War and Peace
by Leo Tolstoy
War and Peace Epilogue, Part 2, Chapter 7 Summary
- Picture this: a bunch of guys are dragging a log. All of them say how they think the thing should be dragged. After the dragging, they realize that they dragged it in exactly the way one of them had suggested. Which means, when you work it out in hindsight, that he gave the order and they obeyed. And voila – power.
- Some historical events can be explained like this too – say, for example, the French Revolution. All of a sudden, French people start killing each other for some unknown reason. Meanwhile, a few of them start writing about the quest for liberty and equality. When we look back with hindsight to try to make sense out of this, we decide it’s the writers who had the power, since they were saying French people would only get liberty and equality if they killed a bunch of other French people.
- But there are enough people writing their opinions and generating ideas that every event can be back-justified to match up with someone’s ideas.
- Now we have the answers to our questions:
- What is power? Power is the way people who generate ideas are connected to people who act, and the way that those actions are usually forced to match up with these ideas after the fact.
- What force makes peoples move? This movement happens as a result of all the people joining and rejoining an ongoing activity, so that those who take the most direct part in the activity end up taking the least responsibility for it – and vice versa.
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