The Importance Of Political Power

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Power has existed for centuries and is one of the most important political ideas. Power can be defined as “the ability to achieve goals in a political system and have others do as you wish them to” (Maclean & Wood, 2013, p.5). Political power can be in the form of leadership, economic wealth, strength from weapons, influence or the formation of groups. Although power can have many forms, it can only exist when allowed to exist (Smith, 2011). When power exists, leaders can use it to promote order and social cohesion or genocide and destruction. Furthermore, different forms of power have more or less legitimacy over other forms. Finally, political power has the ability to control and shape society, but individuals can also influence and hold …show more content…
Economic wealth has the ability to buy power and authority. Noam Chomsky, a famous philosopher said, “Concentration of wealth yields concentration of political power. And concentration of political power gives rise to legislation that increases and accelerates the cycle. Alongside this began a sharp rise in the costs of elections, which drove the political parties even deeper into the pockets of the corporate sector” (Joyce, 2014, p.1). Chomsky is correct when describing the influence money has on politics and this will continue if the capitalist mode of production is connected to democracy. This means that wealth and power is concentrated in the hands of a minority. For example, in the United States it is estimated that in order to run a sufficient campaign, “a candidate for the House of Representatives will need $600,000 whilst a candidate for the Senate will require in the region of $2 Million” (Katznelson, Kesselman & Draper 2002, p.234). This system forces candidates to get wealthy organizations to pay for their campaigns, ultimately buying political influence if the candidate is elected. This in turn allows policy decisions made by candidates to be influenced and questions the legitimacy of the decision making of elected representatives. In the United States political power should reside with the people, but these wealthy individuals have more influence than ordinary citizens due to their monetary resources. …show more content…
This type of power is illegitimate because individuals and governments are taking power from citizens by force. Legitimacy can be defined as “what is lawful, proper, and conforms to the standards of a political system” (Maclean & Wood, 2013, p.37). Using force, violence, and threats to achieve political power means a leader has supreme power for non-justifiable and non-worthy reasons. This governance is a form of tyranny and in its extreme form represents Hitler’s death camps, Southeast Asia’s killing fields and Cuban prisons where not even free thought is allowed (Markowitz, 2015). Although political power can be achieved through force, it will not last. Citizens will eventually recognize this illegitimate governance method and rebel by participating in revolutions to take back political power of society. This ultimately creates an unstable economy, lack of motivation to work for society, and a low economic output for a country. The solution is legitimate leaders. These people deliver public good, guarantee basic safety, freedoms and standards of living to the majority in society. Legitimate leaders developed the creation of the liberal governance model. This model emerged after feudalism where kings gave power to the people. Liberalism advocated the creation of the rule of law, “the principle that all people and institutions are subject to and accountable to law that is fairly applied and enforced” (Bingham,

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