Power sources give and take away like knives that cut both ways. . . . Some of our most important sources of power are also our greatest weaknesses. A great organizer in the workplace becomes a micromanager. A highly disciplined and focused person develops a compulsive disorder. Someone who manages money well could be a miser. We enjoy material goods but are exasperated by having to spend too much time and energy in acquiring, maintaining, repairing, updating, protecting, storing, and transporting them. We don’t take beautiful women seriously because we assume that they are shallow. Intellectuals might find themselves unable to connect with ordinary people because of their “superior” intelligence, esoteric knowledge, and lack of common sense. We view people with outgoing personalities as “cheerleaders” or as manipulators and con artists.
Excerpt from Power, Chapter 2
Human beings have come to dominate all other living beings and the environment because of their ability: (1) to work cooperatively in large groups without knowing one another personally, at first in groups of hundreds, then thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions, and ultimately billions; (2) to transport themselves to all corners of the globe and settle there; and (3) to communicate with one another worldwide using complex language and writing.
Excerpt from Power, Chapter 3
Over 80 percent of the world’s countries use capitalism as the basis of their economies. Almost all of the other economies have adopted some capitalist practices, including the so-called socialist countries. The communist governments of China and Vietnam have for years been privatizing some of their businesses and adopting free-market practices. Even the most rigid and authoritarian communist countries use some forms of capitalism.
The conflict between socialists and capitalists over whether government should own or control most, if not all, of the means of production and property is over. The debate now centers on how governments should regulate their economies and the kinds and amount of social services they should provide their citizens.
Excerpts from Power, Chapter 5
We can explain all relationships in one word—needs. Human relationships are a struggle for power based on needs or, in their less extreme form, desires. This is the essence of every kind of relationship, whether direct or indirect: within oneself, person to person, person to organization, organization to organization, government to government, country to country, aggressive and passive, long-term and short-term, human to nonhuman beings, human to the natural environment, and human to inanimate objects.
Our pets probably don’t consciously struggle for power or give it up to get power, but this nevertheless may be the end result. . . . Their major source of power is unconditional love for their owners. Some of them dominate their households, determining when their owners rise in the morning, when, what, and how often they are fed, and how leisure time is spent. Owners forgo vacations to attend to the needs of their pets. In short, the seemingly powerless are the masters of their owners.
Excerpts from Power, Chapter 6
Okay, world peace is a cliché. A world without conflict is impossible and probably undesirable anyway since at the very least, we need issues, problems, and crises from which to learn and grow. Yet eliminating the most dangerous and destructive conflicts is a realistic and worthy goal. But how? . . . An all-powerful, unifying objective would give the world an opportunity to come together in a meaningful and constructive way. What might the solidifying theme be? Polls show consistently that the mass public as well as ideologues across the political spectrum support “equality of opportunity” to help everyone achieve their full potential, which is not to be confused with “equality of results.”
We are more likely to compete fairly and respect and assist others by recognizing the two characteristics that all human beings share: (1) a power struggle for a better material and spiritual life and (2) our humanity. Despite differences in traditions and cultures, most of us need to bond with other people, an emotion closely related to the ability to love, compassion, caring, tenderness, and empathy.
Excerpts from Power, Chapter 7