HOW CAN ABUSE OF POWER BE PREVENTED?
[This page is the most frequently read page on the PDRBoston.org 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.]
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 authoritarian principle (i.e., that one must obey the highest body of government no matter what) 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 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 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 authoritarian principle.
An egalitarian society however is based on a rejection of the authoritarian principle. 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.