The concept of “power” in everyday life and in the scientific literature is used in a variety of ways. Philosophers talk about power over the objective laws of society, sociologists talk about social power, economists talk about economic power, lawyers talk about state power, political scientists talk about political power, natural scientists talk about power over nature, psychologists talk about man’s power over himself, parents – about family power, theologians – about power from God, etc., etc. The concepts of legislative, executive and judicial power are used.
Some believe that power means the real ability of one of the elements of the existing system to realize its own interests within its framework, and in this sense, power is the exercise of influence on the processes occurring within the system. Others see results as power, the product of some purposeful influence. Still others believe that power is such mutual relations between people or groups of people, the essence of which lies in influence, impact, that this is the desire to achieve balance.
The concept of power.
Definition of power.
Power is a volitional relationship between people inherent in society. Power is necessary, Aristotle emphasized, first of all, for the organization of society, which is unthinkable without the subordination of all participants to a single will, to maintain its integrity and unity.
Is it possible then to give a scientific definition of power? A number of sociologists and political scientists speak of its mystique, that in its political form “the power poses the most formidable riddle”, the very concept of power is vague and indefinite.
Historical experience shows that where there is a need for coordinated actions of people (be it a separate family, group, social stratum, nation or society as a whole), their activities are subordinated to the achievement of certain goals. In this case, the leading and the led, the ruling and the subservient, the dominant and the subordinate are determined. Motives for submission are very diverse. They can be based on an interest in achieving the set goal, on the belief in the need to follow orders, on the authority of the ruler, and, finally, simply on a sense of fear of undesirable consequences in case of disobedience. The motives themselves are of great importance for the effectiveness of power and its durability. It is important to emphasize here that power relations are objectively inherent in social life. This is a kind of payment for life in society, because it is impossible to live in society and be free from its rules. In other words, without power relations, human civilization is impossible.
Any society cannot exist normally if it seems to anyone to freely create arbitrariness. As noted by Vl. Solovyov: “The demand for personal freedom, so that it can be realized, already implies the restriction of this freedom to the extent that, in the given state of humanity, it is incompatible with the existence of society or the common good. These two interests, opposite to abstract thought, but equally obligatory morally, in reality converge with each other. Law is born from their meeting.”
Power is not necessarily the result of only violence, the suppression of one personality by another. It has been noted, for example, that in the complex nature of man there is an undoubted search for power over himself, to which he could submit. This is a kind of need for the impact of one person on another, a force that connects people into society.
Thus, Solovyov emphasizes, power inevitably turns out to be a consequence of the very social nature of man. However, as soon as the manifestation of power acquires a public character, its main goal becomes the creation and maintenance of order, the most important means of which is power. In this regard, people do not need to create power at all. It is enough for them to accept it and obey it, thereby establishing a certain order. The search for order is usually accompanied by a search for power.
Yes, power requires submission. But people, submitting to it, should not sacrifice their freedom.
Based on the foregoing, we can give the following definition of power. Power in a general sense is the ability and ability to exert a certain influence on the activities, behavior of people with the help of any means – will, authority, law, violence.
From this we can draw the following conclusion: power is one of the most important types of social interaction, a specific relationship between at least two subjects, one of which obeys the order of the other, as a result of this subordination, the ruling subject realizes his will and interests.
Tools and methods of power.
Power is sometimes identified with its tools – the state, with its means – management, for example, with its methods – coercion, persuasion, violence. Some authors draw an equal sign between power and authority, which has much in common with it, but also differs fundamentally from power.
Power itself appears in the form of management, management – in the form of power. But management is not the functioning of power. Management, emphasized B. Krasnov, is wider than power. Power is an element of control, a source of control power. The management process is a process of realization of the imperious will to achieve the goal of the ruler. Management is the means by which the purposeful influence of power turns from a possibility into reality.
One of the most common ideas about power is understanding it as coercion. According to M. Baitin, power, regardless of the forms of its external manifestation, in essence, is always coercive, because, one way or another, it is aimed at subordinating the will of the members of a given collective, the single will that dominates or guides it. It would be absurd to deny that power is manifested in the process of subjugation, coercion of the will of any subject. At the same time, it would be wrong to reduce the essence of power relations only to violence and coercion. The fact is that power is incomplete when the subject has not achieved its goals. If the desired results are not achieved, then the colossal difficulties associated with overcoming the resistance of other people testify not to the triumph of power, but to its inferiority. In addition, it is not clear why the mobilization of people to achieve socially significant goals should be carried out only on the basis of coercion and violence. After all, there are many other ways to influence.
The foregoing allows us to accept the position of those authors who proceed from the fact that the concept of “power” means the right and ability of some to command, dispose and manage others; the ability and ability of some to exercise their will in relation to others, to exert a decisive influence on their behavior and activities, while using authority, law, violence and other means.
Political power is secondary in relation to individual power, it is formed as a result of the delegation of part of the rights and the concentration of the will of the multitudes in one subject. However, political power is not identical with any public power.
Political power, as we know, did not always exist. In primitive societies, i.e. in societies that are not socially structured, the general power is not yet political, since there are no problems that give rise to politics – the problems of reaching agreement. Political power arises in a society where people are divided by different interests, unequal positions. In a primitive society, power is limited by tribal kinship. Political power is defined by spatial, territorial boundaries. Political power ensures order on the basis of the belonging of a person, group to a given territory, social category, adherence to an idea. Under non-political power, there are no hard and fast distinctions between the rulers and the ruled. Political power is always exercised by a minority, an elite. Political power arises on the basis of the combination of the process of concentration of the will of the multitude and the functioning of structures (institutions, organizations, institutions), the relationship of two components: people who concentrate power in themselves, and organizations through which power is concentrated and implemented.
Of course, every form of manifestation of power deserves attention and study. And this is what the relevant scientific disciplines are doing. Political science is interested in political power, which, as already noted, is the core of the political system of society, its organizational and regulatory control principle. It determines all other institutions and relations in the very political system of society. Directly or indirectly, political power affects the development of all other social systems – economic, social, spiritual, etc. Of course, the general, above definition of power as such, as a broad concept that has numerous forms of manifestation, is applicable to the concept of “political power”. Political power, like any other power, means the ability and right of some to exercise their will in relation to others, to command and control others. But at the same time, it has its own specifics, unlike other forms of power. Its distinguishing features are:
ü supremacy, the binding nature of its decisions for the whole society and, accordingly, for all other types of power. It can limit the influence of other forms of power, putting them within reasonable limits, or eliminate them altogether;
ü generality, i.e. publicity. This means that political power acts on the basis of law on behalf of the whole society;
ü legality in the use of force and other means of power within the country;
ü Monocentricity, i.e. the existence of a nationwide center (system of authorities) decision-making;
ü the widest range of means used to gain, retain and exercise power.
Origin of political power.
Political power as one of the most important manifestations of power is characterized by the real ability of a given class, group, individual to carry out their will expressed in politics. The concept of political power is broader than the concept of state power. It is known that political activity is carried out not only within the framework of the state, but also in other components of the socio-political system: within the framework of parties, trade unions, international organizations, etc.
To understand both the very nature of power communication and the specifics of modern relations between people regarding state power, it is necessary to touch on the issue of its origin. It is often overlooked that political power in its modern form as state-public power has a not so long history (only about 5 millennia) compared to pre-state (potestas, from the late Latin “potestas” – power) segmented structures of management and self-regulation, existed since the appearance of the Cro-Magnon man in the era of the late (or upper) Paleolithic several thousand years ago. Among other things, in favor of the fact that the specific concept of state power in terms of volume is much narrower than the generic category “power”, is also evidenced by the emergence at the turn of the third millennium of bodies of “above state” power in the person of legislative (European Parliament) and executive (Commission of the European Communities ) institutions whose powers extend to the territory of almost a dozen European countries. So, we can make a preliminary conclusion that the category of “power” in a broad sense includes both pre-state (potestarnaya) and state (public), and possibly even “supra-state” (post-state) forms of power organization and communication of people.
Elements of power.
Often power and coercion are opposed to freedom. Freedom is a state of independence from external conditions. However, such a state is not outwardly inactive, when a person does not obey anyone himself and does not subordinate anyone, does not succumb to someone else’s influence and does not exert it himself. It is difficult to imagine a society of people of this type. Such a society, strictly speaking, is abolished, since living in a society, a person cannot be free from society.
The main elements of power are its subject, object, and means (resources).
The subject of power embodies its active, guiding principle. It can be a person, an organ, an organization, a social community, etc. To implement power relations, a subject must have a number of such qualities as the desire to rule and the will to power. In addition, the subject of power must be competent, must know the state and mood of subordinates, and have authority.
A reflection of the primary role of the subject in power relations is the widespread identification of power with its bearer. So, they talk about the decisions of the authorities, about the actions of the authorities, about the arbitrariness of the authorities, etc., meaning by the authorities the administrative bodies or individuals.
The subject determines the content of the power relationship through: 1) an order (instruction) as an authoritative command to obey the will of the subject of power; 2) submission as the behavior of a private will under the general will of power; 3) punishment (sanctions) as a means of influencing the denial of the dominant will; 4) regulation of behavior as a set of rules in accordance with the general interest.
The attitude of the object (executors) – the second most important element of power – largely depends on the order, the nature of the requirements contained in it. Power is always a two-way relationship, the interaction of subject and object. Power is inconceivable without subjection to the object. Where there is no object, there is no power.
Awareness of the dependence of the subject of power on the obedience of the population has found its practical expression in the actions of civil disobedience, widely used in the modern world as a means of non-violent struggle. The effectiveness of this means is evidenced, for example, by the fact that India gained independence as a result of mass actions of disobedience to the colonial British authorities.
The scale of the relationship of the object to the subject of power ranges from fierce resistance, the struggle for destruction to voluntary, joyfully perceived obedience. In fact, submission is as natural to human society as leadership. As Solovyov noted, readiness for submission depends on many factors: on the qualities of the object of power, on the nature of the requirements placed on him, on the situation and means of influence that the subject has, and also on how the performer perceives the object, depending on the presence (or absence of ) has authority.
The qualities of the object of political domination are determined, first of all, by the political culture of the population. From this point of view, the patriarchal and subservient types of political cultures provide the greatest obedience.
The predominance in society of people who are accustomed to obey, longing for a firm hand, is a favorable breeding ground for authoritarian and totalitarian regimes. What are the motives of the object of domination? What makes him obey? One of the most important internal motivations for submission is the fear of punishment. Fear is a very strong motive, but extremely fragile. Psychologists note that the strength of power based on fear of sanctions for disobedience is directly proportional to the severity of punishment and inversely proportional to the likelihood of avoiding it in case of disobedience.
Interest-based power is more stable, since self-interest induces subordinates to voluntarily comply with orders, makes control and the use of negative sanctions redundant. An equally strong motivation for the object’s submission is its inner conviction of the need for submission, which is associated with admiration for the mind, experience, or any other qualities of the subject of power, in other words, admiration for authority. The maximum power of power is achieved by identifying, identifying the object of power with the subject. In this case, the object of power relations perceives the subject’s business as his own business, he absolutely trusts his leader.
The subordination of one person to another (object to subject) is based on inequality. Power, which arises on the basis of natural inequality, always has the character of interpersonal interaction, is always personified. There is submission to a particular person. And if in a new situation he is unable to demonstrate his advantage, it is unlikely that his orders will be carried out. Power based on social inequality is losing its personified form. In the service, we are forced to follow the orders of the boss, regardless of whether we like him or not, whether he is physically stronger or weaker. It is this kind of power that is more definite and stable. It is reproduced in society regardless of its specific participants. For example, the head of the enterprise, the leader of the party have the exclusive right to make decisions that are binding on subordinates.
At the same time, the mechanism of power communication, apparently, includes pressure “from below” of various groups and strata of civil society, which have their own zones of influence and spheres of interest, which, through channels of “feedback”, a system of representation and other forms of democratic expression of will affect the state of power relations in a given country. It is necessary to include in these zones (“fields”) of the action of the regulatory mechanism of communication three projections (“planes”) of power and influence, which have received names in modern political science: legitimate order), 2) structural power (relationships of “control and influence” associated with the regulation of resources and the distribution of zones of influence between elements of the political system), and 3) instrumental power (relationships of “control and pressure” that determine the means and methods of mutual action of counter processes leadership of people by the ruling stratum and pressure on the ruling structures of civil society). The complexity of understanding power as a regulator of the total activity of people lies in the need to take into account, when analyzing its functioning in modern society, various and often multidirectional ways of its political action.
According to Ilyin, the goal of power is to, through direct or indirect influence on people, their association or separation: a) counteract destruction, crisis, decline, neutralize tension, conflicts; b) to strive for maximum stability of the social whole, to contribute to its improvement, strengthening, progress. The means of power is a rich arsenal of tactics – from patronage to administration, to deter the use of force. Since the mechanisms of power are concentrated in individuals who realize the main goals of power in accordance with the law of its strengthening, contradictions are possible between the subject of power – the power holders and its object – the masses.