Political Power Essay
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Power could be defined as “the ability to bring about change” according to Beyond intractability. Org website (http://www.beyondintractability.org/essay/Power/). Power is the ability to influence the behavior of the others so as to make them do what one wants. It entails authority and control. Thus political power is the authority to control a society.
Political power can be manipulated leading to negative use by the person or people holding it. There are many bad uses of political power that can result from holding of the power by an irresponsible person.
Such negative uses include dictatorship, corruption and oppression of the society. Political power can also be used positively to bring benefit to the society. Political power can be used to foster development, to maintain peace and also to protect the society from external threats of invasion. Despite the various harsh negative uses of political power, the positive uses shows that political power does not always lead to negative outcomes.
Political power can be effectively used to bring a lot of benefits to the society.
Political power can be used to perpetrate corruption. People holding much political power can use it inappropriately to engage in corruption. This is particularly possible when much of the power is vested on a few individuals and there is no evaluation or a watchdog on how this power is used. When they get enticed to use it for their personal gain at the expense of the society for which they are supposed to care.
Corruption is abuse of office or power by a person so as he can benefit. Corruption can take many forms all leading to great injustices to the society. When political officers get into office, they do so promising the society that they will serve the interest of the society before their own personal gains. However, after gaining political power they uphold their personal gain. This can be done through misappropriation of funds whereby the offices holding the power spends public funds in a way that do not bring benefits to the society. Example of misappropriation of funds may entail starting of projects that are not necessary to the society or buying luxurious facilities for their use at the expense of other more necessary facilities.
Corruption can also be in the form of embezzlement o f public funds. The political officers may use their power to get access to money belonging to the public through public corporations and use it for their own personal interests. Facilities of such corporation can be wrongly used to serve the officer’s personal interests instead of their official use.
Such actions lead to poor performance of such corporation leading to difficulties in meeting the essential needs of the society. If funds belonging to a government institution, for example, a hospital are embezzled by a few officers, it means the hospital is not able to offer the services it is supposed to offer efficiently. This will lead to great suffering of the members of the society which depend on such public facilities. It is also very unfair to the society as they pay taxes so that they government can offer such services
Corruption can also take the form of bribery. This is mostly an administrative form of corruption but can be perpetrated by political officers also. This involves the political officers asking for bribes from the members of society or organization so as they can be offered certain services. The is bribes may range from small gifts to massive amounts of money. This form of corruption means the members of society are not able to get services without parting with other resources. It also means there is segregation of some of the members of the society as, if they fail to raise the required bribes, they don’t get access to the resources they need.
Corruption can also lead to extortion. This entails use of political power by the political officers to obtain something by illegal threats. The political officers may acquire interests in certain things or organization though issuing threats or force.
Corruption has various costs to a country. If corruption is predominant in a country all the members of society are affected in one way or another. The wealth of such a country is significantly affected leading to decrease in income. The economy in a very corrupt state will be poor and businesses will not operate efficiently. Consequently, the national income goes down affecting the ability of the government to offer essential services to the citizens. This will inform produce a society with high rates of illiteracy and poverty.
In the animal farm Napoleon used his political power to instigate corruption. He changed the rules from what had been collectively agreed to what suited his rule. He also used the dogs to threaten any other animal that opposed his rule. Napoleon and the other pigs also used the property of the farm for their own use which the other animals had not agreed upon.
Another negative use of political power is establishment of dictatorship rule. Dictatorship is whereby the country is controlled by one or a few individuals who have absolute power. Their rule is not limited by anyone, buy law constitution or social justices. They do what they want.
To gain dictatorship political officers use the little political power they have to gain more political power and later dictatorship. This is possible through oppression of nay efforts that try to limit their power. This may include execution of people who take the bold steps of openly opposing the rule of these political powers.
Dictators take control of all the operations of power in the country and personalize the rule. The dictatorship may also regulate all the actions by the citizens of a country and directs these actions against the will or consent of the citizens.
Dictatorships are influenced by different factors that lead the political rules to misuse their political powers and establish dictatorships. There are many countries that have been ruled by dictators or are still ruled by dictators. An example of dictatorship is Stalinism which was a regime established by Joseph Stalin who lived between 1878 and 1953 in United Social Soviet Republic. He was a dictator party leader whose tenure and campaigns costed lives of millions of people. His rule had big negative impacts on USSR but also transformed it from a peasant society to an industrial nation ttp://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/RUSstalin.htm).
In George Orwell’s book (1996), the Animal Farm he depicts how people struggle collectively to oust bad rule but after gaining control, the few who are trusted with the political power misuse it and establishes an autocratic form of rule whereby they dictate on all the others. The pigs in the story, after chasing the oppressive farmer, took control of the farm and established a rule that oppressed the other animals. The animals that questioned the rule were mistreated or executed (Orwell 1996). Napoleon used mudslinging to destroy the reputation of Snowball and later chased him from the farm. These represent how people who oppose a dictator are exiled after being falsely accused.
This is typical of many African and Asian countries whereby after gaining independence form colonialism, the leaders who were trusted with political power went ahead to establish dictatorship. Other examples of dictators include Idd Amin of Uganda, Hu Chi Minh of North Vietnam and Saddam Hussein of Iraq.
Oppression of citizens and social injustices is another form of negative use of political power. In this case, the leaders vested with political power bends the rules, and perpetrate actions that lead to oppression of citizens and social injustices. The law or the constitution is not followed and injustice becomes inaccessible to the society.
In political system where citizen are oppressed and social injustice are rife, a few people control all the branches of government. Though the legislative, executive and judiciary branches of the government may seem independent, this few individuals use their political powers to influence the operations of all these branches. This results to much suffering of the citizens and as the justice system are faulty the citizen lack a forum through which their injustices can be addressed.
In modern society this can be done through practices like imposition of rules that are aimed at oppressing the citizens, coercion to the citizens to carry out certain actions and even detention of some prominent people. The individuals who do not support the action of those with the political power are mistreated, detained or exiled.
In the Animal farm, George Orwell depicts how this is done when the pigs after assuming the leadership of the other animals change the rules and uses their power to mistreat, overwork, starve and oppress the other animals (Orwell 1996). Napoleon sold off one of the animals after he became old and less productive. This was an act of betrayal and oppression of the animal as he had also taken part in the fight for their independence.
Political power can also be used for the benefits of the society. There are many countries that have benefited from positive use of the political powers to the benefit of the society. One way political power can be used positively is fostering development can greatly be encouraged through use of political power to create the right environment for development. Political powers can be used to enact laws, policies and strategies that are aimed at fostering development. As the political systems influence much of the economic systems in a country, positive use of the political power can lead to positive influence on the economy of a country.
The leaders vested with political power can use this pioneer to help enact laws or policies that will encourage investment and expansion of the economy. This may be in the form of providing incentives to investors building effective infrastructures or providing a conducive environment for the economy to flourish. In the animal farm the decision to build the windmill was a good idea aimed at bringing development in the farm and comfort to the animals (Orwell 1996).
United States is a country that has massive political power that is used to foster developments. The country has a free market economy with policies encouraging conducive running of the economy. A country like Japan has used their political power to build good infrastructures that facilitate expansion of their economy.
Another positive use of political power is maintenance of peace. Political power can be effectively used to maintain peace and order in the country. As peace is very crucial for co-existence and development in a country such use of political power can lead to great benefits to the country. The political leaders can use their authority and influence in the society they rule to encourage and foster good co-existence between the citizens.
Political powers are needed to ensure that this happens. The leader will use their authority to maintain order in the society and make sure that no one single citizen engages in practices that infringe the rights of others. Laws are enacted to guide the actions of the citizens and certain strategies are taken to make sure that the laws are followed. Political power is used to establish such a system. In Orwell’s Animal Farm the animal had collaborated to come up with rules that were aimed at maintaining good co-existence among the animals (Orwell 1996).
This is done through establishment of a police force that maintains law and order and enactment of a court system that ensures that those who defy the rules are punished or forced to obey. Political power also establishes the judicial system that offers a forum through which the citizens can have their rights enforced. All these actions bring peace by ensuring all the citizens get their rights and live harmoniously.
Another positive use of political power is protection of the country from invasion. Political power is used in establishment of strategies of ensuring that a country is protected from external invasion. This will ensure that the country is safe from threats and can concentrate on development.
Political power can be utilized in different ways to protect a country from external attacks. First the political leader can use their power and authority to help and lead in formation of policies aimed at protecting the country from possible attacks. These policies may include security measures aimed at preventing such attacks. The political powers can also establish armed forces that will maintain the security of the country and defend it in case of any external attacks.
Weapons can also be acquired either through manufacturing or purchase form other countries aiming at providing a security measure to prevent or defend an attack. Political leaders can also use their authority to established partnerships links with other countries aimed at fostering co-operation thus minimizing threat of attack from those countries. These co operations may also be used as partners in maintenance of the peace of the country. Such partners will collaborate in case of an attack or in strategies aimed at minimizing possibilities of an attack.
In Orwell’s Animal Farm he depicted good use of political power when the animals united in their fight against Mr. Jones, the earlier owner of the farm. Because of this unity they were able to defeat Mr. Jones (Orwell 1996).
Political leaders can use their authority to influence the practices of their country so as to prevent any actions that may trigger attacks from other countries. Such actions may include neutrality in conflicts involving other parties.
Countries in Europe have formed the European Union aimed at co-operation and collaboration in different issues. This union unites the country hence minimizing the possibility of attack of one country by another. There are many such unions that have been formed for such purposes including organization for economic co-operation and development (OECD) and the African Union (AU). Other countries in Europe and other places have formed NATO which is aimed at collaboration to prevent attacks form other countries. All these efforts are aimed at protection of the individual countries and are established by political powers
Political power can be used to instigate very bad and harmful activities in a country such as corruption, dictatorship and oppression of citizens. These activities lead to a lot of suffering and deterioration of economies of such countries. However, political power can also be used to establish policies and practices for the benefit of a country. Political power is a key ingredient for development, peace and safety of a country. Actually for country to be successful it must have a good and strong political powers that will help instigate the success.
Thus, it is evidence that political power does not always lead to negative outcomes. It can be used effectively to produce many benefits to a society.
Beyondintractability.org. Power. Retrieved on February 6, 2008 from
Orwell G. (1996).Animal Farm. New York; New American Library.
Spartacus educational. Joseph Stalin. Retrieved on February 6, 2008 from http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/RUSstalin.htm