Of Power and Other Demons

The whole world revolves around the concept of power, of what it means to be in charge, to be the ruler, to have power over others. There are always a few who want to rule and more who are more than willing to follow. The human being has an incredible capacity to fool itself, to falsely ennoble oneself with the thought that freedom is the ultimate state that one desires. When asked what one wants from one’s life, the answer is usually “I just want to be happy”, followed by “I just want to be free”, but these two states can barely coexist with one another at the same time if we do not consider freedom as just not being incarcerated in a cell or suffocated by debts.

Happiness is much regarded as safety and the certainty of a settled future, in our contemporary society when safety and stability are such precarious concepts, while freedom is anything but stability and safety, the only constant of freedom, is freedom itself. With freedom comes not only the liberation of all constraints, but the whole crushing responsibility of one’s well-being, of one’s happiness, of one’s actions, and it is, isn’t it in the human nature to find scapegoats for almost anything that goes wrong. So we settle with different forms of power and allow them to be the frame within which we lead our existences. As Dostoevski’s Great Inquisitor from The Karamazov Brothers so majestically described, man is only free as long as there is no one to offer him food, once he senses the smell of food, he is willing to give up in the blink of an eye his freedom in exchange for the commodity of not having to hunt for himself, in exchange for safety. And by giving up his freedom, he not only receives in return the assurance of tomorrow’s meal but also the possibility of having someone or something to blame, other than himself, if there is no food on the table the next day.

 

We step consciously and by free will in the cells of a metaphorical Panopticon, and swallow the stereotypes, the injustice, the lies, the unnecessary infamies because the cell is almost comfy. Not enough, to actually feel comfortable, but enough to, just like the Orwellian character, survive. Orwell’s 1984 would contour the perfect panoptical society if the constant following would not have been true, but as proven by the main’s character’s fate, no one could escape from the glance of the Big Brother. Our society, on the other hand, is another kind of reenactment of the Panopticon. We are not followed by any more or any less than our own expectations of a good life, and the fear of not obtaining it, or of losing it. We settle with gender stereotypes, with jobs that we hate, with dreadful companies, with ideas that are not our own, with compromises that wound our souls, that undermine our intellect, that discredit ourselves as humans, we run in circles with no direction whatsoever like beheaded chickens over things, situation, statutes that would most likely not satisfy us, but that would grant us the title of a complete, happy and respectable individual in the common conscience. We accept. We blame ourselves and are made to blame ourselves for every little mistake that jeopardises the fulfilment of the American dream, but we close our eyes in oblivion when it comes to the fact that half of the world if stuck in a Kafkaesque reality, while the other half is confronted with the most horrid nightmares. We take our insignificant share of goods, thrown to us by the 1% of the population who hold and manage most of the world’s riches and totally ignore the unjust power and wealth balance. We channel our fear into over mediatised figures or concepts, like terrorists and crimes, and we are happy that the war is on the other side of the globe. But who are the terrorist for the victims in Siria? Who are the oppressors of the children dying in the coltan mines? Who are the tyrants who value money more than the people’s lives in the Foxconn factories? We are.

We don’t want to take the blame, the crushing guilt, so we leave power in the same murderous hands, and we fall once again into the trap of electing the same kind of individual, of supporting the same kind of company, of blaming ourselves for our failures instead of blaming the society, and we blame the system for the downward path the world has taken, indifferent to the fact that we permitted the creation of a system which thrives from the destruction of our world.

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