Monday, January 08, 2007

If Money, Sex and Power have always been, and continue to be, the prime movers of history, survival and human action it behooves us to define what each means. I think we all have a pretty good idea of what sex and money are, but their role in the definition of power is another discussion altogether.

But what of power?

Power comes in many forms and is exercised in many ways. In China, where capitalism and a market economy have changed the country in ways to numerous to count (mostly for the better) power is still exercised by the control of information and one party control. Ironically centralized power has allowed China to develop more quickly than democratic India. So there is a paradox of power there.

This fascinating story of a man jailed for a month for writing a bad poem satirizing corrupt officials in Washington Potsis a great example of that legacy one party power. It is also a great example of how things are changing in China because he was eventually exonerated.

So what is power? Personal power, governmental power, cultural, societal power? How much "power" do you have, do you think you have?

What ar ethe differences in power from a progressive and liberal point of view and a conservative POV? Is being a liberal and a progressive a damnation to always being on the opposite side of where power lies?

From Foreign Affairs (January/February 2007) "Power is the ability to define and achieve one's goals, especially relative to the capacity of others to define and achieve their own."

Forty years ago the sociologist Amitai Etzoni broke down the concept of power according to the means employed to exercise it; coercion, material inducement, or intellectual motivation. Power can be constraining, remunerative, or normative-expressing, to put it crudely, guns, money, or ideas.

I discovered one of the best charities in the world this year. More than 1 million children die from malaria each year. The simplest way to save them is to ensure they have mosquito nets to sleep under at night.

The charity, Nothing But Nets, simply asks that you send them $10-$20 and for that they buy a mosquito net, give it to a child in Africa and a life is potentially saved. By reaching me with their message (through Sports Illustrated) and by me passing it along to you, has there been an exercise of power by way of intellectual/altruistic inspiration?

And what of the power that the US, China, Russia, the U.K. and others project throughout the world. Once America projected power through Intellectual, Monetary and Military strength, sadly it seems the country has given up on or lost its way on the first method.

Power, what do you have of it? What can we do to influence it? How do we benefit/suffer from it. Will the nature of power ever change, how has it changed where are you in the power continuum?