This paper argues that a prime focus of information systems should be on power and politics and that this remains a neglected field of study. Using examples from four historical civilisations, two Sumerian city states, the Hittite empire and the Inca empire, the role of information systems in maintaining power structures is illustrated and it is argued that this is their primary purpose, an argument which is pursued with reference to the theory of public choice. The paper concludes by illustrating the power motives in the development of social computing and calling for the application of political theory to information systems studies.