lose their job and thus their income, a money factor. When the 99% have also power they can force decisions-takers to pay attention to the interests of all people and not in the first place to the interests of the already privileged. The Fourth People’s Power should control, veto and eventually punish faulty leaders who violate the freedom, privacy and well-being of common citizens.

The 99% should strive for a society in which everyone has the same status. The basis for their judgement and their power is not the money paradigm but the same status paradigm. The 99% only judge if decisions violate their freedom and well-being. They do not have the skill, the expertise and the knowledge to propose new decisions. Also the godfathers or the 1% do not have the skill and the knowledge to make correct decisions. They only control if decisions are not hurting the money stream. When the money stream falters they use their power to get different decisions. Then they judge again the new decisions. There is no need for discussions between the top and the lower echelons, the top looks at the result of decisions, not at the decisions themselves.

Jean-Paul Marat said two hundred years ago: “we will never be a club that is involved in the process of making decisions. That should be a serious mistake: a free union of citizens is not allowed to meddle in public affairs, to govern or to administrate. That must be clear: a club has only the simple and pure right to make propositions, to give advice and to ask questions. But when the freedom and the safety of the people is attacked it is not only advisor but also agitator, censor, punisher and even killer ……”

The 99% cannot design, plan and build aeroplanes but they can judge if a plane complies with their wishes. They should not govern or administrate but only make propositions, give advice and ask questions. When these demands are not taken into account they should use their power to punish faulty leaders.

Concerning the second point of the power definition, correcting wrong decisions, the 99% should do the same as mafia leaders or the 1%: control, veto and punish leaders who take decisions that hurt the interests of the 99%. In this way everyone gets the same status and the same power when he wants it and when he becomes sufficiently active. The means to exercise power resemble the means of the 1% and the godfathers. Care for it that the money stream to decision-takers is curtailed by disturbing their private living situation. The 99% can care for it that the cosy world of decision-takers falls apart when they continue to take decisions that hurt the freedom and well-being of the 99%.

Putting pressure on decision-takers improves a little the present world. When we want a Humane World it is necessary to pressure the top of the power pyramid. The pyramid is built on money, so attack the money factor. It all comes down on creatively disturbing the world of decision-takers, the 1% and the godfathers. Sometimes some violence may play a role but as with the 1% and the mafia, the threat that violence could be used is more important than the use of violence itself.

Leftist nor rightist activist use these ideas, therefore I call myself autonomous. They do not force (use power) but only beg leaders to change decisions. They even propose different decisions. When their demands comply with the money paradigm they have some success as was the case with the abolition of slavery. Demands to close all nuclear plants fall however on deaf ears. Squatters had a somewhat better policy. They were not involved in building more houses for homeless people (co-governing) but used their power to occupy empty houses. In the end however the power of the 1% prevailed and squatting was outlawed. Squatting nearly disappeared because of the use of power and a lot of violence.

When there are no attacks on the weak points of the 1% (the money and their fear for violence) the 1% continue to rule the world.

Joost van Steenis

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About Joost van Steenis

My latest book "How to make Revolution, developing the Fourth People's Power", can be downloaded for free from my site http://members.chello.nl/jsteenis. It contains new ideas how to take the money and power away from the most powerful people, the elite. It strives to get a new society in which not money is the pivotal point of all discussions but the idea that all people have the same status. New action means are introduced to reach this paradigm shift (a revolution) that concentrate on direct actions in the living sphere of the elite.
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