A theory of power
Power is the most desired asset of the world. It comes in many
shapes and there are many methods to generate it. This document
introduces a simple classifaction of common actions around power.
Thereby a framework is created that helps analyzing and plotting
strategies that maximize power.
1 Three manifestations of power
Power can be classified into three different types. Each has its
Authority Authority gives you immediate control over the
actions of others. This manifestation of power is most
volatile. Usually it is not tied to your person, but only to a
specific position that is temporarily granted to you by the
Money Money is the most flexible manifestation of
power. It can lie down completely invisible to others. Yet, it
can unfold its latent potential with great rapidity.
Status Status is the most subtle manifestation of
power. It is measured by the amount of attention paid to your
person. It is the respect that you enjoy in society. Ultimately
it is the most permanent and most fulfilling.
2 Three ways to increase power
Power can never be generated out of nothing. There are three
different ways of leveraging any existing trait of power.
Terrorize If you enjoy authority and want to increase it
then you must terrorize your subordinates. If they don't respect
you make them fear you. The ultimate example of pure authority
is an army general without access to the state budget. He has
huge resources at his direct disposal, but he is without status
outside the military system.
Invest If you have money and want more then you have to
invest. You can lend the power of liquidity to others and take
interest rate in return. Taken to the extreme you will become an
investment banker. Because you work in small and efficient teams
there is no hierarchy to command. Apart from that, everyone
Perform If you enjoy social status and strive for more
you have to perform. It can be a public display of your
abilities or by adding to your portfolio of inventions and
artistic pieces. Ultimately you may become a saintly
person. Thousands of devotees will recite your words day by day,
but none of it will ever be taken into action.
3 Three prerequisites for transforming power
Each type of power is incomplete by itself. Therefore you will
want to transform them into each other. This is either because you
find it easier to generate one kind of power, or because changing
circumstances must be answered with a changed mix of power.
Obedience If authority and money need to be exchanged
pure obedience is required. People must do as told or as paid
for. Status is not necessary. The most despised mafiosi masters
this with ease. Status can even become a problem, as people may
try to appeal to your ethical values or start pondering the
moral validity of your transactions.
Trust If authority and status are to transformed trust
must be present. In the absence of money liabilities can not be
settled immediately. The presence of money can even inhibit this
kind of transaction. Due to its hidden potential people might
raise doubts about your true intentions.
Celebration If status and money are to be exchanged you
need to celebrate yourself. Great publicity and an atmosphere of
admiration is required. Authority can become disadvantageous, as
it might turn your celebration into a stiff display or an
4 Six ways of converting power
Once the requirements are met you can start transforming each
blend of power. There are two directions of transformation, one
will be called the compliant route the other is the dark
The compliant route, displayed here as the outer circular
connections, consists of three transformations:
Organize You can utilize your authority to generate
status if you organize. Make the parts at your disposal become
more than their sum. They may not fully understand your masterly
plan while they execute it, but they will certainly admire the
results once they manifest. Always remember, that it is not
important how gained the authority. The most cruel emperors are
only remembered by there achievements, not by their unholy
Brand Once you enjoy status it will become easy for to
sell products and make money. If you are not good at selling you
can attach your good name with any arbitrary product. You can
also support an existing brand by allowing it to take advantage
of your reputation or your skills.
Hire Money can then be turned into authority by hiring
employees. As longs as it is about a job getting done you will
always find someone who is willing to work for your money. From
there the cycle can start again.
The dark route is displayed as the inner triangular
connections. It consists of the opposite transformations:
Extort Turning authority into cash is the most crude and
most direct way. You can simply extort money, or depending on
the view point, you might call it the taking of bribes. Because
of its crudeness most legal systems impose strict limitations on
this type of method.
Advertize Money can be converted it into status. This is
done by advertizing your name or by decorating yourself with
status symbols. Advertisement is always unwanted if it is
blatant and detected as such. If you need to stay safe you can
try a large charity donation and hope that other talk about you.
Indoctrinate Status can be turned into authority if you
abuse your channel of attention to indoctrinate your
audience. Famous movie stars were voted by their fans for
president of powerful states. This will work easily if your
character is recorgnized as trustworthy.
5 Three styles of governance
There three main styles of governance, depending on which
methods of power maximization is primarily used.
Anarchy In anarchy the different aspects of power are
unconnected. Militarian authority, economic wealth, and
intellectual knowlegde do not form a consistent whole.
Utopia In Utopia authority is utilized to organize
state affairs. Due to successful organization a new brand,
such as "Made in Utopia" will gain in value. Ideally, demand
for this value is large enough for people to pay for extra
services around it. The earnings can be used to hire executive
Oppression In an oppressive state authority is
primarily used to extort excessive taxes from its
citizens. The money is then funneled into a massive
indoctrination campaign, which in turn talks people into
supporting the system.
Because this system naturally depletes
power, it must be accompanied with at least one extra source.
Police An oppressive state can be supported by a
massive use of secret and public security services.
Resources An oppresive state can be supported by
the rich availability of natural resources. The resulting
money can pay everyone into obedience.
Religion An oppressive state can be supported by
a tight believe system that makes people pay respect for
complex religeous ceremonies.
6 Three aspects of economy
In a functioning economy all three styles of power must be
present. There are three aspects that are required for the
natural exchange of coresponding power types.
Production Production is all about gaining efficiency in
a sequence of repetitive constructive steps. Obedient execution
is more important than innovative experiments.
Education In academia existing normative knowledge is
taught. Educational institutions are organized in chronical
shortage of money, as that would distort long term innovative
goals with short term interests.
Market The market is based around advertizing and
branding. Freedom is valued higher than regulative authorities.
7 Three natural conflicts
Three natural conflict arise from their opposing positions in the
power triangular. Managing or overcoming those conflicts poses a
large potential for the effective generation of power.
Market regulation A Market is a place for the free
exchange of money and skills. Authority enforces rules that
might constrict trade, but certainly ensure the reliability of
the offered products and services.
Education funding Education is centered around the
ideas of reputation, respect, and learning. It is the source
for long term innovation and future wealth, but money must
stay away from giving directions following short term
Business values Small businesses often operate on a
tight budget with little room for ethical
considerations. Building a competitive cooperation around
socially accepted values can be the key for long term growth
8 Three traits of personality
Concerning the preference for power there are three major
Authoritarian The authoritarian character is mainly
concerned about ruling over others. Money is taken when
possible, but mainly for the purpose of hiring additional
personell. Events are organized, if it helps the goal of
indoctrinating participants into specific actions.
Merchantilistic The merchantilistic character is mainly
concerned about money. Empoyees are hired, but only if the
money that is returned compensates the
expenditures. Advertizements are placed, but only if the
increased monetary value of ones brand reaches a positive net
Ideological The ideological character is mainly
concerned about her reputation in society. Indoctrination of
society is not abstained from, if the resulting action is
targeted at a respected goal. Ones name is also used to earn
money, if that can be used to further advertize oneself.
Power was classified into three different types with three main
categories for interchange. No form of power of them is
complete. Each of them is equally valuable. Each is of ephemeral
nature. Never crave for one type of power. Never despise
another. Ultimately, your freedom to act is not determined by the
amount of power you have, but by your ability to convert your
power into its most adequate mix.