If we want to improve society, we need to gain power. Were this not the case, society would already look the way we want it to. In pursuit of becoming more powerful, we will benefit from an understanding of the nature of power. To investigate this, it is helpful to first examine something more familiar to our day-to-day experiences: disempowerment. We might not know what it feels like to be powerful, but we know we feel helpless when politicians ignore us, corporations take advantage of us, and our communities disintegrate. At the heart of this is a sense that we are being excluded from the processes that determine what society looks like.
Those processes involve negotiating how we should use available resources to meet common goals. But it feels like our goals are barely discussed. People with more resources control the process and have their goals overrepresented. I suggest, then, that we look at power as the ability to control resources, where a resource is anything that can be utilized to create a result. Your mind state is a resource just as much as your wallet. Your relationships just as much as your political clout. Your experiences and skills, your physical appearance, your force of will.
Resources extend way beyond the personal, however, so power is often rooted in the external. The task of human community has always been to figure out how to allocate those resources. Politics, then, is the practice of distributing power. So anything that upsets or reinforces the distribution of resources is inherently political. Violence is political not just because it can influence others, but because safety, or the perception thereof, is a resource. Information technology is political, because information is a resource. Food is political, because physical health is a resource. Race, sex, and class are all political, because social privilege is a resource.
With this understanding, it becomes clear that gaining power involves gaining control over resources. We will next examine Circumvention as a strategy for doing just that.