The Triangle of Power 

Monday, August 30, 2004

Although I've always had political leanings, and have been interested in politics, it was only recently that I really started to understand government, the inevitable formation of governments, and what the foundation of the various forms of government are. What is Communism? What is Fascism? What is Capitalism? Do we need any of this? Why can't we just live without a government? Hopefully, I will enlighten you by sharing some of my discoveries of late.

To understand all of this, you must first understand that wherever there is a landmass with a significant population of people, there exists natural wealth. By natural wealth, I mean that you have a population of people with needs and wants, who'll trade things of value to meet them. By natural wealth I mean there may be natural resources that other lands may want or need (precious metals, lumber, oil, etc.). By natural wealth I mean that the people may have special skills that can meet the needs or wants of others. By natural wealth I mean the land might be a convenient pathway to other lands. The list goes on.

The one thing you must understand as a matter of historical fact, is that some person (or small group of people) with the help of loyal followers, will seize control of that natural wealth. There is no way of preventing it. All you can do is hope to be a part of the process. There are three basic types of groups that throughout history have gained control of various lands. In every country, one or more of these groups get control. Which group (or coalition of groups) takes control directly correlates with what type of governance prevails in the land.

I call it the "Triangle of Power." The three general groups (or points in the triangle) are: Government, Corporations, and The People. Imagine each point of an equilateral triangle being one of these groups. Power over a land is controlled by one or more of these points. Rarely does one rule exclusively, but often (in failed, or non-free countries) one has more power than the others. Before I continue, let me clearly define all three groups.

Government: In this model, "Government" has a more specific meaning than "The group that has control." Here I mean Government as a noun and implying an organization (regardless of how it was formed or mandated) that creates, interprets, and executes laws of the land. A Government may be a militant faction that seized control, it might be an organization formed by a Corporation or groups of Corporations, or it might be a body of public servants elected by The People.

Corporations: I'm using a modern term here, but not necessarily referring to the legal entity that USA law defines as a Corporation. Rather, I'm merely talking about an organization that has wealth much greater than the average person, exists to advance that wealth, and usually provides one or more products and/or services to a population of people. The modern incarnation of this type of group is the "Corporation," especially in the United States of America.

The People: This group is unique, as the other two are merely sub sections of this group. The People are all those that live on the land. Strangely enough, this group holds the most natural power when they act with one voice. History shows, however, that The People rarely do combine their voice and assert their power. Indeed, they only seem to do so when conditions are extreme and the need is clear to a critical mass.

When "Government" has a majority of power, you have dictatorships, theocracies, monarchies, and other types of authoritarian "rule by force and fear" styles of governance.

When "Corporations" have the majority of power you have feudalism, and other types of "rule by the rich" styles of governance that usually end up authoritarian and oppressive.

In 1776 a new experiment began. The People exerted their power and created "rule by the consent of the governed." Democracy, or more specifically, a Republican Democracy emerged. Although democracies had been tried previously, this was the first time that The People were handed full control of choosing all leaders by vote, and a governmental body was formed in a way that limits the power of any single elected official (e.g. the three branches of government in the USA).

By the 20th century, three major forms of democracies emerged: Fascism, Capitalism, and Communism. Not all were true democracies, but all at least started out as claiming to be elected bodies ruling the people. The difference between these three, at the foundation, is the way in which the balance of power is divided up among the Triangle of Power entities. In none of these does one point of the triangle have full control, but rather each has a different leaning of control. The quick rundown is this: with Fascism, Government and The People are tools of Corporations; with Communism, Corporations and The People are tools of Government; with Capitalism, Government and Corporations are tools of The People.

Fascism is Corporate rule behind a puppet authoritarian Government. The wealth of the land is mostly under Corporate control. Even though elections may occur, only those politicians that are approved by Corporations are presented (because corporations rule the means of mass communication with little or no Government oversight). Government, being a mere PR arm of Corporations, rule with propaganda promoting extreme nationalism, exaggerated foreign threats, importance of religion, and anything else that creates an atmosphere where questioning authority would be looked down upon.

Communism is Government rule behind the pretense of protecting The People. It seeks to limit corporate power by seizing control of the land's wealth and engineering businesses with heavy regulation. They too use propaganda, telling the people they are being cared for by their government. The government owns and regulates content of mass communication. Again, elections may occur, but due to the Government regulating the content of mass communication, only government-approved candidates would be exposed to The People.

Capitalism is The People rule by electing Government and protecting the right of every citizen to start and build Corporations. There are four key elements to this system: a set of protected rights and liberties for every citizen, a division of the land's wealth into public and private sectors, the right to private ownership within the private sector, and access for all in the public sector. Also of great importance, is that the government itself lives in the public sector and is designed in a way that limits the power of any individual elected official. Every citizen collectively owns the assets in the public sector. It is regulated in a way that allows every citizen access, so long as they abide by rules set by their elected representatives. What goes into the public sector (often times called the "Commons" or the "Public Trust"), is sometimes a matter of debate. But the rule of thumb is to put things in the public trust that would give a private owner (or corporation) too much power over the people, or the ability to prevent competition. Mass communication, for example, is part of the commons. As we've seen in Fascism and Communism, control of mass communication gives a group a lot of power. Therefore, freedom of the press is a right of all citizens. To preserve that right, every citizen has the right to use mass communication in the pursuit of a private entrepreneurial endeavor, so long as they follow the rules. For example, one rule controls how much of a market one company can saturate. This keeps one Corporation from controlling too much content The People get to see, hear, or read. Mass communication, being owned by the citizens, is not run by the government and cannot be seized by a single Corporation, but is available to every citizen through government regulation. The key to the Capitalist Republican Democracy (and why I think it works best) is that the natural powers that each point in The Triangle of Power have are balanced out evenly. This allows each to breath and feel comfortable doing what they do best without getting in the way of the others, or feeling threatened by others.

That's the dime tour of the "Triangle of Power." This is, of course, very brief. I will write more about it in future posts.

If you want to know more about Capitalist Republican Democracies (like the United States of America), please read "We The People" by Thom Hartmann. It's a great primer, and a call to return America to her roots.

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