The Virus of Power

By Irina Tyunina. Irina is a teacher and poet who has several publications of poetry, as well as prose, in Russian Magazines. She lives in Kemerovo, Russia. Please read her article and leave your thoughts and comments below.

It is practically impossible to find a person who has managed to escape the blows of circumstance. The very idea of overcoming has historically gained social appreciation.  Action opposed to fate-surrendering is the bedrock of our longing. Having survived adversity, we develop considerable strength and reach a power over ourselves – which, in effect, turns out to be only the starting point. Surprisingly, it is on this level that humanity gets involved in the swinging of the pendulum of power.

The question is: if we were given supremacy, could we resist the temptation?

 Good as Appropriate

To begin with, what is in human nature? According to Niccolo Machiavelli, man is ‘ill-judged and black-hearted’, and cannot even notice the poison inside superficially attractive objects; nor does he do any good unless he is cornered. As a weak creature inside, one is subject to domination. Hence, the pursuit of power is innate, being built in our genetic code. As experience shows, authority has no sex or age (remember family relations); that is why the whole human race is exposed to contamination. Power is a deadly virus that controls people urged by fear and tempted by vested interest.

We are good when appropriate and successful when evil.

The ‘Pity’ of a Human

Look around – and you will see plenty of insecure individuals who have created the ground for the emergence of the popular ‘getaway’ idea. The most rewarding method of escape is to reach the highest status. Therefore, a sense of unprotection gives birth to a craving for takeover and control. The internet provides countless examples, ranging from ‘selfies’ in various, often dangerous, positions (and even televised death in order to attract attention), to websites hosting groups inducing teen suicide and recruiting adolescent criminals as well as terrorists. Yet, when you are shown the leaders of detected crime, they often appear to be the ones you would never cast a glance at. It is undeniable that cruelty is increasing. Some might argue that achieving power would shelter them. Ridiculous!

It is like trying to hide from the weather on top of a volcano.

To Swallow the Bait

Henry Hazlitt points out the normalcy of domination. The search for power is unnecessary as it is ubiquitous like the air, which is – in fact, a crafty mask. Whenever the two gather, a sort of hierarchy arises. It encapsulates both the forbidden fruit and a fervent wish. The virus of power exhibits the characteristics of sapience, supplying the right bait to multifarious tastes, promising each according to his needs, – with the right to someone’s freedom on top of the ladder. It displays an ability to lure the most disobedient people, turning them into true soldiers of power.

A Regulated Game

As soon as the intelligent virus is incorporated in our metabolism, it starts dictating. The global purpose of a game is fight for power which is solely governed by power. These playing conditions were identified by a Chinese philosopher Men-Tszy as ‘punishment is its flesh; rites are its wings; knowledge is the footing; virtue is the means of attraction’. The participants take unthinkable pains to retain their present position or increase their influence.

The supreme law of the game, begetting a monster of double morals, is winning at all costs.

In the Name of Justice

Power and truth prove incompatible, although the intelligent virus is wickedly capable of camouflage. The point is not the truth itself (in the speech of a man clothed with authority), but its print in the words. The disease, gathering momentum, endorses the methods of domination. What is the short end of the stick? – The procedure is realized under the shade and in the name of the law! The use of equivocal language characterizes the lexis of power. Referring to George Orwell, you may remember that the Ministry of Truth performed the police functions. Moreover, those in authority tend to stoke the public sentiment for virtue, employing it for governance.

In any country of the world you can encounter a hypocrite who could pronounce the right words with the wrong implication.

The Enchantment of Abuse

Having achieved the cherished dream, those at the top of the mountain cannot help the almighty thrill of the ‘avalanche’ drug. Like typical addicts, they experience withdrawal symptoms in its absence along with the inability to resist its charm. The armor of power seems impenetrable, providing the holder with an air of omnipotence. The corruption appears so friendly, on the one hand, with your impunity – on the other, so why not? And there is no such ‘crown fire’ as after the exhilaration of power.

What comes out of a deposed monarch?

An Off-Size Garment

With all the seeming perks of power, what do we receive? We presumably get the unlimited might which is in essence a loss. As a matter of fact, the garment feels uncomfortable. Consequently, we get formed to fit in. Every now and then, the status demands a little bit of our soul, which appears insignificant to us at first. It forces the owners to belie faith and good when requested, to make a choice in favour of fear rather than truth; it staggers our moral standards, changing us into blushless creatures – causing a total virtue deprivation. Power is a stimulant for an Olympic runner: extracting his own resources, it breaks his heart. Have you ever taken notice of a typical skilled official? His spine takes the form of a question mark! The posture of a regulator allows simultaneous yield and savage. To cap it all, the one on top is always lonely.

This is a terminal stage of a disease.

The Cult of Power

The Russian and Ukrainean writer Leonid Suhorukov posed a reasonable question: ‘Which is worse – people seizing ascendancy, or ascendancy seizing people?’  To be honest, I fail to choose. The ultimate goal of power is power. The personified growing impact becomes unstoppable, developing a tendency of expansion. A mass of might may mother the power of darkness; converting it into an inquisitor. History counts a lot of examples of tyrants that originally used to express a positive idea of political and social development (like Adolf Hitler or Joseph Stalin). Power itself resembles a djinn released out of a bottle. Expansion is an inseparable property of domination. Contemporary examples of reasons of state stepping over the established borders are quite persuasive. It results in local wars around the world and uncontrollable migration aggrandizing the global tension.

The pendulum is swinging.

To Draw Teeth

Knowing the sophisticated nature of power, one would ask how to decontaminate it. The treatment does exist! The first way is to dispose of fear as one of its main instruments. A sense of responsibility also reduces the lust for it. Our redemption lies in distrust to domination. Nevertheless, the genuine antagonist of power is the ability to sacrifice your life for the sake of the collective you come from. Such people amount to a man in a million. For instance, Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi, Sergei Kirov or Nelson Mandela.

In conclusion, returning to Abraham Lincoln’s assertion: ‘Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power’, I agree with it wholeheartedly. Indeed, if somebody offered me power one day, the response would be: ‘No, thanks. I prefer to be healthy’.

5 comments on “The Virus of Power

  1. Tamara on

    Took delight reading the article. It’s unusual, well-structured and presenred me with some new ideas. It is true that we are all subject to the power impact, and no one is protected.

  2. Shambhal on

    It is one of the finest entry on the topic, but somewhere I feel you described the process of getting into power more than the consequences. With the vocab you have , you could have created wonders. It would have been better if you had balanced the both. Language is extraordinary but content somewhere I think falls short of. Nevertheless A+ for you

    • Irina on

      Thank you very much for your opinion. I’m glad it was interesting and helpful. I’ll keep in mind all your recommendations while writing other pieces.


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