We are reading The End of Power by Moises Naim and it puts forth a powerful historically broad thesis.
Moises asserts that power, and the wielding of that power, isn’t what it used to be. That everywhere, from governments to corporations, power is diffusing and becomes diaphanous, even as the results of a lack of concentrated power become more and more disastrous.
His work is a counterpoint to Steven Pinker’s most recent thesis about violence and Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s endless dour prognostications about the future and how unknowable it all is.
We haven’t finished the book—yet—but it consistently puts us in the mind of the HBO show, Game of Thrones, when one character says to another “In the game of thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground.” And then, without putting too much of a spoiler out there, he dies.
Power is fascinating to us as conflict engagement professionals and consultants, because many, many people associate the trappings of power, the results of power either wielded or not, and the lack of power, with the actual fact of power itself.
At the micro-level, where families, communities, neighborhoods and social norming still hold sway, and privilege (racial, class, wealth and otherwise still mean something), power still is concentrated and wielded with terrible ruthlessness. At one end of the spectrum, we have thinkers like Naim, Pinker, and others who assert that the world is changing, and it is.
But too many of us are trapped in our own Game of Thrones. And we still seek out risk-averse, conflict free lives, endlessly chasing peace and tranquility that will calm and quiet our nervous lizard brains at the other end of the spectrum.
Meanwhile, the wheel of power goes around and around and around…
-Peace Be With You All-
Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT: firstname.lastname@example.org