A community may organize so that power concentrates in a few decision-makers who organize and direct the efforts the everyone else. The small number of decision-makers relative to the rest of the population constraints the number of opportunities to lead or wield social or political power. A small number of people will hold power over the rest, and very few people will be able to attain those power positions. Power in such a society can be represented by a pyramid with the few “at the top” ruling the many “below” them.

A community may also organize to limit the scope of any social or political power. In such a society leaders or decision makers oversee a small or narrowly defined domain to organize or direct only a few people, or only within a specific circumstance or activity. Opportunities to wield social or political power may be numerous even if the scope of that power remains relatively small. Many people, potentially every person, may find an opportunity to lead in some capacity. Power in such a society can be represented by a horizon with many “leaders” who must cooperate with one another to achieve large scale shared goals.

The Pyramid and the Horizon represent an abstraction of power distribution in a society as one might find it. Political states throughout the world tend toward the Pyramid, ruled by an elite few who organize and direct the many. The Horizon appears in less formal associations or small communities.

When set against the the history of politics and political states, the Pyramid serves as the preferred tool for conquerors and rulers who rely on coercive power. The rising political class forms or allies with a martial class to compel obedience from the working class that forms the majority of the population. The monarchies that arose in Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire exhibit this pattern, as do monarchies in India, China, and Japan. Governance aligns with the interests of the political class generally, the martial class where needed to maintain loyalty to the political class, and the working class only to ensure continued support for the political and martial class. Since the political class needs to prevent unified resistance from the working class, they need only to serve the interests of a defined subset at the expense of the rest. Much of the political class’s influence over the working class can be accomplished by propaganda rather than serving material interests, convincing the privileged subset that their interests align with the political class and against the rest of the working class.

The Horizon pattern emerges organically in small communities or in response to systematic oppression by the political class of an established Pyramid. Anarchists and collectivists, generally committed to cooperative power, tend toward the Horizon when organizing for reform or revolution. Distribution of power prevents the formation of a well-defined political class since any person may exercise power in some domain but will be subject to power in other domains.

As such, the political class and its supporters perceive the Horizon as a threat. Establishing a Horizon existentially threatens an established Pyramid and will diminish the power and associated wealth or control over resources that the political class enjoys. The political class will work against any reform that distributes power more broadly, preferring to maintain systems of oppression rather than sacrifice their privilege and power. Pyramid propaganda will frame the Pyramid as the only viable model and argue that the Horizons generally collapse into instability. However, no political entity can survive under constant attack, and a move toward the Horizon attracts sustained attack from any Pyramid. Historically, evidence for Pyramid reactions to such threats can be seen in the wars against France instigated by aristocrats who feared their privilege at risk in the wake of the French Revolution, the framing of anarchist collectives as bent on destruction, and the assassinations of civil rights leaders carried out by the FBI under COINTELPRO.

Nevertheless, the Pyramid instantiates injustice throughout its system of governance. The political class leverages their influence to concentrate wealth and resources, utilizing the martial class to suppress active resistance. Continued extraction of wealth from the working class reinforces established power as it enables the political class to purchase support from the martial class and often a select privileged subset of the working class established to divides the working class.

Since the Pyramid cannot sustain itself without that pattern of exploitation, support for hierarchies of power entails support for continued oppression and abuse of the majority of people for the benefit of a minority aristocratic class. Accepting the status quo of the Pyramid means accepting the rampant death and destruction leveled against a divided working class and whatever foreign states the Pyramid can exploit through the threat of military force. Concentration of power will always produce such abuses because the political class needs to enact abuse to maintain its position. Reform of the Pyramid is impossible. To achieve justice a community must move toward the Horizon.