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[This video, titled "Self-managed societies that work," is very relevant and interesting. It is not my video, by the way.]

This page is the most frequently read page on the website. Its title question is clearly of great concern to many people. There is no way to prevent the abuse of power other than by the vast majority of people having an explicit determination to enforce the key egalitarian principles. What follows is an explanation of how this can indeed prevent the abuse of power. But nothing else can prevent the abuse of power--no words in any government's constitution or laws, no policy or procedure or mechanism, etc., can do it. Indeed when people rely only these kinds of things to prevent abuse of power, then what happens is the people who want to abuse their power are very pleased because they know they can get around any mere law or mechanism.


Let's consider how people could try to abuse their power in a society that is based on the values and principles of egalitarianism: no-rich-and-no-poor equality, mutual aid, from each according to reasonable ability and to each according to need or reasonable desire, and laws made only by local assemblies of egalitarians using voluntary federation to achieve order on a large scale. For an individual or a class of people to abuse power they would have to somehow persuade a lot of people to ignore egalitarian values and principles.


If somebody, for example, abused power to get rich at the expense of other people being poor he or she would have to persuade most people that the no-rich-and-no-poor value for some reason did not apply to him or her. If somebody began commanding others to obey him or her for some selfish purpose (i.e., in violation of the principle of mutual aid) at the expense of others, it would require persuading most people that they were obliged to obey such orders. 


Non-egalitarian societies are based on values and principles that make it easy for some people to abuse power and difficult for most people to prevent it. For example, in a capitalist society where the principle is to strive to make a profit and get as rich as possible, a person who gets rich by abusing their power is often not even widely perceived as having done anything wrong because his or her great wealth compared to other people is not in violation of any principle of society. When the abuse of power is not obvious it is much harder for people to prevent it (as discussed here). In an egalitarian society, in contrast, such a person's great wealth would be a huge red flag, alerting people to the fact that some abuse of power was taking place. It would therefore be much easier for people to stop the abuse.


In a non-egalitarian society based on the invalid authoritarian principle (i.e., that one must obey the highest body of government no matter what, just because it declares that the government is legitimate) it is relatively easy for a person or class of people to abuse power by getting control of, or influence over, the highest body of government. The Bolshevik Party's highest authority got control of (constituted itself as) the Central Government in the Soviet Union and then easily abused its power. Most people had never heard the invalid authoritarian principle challenged, certainly not by the Bolsheviks. People were used to the idea that the Czar had to be obeyed because he was the highest body of government. When the Bolshevik Party's highest authority became the highest body of government most people continued to believe that they were obliged to obey it, just as before. The Bolshevik abuses of power would have been a lot harder to carry off if most people were clear about the invalid authoritarian principle being wrong!


Big Money abuses power over ordinary Americans today by having taken control of the federal government. It too gets away with this abuse of power largely because people accept the invalid authoritarian principle.


An egalitarian society however is based on a rejection of the invalid authoritarian principle. (Read how, in "What Makes A Government Legitimate?") If a person or class of people seized control of a high level governmental body in an egalitarian society and got it to make abusive proposals (high level bodies in egalitarianism don't make laws, they only craft proposals for local assemblies to accept or reject as they wish) what would happen? If people didn't forget the egalitarian principle that the high level governmental body can only make proposals and not laws, then they would simply refuse to implement the abusive proposal (and they would probably replace their delegates to the higher level governmental body as well, which they can do at any time.)


The moral of the story is that egalitarian values and principles, unlike the values and principles of other kinds of societies, are precisely the ones that enable people to recognize abuse of power when it happens, to understand that such abuse of power has no legitimate excuse, and to stop the abuse of power.


The most effective way to prevent abuse of power is to advocate for, defend, and act upon egalitarian values and principles. If and when abuse of power occurs, it is due to the failure of egalitarian values and principles to be embraced by most people.


Any discussion of how to prevent abuse of power must deal with the problem of some individuals or even an entire class of people (such as the upper class that was removed from power by the egalitarian revolution) attempting to make a counter-revolution to restore class inequality, using whatever violence they can muster for this purpose.

If egalitarians are to prevent the re-emergence of class inequality they must be prepared to use whatever force, including armed violence, is required to defeat counter-revolutionaries. Egalitarians would have every right, even the duty, to create armed militias for this purpose. This is discussed in "Egalitarianism: What Is It?" here, and also in "Egalitarian Militias."  The most relevant actual history that relates to this is the history of the anarchist militias that defended the egalitarian revolution that took power in about half of Spain in 1936-9, discussed here and here.

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