The Pyramid of Power
Where does power in the world come from, and how is it exercised? There are several different ways to look at this. Here I will talk about two of them, the way that power seems to be organised and the way it actually is.
I am primarily focusing on the UK, but the picture is the same no matter which country you look at. At the apex of the pyramid is money, and the next rung down is government. Even the government says that it is limited in what it can do because it does not have the money to do it. So the people with the money must sit above the government. Margaret Thatcher famously said, “The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.” We think that our government raises taxes and spends money, and when there is a shortfall in tax revenues, the government has to borrow money from rich people to fund the gap. The function of government is to set rules for us to live by and to provide services that we all need and use. An arm of the government is the police and the military. Through these structures the government can, legally, exert physical power. The next step down in the pyramid is the media. They influence what we think by what they tell us and the way that they tell it to us. We tend to think that they are presenting to us an objective view of the world, and that they are holding our wayward politicians to account. But as more and more people are beginning to realise the media have agendas and views of their own, that they are foisting upon us, whilst simultaneously pretending that they are neutral and unbiased. Next step down in this pyramid of power are large corporations who are providing goods and services, vital or otherwise. Many of us work for one of these organisations, so that we can earn money and play along in the game of physical life. Some of these organisations are utilities, but the vast majority are private companies run for profit, which means for the benefit of the higher earning employees or directors, and the shareholders. Underneath all of this comes you and me, and the planet is simply a backdrop in which our game of life plays out. Now it won’t surprise some of you if I say that we have got the whole idea of power upside down.
Real power comes from you. It only seems otherwise because we have been told and keep being told that is how the world works. We have then believed it, and used our power to support that understanding, allowing it to perpetuate. If we want to change anything about the way the world is we need to recognise that the power has, and always will be, within us. We need to start expressing that power in an integrative and inclusive manner if we want positive transformation in our reality. So how do we do that? First of all we need to appreciate that all the power of creation does exist within us. To quote Sunni mystic Rumi, “Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.” Become an individual reflection of the positivity that you want to see in the world around you. Or to quote another great mystic Gandhi, “Be the change that you want to see in the world.” So what does this outward reflection look like? What could our society look like once we start expressing our power more effectively? Let’s run down the existing pyramid again.
No sovereign government needs to borrow money, even when it is running a budget deficit. And no sovereign government needs to be in any debt in its own currency at all, ever. This is simply because it creates its own money in the first place, through its central bank, or through private banks who have been allowed to create money. As a society we can overcome the speculation, the greed, the asset bubbles, the too big to fail, the bail-outs and the bail-ins. And we do this by democratising our money, by realising that money and money generation is a utility service. As such it should be brought into public ownership. Allow the people to have direct access to the security of central bank deposits. And allow credit to flow to the needs of the people rather than flowing into the pockets of the already super rich. And yes I can hear the cries of money creation leading to the bugaboo of inflation, which erodes wealth and pushes up prices. But it is possible to reengineer our money system with checks and balances on inflation and still democratise money and money creation. If we want to end the huge wealth imbalances in the world we must do this. If we want any significant societal change this is one of the first things that we must do.
I have written before, at length, about our politicians and our political structures. But the fact remains that the political system in the UK needs a significant overhaul, to ensure that the will of a properly informed populous can be carried out. I believe this requires more direct democracy and a more proportional system of representation to free us from the grip of the current party system.
More and more people are waking up to the biases built into their sources of information that they access through the media. What’s the solution to this? Don’t watch it, don’t buy it, and don’t read it. Or do not patronise the corporations that advertise through these media outlets. Or make sure that you gather your information from a range of sources. Sometimes this means that we need to work a little bit harder to dig behind the headlines, by reading longer articles, or even books. The same sort of thing can be said of large corporations too. If you do not like what they do then do not use them or buy their products. It is likely that tighter taxation and anti-trust laws may be required to balance some of the rapacious excesses of some corporations. And remember that at the very least we still get to choose what things to buy, and from whom to buy them. Vote with your purse and wallet.
Finally, I haven’t forgotten about what appears to be the base of the first pyramid, which is the planet. I can argue that we all individually have the power of creation inside of us. But nevertheless, if we don’t start being more integrative and inclusive with nature, then the only planet that we will be able to experience will be a barren wasteland. But this doesn’t mean that we need to forgo our technological and scientific achievements. It means that we need to make a conscious effort to make our lives and our technology more compatible with our natural surroundings. Otherwise our surroundings will reflect back at us our cold, barren, disconnected thinking.
Use this period of time to search within and to consider what sort of society you want to live in. Recognise who really sits at the apex of the Pyramid of Power. So that as we exit this period of isolation and into the “New Normal” it is one that is truly aligned with who we really are and who we want to be.
“All the forces in the world are not so powerful as an idea whose time has come.” Victor Hugo