“Choice is an illusion created between those with power and those without” – Merovingian (The Matrix Reloaded)
Resonating on the aforementioned thought, the premise of power prevails as being an extremely alluring phenomenon. Power leads to choice, choice leads to freedom, freedom leads to democracy; eventually, it is power which leads mankind to salvation.
But, when attained in absoluteness, it is this very power which drives an individual or institution on to the fringes of insanity. Power appeals to simple and astute minds alike, power seduces the oppressed to revolt and the rulers to regression. It is power which establishes supremacy, it believes, beholds and bestows; power is what distinguishes and disguises man from beast.
The purview of power is open to varying interpretations; from a realist perspective, power is the product of sustained strife. For the nation, power is the means to attain diplomatic, military, economic and strategic supremacy. For poets, power is the ability to engross a reader in a world of their imagination. When considering patriarchy, for the father, power is the desire to ensure an ideal life for his offspring, for a mother, power postulates into warranting a nutritious existence. For an employee, power is the ability to safeguard the next promotion; for his employer, power is his capacity to withhold such preferment.
A general notion postulates that power breeds power, as was the case of Marx’s political thought. His musings on the bourgeoisie bearing greater power by inheritance or by their superior capital catalysed a shift in the balance of power. Power of the oppressed magnified by a notion of mob justice, this was raw power, uncontrolled, unnerving and undeniable. The rise of proletariat struggle for dominance signified an era, a primal era in the author’s belief, and expressed a notion that till date fuels democratic establishments.
Power was reflected as the ability to generate consensus, moderate within extremes and convince impressionable minds. What appeals to this nascent observer is the parallel which evolved when these extremes were promulgated. An empowered proletariat birthed an array of disoriented power struggles, eventually succumbing to Machiavellian capitalism. Not surprisingly, Edward Abbey’s belief prevails, “Power is always dangerous. Power attracts the worst and corrupts the best.”
While feminism dissected power unto the very elementals of sexual power to physical dominance, the general notion which prevailed centred on principals of anti-patriarchy. In the works of Susan Moller Okin, feminism attempted to define power as a resource, and that one of the goals of feminism would be to redistribute this resource in more equitable ways. An elemental attempt of such perception of power was to highlight social anomalies prevalent due to irregular distribution of power. Usurping social power emerged as the panacea for a vast number of problems that were faced for a majority, if not all the problems borne by the supposed ‘weaker sex’.
Varying beyond vagaries of discipline, beliefs and dispute, power translates into authority for some, into need for the others. The dynamics of power emerge as being the fundamentals behind these digressions. Power acts as a catalyst and desired product for a majority of endeavours; what varies is the magnitude attained. From political science to literature, science to sociology, power guides thinkers and believers into the whirlpool of yearnings and verdicts. Power is elemental in virtually all digressions that are undertaken by both state and non-state actors.
It is essential to understand that societal, political and institutional structures are prone to mutations. Before a supposed oppressed entity refuses to agree to the aforementioned thought, transitions construed out of transmutations in power apparatuses should be considered. Epicurus’s belief, “It is folly for a man to pray to the gods for that which he has the power to obtain by himself”, seems to be the most appropriate means to conclude this mild pondering over power. For this author, power is the ability to grip a reader to his article, making them nod to his perceptions and mould them into believing his interpretations. Power dissolves disputes, distances dreams and distorts beliefs; power is all that human kind needs.