“One who makes himself a worm cannot complain afterwards if people step on him.”
~ Immanuel Kant

“The mosquito, in fact, is more powerful than the human being. Usually when you catch an animal, you set a trap, you throw a net. But when it comes to mosquitoes, it is you who must enter into the mosquito net; it is you who must escape the mosquito. So who is more powerful? In fact, every little bug, every virus, has got its own power over you.”

~ Swami Dayananda Saraswati.

Power is always relative.  What is popularly considered as powerless say like an insect can exercise power over man like the quote above illustrates.  Today, as I write this, the Chinese Virus, invisible to the human eye has more power over mankind than anything that I have seen in my long life time.  It has kept me and millions of others like me confined to our homes and has made normal life that human beings experienced just eight months ago impossible with no respite in sight.  In fact, the so called most powerful man in the world, POTUS was powerless over the virus which illustrates my argument more than any thing else will do.

Just take a good look around the world and you will see power struggles of all kinds, intra and international as well as other kinds like intra and inter family power struggles over assets;  and businesses fighting for shares of markets and so on.  It is ubiquitous and all around us but, we do not notice is precisely for the reason that it is so ordinary and pedestrian.

My interest in Power as a subject to think about was kindled in 1984 when I attended a seminar by a Management Association in Mumbai, on the subject. After attending the seminar, I promptly bought the book The Anatomy Of Power by J B Galbraith. Wikipedia has this to say about the book.

“The Anatomy of Power is a book written by Harvard economist John Kenneth Galbraith, originally published in 1983 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. It sought to classify three types of power: compensatory power in which submission is bought, condign power in which submission is won by making the alternative sufficiently painful, and conditioned power in which submission is gained by persuasion. In short, money, force and ideology.

It further divided power by source: power either stems from personality or leadership, property or wealth, or organisation.

The book goes on to detail a brief history of the use of power, noting the broad arc of history in moving away from condign and towards compensatory and then conditioned power, and from personality and property towards organisation. Finally, it details what Galbraith views as the main sources of power in the modern world: government, the military, religion and the press.”

Since reading the book, I have used the understanding gained in observing human and animal behaviour in day to day life and have been able to resolve many issues by simply taking appropriate action after understanding quite where the exercise of power by the person concerned or the creature, comes from and to reach what end purpose.

A Post Script;  I sleep under a mosquito net every night!

Having enjoyed those experiences, I suggested this topic for this week’s Friday post where eight of us write on the same subject so that I can share my enthusiasm for the book with my readers so that perhaps they too will find it worthwhile to read the book and enjoy similar experiences. The other seven bloggers who write on the same topic every Friday are Maria. Sanjana, PadmumRaju, Shackman , Srinivas and Conrad. Please do go over to their respective blogs to see what they have to say on the topic. Thank you.


25 thoughts on “Power.”

  1. oh Sean!
    I love yours and Padmini’s comments to each other as much as I do the post. you share wit and deliver it with love always. it makes me smile.
    and it’s true. the tiniest among us can cause the most damage. I’ve often wondered about the value of the mosquito. I mean everything in life seems to have a purpose in the divine/supreme plan. but the mosquito? what does it do but create misery in all creatures? very interesting. if you know… please let me know. xo

    1. Thank you Tammy. Padmini and I go back more than the three score and ten and have grown to understand each other’s nuances. I am flattered that you noticed. Like all creation, the mosquito too has its place in the scheme of things. For instance, it is food for spiders, lizards, frogs etc who in turn are food for other creatures. Human and other blood apparently helps in egg production of female mosquitos and we are told from childhood to accept that we are feeding pregnant females and get on with it! We are also taught that the discomfort that we experience is the result of some hurt we caused to some other creature knowingly or unknowingly. Theory of karma as it were!

      1. Actually Tammy…we were the 3 Musketeers and D’Artagnan..one for all and all for one. We ganged up against the strong oppressive source of power and authority…and each in our own way rebelled and showed our individuality. That bonding has been very strong…we also had no inheritance to fight over!

  2. Indeed, something or someone quite small can have a surprising degree of power. Like those tiny political parties that find themselves keeping the balance of power between the major parties. Or someone who refuses to move from the path of a new motorway and ends up getting an enormous sum to up sticks. Or George Floyd who was the catalyst for the rapid growth in the Black Lives Matter movement. Power doesn’t always lie where you think it does.

  3. My trouble with Galbraith’s book is he does not address the inequality of generations of women who were rendered powerless. As if 51% of the world’s population did not exist. And the free labour component of all of it. Slavery? Yes. Unacknowledged.

    Wisewebwoman recently posted..Move Over

    1. WebWomenWise, you should expand on this. I’ve not even skimmed through the book; by all accounts he was a remarkable man who had a checkered career and the dexterity to pull it off successfully. But, in the book, was he explaining or exhorting?

  4. Evidently my mind is flighty this morning as I latched onto two items items in your post and ran with them.
    First of all, POTUS. It’s hard for me to think of him as the most powerful man in the world but I see his power in the USA. He helped our country to have one of the highest percentages of contamination by COVID-19. Also, it seems, he may have the power to bring this nation to absolute destruction. I believe our democracy is in peril. And his power to divide the people of this country is awesome (not in a good way).
    Then I thought of our relationship to mosquitoes in our yard. The year of my stroke we were remiss in removing spiderwebs from the outside of the house. We noticed that we had no mosquitoes. Since then, all spiders have has their way in the garden and we are mosquito free in our little paradise. (Our house is ready for Halloween with no effort.) Thus, I believe, the spider is more powerful than a mosquito, but they both have great influence in my life.
    Mother recently posted..I Gave Me

    1. I hope that you don’t mind me not elaborating on the POTUS. I am not an American and do not live in Canada. Your example of the spiders is very illustrative of how each creature has a role to play in life. I personally do not clear cobwebs in our home. I even like to have some geckos roaming around so that they can feast on visiting mosquitos.

  5. From insects to the analysis economic and social by Galbraith. Even your insect truths come from Kant and a swami. This is quite the analytic tour de force!
    Conrad recently posted..Power

  6. I am beginning to feel like Penny in the Big Bang Theory compared to the discussions by the rest of you – you almost make me feel guilty about my “addiction” to mysteries but then it dawns on me that y’all are not common folk by any stretch of the imagination.

  7. I’ve browsed the other writers, what a extraordinary amount of takers on this fairly simple word “power” and it appears to mostly harness the harmful aspects of life although it can be as simple as a message on my local ‘hood f/b page last night “anyone else have no power on Golf Rd?” and pretty soon a variety of streets were being added and someone saying “I think I heard a large bang” and someone else showing the a picture of the outage map … which showed I was a hop/skip/jump from the outage!
    Catherine de Seton recently posted..It started Wednesday, auditions & then to Saturday

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