Influence of Power

By James Huang

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" (Plato 42). The Reagan administration was found guilty of the Iran-Contra scandal which facilitated an agreement with Iran to sell and deliver weapons in exchange for U.S hostages. This shows the abuse of power at a high level because some politicians act genuine (just) during election time to garner votes, but once they get into office the rise of power can lead them to do unjust activities.
The uncertainty of power can lead individuals to unjust or just lives with rather different outcomes. Glaucon explains, "he can marry whom he will, and give in to marriage to who he will; also he can trade and deal where he likes, and always to his advantage, because he has no misgivings about injustice" where the unjust man can live a better, wealthy lifestyle because they do not have to worry about making just decisions rather than a just individual who has to worry about just decisions all the time (Plato 44). This portrait depicts the uncertainty about good and evil involved in an individuals mind when there is a just and unjust decision being considered
One of Rousseau's points is that human's and animal came onto the planet in about the same way. 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. Rousseau mentions, "it appears no animal naturally makes war on man except in self-defence or extreme hunger" (Rousseau 28). This artwork exhibits a lion attacking a bull because there is no real distinction between power over the 2 animals, so they are fighting for who will survive much like the animal kingdom today.
Rousseau mentions, "the jealousy of lovers and the vengeance of husbands are the daily cause of duels, murders, and even worse deeds" when he talks about the battle of males for females (Rousseau 50-51). When a husband feels that his wife (property) is being taken away from him, this can cause him to do unjust things which is influenced through power being taken away from him. This portrait is of a royal family with some sort of power.
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 Native Indians were already living there. This describes the context of power because a well known figure throughout Europe with backup reinforcement 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. Power and property are one of the couple ways of inequality mentioned in The Discourse on Inequality.
The differences in social classes can create inequality 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). The wealthy individuals are always going to have more property because they are able to acquire more through various ways, while the poor individuals can only acquire as much property as their income or connections can set them up with. This uneven distribution of property sets up inequality because the individuals with more power are able to live a more happily and less-stress life taking advantage of the less powerful individuals by using their services to help maintain their lifestyle. 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, "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). The increase in power of the bourgeoisie was a major problem in the Communist Manifesto and one suggesting to overcome that power was to create a revolution to get rid of the bourgeoisie. This thinking leads to the conclusion that when individuals face the notion of power, that power leads to unjust thinking such as causing a revolution. This portrait depicts the a revolution of the working class against a major enemy to probably end suffering and create equality.
In the Communist Manifesto, Marx mentions that the bourgeoisie are creating their own destruction, "but not only has the bourgeoisie forged the weapons that bring death to itself; it has also called into existence the men who are to wiled those weapons – the modern working class – the proletarians" because the bourgeoisie are supplying the proletariat's with materials that they can use in the production line, against the bourgeoisie itself. This shows inequality difference between the two classes and that power makes individuals do unjust things because the bourgeoisie are taking advantage of the proletariat by profiting off their labor and that the proletariat are expandable due to the rise in technology. This portrait depicts a higher up taking advantage of the downfalls of his lower peers.
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