What defines power

  • What defines power

     Doctor Anna updated 1 month, 1 week ago 2 Members · 2 Posts
  • Nadja Elena De Col

    March 2, 2021 at 08:45

    I was trying to identify universal indicators of power. Specifically, what does an individual or a group have those below them don’t have that defines them as the top of society.

    The obvious answer is control and power, but I was thinking about what this concretely means. In western civilization, classically we might be talking about ownership, especially physical ownership, but that feels a little limiting because there are other things, like reputation, that still have an impact once said ownership has disappeared.

    Any thoughts?

  • Doctor Anna

    March 2, 2021 at 09:23

    Hey, I suppose Foucault is the go to guy on power, Before Foucault, political philosophers had presumed that power had an essence, be it sovereignty, or mastery, or unified control. The German social theorist Max Weber influentially argued that state power consisted in a ‘monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force’. Thomas Hobbes, the English philosopher and original theorist of state power, saw the essence of power as state sovereignty. Hobbes thought that at its best and purest power would be exercised from the singular position of sovereignty. He called it ‘The Leviathan’. Whilst Foucault never denied the reality of state power in the Hobbesian sense, he stated that there were real forces of violence in the world, and not only state violence. There is also corporate violence due to enormous condensations of capital, gender violence in the form of patriarchy, and the violences both overt and subtle of white supremacy in such forms as chattel slavery, real-estate redlining, and now mass incarceration. Foucault’s work affirmed that such exercises of force were exhibits of sovereign power, likenesses of Leviathan. What he doubted was the assumption that we could extrapolate from this easy observation the more complex thought that power only ever appears in Leviathan-like form, and that power is all the more cunning because its basic forms can change in response to our efforts to free ourselves from its grip. Discipline, according to Foucault, is a form of power that tells people how to act by coaxing them to adjust themselves to what is ‘normal’. It is power in the form of correct training. The exemplary manifestation of disciplinary power is the prison, The crucial move of imprisonment is that of coaxing prisoners to learn how to inspect, manage and correct themselves. If effectively designed, supervision renders prisoners no longer in need of their supervisors. For they will have become their own attendant. Complete docility. Ultimately, fear is the cause behind our enthrallment by power, for power is our ultimate defense against eternity’s immensity and tyranny’s horrors. If you don’t have power over yourself then something else will, that’s a strong motivation that probably existed in the evolutionary past for different reasons than it exists today. Sorry, a rather verbose answer just to say fear ??

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