Politics and power


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Politics and power

  1. 1. Politics and Power
  2. 2.  "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 theyve been appointed and thinking theyve been anointed." -- Claude D. Pepper, US Senator
  3. 3.  "My choice early in life was either to be a piano-player in a whorehouse or a politician. And to tell the truth, theres 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
  4. 4. The American public’s reactions to the behaviour of their leaders in thedebt/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
  5. 5.  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
  6. 6. Politics is often understood as: the art and science of GOVERNMENT, as affairs of STATEBut: 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
  7. 7. Cooperation and conflict are two basic modes of politics
  8. 8. POLITICS AS COOPERATION, OR INTEGRATION –as the process of rule based on order and justice. Politicsis driven by the considerations of the common good.More natural for the thinking of those who support theexisting social order (status quo)
  9. 9. 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 tochange the status quo in their favour.
  10. 10. At any given moment, in any political process or event, one can discover elements of both cooperation and conflict which interact in various waysPolitical analysis seeks to make sense of the logics of these interactions
  11. 11. Maurice Duverger:“The state – and in a more general way, organized power inany society – is always and at all times both the instrumentby which certain groups dominate others, an instrumentused in the interest of the rulers and to the disadvantage ofthe ruled, - and also a means of ensuring a particularsocial order, of achieving some integration of the individualand the collectivity for the general good…The two elements always co-exist, though the importanceof each varies with the period, the circumstances, and thecountry concerned…
  12. 12.  “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…
  13. 13. Many thinkers maintain that conflict and integration are nottwo opposed faces but one and the same overall process inwhich conflict naturally produces integration, and divisions,by their development, tend naturally toward their ownsuppression leading to the coming of the city of harmony.”The Idea of Politics, L.: Methuen, 1966, p.viii
  14. 14. THE LEAST CONTROVERSIAL WORKING DEFINITION OF POLITICSA 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
  15. 15. 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
  16. 16. Four categories of residents of the ancient Greek polis1. 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 relatives3. 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
  17. 17. The Acropolis, Athens
  18. 18. State Market Society
  19. 19.  There is a city called Polis in the northern part of the Island of Cyprus: http://www.polis-municipality- cyprus.com/
  20. 20. PowerThe fuel of politics. The ability to make, or to influence the making of,those binding decisions which are the essence of politicsStruggle for powerDistribution of power: how fair? how equal? how effective?Balance of powerGreat power, superpower, hyperpowerA powerful leader
  21. 21. TYPES OF POWERPOLITICAL POWERcontrol of, or influence on, the state, ability tomake, or influence, political decisionsECONOMIC POWERcontrol of economic assetsMILITARY POWERability to wage war - or to compel othersthrough intimidation or deterrenceThese forms of power interact in many ways.For example?
  22. 22. An important distinction: “Power over…” and “power to…”
  23. 23. “Power to” conveys the idea of one’s ability to realizeone’s goals without coercing others Individually, by exercising one’s freedom Or collectively, by joining with others in a free andvoluntary wayAssociated with visions of a good society, based on theideals of freedom, equality, justice, solidarity, democracyGandhi’s first protest, South Africa, 1906:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SNmJqRV7LOABarack Obama, 2009: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yCFhpYMhaqY&feature=channel
  24. 24. In real life, “power over” is the prevalent kind of powerIts main characteristics:1. AN INTERACTIVE PROCESS(you have to have someone to have power over)2. POTENTIAL or ACTIVE3. A PURPOSEFUL ACTIVITY4. PROMOTIVE (Do it!) or PREVENTIVE (Don’t do it!)5. BALANCED or UNBALANCED (“Absolute power corrupts absolutely” – Lord Acton). Democracy associated with balanced power
  25. 25.  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
  26. 26. 5 principal forms of power (see OCDP, “power”)1.FORCE – ability to detain and harm people and damage orconfiscate their property to compel them to obey your orders2.PERSUASION – ability to convince people to do what theyotherwise would not have done by invoking their owninterests and common sense3.AUTHORITY – legitimate (just and lawful) power to controland direct people’s activities4.COERCION – controlling people by means of threateninguse of force5.MANIPULATION – controlling people without threats, bypersuading them about the legitimacy of the existing powerrelationships, or by offering them benefits
  27. 27. LEGITIMATE powerTYPES OF LEGITIMACY (Max Weber, Politics as aVocation) TRADITIONAL – based on tradition, establishedbeliefs or values (example: rule of dynasties, power ofthe church) LEGAL-RATIONAL – based on formalarrangements (rules, laws, constitutions). The main typepracticed in contemporary politics CHARISMATIC*– based on the extraordinarypersonal qualities of a leader, or on the influence of anidea or a cause *from ancient Greek word “charisma”, meaning “gift”
  28. 28. 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
  29. 29.  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?
  30. 30. SO, WHERE DOES POWER COME FROM,ULTIMATELY?Power is produced by social cooperation.Ultimately, it is a collective product. We createpower by acting together.The problem is that this product is usuallyappropriated by the few and used at the expenseof, or downright against, the many.