Montag, 2. September 2013

Power - Macht - English - Überarbeitet

Linda Block,
BA social work
Alice Salomon Hochschule

an Essay

Foundations of Sociology
Naomi Ryland

Wouldn't it be great, to prove Nietzsche was wrong?”

Page 1

  1. Introduction
  2. What is Power?
  3. Thesis

Page 2

  1. Why are people longing for power?
  2. Power in history

Page 3

  1. Change
  2. Opinions of others

Page 4

  1. Conclusion
  2. Bibliography

1. Introduction

Keine Macht für Niemand“ [1](„No Power for nobody.“) was something Rio Reiser already claimed in 1972 with his Band „Ton, Steine, Scherben“.
But was is Power? Who owns Power? Can you buy it or only receive it? Can anybody become powerful or just some? Why should nobody got it, related to Reiser? And is owning the right word for it?

Only one thing is proven: Power exists. Everywhere and for Decades.
Lots of Literature is about Power. Nevertheless nobody likes to be occupied with this topic.
Power is something bad, something dirty. Everybody would like to hide it.
But that's not possible.

If you, like I will do here, start from the premise that Power exists everywhere at any time, than you automatically ask yourself the question:
Why is it something bad for us?
I can't think about anything what we title with such poorly attributes which is so close to us.
And why don't we change that?

There would be two ways to change the character of Power.
Either the perception or the art of exertion.

In the course of this work I will take a look at the Power in the presence and in the past.
I hope these pages could inspire you. Could make you curious, could bring you to question yourself.
To make you stop taking everything as it shows you on the first view.

As a first Information I recommend you to take a look in Leon Manns’ Book “Sozialpsychologie” (2001) just for getting in the mood.

2. What is Power?

In politics, social science and, power is the ability to influence the behaviour of people. The term authority is often used for power perceived as legitimate by the . Power can be seen as evil or unjust, but the exercise of power is accepted as endemic to humans as social beings. In the corporate environment, power is often expressed as upward or downward. With downward power, a company's superior influences subordinates. When a company exerts upward power, it is the subordinates who influence the decisions of the leader (Greiner & Schein, 1988).

3. Thesis

I want to prove, that Power is:

a) There all the time
b) reachable for everyone
Exercise of Power related to other
  1. is unnecessary...
  2. but not avoidable.

4. Why are people longing for Power?

It all starts when you are a little child:
After some time you recognize that, when you are crying, your Mother or Father will come to you .
You get the attention, the cup of water or just your will.
And so it goes on in your life:
Depending on how your socialisation was, you make your own way:
But when you weren't the one who get their will, then it was the parents Power who did it that way.
So: Power is unavoidable in your younger years.

It seems to be a circular flow. If somebody forbids you to use Power he uses it on his own.
One out of two is always holding the Power. So Rio Reiser seems to be right.
You can hold Power.

People have goals they want to reach. And if you want to reach your goal you have to use your Power. Especially if there is someone who don't want you to reach your goal, maybe because you want to get in a position he don't want you because “you are not fitting” - because of your race, your family or your political interests.
Elitism is still a big deal, even if you maybe don't recognize it on the first view.

It's a circular flow which is hard to break through.
You can decide to go with it and fight for what you long for or you have to reorient.

5. Power in History

To understand what Power is or was just used for we have to take a look in the History books.
In Germany the first thought we have when we think of Power is Hitler. He used his Power in a more than bad way by letting no one influence him in his decisions. This is the ultimate Power and could of course even be used for something good. But he didn’t do this. He made decisions to kill a hole group of people he considered to be one of a kind.
Let’s see what some years later was:
Hitler was gone and all united countries are in Germany. They took the power they have to reform things what was nice, because they could have done the completely different.
But did they do it because they are nice people? Probably not. Like always they just did it,because it will help them in future.
Then take a look at the Russian side, especially when they founded the GDR.
What they have done is something completely different to what have the united countries did.
Of course, they brought their own system there “by force”, but just because they wanted the people to have a better life - in communism.
Ok, maybe just not because they just want the people to live better but also for their own business, but the background thought behind communism is more powerless then the democratic one, the social market economy which was developed to keep the people silent.
So, in fact, the Russians wanted to create something where everyone nearly got the same amount of power. Unfortunately it didn’t worked out this way.

I would say it is because there was too much Power in one hand for a time which took too long.
Like Hitler, like the united countries, like every government in the world.
If you once tasted Power, you always reach for more and that makes you blind for the people you live with.

6. Change

But how could we change they way Power is handled and how could we change how everyone of us is using it?

If we see the relation to history it seems to be very easy: We have to take more responsibility on our own. Of course that isn’t making everything more easy but it makes everything more fair for everyone.
Lots of people sit down in their little lives and always sees the responsibility in others hand, so they are used to that and they kind of enjoy this easy way of thinking and living.
But it’s mandatory to change yourself if you want the world to change. And I can tell you: It won’t be easier then.

But how are we able to change Power beyond ourselves?
We could talk to people, get them out of their little world, they built themselves and in which is it ok to be that powerful.
Angela Merkel for example isn’t able to see how her work is working in the real life. She hasn’t got the time for that. She just has Co-Workers who can tell her, but maybe they are not that trustworthy as she thinks.
Of course, people are already fighting for her to listen, like you see in Demonstrations, but maybe they are too less.

7. Opinions of others

Of course there are not just my thoughts about this topic found in history. Bertrand Russell, for example made his own ones in “Power – A new social analysis” (1938). The chapter “Forms of Power” (Page 22,23) for example divides between naked and revolutionary ways of Power.
Russell says that revolutionary power, for him, is for example, “communism, desire for national independence and Protestantism”
On the other hand naked Power is based on fear and is made from “power-loving (impulse of) individuals and groups”.
But it isn't that easy anyway. He also says that power can be seen from both sides.
For example a democratic country can be “naked related to the anarchist” but “not naked relating to the opposing political parties.”.
Luhmann based his knowledge on Power in communication. In his opinion, related to Parsons, it is a “symbolic generated medium of communication” (1975:3)[2].
For example: Sometimes you didn't even have to talk, because you already KNOW that the other person is more powerful than you – and then you talk (communicate) they way you think to have to talk to your counterpart. And so the communication defines the power. And it is not the same in every system.
Mathias Junge describes “power as a wealth” you got ( Macht und Moral, 2003:11) and says it can lead to something or block something.
Rainer Paris says, that someone “ needs the wants to be a leader, if he wants to be one” (related to Scheler,1957:259) [3]
Nietzsche brought power together with moral and said it is especially found in the enforcing way of power.[4]
Durkeim says in 1984 (Page 85) [4] that “Moral isn't just a system of habits, it's a system of orders.”

But how can these thoughts of the big thinkers help us to come to an conclusion? How will it help us to prove the thesis I constructed at the beginning?
Let's take a look.

8. Conclusion
Thesis 1: Power is there all the time
When we connect to Luhmann and the thoughts about parenthood,work-life and politics, I had before we can say yes: Power is there all the time, because it's already in our communication.

Thesis 2: Power is reachable for everyone
According to Nietzsche, Durkheim and Junge, power isn't just reachable for everyone, everyone already got it. If it is true and it's a wealth and it's already included in moral. You can bend moral the way you “want” and already if you bend the ruling moral you accomplish power.

Thesis 3: Power is unnecessary
Well, this is a thesis hard to prove. Related to Russell power isn't unnecessary, because you need it for changing something.
I wish to think that power is unnecessary, but maybe I am a little anarchist in that way. But I also know that anarchy is a utopia.
It's unnecessary in many way we use it, for example in work-life by sharing the tasks and being more responsible for the outcome.
But it is mandatory for changing something big.
Thesis 4: Power is not avoidable
Foucault once said that power is “ what is showing the most and so hiding the best”(1978:189), so no, power is not avoidable, because we're not even able to see everything of it.
And also because we will need it for “jumping out of the line” - otherwise we will be like robots. All the same.

So well, my favourite theory isn't proven. But hey, maybe it will be in some decades and we all are able to live without the using of power. When all of us are trying to change something ( of course with a great use of this power, we want to avoid ), maybe we can keep power low and develop our own, new morals to prove Nietzsche was wrong?

9. Bibliography
When it isn't already explained after the quote
[1] Keine Macht für Niemand. Die Geschichte der Ton Steine Scherben , Kai Sichtermann, Jens Johler, Christian Stahl (2000)
[2] Power : reflections on theories of power, Sebastian Dietzel (2010) – Luhmann meets Foucalt
[3] Normale Macht, Rainer Paris (2005)
[4] Macht und Moral, Matthias Junge (2003)

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