I thought I should read some of that Michel Foucault before writing this node, but really, that baldhead is really only stating some views that any gang member, politician or reader of Sweet Valley High can tell you. However, much like his less intellectual fellow travellers, he misses a point about power. That is, power can be divided into an effective sense, and a formal sense.

To say that "All people want power" in the effective sense is of course totally true. It is true because it is a tautology. If we define power as the ability to get what you want, then by definition everyone wants to be able to get what they want.

However, if we say that everyone wants formal power, the statement is much less convincing. Formal power means not that people want what they want, but that they want to be able to get things they theoretically want. At this point, it is not the desired object or situation that is important, but the the theoretical mastery over any given object of situation. People who would be heavily interested in this would mostly be doing it from a psychological standpoint, because they are psychologically immature. What formal power can mean is so many things: having people address you as sir, being able to write your name on things, being able to press little buttons that relate to imaginary points on a website, or else just having a nice, big mahagony table to pound your gavel on. Formal power can be everything from a mild comfort to a total obsession for people. For most people it lies somewhere inbetween.

That formal power is not always important to people can be seen in many situations. One of the reason politics goes as it does is that people don't really care about the forms of power, who is making the decisions, as long as those decisions go their way, and they get what they effectively want. Also, for that matter, if we look at BDSM, people can find being on the other end of a formal power situation quite pleasurable, because they have not actually lost any effective power.

Of course, the vortices of the two types of powers and other human goals, such as sexuality, economy and self-esteem are not at all straightforward; but that just furthers my point that to say "people seek power" is such a generalization to be meaningless.