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Old 11-24-2012, 12:06 PM   #123
Erick Mead
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Dojo: Big Green Drum (W. Florida Aikikai)
Location: West Florida
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 2,619
Re: The Fear of Power

Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
Jon Reading wrote:
As Chris indicated, I believe autonomy (or rather, autonomous) is a form of power. In particular, it is a form of power expressed with a freedom from control; a power independent of external influence. So in answer to your question, no, I am not confusing power with autonomy. More precisely, I would say autonomy is just a type of power.
Exactly so. The distinction matters. I think it's clear that some are failing to make that distinction in this discussion. Whether one fails to grasp that distinction or willfully ignores it, it still enables one to assert that those who are not seeking "power" in their aikido training are either 1)in denial or 2)incapable of exercising autonomy. That's the problem with using language as a blunt instrument: you tend to be wrong more often than not.
Autonomy is not power. Autonomy is the result of having power -- to refuse the dictates of those who seek power over you. But it is dangerous to seek power -- for either purpose-- whether to exercise it over others, or to refuse its exercise over you.

Exercising power over others is an evil -- perhaps necessary -- but necessity tends to makes such evils into virtues. "Seeking power" is a moral question -- and really, what we do is not for the purpose of "seeking power.' We seek to engage the exercise of power without succumbing to its brutal logic. Those who seek power over others ultimately become its victims.

Don't believe me?

One hundred men -- the most powerful in the country -- gathered together. They quickly found out that their collective seeking of power did not matter one bit when faced with someone who understood the true logic of power -- and cared not one whit about its evil. He -- and they -- all wanted to have power over others. He, too, did not end well.

The Unabomber, on the other hand, was also obsessed with the logic of the power process -- but with its lack of opportunity for "real autonomy" in the nature of commonplace modern threats and conditions. Autonomy as power can be quite as dangerous an outgrowth of power-seeking as megalomania.

Human beings have a need (probably based in biology) for something
that we will call the "power process." This is closely related to the
need for power (which is widely recognized) but is not quite the same
thing. The power process has four elements. The three most clear-cut
of these we call goal, effort and attainment of goal. (Everyone needs
to have goals whose attainment requires effort, and needs to succeed
in attaining at least some of his goals.) The fourth element is more
difficult to define and may not be necessary for everyone. We call it
autonomy ... most people are not in a position to pursue their goals
AUTONOMOUSLY. ... the power process is disrupted in our society through a
deficiency of real goals and a deficiency of autonomy in pursuit of
goals. ... The modern individual on the other hand is threatened by many things
against which he is helpless; nuclear accidents, carcinogens in food,
environmental pollution, war, increasing taxes, invasion of his
privacy by large organizations, nation-wide social or economic
phenomena that may disrupt his way of life.
I don't need martial art to obtain power. Any number of far easier technical means would suffice. I need martial art to be able engage the evil logic of real power-- whether to dictate (Hussein) or to refuse dictates (Unabomber) -- without becoming a part of it -- acting in violent circumstance without becoming infected with the contagion of the spirit of violence.

O Sensei did not vainly put Aikido into terms of Harae -- and the purification of violent spirit -- which can restore the world.


Erick Mead
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