POWER: the rate of expansion of energy into a region of lesser resistance

By considering power as a measure of the rate at which an energy source can expand, the scientific definition and the generalised socio-political usage can be comfortably accommodated. The scientific evaluation is more easily specified numerically, by measuring and then computing either the quantity [force.distance/time], or the quantity [voltage.current]. Either of these quantities can be demonstrated to be equivalent to a rate of energy redistribution. In performing their designed function, all machines redistribute energy, and so their power rating is a measure of the rate at which they can do so. Although not quantifiable in a numerical sense, never-the-less the social and political use of the word 'power' is generally concerned with much the same considerations. A social or political grouping acquires sufficient 'accumulated energy' to be able to actively expand its actions into regions which do not have the capacity to resist. The size of the grouping, allied with the speed with which such an expansion takes place, will be an assessment of its power.

Power in a generalized sense could also be thought of as a demonstrated capacity to acquire goals. Power is not passive. It is not potential. Power is action that realizes consequences. It may be a political state enforcing laws on its members or a neighbouring state, a priest manipulating fear to ensure compliance, or simply a machine dissipating energy in the process of behaving so as to fulfil its purpose. Power in a politically aggressive sense is the capacity of a group to acquire resources unhindered and hence facilitate the propagation of their own self-interest. The individual without support is essentially powerless and vulnerable to the inclinations of group action. Acting alone, the individual's ability to achieve any sort of aspiration is severely limited. The mythical fantasy of the super-hero is a direct consequence of the intense frustration which arises from the realization that an individual is essentially impotent. Group associations... family, religious, commercial, political, etc... are the structures of power, and within the dynamics, rules and conventions of these organizations, certain individuals are able to realize their egotistical capacity for self-advancement because of an inherent potential to manipulate and contrive consequences.

Power facilitates any inclinations for covetous acquisition. Acting alone, outside the aegis of a group authority, the opportunities for a solitary individual to indulge its propensities for robbery are limited in the main to indulging in petty theft, coercion or fraud. If such actions are discovered the consequences are not usually enjoyable. Acting from a position of authority within a group however, the potential for influencing the flow of resources is greatly enhanced and directing inequitable amounts into personal holding-pens can be arranged and even legitimatised by appropriate internal legislation. There are no poor dictators, presidents, kings, archbishops or chief executive officers.

The historical record seems to indicate, that due to a lack of any ingenious alternative strategy, power can only be neutralised or replaced by power. Steam power replaced horse and sail power. Democratic power replaced monocratic. Microprocessor power replaced cogs, wheels and the sliding beads of an abacus. As an example of a process in transition, the power of the stock exchange is systematically neutralizing the power of the casino. So ingrained is the assumption of power replacing power, that humans have developed a paranoid fear and existential apprehension of a 'power vacuum', because so great is an attractive vortex of nothingness, that any passing potence whatever is unable to resist. Only recently, when there were no nominations for any of the officers at the annual general meeting of the International Society for Self-Effacement, so intense was the emptiness, that a passing revivalist preacher, a nearby time-warped press-gang commander, and an investment company director who had not been tied down, were all instantly sucked into the room and elected unopposed with acclamation.