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The Dangerous Side of Power

  • Subject: Life
  • Category: Hero
  • Essay Topic: Power
  • Page: 1
  • Words: 661
  • Published: 27 February 2019
  • Downloads: 65
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The Dangerous Side of Power Essay

Power has many definitions. If we look at the some of the definitions from political science arena there are six definitions of power. First there is a physical force and a capacity for violence, control of the means of force, power is at its primal. Second definition is wealth. Money creates the ability to buy results and to buy almost any other kind of power. The third form of power is state action. This is the use of law and bureaucracy to compel people to do or not to do certain things. For example in a democracy people give government its power through elections. In a dictatorship, state power emerges from the threat of force, not consent of the people.

Fourth type of power is social norms. Norms do not have the centralized machinery of government. They operate in a softer way, peer to peer. They can certainly make people change behavior and even change laws. The fifth form of power is ideas. An idea individual liberties or racial equality can generate boundless amounts of power. If it motivates enough people to change their thinking and actions. And six source of power is number of people. A noisy mass of people creates power by expressing collective intensity of interest and by asserting legitimacy.

If we study power, we have to know Nye’s definition of “power”. According to him it is the ability to influence the behavior of others in order to get the outcomes one wants. He argued that there are three ways to exercise power: to coerce through threats, to induce behavioral change with payments or to attract and co-opt. The first two, coercion and inducement through payment, are forms of hard power; soft power is the ability to obtain proffered outcomes through attraction. In other words, it is the ability to attract co-opt rather than by coercion, using force or giving money as a mean of persuasion.

According to Nye the major elements of a country’s soft power include its culture, values and policies. However, he also pointed out that the passive use of military and economic resources can sometimes be used to attract, just as their active use can be a means to coerce, implying that different resources can also contribute to soft power. Recently, the term has also been used in changing and influencing social and public opinion through relatively less transparent channels and lobbying through powerful political and non-political organizations. In 2012, Nye explained that with soft power, “the best propaganda is not propaganda”, further explaining that during the Information Age, “credibility is the scarcest resource”. Joseph Nye coined the term in a 1990 book, Bound to Lead: The Changing Nature of American Power. In this book he wrote: “When one country gets other countries to want what it wants might be called co-optive or soft power in contrast with the hard or command power of ordering others to do what it wants. He further developed the concept in his 2004 book, Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics.

The term is now widely used in international affairs by analysts and statesman. For example, the US secretary of Defense Robert Gates spoke of the need to enhance American Soft Power by “ a dramatic increase in spending on the civilian instruments of national security, diplomacy, strategic communications, foreign assistance, civic action and economic reconstruction and development”. Nye also coined the concept of “smart power”, arguing that hard and soft power can be combined and exercised judicially with contextual intelligence. It is defined by the Center for Strategic and International Studies as “an approach that underscores the necessity of a strong military, but also invests heavily in alliances, partnerships, and institutions of all levels to expand one’s influence and establish of one’s action”. Nye suggests that the most effective strategies in foreign policy today require a mix of hard and soft power resources. Employing only hard power or only soft power in a given situation will usually prove inadequate.

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