First, some definitions. Human societies usually became stratified, with some groups in them ending up with more than other groups. These groups controlled the others. They had more prestige and usually more wealth. They dominated the other groups. In a word, these ruling classes had more power.
The people in these classes were often related to each other, and comprised powerful families. Needless to say, there were often conflicts between these groups, and this is what history has been mainly about – struggles for power.
But on a different level there has also been the struggle between different kinds of societies – societies with different values and different ways of being organized.
I am now listening to a course about the Reformation – which was about one of those long, drawn-out conflicts. The one which produced the modern world, and a fundamentally different culture. And centuries later, in our time, a fundamentally different kind of power. One in which people are controlled by it.
The forty-dollar question, of course, is what is this it? Whatever it is, it has showed up and taken over without our being aware of it – almost as though we have been occupied by a force from another planet. Except that this force, whatever it is, must be been one of our own creations. It couldn’t have come from anywhere else.
So far in my struggles this morning I haven’t gotten very far, but I have re-defined the question to this “What have we done to ourselves?” The answer, which is certainly an unpleasant one, seems to be: we have destroyed ourselves.
I am certain this is the correct answer, but I could also have said: we have created a power complex – and given our power to it. This power complex is what I referred to earlier as simply it – for lack of a better term. Whatever it is, it is clearly in control. Now I want to say more about it.
Since the middle of the 19th Century, two things have happened: an increased understanding of ourselves (the social sciences) and high-technology. The first gave those in power, mainly the large corporations, the ability to control us, via the Media, which was created by the second: high-technology – which also (via the computer and the Internet) gave them the ability to create ever larger organizations – which eventually included everything – the Power Complex.
Previously, the ruling classes chose who would represent them in the power structure. Now, the power complex choses those who will serve it best, and gives power to them temporarily. There is only one rule they must follow: it must have all the power.
We have been forgotten, and it has taken over.