Essay on Power in Contemporary Politics

Submitted By blospice
Words: 811
Pages: 4

Power has always been the most fundamental concept in the study of politics. For as long as man can remember, power has always played a very important role in all aspects of human civilizations. Power tends to drastically manipulate or manoeuvre the decisions and actions of other actors. Defining power is a difficult exercise because it is understood in different ways so there is no universal definition of power. The most general concept of power links it to the ability to achieve a desired outcome. (). Basically, power originates from position, status or authority which may influence people positively or negatively. Power may be executed when an individual or a group is able to achieve its aims despite opposition from others (). Power, is the capacity to make other human beings do what they would not ordinarily have done of their own accord. It is defined as the ability to impose one’s will on others and get them to do whatever one wishes even when such wishes are against the wishes of others (). According to Max Webber, the term power refers to ‘the chance of a man or number of men to realize their own will in a command action even against the resistance of others who are participating in the action’ (). Power is the capacity to control the actions and behaviours of others through the threat and outright use of sanctions. These sanctions may be positive or negative; sanctions are used most of the time if there is non-compliance ().
Coercive power is predicated on the ability to employ the use of force in order to accomplish an objective. The person exercising coercive power has the ability to make unpleasant and undesirable things happen if his commands are not obeyed. In the exercise of coercive form of power, the holder uses acts of intimidation, torture and repression to compel compliance. This form of power is perceived by the subjects that any act of disobedience would attract sanctions or punishments which have unpleasant consequences. Authoritarian styled type of political system is credited with the use of coercive power to achieve the objectives of the state. This is a form of rule where popular participation is denied and curtailed by the select few individuals who control the affairs of the state. According to Jonathan Blundell (2001:--), some public figures that practiced this form of power include Adolf Hitler of Germany, Mussolini of Italy and Franco of Spain etc. (paraphrased). (Jonathan Blundell 2001). Usually, the holder of power has an advantage over the people it is being exercised upon. That is why there is usually forceful compliance or obedience in the process. Coercive force is particularly useful in situations of imminent danger. Coercion may also be useful when dispute involves something of great value to the threatened, both in the initial and ongoing manoeuvres. For example, European countries relied on extensive and often brutal coercive power to establish their rule over Africa and other regions, particularly Asia. After conquest, exchange and even integrative forms of power were utilized. But, as the colonies began to assert their demands for self-determination, the colonizers almost always resorted to coercive power whatever the cost, as the decades-long struggle for Indian independence…