Emotional Work Politics

Day 910 and The Chessboard

You can feel it. I know you can. The chessboard is being reset. Pieces are being moved. Gambits are unfolding. Absolutely everyone you know is going a little bit nuts.

I would not be surprised if these small informational disruptions will be recognized as part of a global conflict in a hundred years. I hope my heirs recognize that their mother fought as an information resistance fighters in The Great Dislocation Wars. Or World War 3. Just spitballing.

It’s humorous to me to talk in such a grandiose fashion because the reality on the ground is much of life is just a little bit harder and a little bit worse. But we still presume the world is basically still abiding by the same rules as yesterday.

I often forget how much people don’t want to hold power. The current moment shows a strange ambivalence about wielding anything yourself. Anyone with power is bad right? Well, it’s nuanced.

I want to assure you that your instincts in this matter is largely correct. You should distrust anyone that wants power. Be skeptical of the impulse.

Because being in charge sucks. It’s a shitty job. Anyone who has wielded any power from parenting a toddler to being a CEO probably intuitively knows this.

But once you have been given any legitimate form of authority, choosing to ignore that you wield power is a dereliction of duty.

The trouble with all reactionaries is that they assume once they take over, that their experience of power will somehow be different from the current horrors in charge. If they had bothered to crack open their minds while reading Shakespeare (or Thucydides or the Artashastra or literally any Great Book) they would know all men are subjected to the laws of power.

We lie to ourselves about how power functions because it’s very energetically easy to hand over your power to someone else. To be aggrieved is to have power over those you hold in contempt for exercising their power over you. Don’t be tempted by this trap no matter how righteous your cause.

Once you have picked up the mantle of power you must see through. If your people have given you authority you must see it through or hand it off to someone who will.

It’s very hard to own power. You most likely will not enjoy it. And you will be tempted to shunt off your agency. Just remember that you never carry power alone. It is always in concert with those who have consented to give it to you. Good luck on the great chessboard of life.