Power: A New Social Analysis (Routledge Classics)
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The key to human nature that Marx found in wealth and Freud in sex, Bertrand Russell finds in power. Power, he argues, is man's ultimate goal, and is, in its many guises, the single most important element in the development of any society. Writting in the late 1930s when Europe was being torn apart by extremist ideologies and the world was on the brink of war, Russell set out to found a 'new science' to make sense of the traumatic events of the day and explain those that would follow.
The result was Power, a remarkable book that Russell regarded as one of the most important of his long career. Countering the totalitarian desire to dominate, Russell shows how political enlightenment and human understanding can lead to peace - his book is a passionate call for independence of mind and a celebration of the instinctive joy of human life.
same doctrine in the following terms: ‘The general happiness is increased if a certain sphere is deﬁned within which each individual is to be free to act as he chooses, without the interference of any external authority.’ The administration of justice was also a matter that interested the advocates of the Rights of Man; they held that no man should be deprived of life or liberty without due process of law. This is an opinion which, whether true or false, involves no philosophical absurdity. It is
government in power as ‘we’. But as Britain marched remorselessly to war in the late summer of 1914, Russell felt the irresistible call to dissent. Never a paciﬁst in the strict modern sense of that term, Russell passionately believed that this particular war—not all war—was an abomination; indeed, it oﬀended his every moral precept and political instinct. He therefore threw himself ﬁrst into the introduction neutrality campaign and then into the anti-war movement— speaking, writing,
it equally silly of the government to demand his recantation and of him to refuse it. If the world, in the near future, becomes divided between Communists and Fascists, the ﬁnal victory will go to neither, but to those who shrug their shoulders and say, like Candide, ‘cela est bien dit, mais il faut cultiver notre jardin’. The ultimate limit to the power of creeds is set by boredom, weariness, and love of ease. wastage of substance and energy, the dislocation of a national economy swollen in
if organisation were increased love of independence would become the stronger force, and if it were diminished oﬃcial love of power would be the stronger. Love of independence is, in most cases, not an abstract dislike of external interference, but aversion from some one form of control which the government thinks desirable—prohibition, conscription, religious conformity, or what not. Sometimes such sentiments can be gradually overcome by propaganda and education, which can indeﬁnitely weaken the
men at the centre and voters at a distance; followers can bring pressure on leaders, and leaders reciprocally can exert inﬂuence on followers, to an extent which was impossible in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The result has been to diminish the importance of the representative and increase that of the leader. Parliaments are no longer eﬀective intermediaries between voters and governments. All the dubious propagandist devices formerly conﬁned to election times can now be employed