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Theory of Power

Marx, Foucault, Neo-Zapatismo

Carlos Antonio Aguirre Rojas

The subject of power (singular) and multiple social powers (plural) is unquestionably central to contemporary societies all over the globe. Growing stronger and expanding farther all the time, the world’s anti-systemic movements have been forced to address this issue—the nature of power and powers—as among their most pressing debates. In the process, these movements have also been forced to consider the best possible strategy for confronting them. Should they seize political power, even if they run the risk of simply reproducing it? Should they destroy it altogether? Is it enough to destroy political power while economic, ideological, military, and religious powers remain untouched? And what is the most effective anti-capitalist and anti-systemic way to confront, defeat, and overcome the many different powers found in all present-day societies on Earth? To answer such questions, among others, this book discusses the rich, complex contributions of Karl Marx, Michel Foucault, and neo-Zapatismo to a complicated and essential subject: the theory of power.
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Chapter One: What Power Cannot (Be)


Power always tends to believe in its own omnipotence. And so we ask: can power create another power so strong and so powerful than the first power cannot defeat its own creation? If so, then power is no longer omnipotent. If not, then it never was. Conclusion: power can never be omnipotent.

Popular knowledge derived from the philosophical paradox of omnipotence, which has circulated for many centuries.

Before we review the key teachings of Karl Marx, Michel Foucault, and Mexican neo-Zapatismo on the vast and complex subject of power, it may be useful to revisit the most common misconceptions in this regard. The topic of power has been endlessly advanced, reconsidered, debated, and cited by the broadest range of theorists and analysts, causing giving rise to various confusions. Other misunderstandings are caused by frequent, insistent, and longstanding vulgarizations, simplifications, deformations, and superficial treatments of this subject.1

One common misconception arises from the ambiguity of the term “power” itself. “Power” is sometimes used as a verb: the power to walk, to talk, to create; the power to subject, to dominate. On other occasions, it is used as a noun, as in ←15 | 16→political power, symbolic power, or ideological, social, economic, or religious power. Yet we can also refer to power as a kind of attribute, whether of a person, an institution, or a particular entity or social reality: the power of a king, the power of the state, the power of money. Such descriptions...

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