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Political Power and the State

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"Political Power and the State"

According to Spencer political power is the result of cooperation between individuals in a society. The cooperation between individuals leads to a political structure that organizes the efforts and gives direction to the group as a whole. The political structure derived from this cooperation has to have the power to restrain individual behaviors in order to keep the society together for the same common goals. The political structure gets this power from the idea that everyone in a society wants to feel that they are part of something larger than themselves. In turn this idea of community leads to a moral high ground for social action and identity. Spencer argues that basic political division in society is between strength and age. When people get older they may be wiser but they lose physical strength, people who posses both are considered more renowned. Thus, Spencer states there are three divisions of political structure; the masses of the young and the weak, those who are strong and inexperienced, and those elite few among the strong and experienced. Every political structure is a derivative of this one. Throughout history there have been different forms and distinctions of this structure for example, king, nobles, and people; but in today's modern society we have CEO, elected officials and citizens. Each political structure is different combinations of three areas " despotism, oligarchy, or a democracy". In a democracy the citizens are most important; in an oligarchy the power belongs to small groups of leaders; and in despotism only one person holds all the power.

Spencer thought that the degree of power given to the political structure of a society was based on two factors. The first factor involves population growth. The more a population grows the more complex the political structure becomes. The second influence deals with the resources available to the society and other surrounding societies. Spencer argues that when there are few resources the political structure is given more power in order to attain the resources necessary for the society to survive. The manner in which the political structure obtains these resources is determined by the complexity of the political structure itself, and the political structures of the societies around it.

Spencer's definition of political power and the basis of that power do not show any distinct division between the political structure and the people governed by it. The individuals in a society and the population of the society are the determining factors in the degree of power that the political structure have and how it is built.

If we look at Marx's theory we can see that there are two distinct classes (bipolarization) in modern day society the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. The proletariat, or the working class and the bourgeoisie, the feudal nobility have always been antagonistic towards one another. When considering capitalism though, they become two very separate and unique classes. Under capitalism all political relationships are controlled by the state and they strip power away from personal ties and move them into more interpersonal ones. For example, in agricultural societies capitalism takes away work from the farm and places it in urban based factories, thus stripping away the importance of family businesses. There is also a huge division of labor that occurs being that there is mental labor (philosophers, priests, etc) and material labor (workers). The current socially stratified class system is controlled by the people in



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