Politics, Power, Peril: Twenty-Four Assumptions for Discussion and Debate ©


Anthony J. Marsella, Ph.D. – TRANSCEND Media Service

  1. Politics is about the “distribution” of power;
  2. Power is the capacity to effect “change” through control and domination of power sources and distribution;
  3. “Asymmetric” distributions of power risk abuses of individual, group, and nation rights, privilege, and choice;
  4. “Governance” constitutes a structure, organization, and process for monitoring, distributing, and sustaining power;
  5. Vertical “governance” structures and processes are subject to abuse via hierarchical concentrations of power;
  6. Societal population sectors with disproportionate wealth, privilege, and position can establish power “hegemony” (i.e., excessive self-serving influences);
  7. “Hegemonic” power sanctions use of “force” both to maintain control, dominance, and influence, and to preserve the status quo favoring power bases;
  8. “Force” options used by those in power include violence, war, “total” war, assassination, false flags, propaganda, deceit, character defamation, and assassination;
  9. “Absolute” power may be invested in a dictator, secret government, established government-military-corporate-media-educational complex, and/or cabals of undemocratic sources;
  10. “Absolute” power corrupts “absolutely;”
  11. All forms of power corruption result in asymmetric distribution of rights, privileges, and opportunities;
  12. Power corruption is evident in cronyism, bribery, favoritism, secrecy, advantage, force, nepotism, tribalism, and excessive wealth accumulation;
  13. “Absolute” power does not yield readily to public criticism, disapproval, or condemnation;
  14. Legal, ethical, constitutional, and moral codes of power distribution are often “biased” in favor of those in power, resulting in “injustice;”
  15. Power “injustice” abuses result in reactive and compensatory uses of “force” by victims of “injustice,” including protests, rebellion, violence, and “allegations” and “accusations” of “terrorism.”
  16. “Non-violence” protests are the best choice among victims seeking redress from power abuses. If this non-violence fails to effect change, other forms of violent redress may be pursued by those dissatisfied by continued victimhood.
  17. “Injustice,” associated with power asymmetries, can be changed and neutralized by transparency, accountability, and equality among power sources;
  18. Inherited power sources are among the most egregious power abuses. These familial sources of power often continue generations of offense, and should be subject to public legal, ethical, and moral scrutiny and appraisal;
  19. Understanding and acceptance of assumptions about politics, power, and perils of power are essential requirements for citizenship;
  20. Liberation education, theology, psychology, and philosophy assertions and proposals, expressed eloquently in the work of pioneers, including Paulo Friere, Ignacio Martin-Baro, and Martin Luther King, Jr., contesting the sanctioning of power by corrupt national and international sources.
  21. If trust in governance is lost or abandoned because of power abuses, governance purpose, meaning, and “integrity” are subject to remediation;
  22. Integrity must be a guiding arbiter of individuals, groups, or nations involved in the distribution of power;
  23. Those elected to positions of power, based upon expressed political platforms and personal values, must be held to their expressions or should be compelled to resign on the basis of deceit, betrayal, and immoral election abuses;
  24. Terrorism, by and among terrorist individuals, groups, and/or nations, must be contextualized within a framework of mal-distribution and abuses of power.

I offer these 24 assumptions regarding politics, power, and peril to promote both public-forum and education-setting discussion and debate. World populations have now consciousness of the consequences of power asymmetries, especially preservation of entrenched financial interests through endless wars and military occupations by cabalistic Western powers. Cui Bono?

Throughout our world, civil, national, and international strife and struggle abound. Lies, deceit, and propaganda flood our minds, seeking acquiescence, submission, and control. At stake are anachronistic actions and ideologies of colonization, imperialism, and empire.

Tragically, these century-old disgraceful remnants remain and thrive amid government-corporate-military-media-education complexes. This anachronistic complex must be considered a “fascistic” concentration of power, seeking to homogenize populations for control, domination, and exploitation.

Institutions (i.e., religion, education, government, commerce, and media) created to support and preserve equality, justice, and opportunity, are now sources of human and natural peril. We stand and fall at the cusp of the world’s destruction, seemingly oblivious to tragic unfolding events, and helpless in our efforts to address them.

There are a score of hot wars occurring (e.g., Syria, Afghanistan, Ukraine, Congo, Sudan, Nigeria, Israel-Palestine), dozens of failed states (e.g., USA, Venezuela, Brazil, Mexico, Honduras, Pakistan), numerous examples of starvation, famine, and poverty (e.g., Somalia, Congo, Sudan, USA, Ethiopia, Libya).

Concerns for these situations have been spoken and written before, in both flawed and aspired documents seeking to improve the human condition. Perhaps we all need reminding of the Declaration of Independence, USA Constitution, Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), Gettysburg Address, Magna Carta, Sermon on the Mount, and all eloquent and inspiring words offered by gifted and courageous seekers of peace and justice.

What happened? Idealism lost! Connections denied! Solidarity mocked! History forgotten!

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest tossed, to me: I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

May 11, 2017


Anthony J. Marsella, Ph.D., a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace, Development and Environment, is a past president of Psychologists for Social Responsibility, Emeritus Professor of psychology at the University of Hawaii’s Manoa Campus in Honolulu, Hawaii, and past director of the World Health Organization Psychiatric Research Center in Honolulu. He is known internationally as a pioneer figure in the study of culture and psychopathology who challenged the ethnocentrism and racial biases of many assumptions, theories, and practices in psychology and psychiatry. In more recent years, he has been writing and lecturing on peace and social justice. He has published 21 books and more than 300 articles, tech reports, and popular commentaries. He can be reached at marsella@hawaii.edu.


This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 15 May 2017.

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