Mar 13 2016

Power Corrupts the People Too

power to the people

By Ramy Osman
March 2016

I wrote this poem in 2013, two years after the uprisings in the Arab world. It was also two years after the Occupy Movement was born in New York City. These grassroots movements were generally started by people who were politically marginalized and who had little to no political influence. But they all wanted to end “corruption”.

There was a lot of potential in the movements; But the end results were not what people expected. Some of the movements had limited success, others had no success. Some movements led to the rise of a new political class, while others simply saw the repackaging of the old political class. In all cases, the revolutions and democracy movements were co-opted, compromised, or sabotaged by both internal and external factors; In other words their dreams and plans were corrupted. What seemed like a united front, was in reality a mirage. Peoples demand for political change was in reality an un-admitted quest for power. And when people seek power (whether they admit that they’re seeking power or not), it just causes more corruption. It will corrupt one person, and it will similarly corrupt a group of people.

Political movements might be united in their beginning phase. But they eventually split up, and the marginalized groups are left feeling jealous or critical of the faction that rose to the top. People set themselves up so that they’re in a constant state of opposition ; and sometimes that opposition ends up including people they used to be united with. So the idea of “power to the people ” is relative. And instead of people really wanting “power to the people “, they end up just wanting power for themselves.

2016 being a US presidential election year, means that people in the US will be once again drawn into dreams of power for “their people” –  whoever they define “their people” to be. People will inflate their grievances and they will ride those grievances to power. And so I question the concept of “Power to the People”. What “power” are you talking about, and what “people” are you talking about? How far are you willing to go to assert your claim to power? And what monsters, internal or external, will you contribute to creating during that quest for power? …


Power to the People
by Ramy Osman

Power to the people, a cliché that never will

Inspires when you hear it, but an ideal you can’t fulfill

At first you might unite, on utopian good will

But people will fall back, into groups and selfish shills

Their priorities always change, never at a standstill

And only one group can win, and practice their free will

While the others have to struggle, and battle uphill

To deceive themselves into power, a self righteous communal ill

Call it democracy, revolution, or whatever you will

But in the end greed and ego will triumph, creating a social landfill

Of the worst human characteristics, even leading some to kill

Where the truthful is discarded, and the liar is a million dollar bill

Where creating enemies is a delusional thrill

And the cult of personality is swallowed like a pill

It’s the nature of seeking power, and political skill

It’s a chronic human condition, ensuring blood will always spill

Power to the people, a cliche that’s misunderstood

Now this is where we reflect, and change the narrative as we should



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