Competence, Power, and the Handyman

By | January 9, 2023

[January 9, 2023]  I often poke fun at post-Modernist leftists and their belief that the foundation for the structures of the West is built upon power.  These folks believe that the capitalist West is a totalitarian tyranny that suppresses the rights and lives of women, minorities, and others who do not conform to the white patriarchy ideal.  The concepts of competence and power are at the heart of this issue.

Think about the tyranny of handymen, or the tyranny of massage therapists, or the tyranny of plumbers … and this is very relevant.  Let’s say you need a handyman to fix the leaking ceiling in your home.  You do need a handyman, and everyone will agree you need a handyman because otherwise, there will be a bigger problem later when the ceiling collapses.

The question I ask is, “How is it you go about selecting a handyman?”  The answer isn’t that there are roving bands of tyrannical handymen that go door to door telling us that if they don’t use the services of the most tyrannical handyman, there’ll be mafia-like consequences for you.

Instead, you look for the most capable handyman, in your estimation, based upon his reputation as known in your community for being able to fix things, run a business, and engage in an honest transaction with you.  That’s competence.  It’s not power.

What is most destructive about the post-Modernist leftist types is their idea that everything in human society is based on power.  And that is an attack on the idea of competence, and that is based on the idea that there are real problems that can be solved.  If we believe that all things are based on power, then there are no noble ways to solve problems, and if there are solutions, then they are only effective with force.

This post-Modernist view deprives people of a sense of purpose in their life.

If you run a small coffee shop, it is incumbent on you to run the best quality coffee shop possible because you’re not merely providing people with coffee; there’s way more.  Perhaps your coffee shop is a place where neighbors meet, where workers going to work can get a boost of energy before they go off and do their difficult jobs, and where you can mentor your employees and help them develop their life.  That’s a rich social environment that is good for all.

The post-Modernist view is that all things in human relations are disguised forms of manipulation; for example, the relationships between men and women are founded on the myth that men have power over women.  And this is a very attractive view that comes with a deep resentment against the “oppressor.”  This is the failure to distinguish competence from tyranny and power, and that is a personal failure of the few who yearn for the neo-Marxist view.

What is the antidote to the ideology that power trumps all things?  One solution is to begin by making clear examples, like the handyman or massage therapists, or plumbers.  Few people believe this once they observe that all their relationships with other people have been based upon power.

Most of the time, you have to tell these folks to think of someone they love or a good friend.  You have successfully negotiated with that person and friend to do things together; otherwise, it’s not love or friendship, and that was based on a successful negotiation.  Is that not evidence that power is not the basis of relationships?  Very few people, when you make it personal like this, are willing to pursue their ideology of power so far down that they will use that to characterize their most intimate relationships.

If you want your ceiling fixed, then hire a handyman.  You won’t find him roving your neighborhood terrorizing children and older adults, and we all know that fundamentally you just want a good, competent handyman.


Please read my books:

  1. “55 Rules for a Good Life,” on Amazon (link here).
  2. “Our Longest Year in Iraq,” on Amazon (link here).
Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I provide one article every day. My writings are influenced by great thinkers such as Friedrich Nietzsche, Karl Jung, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Jean Piaget, Erich Neumann, and Jordan Peterson, whose insight and brilliance have gotten millions worldwide to think about improving ourselves. Thank you for reading my blog.

29 thoughts on “Competence, Power, and the Handyman

  1. Pooch T.

    Gen. Satterfield, I’m a handyman and I recommend your article. 😀

  2. Ron C.

    I’m a “handyman” but I noticed that my customers here in Quebec want to call me a “handyperson.” Doesn’t sound right. I don’t know any handywomen, all men where I cam. And, oh, I do know the difference in competence (like good handymen) and power (crazy liberals who desire tyranny).

    1. old warrior

      Just kick their butts if they don’t want to use ‘handyman’ as your occupation.

      1. Da Man

        ha ha ha. you got that right old warrior. And welcome to Ron C. as part of our forums.

  3. Kenny Foster

    Ouch, Gen. Satterfield slams the idea that power overrides competence. I’m sure the snowflakes are running for their coloring books and safe spaces. Run away children, this is a mature site for those who want to be better than they ever thought they could be.

    1. Ursala J. Simpson

      Yes, he crushed the idea that to confuse competence with power is a good thing. Know the difference or be forever a victim of circumstance.

  4. Armywife

    I think it all comes down to being lead to think that we are victims. I find this especially true for our young men and women. We need to empower them not victimize them.

  5. Max Foster

    Now we are getting into what Gen. Satterfield thinks about the PC crowd and the snowflakes that are their soldiers (using that term metaphorically, of course). I think what Gen. S means is that we are training our youth what to think rather than how to think. In his articles here, Gen. S focuses on the HOW and warns us of the folly of learning WHAT to think. The latter is easier and why most women are leftist, neo-Marxists. Women are more prone to fall for that trap because they are more rule followers, easy to do. While men are more likely to rebel, and tell the tyrants to f-off. Just thinking here a little.

  6. Plato

    ‘Wonder is the feeling of the philosopher, and philosophy begins in wonder.’ by me, Plato. And Gen. Satterfield might just be a philosopher.

    1. Nick Lighthouse

      Ha ha, good one Plato. Yes, I do think you have something there. 😉

    2. Willie Strumburger

      Got that right Plato. You da man with the best insight today. But of course you are because you are Plato.
      “A hero is born among a hundred, a wise man is found among a thousand, but an accomplished one might not be found even among a hundred thousand men.” — Plato

  7. Pen Q

    Thank you Gen. S. for a surprising article. If you could write more on this topic, we would appreciate it.

  8. Lynn Pitts

    Sad that so many women, grown and experienced women, cannot distinguish betw competent and power-hungry men. They fall into the trap often and wonder why. The answer is they are liberals and blinded by their adopted anti-man ideology.

  9. Emma Archambeau

    If you are looking for a great leadership website, this one will fill the bill. However, if you really want to have a better understanding how people work, the real inside story, then read General Satterfield’s blog and enjoy. Those new here, be quick and go back to read older articles.

    1. North of Austin

      — and get copies of his two books, now that is a deal.

  10. Sadako Red

    Very insightful, “What is most destructive about the post-Modernist leftist types is their idea that everything in human society is based on power. And that is an attack on the idea of competence, and that is based on the idea that there are real problems that can be solved. If we believe that all things are based on power, then there are no noble ways to solve problems, and if there are solutions, then they are only effective with force.”

    1. JT Patterson

      Red, always a pleasure to read your thoughts and this article is direct and to the point. Thank you and I look forward to your next article.

      1. Good Dog

        Right, and I’m a huge huge fan of Sadako Red myself as are my family. We enjoy reading his articles. Looking forward to a new one any day now.

  11. Watson Bell

    Enjoyable, excellent review of an important idea. i like it when we get into those areas where there is confusion or often purposeful obfuscation like we have here between “competence and power” or confusing the 2.

    1. Otto Z. Zuckermann

      As always, a fan of Gen. Satterfield and his uncanny ability to ferret out human lessons from the most mundane circumstances.


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