I raised the question of the importance of power in the context of the concept of “might makes right” to a friend, and I believe I’ve come to an interesting conclusion.
One thing you might find commonly in Western fiction is that people who seek power or to elevate their own potential are evil, and villains who espouse the idea that good and evil don’t exist and that only power matters. An example of this is found in the movie Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. At one point in the movie, Voldemort tries to convince Harry that “There is no good and evil, only power…and those too weak to seek it.”. So the object of the “good guys” is to defeat the villain while espousing ideals like love, peace, and compassion.
But am I the only one who sees the irony of this? The point of the so-called good guys is to oppose the villain’s quest for power, but they would never be able defeat him if they did not have any strength or power to oppose and defeat him.
Which brings us to the notion of “might makes right”. While I criticize the term itself (which I will elaborate on later in this post), and dislike its association with fascist ideologies, I’m starting to see how much power, and the exerting of one’s will matters.
Think about it. As I mentioned earlier, without the strength or power to oppose evil, you will never be able to defeat it, and it will do as it pleases without anything stopping it. So if you want to fight evil, you must have the strength to do it. Without the strength to topple tyrants, they would be able to reign and oppress unabated. In that sense, power does matter, mainly exerting ones will and the strength to fight and oppose. Though power and strength sometimes comes in many forms. Sometimes individual will is not the only way this force is exerted.
Now I elaborate on the term “might makes right”. I don’t think “right” comes from “might”, or from common doctrine or law, but from personal judgement on what you think is wrong or right. Remember, it is ultimately you who judges for yourself what is right and wrong. The concept refers to the fact that those who can exert their will and towards the world around them will do so, and those who can exert their will tend to be able to make sure that things go their way, and the rules are often set by those who can enforce them. It doesn’t make anyone morally right. Unfortunately, the maxim of “might makes right”, mainly by nature of the choice of words, has been very open to distortion as both the credo of fascist/totalitarian states (both of which I doubt even value personal power or empowerment) and a state of “anarchy” where people start killing each other. It is also twisted into a moral prescriptive or proscription for society to follow, rather than as a descriptive. Thus, I think a better term might something like “power is everything”, or “power matters”, or “nothing happens without power”, or something that is a descriptive and not a moral prescription.
All I’m saying, is that I’m coming to see why power matters (which really is the term we should use instead of “might makes right”). Because without it nothing happens. Without the strength to oppose evil and tyranny, they will never be opposed. Change happens through the exertion of the will to see it through. I am not a Social Darwinist, or a fascist, and I don’t support any theme park “the strong will reign and the weak will die” crap. I just think that nothing happens without power, the will, or the exerting of both, and that. I just espouse the importance of power and will. And it’s pretty obvious that this is true throughout the whole of human history. Also consider that will to power (alongside the quest for pleasure, and self-interest) is one of the driving forces of man.