Power II

A paradox of power is that while the hermit renounces power, the oppressed and exploited of the world might well seek power in order to redress their plight. Is it mocking their plight to counsel the renunciation of power? Some commentators have maintained that only those who would give up power are worthy to accept it. Plato wanted only philosophers as kings. Ashoka of India affected his generation but Marcus Aurelius could not. The Chinese tradition breaks through the Gordian knot — for some: serve the king when good, renounce and recluse when evil. For Confucius this was an on-going dilemma, but for Chuang-tzu there was no doubt whether the the king (i.e., the powerful) was good or not. The oppressed and exploited of the world know better than many that the renunciation of power is indeed the beginning of the resolution. But they do not seek power. Rather, they would want the powerful to renounce power on behalf of all of us.