Old Power vs New Power — Why Embracing Change is Crucial for a Better Future

Reuben Skewes
3 min readMar 30, 2023

For centuries, “old power” structures have dominated our society with top-down, hierarchical, and centralized approaches to leadership. Old power is classically seen in traditional politics & media, in religious & educational institutions, and in corporate structures. Decisions are made by a select few in positions of authority, and the focus is often on maintaining control and stability. Old power has been said to work like a currency. The power is held by few, jealously guarded, and substantially hoarded.

In recent years, a new form of power has emerged, one that is more decentralized, participatory, and democratic. This “new power” model challenges the traditional top-down approach with a fresh bottom-up model built around shared values, ideas, and communities. The new power structures are more fluid and adaptable than the old. It operates more like a current than a currency. It is open, made by many, and peer-driven. The goal with new power is not to hoard it, but rather to channel it.

Both old power and new power structures have their benefits and challenges. Old power structures can provide a sense of stability and continuity, while new power structures can be more adaptable and responsive to change. We live at an interesting point in history where the power struggle has never been so obvious and a change in power so needed.

Why is it important that we embrace new power, and what can we do to make this shift a reality?

  • Firstly — old power structures can be slow to respond to change and are often resistant to innovation. They tend to maintain the status quo, perpetuating the same power dynamics and inequalities that have existed for centuries. New power structures, on the other hand, are built around collaboration, participation, and a willingness to experiment and take risks. This makes them more agile and adaptable, allowing for a more rapid response to emerging challenges and opportunities.
  • Secondly — old power structures can be exclusive and hierarchical, reinforcing existing power imbalances and limiting the participation of marginalized communities and individuals. New power structures, on the other hand, prioritize the involvement and empowerment of all members of society, creating a more inclusive and diverse decision-making process that reflects the needs and perspectives of a broader range of people.
  • Thirdly — old power structures can be disconnected from the realities of people’s lives, with decision-makers operating in isolated bubbles that are disconnected from the communities they serve. New power structures, on the other hand, are built around shared values and a commitment to transparency and accountability, creating a more collaborative and responsive decision-making process that is more grounded in the needs and experiences of real people.

What can we do to embrace new power?

  1. Acknowledge the need for change: The first step towards embracing new power is recognizing that the traditional model of power may not be sufficient for addressing the challenges of today’s world. This means being willing to question existing power structures and hierarchies and being open to new ideas and approaches.
  2. Embrace collaboration and participation: New power is built on collaboration and participation, so it’s important to be willing to engage with others and work together towards shared goals. This may involve reaching out to new communities, building networks, and finding ways to connect with others who share your interests and values.
  3. Be open to new ways of doing things: New power is often characterized by experimentation and a willingness to try new things. This means being open to new ideas, approaches, and technologies, and being willing to take risks and learn from failures.
  4. Embrace transparency and accountability: New power is often built around shared values and a commitment to transparency and accountability. This means being open and honest about your intentions, actions, and decision-making processes, and being willing to accept feedback and criticism from others.
  5. Stay engaged and active: Finally, embracing new power requires ongoing engagement and action. This means staying informed about issues that matter to you, advocating for change, and working to build communities and networks that can support your efforts over the long term.