The Power of Power
The battle between slavery and freedom is very much a contest of tactics, ideas, and willpower. Much like a chess game, it can be very useful to occasionally "turn the board around," to see what the battlefield looks like to your opponent. If you want to defeat tyranny, it helps a lot to understand how tyrants think, and how they act.
Imagine that you're a narcissistic control freak who wants to rule a few hundred million people, but they're spread across many millions of square miles. To even keep track of them, much less keep them under your control, you'll want to control things that all of your intended subjects rely on, and have to deal with. Five of the biggest examples are currency, communications, transportation, food and energy.
1) You'll want to control the medium of exchange your subjects use to trade. In fact, if you can control that, then your ability to rob people will be almost unlimited.
2) You'll want all of your subjects communicating through a system that you control, and can monitor, or shut down if necessary.
3) You'll want to control your subjects' means of getting from one place to another. Whether by plane, train, or roads, you and your hired thugs should be able to monitor, control, or even prevent any movement of your subjects.
4) You'll want to control, as much as possible, the sources of food for your subjects, for obvious reasons. If need be, you'll be able to starve any who resist your control.
5) You'll want control over all energy-production, especially in this technological age.
Imagine, for a moment, if you (the tyrant) lost control over these things. Your intended subjects could trade without you knowing about it, and without you being able to take a cut, via direct theft ("taxation") or currency fraud ("fractional banking"). And your intended subjects could communicate with each other, without you knowing what they are saying, what they are doing, and what they are planning. And your intended subjects could get from one place to another without you being able to track and control them. This would be very important, not just because of economics, but because of their ability to evade or resist your thugs. And if your subjects could provide their own food, and their own energy, they could live their lives independent of you, not needing you for anything, and living beyond the reach of your megalomaniacal plans.
Of these five important topics, it is easy to underestimate the importance of the issue of power and energy. To see how important it is, consider the question, what do most people do when their power goes out? They huddle in a corner and wait for it to come back on. Americans have become so spoiled, and so dependent upon electricity, that most literally have no idea what to do with themselves when they suddenly don't have it.
Just the fact that, for the vast majority of people, there has to be a wire physically connecting them to some big power station somewhere, means they can't run, they can't hide, and with a simple snip (or push of a button, to be more modern), they can be left in the dark, literally and figuratively. There's a reason that, in a lot of movies, you know the devious bad guys have arrived when the power and phones suddenly die, leaving the people inside isolated, disoriented, and often blind and helpless. As an aspiring tyrant, you and your thugs should always keep the ability to do that to anyone you want, whenever you want.
In contrast, if your intended subjects can produce their own energy, not only does it become harder to cut them off, but it becomes a lot harder to even find them. Perhaps more importantly, it becomes more difficult to control them economically. Obviously, for almost all Americans, paying for energy--electricity, oil, gasoline, etc.--is a huge, ongoing expense, and therefore is not only a way for the would-be tyrant to rob them directly (via "taxation"), but a way to take control of an entire country, just by taking control of one industry. For most people, taxing and regulating energy is like taxing and regulating air: it's a form of extortion they can't possibly avoid, unless they want to live like cavemen. Unless, that is, they find a way to create their own energy. It should be obvious that, as a tyrant, anything that allows your intended subjects to be self-reliant and independent is a bad thing. But energy in particular is a means to keep everyone stuck on the grid (literally), stuck paying tribute to a ruling class, stuck being at the mercy of he who controls the power industry.
If you try to control commerce, your intended victims can always learn to trade with silver. If you try to control communications, your intended victims can wire up their own system, even if it's relatively small and primitive, or can start their own ("illegal") letter-carrying service. If you try to control transportation, your intended victims can always walk, or bike. If you try to control food, your intended victims can learn to grow their own. But how many of your intended victims know anything about generating electricity for themselves? They may know how to barter, send a letter, walk, and grow a garden, but how many know how to build a self-contained hydro-electric damn, or a solar plant? How many can build a combustion engine, and for those who can, how many have the ability to make fuel for it? How many have a means of producing energy that you (the tyrant) can't tax and regulate, that you can't even find, that you don't even know about? Probably not many. If you (the tyrant) want to keep your power, try to keep it that way.