Power <debate> <long>

John McCreery (JLM@TWICS.COM)
Sat, 9 Mar 1996 23:58:27 +0900

First, a word of special thanks to Robert Thornton for directing our
attention to Weber.

"Power (Macht) is the probability that one actor within a social
relationship will be in a position to carry out his own will
despite resistance, regardless of the bases on which this
probability rests.

Domination (Herrschaft) is the probability that a command with a
given specific content will be obeyed by a given group of persons
. . . ... (1) ... the concept of power is sociologically
amorphous. All conceivable qualities of a person and all
conceivable combinations of circumstances may put him in a
position to impose his will in a given situation. The
sociological concept of combination must hence be more precise
and can only mean the probability that a command will be obeyed .
. . (p.53, Economy and Society)

I, for one, feel as though I've just recovered from a fit of amnesia. Reading
Weber all those years ago must have done some good.

Then, however, I read at the end of Thornton's post that,

"Machiavelli's discussion of power is one of the most enlightening I
have read, but it is not immediately accessible to the 'modern' mind.
Much of what we discuss under the rubric of power, for instnace,
Machiavelli called 'virtu'. There is a fascinating literature on
what Machiavelli meant by 'virtue', and this I think is more useful
in a discussion of what power *really* is than anything written by
the Marxists, Feminists, Capitalist or Warmongers (like Mao)"

OK, I know that I should run right out and find a copy of Machiavelli.
Probably will some day. But just at the moment, I'd love to see a few
more paragraphs expanding this claim. How 'bout it?

John McCreery
March 10, 1996