Hard Power Versus Soft Power


Food for thought: what wins out over the years of history, military power or the enduring influence of ideas?

The Hard Power of Genghis Khan and Alexander The Great was deadly but what they created fell apart. The Soft Power of the Brahmins, Buddha, Jesus, Muhammad, which softly converts one human heart at a time, builds empires and civilizations that last 5000 years, 2000 years. And even when the empire and civilization of ancient Greece fell thousands of years ago, the Legacy of their Soft Power – their philosophers, philosophies, world views, art, ethos, still influences us humans and our Western civilization to this day. I honestly believe that the pen is mightier than the sword.

Perhaps one might add other contestants to the game as well: genetics, culture, and language.

Economics offers another notion. Some ideas persist because they deliver results in reality instead of in human opinion, which generates goodwill because they can be relied upon, freeing up the human to look at bigger challenges:

You build up good will by historically delivering good results. You can’t take that good will with you, but can cash it in by spending it so others give you the benefit of the doubt.

When others have this goodwill toward a business or individual, they are more willing to engage in friendly collaboration because of implied trustiworthiness:

Goodwill is an intangible asset that is associated with the purchase of one company by another. Specifically, goodwill is the portion of the purchase price that is higher than the sum of the net fair value of all of the assets purchased in the acquisition and the liabilities assumed in the process. The value of a company’s brand name, solid customer base, good customer relations, good employee relations, and proprietary technology represent some reasons why goodwill exists.

In other words, goodwill is reputational based on past performance. Companies thrive because customers return based on getting results in the past, and will keep returning until driven away, for example by IBM’s extortionate and deliberately incompatible PS/2 or Microsoft’s Windows 11.

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