Power: Its uses and Abuses in the Practice of Political Science

The Uses and Abuses of Power

No discussion on political science is complete without a study of how power is wielded, its uses and abuses in the modern nation states. Indeed, power is the glue that holds nations together and gives them a semblance of control, as without the exercise of power, it would be difficult to keep chaos at bay.

The point here is that unless power is exercised by the rulers, there are no standards to follow and no order to be enforced. Of course, this does not mean that power is the only thing that is relevant in modern nation states. On the contrary, the abuse of power is a serious issue that often leads to revolutions and social movements.

In other words, power has to be exercised with great responsibility and accountability and unless, there is a judicious application of power, there cannot be a viable and functioning modern nation state.

Hence, the implications for modern nation states are that power must be accompanied by accountability and a chance for the people to either vote in or vote out those whom they feel responsible and sagacious and those whom they feel are abusing their power.

Machiavelli, Chanakya and the Greater Good

Thinkers like Machiavelli have expounded on the theme of power and its place in the state. They have pointed to the practice of statecraft and the practice of responsible power as being the criterion with which power is exercised.

In his seminal work, The Prince, Machiavelli elaborated on these themes and the necessity of those in power to work for the greater good instead of personal gains.

In India, Chanakya, in his Arthashastra, prescribed similar strategies that would hold the states together and which would promote social welfare rather than individual and selfish interests.

The point here is that power has to be exercised in a manner that would contribute to the welfare of the people and must not be abused for personal gains. This is the message that has been passed down the ages and which is something that many modern rulers have abandoned and mistook. This is especially evident in third world countries where the elected representatives instead of serving the people are serving themselves instead.

It is a sad state of affairs when the citizenry instead of being benevolent towards their representatives begin to detest them and hate them.

Closing Thoughts

There is a saying that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. This is a message that has to be taken seriously by those who wield power across the world and the people too have to ensure that they do not remain mute spectators to the abuses of power.

Further, the other pillars of democracy like the Judiciary, Legislature, Executive, and the Media likewise have to ensure that the constitutional checks and balances remain in place and that they are not trampled upon.

In conclusion, the study of power and its uses and abuses is fascinating and hence, we will be elaborating on these themes in detail in subsequent articles.

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Political Science