Yuri Tarnopolsky                                                                                      ESSAYS
Essay 53. Power: Hidden Stick, Shared Carrot


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Essay 53. Power: Hidden Stick, Shared Carrot

carrot With the only remaining superpower in the world, the hue and cry about the power of corporations, the swelling power of money in politics, and the powerless occupation of Iraq, it is appropriate to ask what power means outside physics.

We all have intuitive images of power in social, economic, political, and even intimate context. Trying to fish out a definition of power from the Web, I quickly found that it ran through Google's colander in hundreds of trickles. The concept of changing technologies of power (Michel Foucault) was the only solid chunk that under circumstances could pass for a golden nugget, but Foucault himself, as befits an oracle, was not solid on anything. The oyster shell of his famous motto about power  old right to kill and let live was replaced by a power to support life and let die” (qu'au vieux droit de faire mourir et de laisser vivre s'est substitué un pouvoir de faire vivre et de laisser mourir) falls easily apart into " support life and kill" and "let live and let die" under the knife of analysis and some, myself included, find it empty. The opposition is just not true, starting at least with Hammurabi. And who but Communists/Fascists and anti-Communists/anti-Fascists could be solid, regarding the chaotic torrents of the twentieth century? Both C-s and F-s, by the way, wanted to make die as much as make live. One was just the way to the other.

                eagleelectromagnetic field Historically, the social power has always combined two ultimate forms: stick in one hand and carrot in the other. Michel Foucault gives not a hint of evidence of an evolutionary change from sovereign power (portrayed with scepter and orb, see on the left) to the "bio-power" that is a kind of omnipresent electromagnetic field, which, actually, could be its good symbolic representation (see on the right). Regarding "kill," Iraq War is a case to consider, but not here. All kinds of power coexist today in the world and even within the same country.

I cannot think about power without its unambiguous source. There is no power of money without its owner, whether individual or corporate. Even within a corporation it can always be traced to a desk and a name.

Michel Foucault and Giles Deleuze sensed the radical change in technology of power that was coming with wired capitalist democracy. By the end of their century, the change would become obvious with the Panopticonic loss of privacy (and sleep) and Laocoonic entanglement of individuals in wired and wireless connections (there is a real snake pit of wires under my desk, see below). Many people had bad dreams about technology even before that time and many still have.

snake pit

The snake pit (center) with Laocoon (left) and Panopticon (right).

How a powerful leader comes to grips with a flood of information? He brings his adopted sons and daughters into his staff to share the snakes' coils.


My first and only impression of Foucault is that of ultimate triviality of his parallel vision of the world, which I am inclined to compare with the vision of Plato's cave dwellers. The real world (together with natural sciences and observation of facts) remains outside. Instead, the cave  dwellers develop mythology and epic poetry. What he calls power I see simply as organization: introducing order into chaos by creating and breaking bonds.

With all still ongoing technical arguments about Foucault and with all my personal revulsion to his style of secular preacher carried away by the ability of words to combine into a going in circles beadwork (I have just crafted a short fragment of the beadwork), I consider him prophetic because he was vague but insistent in attributing some biological attributes to the historical change. When he used the term bio, however, he meant biology in its traditional meaning of life of known organisms and species. 

Giles Deleuze and Felix Guattari shared the same gravitation to biological imagery (rhizome etc.), as well as to the verbal compost on which a whole generation of interpreters could grow the mushrooms of arguments.

Thomas Hobbes and Werner Heisenberg , separated by a great distance in time, represent a different, much more imaginative type of prophets who saw society as a consolidated and constrained organism. Life and organisms were for them, in modern terms, meta-life and meta-organism.

I cannot accept any social and political power that is impersonal and invisible and, along Foucault, comes from everywhere. Whether a carrot or a stick is held by a hand, personal or composite, we can seize this hand by the wrist, all the more, when the hand signs a check.

I believe that the direction of the flow of history has already become streamlined enough to start a systematic inspection and reappraisal of our most abstract notions stored at the top shelves of the knowledge attic. We sense the long-run course of history when we change dictionaries and textbooks for more recent ones, as we sense the short-run course of life while discarding telephone directories, but when paper itself becomes a cumbersome option, we may sympathize with dinosaurs.

What exactly is this direction? We instinctively feel its diffuse starting point within the last quarter of the twentieth century, but need another one to draw a line. As it is common in history, we need the next turn to close the chapter, to pin the past to cardboard, type a label, and put it all under the glass cover of a display case. But then it is too late to do anything but erect memorials.

I am unable to excavate even a thin layer of all rocky literature on power. Here is my own sketch of the subject, which I am trying to draw on water, with Thales of Miletus in mind.


As a chemist, I am spoiled by the greatbut not unlimitedpower of chemistry to manipulate the natural course of molecular events. I even think that Michel Foucault could see chemistry as the purest embodiment of impersonal "biopolitics" designed to deal with masses instead of individuals, if only chemistry did not look so arcane to most normal people. I have never thought about this ability of science in terms of power, other than metaphorically. Power implies that a measure of this ability exists and there could be more power or less power.

In the modern scissors-rock-paper game, money buys knowledge, knowledge grows power, power pulls money. The wheel of fortune, as any metabolic cycle, spins in one direction. The real socio-political power, apparently, belongs to the leaders of the nations, movements, and corporations with above a certain number of digits after the dollar sign.

The power of an experimental scientist can indeed be compared with political power: it starts with an idea. Francois Jacob, one of the creators of modern biology and as much poet as scientist and soldier, wrote in his The Statue Within (one of the most memorable books I have ever read)

Contrary to what I had long believed, the process of experimental science does not consist in explaining the unknown by the known, as in certain mathematical proofs. It aims, on the contrary, to give an account of what is observed by the properties of what is imagined. To explain the visible by the invisible.  (Francois Jacob, The Statue Within, Basic Books, NY, 1988, p.288)


We do not experiment on history: history experiments on us. But we still need imagination to understand the results.


In science, as in politics and business, the cost of a good new idea is often just the cost of a cup of strong coffee. What makes chemistry and politics (as well as the physics of high energy) so different is the cost of the validation of the idea.


Chemical experiments today, especially in organic synthesis, where the creative power of chemistry is most visible, do not require, as a rule, any exorbitant expences. But with the border between American politics and business more porous than the US-Mexican border, a cup of coffee and a vote will not suffice to do politics. Chemistry, together with the rest of the academic world, hastens to secure a double citizenship, contemplating the benefits of both.


As somebody with a double background (but not double allegiance) of Soviet totalitarian system and American democracy, I have my own vision of what makes the new period of history so different, at least in America. After centuries of the Western emancipation of the individual and masses from the violence of sovereign power, driven by the rise of commerce and by Industrial Revolution, the new trend, driven by the same forces of commerce and technology, is reversing toward the absorption (incorporation?) of both the individual and the masses into a dense single system. Society consolidates into a single organism in which no part has a complete autonomy and every cell is involved in the same metabolism of money—the energy carrier of evolving complex systems.

As a rule, there is neither a single stick nor single carrot in the new life-like systems. What still remains from the era of emancipation and decline of sovereign power is the signature, the recorded (on paper or electronically) mutual agreement of the sides, the contract, whether one or neither or both sides like it. A receipt in a store for a credit card payment or in exchange for paper money, signed by the Secretary of the Treasury, represents the same kind of power as the Japanese Surrender Document, signed by Douglas MacArthur in 1945.

dollar    Surrender of Japan

The signature is a product of a convergent evolution of stick and carrot: it is a hidden stick (punishment for breach) married to a shared carrot (expected mutual benefits, sometimes, just the least evil).

Power belongs to the hand that signs a piece of paper. Note, however, the great inequality of power between the random holder of $1 bill and the Secretary of Treasury, as well as between General Douglas MacArthur and the envoys of defeated Japan. Note also the  volatility of the power:  Robert E. Rubin is not the Secretary of the Treasury anymore, but  the dollar is  still valid, having lost some of its buying power, however.  The military power of Japan, so great before Pearl Harbor, is minuscule, but not so long ago its industrial power made Americans worry. 

In modern society money not only buys knowledge, but turns it into big business, some even say, commodity. Knowledge can be commodity by the same reason as corn and copper: it is just a string of 1 and 0 in a computer file. All ones and zeros are as indistinguishable as grains of corn and atoms of copper. A computer file has content but not form.

For an anti-symmetric reason, art today is also commodity: it has form but not content. Who cares what a piece of art is about if it sells?

That Richard Serra is known as a minimalist who works with the largest known sheets of metal could be mind-boggling, but not in the postmodern world. I see both him and much brighter and likable Anish Kapoor as re-creators of Freudian urges of growth and sizein dimensions as well as costmaterialized from the deep Id of Leviathan. There is a fine deep similarity between them and the work of Foucault, Deleuze, and Guattary. Better means more—steelwork, beadwork, word work, bits, pieces, whatever).


While philosophers may argue whether we are losing freedom (who knows what freedom is without knowing slavery?), we are certainly losing free lunch.


What is free lunch, then? It is the commons, the public sphere, which, by the way, is often provided and promoted by the least free societies in the world. It is free only in the sense that an individual has a free entrance to an all-you-can-eat joint as many times a day as he wishes. In politics, it is Hannah Arendt's public space, which today is nowhere naturally free.


Hannah Arendt, who in my eyes was the last modern solid thinker, just enough a poet to be a philosopher, and sufficiently vague to be an oracle, cut the Gordian knot of the power problem by separating it from violence. Her solution—to see modern power as contractual, i.e., the power of signature enforced by the cohesion of large numbers of people—has not convinced everybody, and me neither. My personal view is that she left one important question unanswered: why is one side more powerful than the other when they exchange signatures?


And, by the way, with the alleged decline of violent power of the stick, why is our current bloody reality such a far cry of carrot cake? But I ignore this question here. Part of answer could be in sociobiology, after all.


The meaning and substance of power, freedom, and slavery is evolving. If we cannot blame and lament evolution, the consequence is striking: we have nobody to blame, not even the President. All we still can do is to praise whoever makes us happy, although happiness evolves, too. I believe this is the essence of the meta-biology of the Western world: the Leviathan is neither a person nor a god. It simply lives on, as any other creature. In this sense, neither Leviathan nor its organs and cells are free to desire: all they want is to live on and live well and live better tomorrow.

Growth is the universal obsession and what cannot be expressed in numbers is not growth. Against this hedonistic spirit, not only the Middle-Eastern militant and suicidal spirit, but also the murderous spirit of Fascism and Stalinism, which was the initial stimulus for all discussions about freedom in the last century, look most contrasting. What unite them is the attempt to do history on the cheap: to make die is simpler than to negotiate a contract, make live, in terms of Foucault.

A separate metaphysical question: is the modern good-natured Leviathan self-destructive? And is it good-natured at all? This is certainly not a chemical question. But there is a more specific question behind it: is any empire doomed? Intuitively, the main reason could be that any growth, after an explosion of creativity, is self-destructive, and so is human life, but why? As for less abstract political reasons, the simple reason for self-destruction could be the outsourcing of management of the unbearable complexity to external systems with dubious loyalty.


NOTE (2016). An information technology corporation is such system. The conflict between FBI and Apple over encryption is the best example. The Internet of Things seems to be the next. Any corporation with the rights of an individual is more powerful than any individual.


It is not enough to declare that I am not a social critic and that I may argue with individuals, and may dislike the course of evolution, but not argue with it. It is not enough that the simple Buddhism-inspired idea of minimizing desires has been my personal ideal (never completely attainable, but never disappointing) for most of my life. As a chemist, I must notice something from my professional angle, but I have difficulty finding analogs of political power in the world of molecules. Nevertheless, as a chemist, I must see the world as a structure. Whether it is a molecular structure of Lipitor or the administrative charts of subordination, is a combination of points and lines. I turn my attention to the few unique points in the structure of world power.



Chrys Lydon on his excellent Radio Open Source uniquely complements and often rivals Charlie Rose on TV. This is what I saw, however, on the Open Source website:

Mary's Notes, June 14, 2007  We learned on Friday that WGBH in Boston has decided not to continue airing Open Source as of July. We are disappointed, of course, and surprised as well. To us the station expressed concern about our long-term funding and said that our program had not developed the Boston audience they had hoped for.


Public Broadcasting System (PBS) and NPR (National Public Radio) are an example of modern power relations. Their consumers are free to pay or not to pay, although NPR has no freedom of this kind.  A tolerance of the Leviathan to this kind of anarchy is highly improbable. One of the saddest pictures of American life for me is the decline of PBS and NPR, and WGBH (Boston) in particular, where Antiques Roadshow and Suze Orman with her "Women and Money" let you hear the sweet jingle of gold almost every day.





If somebody says that pharmaceutical companies rob the society and its ailing members, I would agree. The scientific mind most susceptible to a cup of coffee is not easy to find, but you need only a few of them. To deceive society, in politics as in business, you often need a lot of money and a small army of mercenaries.

Here is a fresh (2007) example. Sad-faced Dr. Robert Jarvik says in a huge ad of Pfizer: "I take Lipitor instead of a generic." But why? It is a fundamental law of chemistry that properties of pure individual substances or their mixtures of a defined composition do not depend on the way of preparation. A short search on the web could explain why Pfizer does not wish you well: the patent on Lipitor is about to expire. Meanwhile, Pfizer, contemplating the coming end of Lipitor, supports the scientific series of Charlie Rose, as I , already conditioned like a lab animal, was almost shocked to learn. To me this is one of many signs of the current trend, which, as Marcia Angell believes (The Truth About the Drug Companies: How They Deceive Us and What to Do About It, Random House, 2004), started with Ronald Reagan. The borderline between politics and religion began to mexicanize by the same time. Today the double allegiance of biology in America to God and Darwin has been financially reinforced by the President in the name of a "higher authority."


For the sake of justice, I must say that the picture is complicated because all money, regardless of origin, circulates in the national and global turnover like water and oxygen. Like water and oxygen, it does not smell. The wonderful properties of money do not depend on its origin and ownership. I believe this is what makes Western societies and America in particular exceptionally stable. Nothing unites us more than money. Watch the French experiments with socialism.

What can end this stability? The growth of non-monetary values, such as religion and fanatic ideology. Alas, this is the great paradox of liberalism: it keeps us on the thrilling edge of self-destruction, but the only alternative to it is tyranny. 


Pfizer ranked 24th in Forbes list of Fortune 500 companies in 2005 and 49th in 2002

Table 1

  Pfizer, Inc.   


$ bln )

$ bln )










 Stockholders' Equity



 Market Value



Pfizer, as we may suspect, uses its power to manipulate bodies and minds of very large numbers of suffering people with the single goal of increasing the numbers in the above Table 1.


I must emphatically deny having any competence in financial and business matters, but this incompetence is exactly what makes me a typical subject of big power.


I understand power as something that can be compared with another power on a scale. The purpose of this Essay is to formulate a measure of power.



Next follow some data, I don't know how reliable, about concentrated power to sign checks and executive orders.

DISCLAIMER : By no means do I want to attach any moral judgment to the following data. As a chemist, I see the data as concentrations of components in a mixture and I am interested only in the further direction of events. Neither do I denounce Pfizer Inc. (which I may only as a  molecule of the mixture). Neither do I denounce capitalism and concentration of money because in order to do that I need something better as a reference point and I have no idea what it can be.

Table 2

The richest people in the world ($ bln)





  Bill Gates


 Bill Gates


Warren Buffett


Warren Buffett


  Allen, Paul Gardner


Carlos Slim


Ellison, Lawrence Joseph


Ingvar Kamprad


 Albrecht, Theo & Karl


Lakshmi Mittal


Table 3









United States



South Korea 



United States, 2008






China (2006)






Russia  (2005)






United Kingdom 















Indonesia (2006) 









Saudi Arabia (2005) 



Israel (2005 ) 


Parentheses indicate actual spending

Table 4

US Federal Budget, 2007, $ bln

    Social Security


    Administration of justice




     Natural resources

     and environment




     Foreign affairs


and welfare





     and other health related


    Community  and  regional



     Interest on debt


     Science and technology


     Education and training


     General government






     Veterans' benefits


Table 5

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Report 2006


$ bln

Warren Buffet’s gift , June 26, 2007 


Endowment assets available for charitable activities, December 31, 2006


Liability for future year payments on already approved grants.


To address neglected diseases


GRANTS from inception through March 2007

Global Health

$7.8 bln


HIV, TB, and Reproductive health


Global Health Strategies


Global Health Technologies


Research, Advocacy, and Policy


Table 6

Humans on the Moon, cost

$ bln

Apollo project, total


Apollo project, lunar module


Artemis project,  first flight, estimate (1994 $;  2005 $ :  multiply by 1.3-1.4)


Table 7



Iraq War,  Total cost   June 18, 2007 , 11:04


Vietnam War


Table 8

George Soros: philanthropy and politics

Promoting the values of democracy and an open society, bln $

Annual spending


Total spending (by 2007)


Internet infrastructure for regional Russian universities


Support of dissidents in Communist countries, since 1979, per year


Anti-Bush campaign, 2003-2004,


Expenditures, 2004


Expenditures, 2005



When we have to deal with big powers, some bigger than others, we need a measure of big power before we actually approach it. EXHIBIT 3, in my view, demonstrates that the lower tier is quite commensurable with the upper club, taking to account that the upper tier, such as government, has a wider spread of goals and expenditures. In this sensemoney per goalcorporations and even individuals can compete with governments and usually exceed them.

Power must be not just big, but concentrated. Concentration is a fundamental chemical factor. Concentration of power has also deeper physical and chemical analogies (localization of energy), which I omit here. Here is a non-technical illustration, perfect for our purpose:

The second law [of thermodynamics] tells us about energy dispersal and entropy is the word for how that energy dispersal is measured — how spread out the energy becomes in a system, how much more dispersed it has become compared to how localized it was. Such energy changes and consequent entropy changes are the focus for understanding how and why spontaneous events occur in nature. Only sometimes do the structures or arrangements of molecules in an object help us to see greater or lesser localization of energy (that used to be called ‘order to disorder’). (System: ice cube; surroundings: warm room.).   Source; this short web page is of universal relevance for simplicity hunters.

The liberal sword against corporations and inequality is double-edged: equality enfeebles and incapacitates, unless in intellectual exchange. The ice cube melts, which may be OK, but the hot coffee cools down, too, in the nondescript room of equality.

The tables in POWER EXHIBIT 3 illustrate a peculiar paradox of the power of money: big money is powerful only if concentrated on a small number of well-defined goals, best of all, just one. But if so, the big check is not needed: money can be supplied over time in a sequence of not so big packages. In this case, however, a social or political goal may completely change or lose relevance over time. Besides, grand money is usually wasted on grand scale. Some tables also imply that even big charitable foundations may generate just a sprinkle of money dispersed over small grants, but if they are spent over time on the same goal (as with tuberculosis), they might work perfectly well.  The problem with long term financing, however, is that nobody is in a hurry.  I think we have to accept the imperfections of our world. Intolerance is a form of perfectionism.

The power I am interested in is, i.e., the power of great power players, the big power, seems to be something that has no next level of power above it, like a king or a monotheistic god. It is the good old power of sovereignty, however limited and modified, without which we cannot win (or lose) a war and save (or sink) the nation.

The sovereign power, that was prevalent for previous millennia of history, today, in the age of democracy, is limited in many ways. It is funny to see how a weak leader in the "most powerful in the world" position feels so naked without an upper floor above his office that he cynically refers to a "higher authority" directing his actions. Anti-symmetrically, the religious fervor of the American Right has been whipped up by strong leaders in the weakest positions in the world. God keep Jerry Falwell at his side and not let him return to earth.


That the Unites States is the only remaining superpower in the world is a cliché. Another cliché, "the rising power of China and India" makes more sense because it is measurable, justly or not, in hard numbers of production and wealth.


What does it mean to be the only top power of a kind? I see no sense in such statement. I can declare myself the most powerful man in my housewhere I am the only man. We can say that a nation is stronger than another nation only if we compare them in a contest. The Iraq war and the War on Terror do not provide anything to prove that the United States is more powerful than a bunch of terrorists in Iraq, although intuitively we may not have a slightest doubt. Are China and India candidates for two more superpowers? Is the new money-drenched Russia, with its nukes, oil, gas, polonium, and political terror, another pretender?

There are big global players which are worlds in themselves: the United States and the European Union, two biggest and very different agglomerates of industrial democracy, of which the second one is still at the formative stage. Unlike India, China, and Russia, they consist of numerous powerful and largely independent subunitscorporations or corgs (corporate organisms, see Essays 32 to 35 and 43)which form the lower tier of power.   Hercules in Augean stables

The nature and actual distribution of power in the world is so crucial for the global future and such a complicated and dark topic that somebody must finally put the dog-eared Foucault aside and start the investigation of power form a clean slate.  Not me, of course, but I wish to add my own contribution to the mess of  the Augean stables before a Hercules comes.  


The complexity of technology of power calls for a simple measure of big power. Since the big power does not have somebody else's penthouse on the roof of its corporate building, I suggest, quite intuitively, the following top-down measure of big power before it has actually been tested:

The highest power belongs
 to the individual, corporation, or government
that can designate the largest sum of money
 for a single goal.

IMPORTANT: The outcome of a power contest (negotiations are also an instance of power contest) may differ from the expectation. This sounds like quantum physics, but this is because in the Big Power Club we deal with a very small set of contenders and contests, so that statistics does not work (and time series prediction makes no sense in history because of evolutionary novelty).  What follows, by the way, is that a conflict between big powers in business as well as in politics means partly gambling.


Examples of goals: eradicate malaria, close national borders, win computer operating system market (Microsoft and Apple), become Number One in national education (even Number Three would do), build protection against terrorism, enhance democracy in Russia, establish the dominance of a certain political party for 50 to 70 years (sovietization? roveization?), etc.

Power, therefore, has no absolute measure, but powers can be ranked if applied to the same goal.

The problem with big goals, however, is that they may be impossible to achieve. But to achieve what is achievable (to buy a house, marry up, learn Chinese, travel to Machu Picchu ) is not a matter of power but a matter of average wealth, desire, and, probably, some sacrifice. Power works against chaos and not against order and organization. Power, thermodynamically, brings into motion a social machine which can be quite ineffective, rusty, and wasteful.

The goal of big power is always an adventure. It is especially true about wars, whether hot, cold, trade, or social wars. This is because big goals always have uncertain future: history brings surprises. Only in few cases we know that the big goal is achievable in principle. In other cases we run an experiment, by definition, without precedent.

Big goals are especially wasteful because they often require a sequence of small steps that create bottlenecks to spending designated budgets. As result, spend now, ask for more tomorrow is a typical attitude.

Now I can feel some firm ground while attempting to justify the characterization of USA and former USSR as superpowers: both could designate huge sums of money for sending humans into space, and one could even send them to the moon. Both could spend huge money on wars and be defeated. Their ventures were initiated by way of signature. In this sense, the US President is the most powerful leader in the world. He can procure, control, and waste the largest sums of money in the world. By George, do we really want to be the only superpower?

Now let us consider the goal of roveization of America and turning it into a de facto one party system. Of course it had a good chance of success. It is my personal belief that the reason why the goal was not achieved at that time (it still remains realistic and even more probable in the future) is that Karl Roveor anybody elsecould not put his signature under an appropriation bill to buy the best US President for the project. It was like filling up the Saturn V rocket in the Apollo Program with diet Coke. The fizz is over.

A pessimist would remark that any big goal is self-defeating, but if this were true, I would be extremely optimistic about the future of democracy. For comparison, the biggest of the Soviet projects, set by Vladimir Lenin and pursued by Joseph Stalin, to create a new (i.e., Orwellian) man, failed, too, although the biggest stick in the world was used for this purpose. True, there was a carrot of total abundance and happiness (otherwise known as Communist Utopia), too, but it was so far ahead in the future, always hidden behind next corner, that its aphrodisiac powers amounted to nil.

The more I think about the reason for the collapse of Communism the more I see it in a sudden realization of the Soviet ruling class that they did not need to wait for the future to achieve fabulous prosperity.


If George Soros hired a man who could think day and night how to dislodge the President and gave him billion dollars, he probably would succeed. But the same could be done by a determined Republican against the best Democratic President in history. 

My modest discoveries up and down the billion dollar scale reveal to me the deadly efficiency of money in American elections. The data on cost of elections can be found in publications of The Campaign Finance Institute , for example (2004):

Jon Corzine (D- N.J.) spent $63,209,506. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) spent $29,941,194. The remaining Senate winners in 2000 spent an average of $4,737,365.


Even hundred million dollars is a relatively modest sum on the national scale. But nothing can be more focused than the election campaign: just about one person. Then why $23 million of George Soros did not do the job?  Because the presidential campaign of 2004 was about at least a quarter billion dollars. This is, of course, a very rough simplification of the actual electoral mechanics because geniuses that think day and night on a problem are rare and do not form a statistical ensemble. Political life is a game with just one bet.


Today the deadly stick is in the hands of Islamic terrorists. The great modern conflict is in part caused by a huge difference in the cost of human life in the totalitarian and democratic societies: depreciation in the former and bubble in the latter. The sides cannot come to a handshake until the currency exchange rate is agreed upon.


America is still seduced by carrot cakes. The smaller the carrot cake, the more attainable. Not pie in the sky, but a carrot cake for everybody. While it still worksand I believe it still doesthe American idea that you can have a bigger cake than your neighbor, is quite sound.

Money is power, for better or worse, and I do not believe that for worse only. I do not have any egalitarian ideals. Chemical reactions run in a preferred direction only because the instability (i.e., energy) is distributed very unevenly over the atoms of reacting molecules. Yet the growing inequality of power in the global and national contractual society, which is taking shape right before our eyes, begins to test this idea. From Manmohan Singh to Zbigniev Brzezinsky (well worth googling), a few very different people who combine wisdom and personal experience with power express doubt in the hedonistic worship of the carrot cake.  They probably  know well that the price of human life fluctuates on the markets of history and any general trouble brings all stocks down. Somebody will come and just take your cake away, together with your life.

What instead, then? A global auction for homo sapience? A topic for a future Essay.

The only power that can compete with money is the power of idea. Why? Because money is number and number is just an idea, too.  This direction of discourse might be productive in the analysis of the Iraq War phenomenon in which two very different currencies of human life are involved in the trade.

Life does not play the scissors-rock-paper game. It plays money-love-death game, in which there are no rules.

money music 



1. What is the phenomenon of Heidegger, Foucault, and Deleuze-Guattari (or, for that matter, modern art, which is as impossible without a symbiosis with middleman as postmodern philosophy without cult promoters) from the point of view of a chemist? Think about the phenomenon of catalysis.


2.  The term "War on Terror" (or, for that matter, war on poverty, drugs, and crime) sounds like an acknowledgment of respectability of the enemy. What exactly is the power distribution between the USA, Europe, and terrorism?


3. Has American power been diminished or increased by the presidency of George Bush? Or it just seems so?  Same question applies to Russia and Putin.


4. Does my definition of power mean that the power of vote in democracy is nonsense? Quick answer: yes, the outcome of an election today is the outcome of the wrestling contest of big powers. Of course, the Republicans may have more power in terms of money. But they also have a bigger goal.



I believe that Foucault's Panopticum is not quite up to date.  With the following composition I express the spirit of the post-postmodern Panopticon in which  the  individual  is  formally free, but  actually imprisoned by the Internet cubicles of  the crooks, predators, and respectable companies craving for his individuality (called today identity) in order whether to steal or sell. It is the presumption of freedom that locks the prison.    


David in the F-house of  Statevill prison, Joliet, IL


UPDATE 1 (Lupus in fabula):


FROM:  http://www.radioopensource.org/

This is not the news we ever dreamed of posting.

After tomorrow’s broadcast we are putting Open Source on a summer hiatus. We learned late last week that a brand-name media company that had asked to partner with us had changed its mind. So for now, the best hope on the near horizon of relaunching the program and refinancing it has gone aglimmering.

Without a substantial new funder, we cannot keep paying our bills. Your help and support has helped bridge the cost of production these last six weeks and helped pay some of our debts. For now the most responsible thing seems to be to regroup and think realistically about a new program for the fall.

We are actively dedicated, all day every day, to the essential mission: seizing the epochal opportunity of the web to stretch the public conversation… to hybridize media, to enlist the audience, to extend the palette of colors in the cultural as well as the political conversation; in short to democratize and globalize one model forum of constructive talk for the new century.



Radio Open Source is back! I quote:

The summer is over, and so is our hiatus.

The Open Source conversation is reborn at the Watson Institute at Brown University.

                  2016: http://radioopensource.org/




Page created:   2007                                                                                             Revised: 2016
The ideas of Essays 51 to 56 are developed in INTRODUCTION TO PATTERN CHEMISTRY 
  <<<    To Essay 52      To Essay 54  >>>

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   Essays 1 to 56 : http://spirospero.net/essays-complete.pdf
   Essays 57 to 60:  http://spirospero.net/LAST_ESSAYS.pdf
   Essay 60: http://spirospero.net/artandnexistence.pdf