I was distracted from my current pre-occupations yesterday by Minister for Communications Stephen Conroy’s comment that he has “unfettered legal power” in his portfolio, and that if he told telcos to wear red underpants on their heads at spectrum auctions they’d have to do it.
There is a very good reason why no single individual in government should have “unfettered legal power” over anything: absolute power corrupts absolutely. When one has unfettered power there is no longer any need to engage and consult with others, one can simply, as Conroy’s boast exemplifies, force one’s will on everybody else. It is the antithesis of democracy and democratic process. That a Labor politician should hold this belief about himself and feel confident enough to trumpet it for the world press whilst in the US, makes me wonder yet again what the hell the ALP is about these days.
The following is a quote from a piece by Dr Robert Aziz in his Huffington Post blog on the subject of power and corruption:
So why does power corrupt? It corrupts because it gives license to unconsciousness and neglect. It corrupts because it licenses individuals to unilaterally, unreflectively and thus arbitrarily impose their will on others. It licenses individuals to impose their will without having properly engaged and processed through the Reality at hand. Power inflates the ego and through it the ego is erroneously led to believe it has the power to make people, ideas and even Reality itself disappear without due process. In the big picture nothing is further from the truth. Power corrupts because it gives license to unconsciousness, and in so doing it not only destroys the growth opportunity of the victim of such imposition, but no less the growth opportunity of the victimizer. Failure to engage another in consciousness, not only does the other individual harm, but it no less does serious harm to oneself, for in both cases the precious opportunity to extend consciousness by way of self-organizing nature is altogether lost, corrupted.
While I don’t take Conroy’s example of forcing others to wear red underpants on their heads literally (though who knows with this man?) his delight in his own raw power is revealed in his unpleasant desire to humiliate and demean others by forcing them to make themselves look ridiculous, just because he can. What does this say about Stephen Conroy?
To me it says we are likely dealing with a little man, one who lacks the wisdom and intelligence to hold high office, one who has already been seduced by the power bestowed on him by his portfolio, and one who will not hesitate to exercise that power for his own psychological benefit without any awareness at all of what he is doing. It sounds as if Stephen Conroy has lost sight of his purpose and instead has come to believe the unfettered exercise of power is his right and his priority. These are dangerous beliefs for anyone to hold, particularly if they are in charge of communications.
Conroy’s ongoing mission to control the internet takes on new dimensions after his latest megalomanic claims. He wants unfettered legal powers over the world-wide web as well. These ambitions are infantile, as is the example of red underpants as an exercise of power over others.
Conroy was out to crassly impress his audience, not with what he has or might achieve in his position, but with the raw power he believes he has. Power in itself means nothing. It’s how it’s exercised that is the measure of the man.