Influence of power 

By James Huang

INTRODUCTION Power can be shown throughout history as having a dramatic effect on individual behavior. Individuals can act selfishly and focus on themselves or concentrate on the common good. Power has such a dramatic effect on people that some people are willing to perform un-just acts like sinning or killing to get what they want. Others will gain power more slowly through a more respectable method like helping out the community and building up a respectable profile. The influence of power leads individuals to become corrupt and focus on their own desires rather than focus on other individuals and the common good.
In Plato's The Republic, power is an important concept in which individuals can become unjust due to power. He mentions this with the magic ring, "this we may truly affirm to be a great proof that a man is just, not willingly or because he thinks that justice is any to him individually, but of necessity, for wherever anyone thinks that he can safely be unjust, there he is unjust" which lead the magic ring user to do things based on his own needs like rape and killing (Plato 42). The power to corrupt individuals can be shown with president Ronald Reagan because he was found guilty of the Iran-Contra scandal. This represents the abuse of power at a high level because politicians are supposed to act good, but Reagan acted in his own interests.
One of Rousseau's points is that human's and animal came onto the planet in a natural state. Humans however, differentiated differently from animals with the ability to communicate and rise to the top of the food chain. This gave humans power over the other animals because they could be seen as the superior species with Rousseau mentioning, "it appears no animal naturally makes war on man except in self-defence or extreme hunger" to reinforce that humans are more powerful than animals (Rousseau 28). This artwork exhibits the evolution of man and how power over the other animals has led man to become corrupt to kill other animals for their own needs.
In Part II of the discourse on Inequality, Rousseau mentions, "the true founder of civil society was the first man who, having enclosed a piece of land, thought of saying, ‘This is mine’, and came across people simple enough to believe him" when he refers to the idea of property (Rousseau 55). This quote sums up Christopher Columbus when he found the America's because he voyaged through the land and claimed it as if he was the first person to set foot there, but in reality the Native Indians were already living there. This describes corruption of power because he had much more power than Native Indians, which was why he was able to claim the property for his king and he was able to enslave many Indians. This portrait sums up a lot of the un-just things Columbus did to the Native Americans.
The differences in social classes can create corruption of power and Rousseau mentions, "if one sees a handful of powerful and rich men at the pinnacle of opulence and fortune, while the crowd below grovels in obscurity and wretchedness, it is because the former valued the things they enjoy only because others are deprived of them" (Rousseau 81). Wealthy individuals have more power over the low-income people because they have better connections and opportunities and this leads some wealthy individuals to perceive themselves as the best and ignore the well-being of others. This portrait depicts one of those instances in which a powerful woman is seen with a maid to help around the house because the powerful woman is able to buy her service.
Marx mentions in the Communist Manifesto that the bourgeoisie should overthrow the proletariat in a violent takeover, "when, in the course of development, class distinctions have disappeared, and all production has been concentrated in the hands of a vast association of the whole nation, the public power will lose its political character" to reinstate that the proletariat should overthrow the bourgeoisie, so that power can be redistributed among all the individuals equally (Marx & Engels 95). This shows that some individuals are willing to commit violence or acts without the care of others because for the ability to gain power or to redistribute power. This portrait depicts the a revolution of the working class against a major enemy to end suffering and create equality.
Wollstonecraft mentions in A Vindication of the Rights of Woman that woman are degraded by men, "I lament that women are systematically degrade by receiving the trivial attentions, which men think it manly to pay to the sex, when in fact, they are insultingly supporting their own superiority" which inhibit their reasoning skills (Wollstonecraft 74). Men had a lot more power than woman during this time and this led to the corruption of a lot of men because they treated woman as if they were some kind of special object that they could show around to others when in reality, they should be treating everyone equal. This portrait shows a woman focusing on her beauty because this was what women focused on which Wollstonecraft thought led to the inhibition of their equality.
Works Cited Marx, Karl, and Friedrich Engels. The Communist Manifesto. New York: Washington Square, 1964. Print. Plato, and Elizabeth Watson. Scharffenberger. Republic. New York: Barnes & Noble, 2004. Print. Rousseau, Jean-Jacques, and Patrick Coleman. Discourse on the Origin of Inequality. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2009. Print. Wollstonecraft, Mary. A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. London: Penguin, 2004. Print.
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