Thoughts on the unique quality of the American ‘perpetual power vacuum’ – the fear of a person in power, its origins with Moses, and the tug-of-war between a system and humanity

Here’s a thought I had:

It seems, to me, that the U.S. has a unique power vacuum problem.  It is largely a result of its political system.  It creates a condition that leads to a power vacuum that can never be filled.  In this way, it creates what can be described as a ‘perpetual power vacuum’.  This power vacuum has gone on even down to everyday life.  In this way, it has had great impact on the society and people as a whole.

To begin with, the political system of the U.S. has a quality where it tends to “force” conditions in a certain direction as its main motive.  That is to say, it is not a system that “goes along with the situation” nor is it all that reactive to situations (this, of course, is not what it professes).  Instead, it is oriented at forcing things in a usually predetermined direction with the idea that a predetermined result will happen.  This “forcing” is often called “change” and they seem to automatically assume that it is always the right path (regardless if it is or not).  This shows some conditions about this political system:

  • They base everything from an already established interpretation of things.  In other words, its point of view is not based in actual existing conditions, necessarily, but on a way of interpreting things that already exists.  In this way, this political system tends does not react to actual existing realities.  Instead, any current realities are compared to the already established interpretation, which is used as a basis for their actions.  This is one reason why the U.S. is so notorious at misinterpreting things, world situations, and other cultures.  Its also one reason why the U.S. always interprets, and reacts, the same way over and over again and again (such as that all the worlds problems are caused by “oppressive governments”).
  • The already established interpretation is rooted and based in a fear or apprehension.  These have become the attitudes that lie behind this political system.  They often determine its points of view and motivates what it does.  Its the reason why they are always forcing things to happen . . . to avoid or prevent something they fear.  These attitudes are also one of the reasons why the U.S. becomes paranoid so easily.
  • The fear or apprehension makes it so that they tend to “force” things in a certain direction to prevent what they fear.  Often, the solution is based in the already established interpretation and is “forced” over and over again (such as that the solution to the worlds problems is “freedom and democracy” and nations must be “forced” to practice it).
  • It often entails an idea of a already established solution.  This is a reflection of the already established interpretation and is often the same solution over and over again (such as that “voting” will solve everything).  In this way, the solution this political system offers is very limited and not very reactive to actual existing conditions.

One of the things we see is a political system that is based in fear and ideas more than in actual existing conditions.  This makes them “force” an already established solution to avoid this fear or apprehension.  As a result, its not uncommon that this political system becomes somewhat “detached” from the real-world reality and actual existing conditions (of course, that’s not what they say).  This is one reason why many of the solutions this political system offers don’t work.

What is the base of their fear and apprehension?

This is primarily to prevent any one person from having complete political power.  This is the basic idea of democracy where the people are supposed to have power.

Anyone who knows history knows that, though there are examples of this in the past, it has been made out far larger than it really is.  The fact of the matter is that a single person in power is not a major source of the worlds problems.  There are many other factors and elements that create problems in countries than that.  To focus primarily on that as a cause is like saying that good health is rooted in not eating a lot of fatty foods.  In the U.S., this line of thought has been made out so big that one could say that it has taken an almost obsessive and one-sided point of view.  I know people, for example, where it is the ONLY point of view and it explains ALL the problems of the world.  I, myself, have even said that its been made out so big that it its “almost like a religion” and that, I tend to feel, is its origin . . .

I tend to think that the “religious” obsessive fear of one person in control does, in fact, originate from religion.  That is to say, its origins do not really originate from actual experience and events but in a pattern of religious belief.  We must remember that religious belief is very powerful.  The beliefs in religion tend to establish a tendency of interpretation of the world.  As a result, religious belief tends to do things such as:

  • They are used as a base of all interpretations.
  • The interpretation they offer tend to be favored over all others.
  • They tend to neglect other interpretations.
  • They are viewed as the “ultimate interpretation” and so are given great importance, sanctity, and value.

The religious beliefs I speak of originate from Christianity and, through it, Judaism.  In some respects, Judaism sets the stage or, more properly, Moses sets the stage for this whole situation.

A significant part of the drama of Moses is a fight against a single man in power:  the Egyptian Pharaoh.  To make things even worse, the Pharaoh was viewed as a god.  Moses was then fighting not only against a man in power but a god.  Moses ended up breaking away from the Pharaoh and eventually led the Hebrews through the desert for 40 years.  During this time he set up the laws, sacrifices, and general attitudes that have made up Judaism ever since (though with modifications, of course).  In this way, I often jokingly refer to Judaism as “Mosesism”, as it really has a lot of origin from Moses.

In breaking from Pharaoh there developed an attitude of a fear or apprehension of people in power.  In the Jewish people, it seems to me, this appears more as a fear of people in power that are not Jewish.  This created a strong sense of a “Jewish people” as opposed to other people, a “me versus you” attitude.  I have often wondered if this is an origin of anti-Semitism (see my article “Some thoughts on the possible nature and origin of anti-Semitism???“).  Overall, it seemed to create a sense of distrust toward other people and a valuation of ones people.  In other words, it created something like a religious or ethnic favoritism.  This created something like a wall around the Jewish people separating them from everyone else.

With Christianity we see another fight against a man in power:  the Roman Emperor.  In some respects, Jesus Christ became another Moses, following his lead, showing the power and influence of Moses in Judaism.  He imitated Moses in many ways:

  • He was the savior of the people as Moses saved the Hebrews.
  • He was sacrificed reflecting the many forms of sacrifice that Moses set up.
  • He created a new “law” (of love) as Moses had created new laws.

With Christianity, many Jewish attitudes would naturally be extended to anyone who followed him.  Since many non-Jews would end up following Jesus they would end up adopting many Jewish attitudes coming from Moses.

One thing that did not seem to pass into Christianity was the “me versus you” wall that the Jewish people developed.  This gave Christianity more of an open, secular, or generalized attitude making it accepting, and appealing, to many non-Jew’s.  A remnant of this attitude, though, probably turned into the idea that the world has to convert to Christianity.  You were either Christian or not Christian (“me versus you”).  But instead of the wall that Judaism created something else appeared:  non-Christians must convert to Christianity.  Instead of a wall, an “everyone must be like us” was created.  In many ways, this is just the “me versus you” attitude in a modified form.  This attitude of “everyone must be like us” is one of the many attitudes coming from religion that would persist into the U.S.  Instead of “everyone must be Christian” it now becomes “everyone must live in a democracy”.  The U.S. trying to make the world a democracy is just a continuation of the attitude behind the Christian conversion of the world.

Jesus Christ’s conflict with the Romans only reinforced the fear of people in power in Christianity.  Since Christianity was prosecuted in its early years, it probably helped this fear and apprehension grow and become more firmly implanted in Christian attitudes.

As Christianity spread the fear and apprehension of a single person in power was often applied to whatever political/social situation that appeared.  It became the “easy explanation” for any problems they may have.  This is because of things like these:

  • It gave the explanation a “religious sanctification” and, accordingly, an authority to justify the blame.
  • It created a “scapegoat” to blame things on.  Oftentimes, governments, Kings, ministers, and anyone in government were automatically assumed to be “corrupt”, “evil”, “greedy”, “power hungry”, “self-serving”, and such (which tended to reflect, oddly enough, Christian vices).

When the tribal monarchies of Northern Europe started to have problems the King would naturally be associated with this Judeo/Christian fear of a person in power attitude.  This became particularly pronounced, interestingly, after the Protestant Reformation in the 1500’s which caused great religious crisis and fervor.  The great Monarch of Northern Europe would become easy targets.  He would become the “new Pharaoh” that we must free ourselves from, just as Moses did.  In some respects, a “great reenactment of Moses” took place in the political theorizing of the 1700’s, with the King as Pharaoh and the people as the Jews.  Democracy would become the new law of Moses.

The political system of the U.S. was created in the late 1700’s, during this time, and is greatly associated with this mentality and the “great reenactment of Moses”.  As a result, the political system of the U.S. was based in this “religious” fear of a person in power.  Because of this, its whole perspective is geared to prevent this from happening.  It does this by things such as:

  • Voting by the people.
  • Limiting the power of those in power.

The idea of these is to prevent the rise of a person in power.  As I said above, this isn’t necessarily because of a historic pattern of abuse by people in power (which isn’t as great as is supposed) but more from “religious” attitudes that have become ingrained in the thinking of the culture and which caused them to interpret things in a certain way.  This “religious” origin is why its look at so seriously and critically, as if the whole fate of the world depended on it.  And so we can see that the political system of the U.S. is primarily to prevent the rise of any one person being in power or any one gaining power.  In this way, it creates a system where no one, really, is in control or has control.

The effect of this is that the political system of the U.S. creates conditions like this:

  • There is an inability for anyone to do anything.
  • There develops forms of “underground power”.  That is, power that “goes around” the political system.  In many cases, this is the only way to get things done.  Because it is “underground” it also leads to a lot of corruption.
  • Since no one is in control nothing gets done or, if it does, it takes forever and is often ineffective.
  • There develops a “government apathy”.
  • This apathy tends to create a “social apathy”.
  • It creates an atmosphere of continuous bickering and complaining.
  • Since there’s no one in charge people manipulate the system for their own ends.
  • It ends up creating a condition where there is a continual undermining of power in society as a whole.
  • It tends to create an overall stagnating quality.

Initially, this was only directed to political power but, over time, it has permeated to everyday life.  One effect of this is that it has made everyone powerless down to even parents who, in some places, can’t even spank their own kids!  Not only that, nothing changes nor can you do anything about anything.  In other words, preventing the rise of a person in power has, over time, made everyone powerless. 

But human society is based in power.  This undermining of power goes against the natural conditions of human society.  In this way, the American political system actually undermines human society over all and conflicts with human nature (see my articles “Thoughts on how the U.S. is undermining itself with its own ideals – the ‘God-ordained democracy’ thats frightened of authority” and “Thoughts on how “freedom and democracy” undermines human society“).  The effect of this is that it has an impairing effect on human society.  In some ways, it “bottlenecks” human society not allowing it to function properly.  There are times, I must admit, when I wonder how anything gets done at all.

This undermining of power causes a power vacuum that’s never resolved:  the ‘perpetual power vacuum’.  In other words, the undermining of power creates a power vacuum.  But the natural tendency of human society is to have power.  As a result, humanity tries to fill the vacuum but it can’t because the system won’t allow it.  This causes great tension in the society.  One can also look at it this way:

  1. The American political system undermines power in politics and society (I always jokingly say “. . . its a crime for anyone to be in control in this country”).
  2. A power vacuum is created because no one is in power.
  3. There are attempts to try to try and fill the vacuum because human society needs power.
  4. None of these attempts works because the American political system makes it so that power by anyone does not work.
  5. A tension is created by the continuous power vacuum which remains.

It creates things like these:

  • A continual political and social stress.
  • Continual battles between different points of view.
  • The use of underhanded techniques (“underground power”).
  • Many things are never solved.
  • A sense of disappointment, frustration, and anger.
  • Illusions of power or people thinking that they have power when they really do not (you see this in a lot of “educated” people or people in the government).
  • A quality of hypocrisy, of people thinking that they are greater than they really are.
  • The creation of “pseudo-powers” or things that appear to be power but isn’t (such as making a lot of money).
  • A tendency of “pointless scrambling”, of continually fighting for something that isn’t there.
  • A sense of helplessness which can turn into a hopeless attitude.
  • An apathy.

The fact is that human society needs power to function properly.  This is one reason why “real democracies” don’t work and fail after awhile.

This power in human society creates things like:

  • The “origin of influence”.  This refers to the source of the source or the impetus of power.  It is the thing that power originates from (such as a leader).
  • A “rallying point”.  This refers to having something to stand behind and follow.  One could say that this is what the leader represents.
  • A “following”.  This refers to the people who follow the source of power.  Without the people who follow there is no power.

Taking away power destroys the “origin of influence” which no longer supplies a “rallying point” making the “following” redundant.  As a result, everything comes to a halt or is impaired in functioning.  Society (which is really the “following”) will tend to become haphazard and disorganized as a result.

Since the political system undermines human power systems something has come in to replace it:  a “system”.   What this shows is that a lot of the “functioning” in this society, it seems to me, is no longer human-based.  It is based in the ultra organized system that the U.S. has created.  It is this system that keeps the U.S. going and functioning.  This is true with much of the modern world.

We must then make a distinction:

  • Human-based society.  This is society that is based on the naturally appearing human tendencies and qualities.  It is based in social power.
  • A “system”.  This is a society based more in regulations, rules, laws, organizations, etc.  If the “system” is organized enough then it can be run purely as a “system”.   When it becomes particularly strong I call it “systemism” (I’ve written a number of article on this in this blog).

The fact is that the undermining of power in human society has only led to the growth of a “system”.  In fact, its made it a necessity.  Without the “system” the U.S. may of deteriorated long ago.

What we are seeing, then, is a replacing of power with the “system”.  In that way, the system becomes the new “power”, so to speak.  The “system” makes power redundant and useless.  But, as I said above, humanity still fights for power, even though there is no power to gain.  This turns the fight for power as something like an empty cause, a useless struggle.  This is the ‘perpetual power vacuum’ I speak of.

I have often speculated that one of the reasons for the “apathy” in white males (as many white males have little drive to do anything) is because of the futility of “fighting for power”.  Its not surprising that this “apathy” would first affect the white males, who are part of the group that created the “system”.  Being on the front lines of it all, they are the first ones to feel its effects.  Many white males, I think, are looking out into the world where they have no power, hence the apathy (though they are unaware of it).  Its almost as if many white males has had the carpet pulled from under their feet.  Other people, such as females and minorities, are “trailing behind” and this fact has not hit them yet.  They still think that there is power there.  The “apathy” will probably soon catch up with them as well.

Interestingly, I often feel that a lot of the anger against politics and society is caused by the conditions this power vacuum causes.  What’s odd, though, is that the solution that they offer to solve it – the political system of the U.S. – is what’s causing it!  In other words, the solution to the problem is the cause of the problem.  In this way, something like a vicious circle has been created.

Because the “system” uses laws, organization, etc. on such a large scale it seems possible that the tendency to create a “system”, in Judeo/Christian-based societies, may have origin in the laws of Moses, though I cannot say for sure.  Moses created a multitude of laws and sacrifices that must be performed and which could be very complex.  This, over time, would create in Jewish people an attitude of laws and organization as part of “how the world works”.  This, of course, would be transferred to Christianity and would, no doubt, make up much of the attitude of Christian-based societies.  Its no wonder, then, that European society, which is Christian-based, would naturally turn to a “system” as part of “how things work”.  Because of this, we might be able to say that “systemism” has origin with Moses.

Overall, the undermining of power gives the U.S. a quality as if everyone is trying to climb a mountain that isn’t there or a people trying to grasp smoke.  It has given the U.S. a reputation, at least to me, as a place with qualities such as these:

  • That there is a “void” in society.
  • A sense of “something missing”.
  • A sense of having no direction.
  • A sense of “having nothing to belong to”.

In a way, it gives society a quality much like a “lost society” or a “bankrupt culture”.  This is quite significant as it shows that there is an inherent need for power in society.  That is to say, not only does humanity require power for society to function but it needs it interiorly.  Power affects a society on a deep level.  Here it affects each person individually.  In this way, society is not just something you are a part of but something that is a part of you.  One could say that this can become spiritual-like in some ways.

More specifically, there is a need for a “power image”.   This “image” is a something to “rally” around, so to speak.  It could be things like this:

  • A person, such as a leader.
  • A belief.
  • A way of life.
  • A “familiarity” (that is, something common between people that make people “connect”, such as race, family, occupation, etc.).

This “power image” is very important as it creates:

  • Something to look up to.
  • Something to belong to.
  • Something to give meaning and purpose.
  • Security and well being.

In this way, we see that human society is, in some sense, created by the “power image”.  It becomes the bonding agent and guide of the society.  The degradation of power, and its “power image”, then tends to degrade human society as a result.

In many ways, this situation describes a “system versus human institutions” problem.  Basically, the American political system has created a condition where the “system” is above human institutions and tends to undermine them.  Despite this, the “human” keeps wanting to play a part in things.  This makes something like a tug-of-war between the “system” and human tendencies (the ‘perpetual power vacuum’).  Since the “system” has so much influence, and is now a necessity, this tug-of-war will probably go on indefinitely . . . or as long as humanity can hold out.  In this way, we are seeing a conflict between a system and humanity.  This means that we are now fighting the very thing we have created.

Copyright by Mike Michelsen

This entry was posted in Christianity, Christian conversion, Post-Christianity, and Christian influence, Culture, cultural loneliness, etc., Government and politics, Historical stuff, Modern life and society, Society, The 'system' and 'systemism', The U.S. and American society and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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