“Power comes out of the barrel of a gun.” — Mao Tse-Tung
All of Mao’s success comes from the opposite of this saying. I suspect that he said it to keep the people under him ignorant of what real power was.
Mao’s success came from convincing the peasant class that Mao actually cared about them and would improve their lives. I have nothing but contempt for Mao (It’s actually worse than contempt but I don’t want to violate the Code of Conduct) but I can understand the peasant support for Mao.
You’re poor, working in the sun or the rain every day, and some snooty snob in silk collects the crops of your labor, gives you nothing in return, and is rude to you on top of it. Mao convinced the peasants that he cared about them and he did so very effectively. To this day, 60-year-old and older Chinese have pictures of Mao and Zheng Lai and respect them.
Real power comes from convincing people of a philosophy or a person. You could be Chris Kyle but that isn’t real power compared to a pudgy and middle-aged Harry Truman who couldn’t even serve in the military because of his poor vision.* Strength and vision can’t matter a lot compared to the power to control the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki or supporting the invasion of Inchon. Real power is inspiring and leading other people.
*Correction: Harry Truman did serve in WWI as a captain.
It’s a power we have to be very careful about. Because on one side, we have Hitler and Lenin and on the other, we have Wilberforce or Solzhenitsyn. Persuasion is the real power. It always has been.