Since the beginning of human civilization, we have found it necessary to organize ourselves into social structures and systems. From the lowest level of the family unit to the level of national government to the highest level of the international system, we have constructed a social structure of clear and defined hierarchies. Perhaps out of necessity, these hierarchies serve as a framework for the distribution of power within the system; at the very top power is monopolized, and at the very bottom power is almost non-existent. The family traditionally was led and headed by the powerful patriarch, the national government is structured into a system of positions with increasing levels of power culminating at the top with the office of president, and the international system is based around the concept of hegemony and dominated by the world’s most powerful states.
Since the earliest of times, power was monopolized by those at the top of the social structure; this trend has yet to be broken. Throughout the classic era, through the Middle Ages, and into the early modern era the justification to this power was often sought and found in divine mandate. Kings, who argued that they were placed upon their thrones by God, were granted absolute power and operated at the top of the social hierarchy. Gradually, the divine justification provided by kings was done away with as new mediums through which power could be developed were discovered. The predominant way power was acquired and enforced was through economic strength; the wealthy and the landed were often the nobility, and even as the aristocratic systems were done away with the accumulation of capital remained the way to power. This became especially true with the industrial revolution and the rise of the capitalist economic system. The social hierarchy which we currently live in is thus dominated by power produced by capital; capital is the major driving factor behind our political institutions, the source of the tension between the powerless masses and the wealthy elite, and a major factor behind the actions of our country.
The emergence of capitalism as the dominant economic system following the Cold War solidified capitalism as the global economic theory for the foreseeable future, and as such the social hierarchy which the human civilization has always operated on, that of varying levels of power acquired by the means through which power is developed, is likely to continue unfettered. Yet the ideas of the communist ideology, and the hopes it held about the evolution of human civilization, remain significant. Indeed, I believe that they represent the ultimate direction our civilization will develop towards. Eventually, the hierarchies of power will be, and must be, broken down. The distribution of in the social structure, with an absolute monopolization at the top and the absence of power among the vast masses at the bottom, will eventually balance out. As history has demonstrated, over time social hierarchies have been broken down because of agitation for change from those who were left out of their distribution of power. Of course, one source of power has been substituted for another; divine mandate has been replaced by wealth. Yet the next step in the evolution of mankind is the total reformation of the social hierarchy, replacing one where different levels have different distributions of power with one where power is distributed evenly. The recognition of the unitary nature of our species, that were are all human in all regards, is steadily growing; the processes of globalization and instant communication are far more powerful then we may recognize at the moment, and they bond elements and members of our species together where before they were totally disparate. With this recognition comes a recognition of our common plight, a social consciousness of the disparities in power distribution. Eventually, I hope that this will lead to the evolution of our social hierarchy, and that the traditional power structure which we still live in withers away.
Communism failed as an economic system and as an ideology because it was designed in a time when human society was totally unprepared for it. Egalitarianism requires an equal and even distribution of power; the reality of our society is that power is entirely disproportionate. Without a social framework for egalitarianism, an economic theory built around it is doomed to fail. As society begins to reform its power structures, however, and as the global human race begins to recognize the natural equality in the human species, we will begin to move towards a more egalitarian society. Perhaps there will not be social equality, or even economic equality, but if the acquisition and utilization of power can be removed from the conventional sources which it has been developed and thus freely shared by all, then all will be liberated. In the end, everything in our world is determined by the use of power, and if we can change the way that power is used, then we can change everything about our world.
The concept of power and its distribution is something of extreme interest to me, and something which I continue develop and refine my ideas about. However, I think that there needs to be a much wider discussion about the distribution of power in our society, and a further discussion about the current, and future, nature of our civilization. We still live in a civilization dominated by the same structures and hierarchies of power which existed at its very beginning; we thus still live in a civilization in its infancy, in development. I believe that one day we will indeed reach the next stage in social evolution, but that day is perhaps far off. Nonetheless, it is the role of our current generation in our current day and place to work to accomplish this evolution. There is no greater goal than developing a society where every member can contribute equally, can live equally, and can participate equally. Until power and its means of acquisition is redistributed and reformed, this will not be a reality.