Understanding Power Part II

I tend to think of Part I as Simple power while Part II deals more with complex power.

Before I continue I wold once again like to state that I believe that every human being has the right to defend themselves.  It should be understood that some believe that a good offense is the best defense but the moment that one makes the argument for any form of preemption in the name of self defense that one should always suspect that it is, in reality, an argument for aggression.

Complex power, for the sake of thus discussion is dependent on developed societies in order to exist.  Developed societies is a polite way of saying civilized.  Civilized societies have institutionalized structures, the peculiarity of division of labor and more often than not hierarchical leadership structures.  These concepts are all part of the discipline of sociology a part of academia I sort of backed my way into in an informal sense.  The first limitation I wish to place on this form of moderate power is that it is an aspect of social systems whose reach could be the size of a county, a township, a municipality,. a state or providence, a medium sized corporation, a small religious tradition or even a small country.  The key in understanding scale is firstly realizing that these entities have little or no ability to project power much beyond the region in which they dwell.  This inability to project power and the small scale of this tier of power allows the people who both compose the organs of the system or systems as well as the individuals that cohabit with the system to know each other or at least have the possibility of knowing each other.

Television, mass media and yes, even the internet create the illusion of knowing another person but that is not the same, for the sake of this discussion, of knowing a person in the sense of sharing any given three dimensional space.  The holders of power and the rest of the population can actual be on good speaking terms, go to each others birthday parties, visit each other when they are sick and attend functions both social, educational or managerial.  This is an effort to get across the scale of these intermediate systems.  Let it be understood that just because you can or the possibility exists to share 3D space with a person doesn’t mean that you do, only the possibility must exist in a probable and realistic manner for it to qualify.

Also in the realm of intermediate power there is at least the illusion of accountability for those who hold said power’s actions.  What this means is that if a person who holds a position of power commits a crime in the codified sense then there are criminal consequences or at the very least the illusion of consequences.  This means a trial and the possibility of prison just like those of us who live around, under or work with in said system.  What is important here is that the illusion of consequences be realistic so that it could be said that on occasion some one has to pay the piper as it were.

So what are the prerequisites to hold said power?

Power can be obtained several ways,  it could be a question of status of family, by election of your peers,by accreditation and possible do to personality and appearance (Charisma).

Here are a few quick illustrations.

Family Status is usually connected to both wealth and influence.  Those two things, wealth an d influence, regardless of the nation state or region you might examine, seem universal.  The was a gentleman, who had recently passed beyond the veil, that I had become familiar with through the local historical society.  His family was long established in my community and still held some considerable capital though not as much as they had in the past.  He worked as a middle school  principal.  He was always being quoted in the paper as though his thoughts on our little community had any real relevance and he traveled to Washington D.C.  once a month for some sort of a panel at the capital.  This was mentioned as an aside and I didn’t pry.  There is no doubt that he had much experience that would have been valuable to any inquiry specifically round the topic of education.  I am also certain that most people who have been seriously involved in education for any reasonable length of time would also have ideas and experiences that would be equally valuable.  I was left wondering why the preference?

My grandfather was also a school teacher and a high school coach, basket ball, Football and base ball.  His power came from accreditation as he was the first person in the state of Ohio to earn a masters degree in education.  He also had a gift for turning some coin in the world of investing so he was something of a self made man.  He too held a great deal of sway in my small city.  He could get people, especially minors out of jail on his word alone.  He had the ear of judges, lawyers, doctors, members of law enforcement, school teachers and even people in the government at the state level.  This power was able to change someone in my locality circumstances when it came to their status with the various systems that govern the world in which I lived.  He also held elected office in my small city.

And we must not forget Doctors, They have power too. They have the power to not take you as a patient.  If you should pass from inability to receive medical care they will not be held liable in any way though they may be held liable in the case of malpractice thus the illusion of consequences.  People will talk about health care reform (Health Care affordability and Portability Act) as though it has revolutionized access to medical services.  Down here where I live and most of my friends live the system has some serious kinks to be worked out.  People are having a harder time finding the kind and quality of care that they could before the Acts passage.  I have no idea what it is like in the big cities, I can only speak of the few cases of which I am aware.  This aside, I know of three cases where a Doctor decided they weren’t going to see a patient any more.  They did not state a reason why and continued to practice in the local community.  My point of view on this may seem a bit harsh and in all honestly I don’t care whether doctors only treat people that can afford their services and the rest be damned.  I am simply using it as an illustration of power.  Meta and I have debated whether or not the Hippocratic oath is still taken when doctors finish their education.  She feels that it is not, I feel that it is but it is nothing more than smoke and it been like that for a long time.

Then there is all that chatter over law enforcement with in the realm of police brutality.  I am mixed on this but for the sake of this conversation, if a person, due to the position they hold, can cripple or kill another human being under circumstances other  than self defense then what we are seeing is an example of power.  There are occasions when charges are brought against police officers for  improper use of force which creates the realistic illusion of accountability.

I’m sure that you can come with examples better than mine.  In any case, for what ever it was worth, i hope this was worth the time you spent reading it.

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