Monthly Archives: May 2011

The Powers that be..

The last post about defining power came about while thinking about what drives the world’s elites, governments and authorities. We always claim money and power, and that the two are synonymous with each other.  There are too many maxims and proverbs to quote about the correlation between money/power and what is ‘evil’.

A few months back I attended a discussion by Dr Phil Zimbardo (Professor Emeritus of Psychology at Stanford University) in Dubai. Dr Zimbardo has received worldwide acclaim for his many groundbreaking if not somewhat controversial psychological experiments and theories.  He was a key witness and analyst of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay. One of his theories is called ‘The Lucifer effect*’ in which he offers a psychological account of how seemingly ordinary or ’good’ people turn evil.  In 1971 he carried out a now notorious experiment called the Stanford Prison experiment**.  He put an ad in the local newspaper encouraging students to volunteer and participate.  After extensive tests and psychological analyses of each student, he then assigned some of the students to play the role of prison guards and the others the role of prisoners in a simulated prison.   In brief, his 2-week experiment was shut down after only 6 days due to the cruelty with which the ‘guards’ started to treat the ‘prisoners’.

Zimbardo’s experiment concluded that there were 3 types of guard.  One type that followed the rules of the prison, that was tough but fair.  The second type were the “good guys” who helped the prisoners and never punished them, and the third type who were hostile and unpredictable and ‘inventive in their forms of prisoner humiliation. These guards appeared to thoroughly enjoy the power they wielded, yet none of our preliminary personality tests were able to predict this behavior.’

In an interview that followed the closure of the experiment, this third group of guards expressed their disappointment that the experiment was stopped prematurely.

So what exactly is it that drives apparently nice, good or intelligent people to be driven to such malicious behaviour.  Dr Zimbardo has a few ideas, and in a view that opposes Realist theory, is essentially an optimist or a rationalist.  His belief is that people are intrinsically good but are affected by different types of evil.  He categorizes these types of evil as dispositional (of character/personality), situational (such as in the prison experiment) and systemic (political, economic or cultural influences).

His idea that humans are inherently good opposes classical realist theory that states that people are selfish by nature and driven to compete with others for domination and self-advantage.  This has been shown in countless events in history and is ever-present in current-day global politics. Realists often question letting ethics or morals get in the way of their decision or foreign-policy making to a point where they often disregard moral norms.

Foreign policy is not social work.’ (Krauthammer, 1993)

This can clearly be illustrated in the countless violations of numerous pacts and treaties throughout history such as the Kellogg-Briand Pact which was violated by the commencement of World War II, and Article 2 (4) (7) of the UN Charter which outlawed humanitarian intervention until 1990 because it undermines the sovereignty of the state, which is the basis of humanitarian law, which is again being violated as we speak in Libya.

“I am not interested in power for power’s sake, but I’m interested in power that is moral, that is right and that is good.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

But if the concept of power itself is evil and it’s in human nature to be selfish, especially once we have power to wield, then can there be such a thing as a power that is moral and good?

Realists such as Machiavelli argued that the principles of morals, ethics and piety were positively harmful if adhered to by state leaders.  It was considered imperative that state leaders learned a different kind of morality, which accorded not to traditional Christian virtues but to political necessity and prudence. (Tim Dunne/Brian C . Schmidt The Globalization of World Politics)

Which leads me to wonder exactly what is that ‘different kind of morality’ that Machiavelli advises state leaders to adhere to.  As seen in the Stanford Prison experiment, it seems as though the lust for and gain of power can create evil in what might have previously been an essentially good human nature.  Therefore, if absolute power and gain is the essence of global politics, the most powerful ruler in the world and any state, institution or organization that attempts to gain control or domination of the world, must also be essentially evil.

“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.” John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton, first Baron Acton, 1887

 

References and quotes:

* Stanford Prison Experiment,  http://www.prisonexp.org/

** The Lucifer Effect  http://www.lucifereffect.com/


Defining ‘Power’

Power is the main concern in political thought, theory and events – contemporary and historical. The balance of power between states is supposed to be essential, however we can clearly see an imbalance or even extreme polarity in the custodian(s) of power on the world political stage.

*power |ˈpou(-ə)r| (n.)

  1. the ability to do something.
  2. the ability to influence people or events.
  3. the right or authority to do something.
  4. Political authority or control.
  5. A country seen as having international influence and military strength.

Post-war realist H.J Morgenthau aptly describes power as;

“Man’s control over the minds and actions of other men.” (1948)

He goes on to say;

“Power is a relational concept, one does not exercise power in a vacuum but in relation to another entity.”

Other relevant power quotes;

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln

“Power is my mistress.  I have worked too hard at her conquest to allow anyone to take her away from me.”  Napoleon Bonaparte

“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.”  Alice Walker, author.

Power corrupts. Absolute power is kind of neat.John Lehman, Secretary of the US Navy, 1981-1987

 

“The problem of power is how to achieve its responsible use rather than its irresponsible and indulgent use – of how to get men of power to live for the public rather than off the public.

Robert F. Kennedy (1964)

 

Power never takes a back step – only in the face of more power.

Malcolm X (1965)

Power consists in one’s capacity to link his will with the purpose of others, to lead by reason and a gift of cooperation.

Woodrow Wilson (1913)

 

You see what power is – holding someone else’s fear in your hand and showing it to them!Amy Tan, writer.

 

*definition taken from the Oxford conscise dictionary


Osama is dead; timing is of the essence.

..well only when the TIME is right!

..and only when the time is right!

I just heard the news that Osama bin Laden is dead.  It reminded me of the time they told us they’d found Saddam in a hole somewhere in the desert.  It just didn’t ring true.  In fact, it sounded just like the key plot or ending of a US blockbuster movie or hit TV series of the type I can’t abide.  Without even looking at all the details I viewed the facts and realised that another key stage in geopolitical events is unfolding right in front of us.

When looking at the many theories of global politics, timing is everything.  We can see this has been applied in every major world war or revolution since the beginning of time.  If you ask any historian about false flags they will give you a rundown on key events that were orchestrated to trigger events or an event for the benefit of a certain state at a certain time in history.

Firstly if we look at the civil revolution currently happening in the Middle East that will eventually lead to calls for democracy based on the “success” of the model of the West (I quote success because this is what we are conditioned to believe about this system) we can see a strategic implementation of policies of the UN going on under the guise of liberation and humanitarian aid.  We should really be asking ourselves what is their end goal.  Reports say in Al Jazeera* say Osama was being kept hidden by Pakistani intelligence.  Evidently should there be any further conflict in the region, geographically, politically and historically speaking Pakistan would be an ideal place from which to also be present.

Secondly, just as thinking people start to question and debate what exactly are the intentions of the US, UK, France and the UN in intervening in Libya, we are given a reminder of 9/11.  9/11 has been highly reported and researched by renowned historians, economists and scientists alike, and has been found conclusively to be the biggest false flag attack of the 21st Century to date.  Many including myself believe that Osama bin Laden is/was a creation of the CIA or other/combined intelligence agencies ruled by government who are in turn ruled by corporations and elitist groups such as the UN, CFR, Bilderberg and so on.  Osama was essentially created as the face that represents the ‘other’ or the enemy.  As such, in claiming he has been killed by the US, as with Saddam Hussein, acts as a clear signal to show the world that they are indeed making all this mess in the region for a valid reason.  To quote Mr. Obama himself:

The death of Osama Bin Laden is the most significant achievement against Al Qaeda. ” 

Mr George W. Bush who was of course in power at the start of the US’s ‘War on Terror’ said eloquently:

“His death is a monumental achievement. The fight against terror goes on, but tonight America has sent an unmistakable message: No matter how long it takes, justice will be done.”

Spielberg couldn’t have scripted it better if he was writing the new hit Armageddon-style movie for 2012.

Thirdly, and again looking at the current climate, another important event taking place is the campaign for US presidential elections in 2012.  As I mentioned above a lot of political theories, strategies and events deal with time and the system of numbers.  Time, or timing and the use of it is as expensive a commodity as money and the subsequent power that oozes out of it.  Therefore, making Obama look like the cowboy hero, just as Bush did back in 2003**, is an essential move in the strategic rebranding of Obama for re-election.  The public will now have renewed faith in their President as he has saved them from their archenemy. They can understand and forgive the atrocities caused by Bush et al because it has all been for a reason.  And finally, the powers that be have the ultimate result; blind faith and trust of the public once more. So of course the public will now go to the ballot and re-elect, not that their votes count as such, but part of the said strategy is to be sure that people think that their votes count.  Following this the people will continue to indiscriminately love the democratic system that keeps them so free, and in such a position of what they consider to be political advantage compared to other countries that have been unsuccessful in adopting their democratic system.

*The report in Al Jazeera online today http://english.aljazeera.net/news/americas/2011/05/2011522132275789.html

**Bush’s drones found Saddam “in a rat hole” even the metaphor itself seemed glaringly obvious.

http://articles.cnn.com/2003-12-14/world/sprj.irq.saddam.operation_1_saddam-hussein-travel-in-large-entourages-operation-red-dawn?_s=PM:WORLD