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Politics and Power

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									Politics and Power
The American public’s reactions to the behaviour of their leaders in the
debt/budget battle in Washington, July-Aug 2011, Pew Research poll:
http://pewresearch.org/pubs/2078/debt-ceiling-limits-budget-deficit-tea-
party-republicans-obama-democrats-republicans-ridiculous
   "Man is by nature a political animal."
         -- Aristotle
   "Politics, n. Strife of interests masquerading as a contest of
    principles."
         -- Ambrose Bierce, American journalist
   "Politics is the art of preventing people from taking part in
    affairs which properly concern them."
         -- Paul Valery, French writer and philosopher
   "The mistake a lot of politicians make is in forgetting
    they've been appointed and thinking they've been
    anointed."
         -- Claude D. Pepper, US Senator
   "My choice early in life was either to be a piano-player in a
    whorehouse or a politician. And to tell the truth, there's
    hardly any difference."
        -- Harry S. Truman, US President (1945-52)
   "Politics is the skilled use of blunt objects."
        -- Lester B. Pearson, Canadian PM (1963-68)
   "Politics is war without bloodshed while war is politics with
    bloodshed."
        -- Mao Zedong, Chairman of People’s Republic of
    China
   "Politics is the art of the possible."
        -- Otto Von Bismarck, Chancellor of Germany
   Some common definitions of politics:*
      Politics is the exercise of power

      Politics is the public allocation of values

      Politics is the resolution of conflict

      Politics is the competition among individuals, groups, or
       states pursuing their interests
    *Danziger, James N. Understanding the Political World. NY: Addison-
       Wesley, 1991
Politics is often understood as:
  the art and science of GOVERNMENT, as affairs of
  STATE
But:
  The state is rooted in society.
  The state maintains a particular social order.
  Politics outside the state is important.
  Interactions between state and society are at the core
  of politics.
So, to understand politics, it has to be examined
  as part of the entire fabric of SOCIAL RELATIONS –
  cooperation and conflicts between individuals, groups,
  classes
Cooperation and conflict are two basic modes of politics
POLITICS AS COOPERATION, OR INTEGRATION –
as the process of rule based on order and justice. Politics
is driven by the considerations of the common good.
More natural for the thinking of those who support the
existing social order (status quo)
POLITICS AS CONFLICT -
as struggle for power.
Politics is driven by selfish interests of individuals, groups,
businesses, states.
More natural for the thinking of those who would like to
change the status quo in their favour.
At any given moment, in any political process or event, one
   can discover elements of both cooperation and conflict
   which interact in various ways
Political analysis seeks to make sense of the logics of these
   interactions
Maurice Duverger:
“The state – and in a more general way, organized power in
any society – is always and at all times both the instrument
by which certain groups dominate others, an instrument
used in the interest of the rulers and to the disadvantage of
the ruled, - and also a means of ensuring a particular
social order, of achieving some integration of the individual
and the collectivity for the general good…
The two elements always co-exist, though the importance
of each varies with the period, the circumstances, and the
country concerned…
   “The relations between conflict and integration are,
    moreover, complex. Every attack on the existing social
    order implies the image of a superior, more authentic
    order. Every conflict implies a dream of integration and
    represents an effort to bring it into being…
Many thinkers maintain that conflict and integration are not
two opposed faces but one and the same overall process in
which conflict naturally produces integration, and divisions,
by their development, tend naturally toward their own
suppression leading to the coming of the city of harmony.”

The Idea of Politics, L.: Methuen, 1966, p.viii
THE LEAST CONTROVERSIAL WORKING DEFINITION OF POLITICS

A HUMAN ACTIVITY focused on:

1/ the FORMULATION and EXECUTION of:
     DECISIONS, which are BINDING on members of:
     A SOCIAL WHOLE (family, community, society, the world)
    – and:

2/ the RELATIONS which are formed between individuals, groups, states
    IN THE PROCESS of formulation and execution of those decisions.

   See Larry Johnston’s Politics, Broadview Press, 1998, p. 16
The word politics comes from ancient Greece.
Its root is the word polis, which began to be
   used about 2,800 years ago to denote a self-
   governing city (city-state)

   POLIS – city-state
   POLITES – citizen
   POLITIKOS – politician
   POLITIKE – politics as the art of citizenship
    and government
   POLITEIA – constitution, rules of politics
   POLITEUMA – political community, all those
    residents who have full political rights
Four categories of residents of the ancient Greek polis
1. Citizens with full legal and political rights
 Adult free men born legitimately of citizen parents. They

   had the right to vote, be elected into office, bear arms,
   and the obligation to serve when at war.
2. Citizens with legal rights but no political rights:
 Women and underage children, whose political rights and

   interests were represented by their adult male relatives
3. Foreigners (citizens of other city-states):
 Full legal rights, but no political rights. Could not vote,
   could not be elected to office, could not bear arms and
   could not serve in war. Subject to taxation.
4. Slaves
 Property of their owners, any privileges depend on the
   owner’s will
The Acropolis, Athens
State




 Market
          Society
   There is a city called Polis in the
    northern part of the Island of Cyprus:
   http://www.polis-municipality-
    cyprus.com/
                 Power
The fuel of politics.
   The ability to make,
   or to influence the making of,
those binding decisions which are the essence of politics
Struggle for power
Distribution of power: how fair? how equal? how
   effective?
Balance of power
Great power, superpower, hyperpower
A powerful leader
               TYPES OF POWER
POLITICAL POWER
control of, or influence on, the state, ability to
make, or influence, political decisions
ECONOMIC POWER
control of economic assets
MILITARY POWER
ability to wage war - or to compel others
through intimidation or deterrence
These forms of power interact in many ways.
For example?
An important distinction:
       “Power over…”
       and “power to…”
“Power to” conveys the idea of one’s ability to realize
one’s goals without coercing others
       Individually, by exercising one’s freedom
       Or collectively, by joining with others in a free and
voluntary way
Associated with visions of a good society, based on the
ideals of freedom, equality, justice, solidarity, democracy
Gandhi’s first protest, South Africa, 1906:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SNmJqRV7LOA
Barack Obama, 2009:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yCFhpYMhaqY&feature=c
hannel
In real life, “power over” is the prevalent kind of power
Its main characteristics:
1. AN INTERACTIVE PROCESS
(you have to have someone to have power over)

2. POTENTIAL or ACTIVE
3. A PURPOSEFUL ACTIVITY
4. PROMOTIVE (Do it!) or PREVENTIVE (Don’t do it!)
5. BALANCED or UNBALANCED (“Absolute power corrupts
   absolutely” – Lord Acton). Democracy associated with balanced
   power
   INFLUENCE – use of power (or power exertion) with an
    uncertain outcome
   CONTROL – use of power with a more or less certain
    outcome
   DOMINATION – structured, stable use of power
5 principal forms of power (see OCDP, “power”)
1. FORCE – ability to detain and harm people and damage
   or confiscate their property to compel them to obey your
   orders
2. PERSUASION – ability to convince people to do what
   they otherwise would not have done by invoking their own
   interests and common sense
3. AUTHORITY – legitimate (just and lawful) power to
   control and direct people’s activities
4. COERCION – controlling people by means of threatening
   use of force
5. MANIPULATION – controlling people without threats, by
   persuading them about the legitimacy of the existing
   power relationships, or by offering them benefits
LEGITIMATE power
TYPES OF LEGITIMACY (Max Weber, Politics as a
Vocation)
       TRADITIONAL – based on tradition, established
beliefs or values (example: rule of dynasties, power of
the church)
       LEGAL-RATIONAL – based on formal
arrangements (rules, laws, constitutions). The main type
practiced in contemporary politics
       CHARISMATIC*– based on the extraordinary
personal qualities of a leader, or on the influence of an
idea or a cause
       *from ancient Greek word “charisma”, meaning “gift”
Information as a power resource
 “Knowledge is power” – Francis Bacon

 From the printing press to the Internet

 The Information Revolution

 The Information Age

 The new role of information in our lives – in our

   economy, social relations, politics – as a result of rapid
   development of ICT (information and communication
   technologies) since the 1980s
   Access to information
   Management of information
   Control of information
       Controlling people through their minds
   Values, ideas, the daily information flow
       Religion, education, propaganda, mass media
   The power of discourse
   The information battleground: how controllable are we?
   Can you fool all the people all the time?
SO, WHERE DOES POWER COME FROM,
ULTIMATELY?
Power is produced by social cooperation.
Ultimately, it is a collective product. We create
power by acting together.
The problem is that this product is usually
appropriated by the few and used at the expense
of, or downright against, the many.

								
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