Power the idea that Marxist believe the main purpose

Power is the most valuable commodity in the world of
politics, although it may seem that a need to enhance one’s power may be
perceived some as arbitrary, some may seek to enhance it in order to fight
social injustice, changing government’s agenda. In order to develop the concept
further we need to take into consideration the political and social theorist
Steven Lukes (1974) by contrasting (his 3rd dimension with the two
other dimensions of power) how power works in government settings versus how it
works in a larger societal context. Steven Lukes’ ‘a Radical View’ provides
insight to his view on power, whilst arguing and working upon the framework of
Bachrach and Baratz.

Steven Lukes ‘A
Radical View’ analyses all three dimensions of power whilst trying to
demonstrate that the 3rd dimension of power, gives a more ‘deeper
and more satisfactory analysis of power than…the other two’. Lukes’ view
of power in three dimensions describes ‘that people’s wants may themselves be a
product of a system which works against their interests’ (Lukes 20051974:
37-8). This dimension of power can be considered as a manipulative power, with
the ability to shape ones desires often in a manner which is secretive. Marxism
is a good example of explaining the forces of manipulation in society; this is
in regards to capitalist holding all the power and exploiting the working
class’ own interest. This is taking in mind of societal context whereby people
in society are suffering from ‘false consciousnesses’ in which Steven Lukes’
argues that it’s the ‘supreme and most insidious exercise of power’ . Through
different institutions and methods of channelling information which we then use
to influence the working classes decisions and values, the ruling class have
been able to apply these values whereby the working class have no other option
but to accept them. This can be described through an example of a Marxism perspective
on education, which claims that the formal power performs and produces
inequality in the interest of the ruling class. For example, the idea that Marxist
believe the main purpose of education is to maintain social inequality within a
capitalist society, this is justified by Marxists Bowles and Ginits’s in their
research of ‘School in Capitalist America’ (1976), by arguing that capitalism
requires a workforce with the right set of attitudes, behaviour and
personality, who are suited to their role as they are exploited and willing to
accept low pay, hard work and orders from their superiors. Thus, the framework
of education under a capitalist society operates through the ‘hidden
curriculum’, using this as a method of giving pupils no other alternative but
to become skilled employees which capitalist need.  As a result of the false consciousness, it
will reproduce an obedient workforce that will accept inequality as
inevitability (Bowles , Gintis 1976.

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Dahl who exemplifies his point of ‘intuitive idea of power’
that ‘A has power of B to the extent that he can get B to something B would not
otherwise do’, as a result they study on the transparency and the observable
behaviour between the possession of power and its exercise. As a result
pluralists focus on behaviour over observable conflict in identifying power by
studying decision making as their central task. Thus, the pluralist approach
towards the first dimension of power is considered as groups who simply prevail
when decision-making takes place, when conflict between actors and individuals
take place especially during controversial issues which have the most conflict
associated with it (Lukes 2005 1974: 16-19). Furthermore, some may argue that
the first dimension of power does not go far enough. Although, it fits in with
its pluralist view of Dahl, its role in observing its power relies on the
political actors in government setting who are involved in the introduction of
bills and by the process of pushing through legislation. The influence on new
bills being pushed through the legislature can be determined by other actors
outside of the political domain who can influence the political agenda, which
the first dimension fails to underline. This is due to constituents who can
apply pressure towards its representatives, pressure groups who are involved in
committee groups and lobbyist who have insider status. This point is further
enhanced by Lukes brief comment mentioning that ‘power cannot reveal the less
visible way in which a pluralist system may be biased in favour of certain
groups and against others’. (Lukes 2005 1974: 39).  

In addition, the second dimension of power is viewed by
Lukes as an elitist, by Bachrach and Baratz whose work advances and works upon
the first dimension, there focus is on both overt and covert conflict. The
second dimension of power works on that it recognizes Dahls observable power
but adds that power is applied when some issues are organized not to be
discussed; in other words agenda setting power. However, Lukes’ criticises the
second dimension as the scope of decision making is compromised as certain
matters are excluded, this may be intentional rather than an aim of the groups
and institution, this further enhances the point that Bachrach and Baratz are
concentrated on behaviourism, and trying to comprehend groups and institutions
reasons of issues being excluded (Lukes 2005 1974: 25). In addition, as Bachrach
and Baratz work focused on a system of bias, whereby, it represents a dominant
set of beliefs which work to privilege and benefit certain groups than others,
(Lukes 20051974:21) therefore; individuals may unconsciously be unfollowing
this as a norm without noticing it. Furthermore, Lukes also adds that
pluralists and elitists such as Bachrach and Baratz, have formed a concept that
in order for power to thrive and succeed, it must be necessary to have

The first dimension of power is named the decision making
dimension, this power can be clearly observed by other individuals in government
settings, therefore it is considered to be transparent. This allows people to
understand clearly why power decisions are put in place and how they are
applied, due to its transparency; the process is opened to scrutiny during each
step of its political process. This is mostly seen in democratic countries as
the exercise of power is open to criticism. This is classed as a classic idea
of politic power, as political actors priority is to acquire this type of power
to implement their cause, as they contest elections their political actions are
centred on gaining this power and therefore the exercise of this power is
legitimised.  As a result, in contrary to
Lukes’ it can be argued that this system is a tried and tested system and it’s readily
operational this can be seen in the introduction of the same sex couples act of
2013. (Jason 2018 7)

The second dimension of power is named the non-decision
making dimension this due to the nature that power is exercised behind closed
doors. This nature of power is only visible to political actors who are
involved in its agenda setting whilst keeping away from the public eye. The
second dimension of power is an elitist view of power, although the first
dimension of power acknowledges who is involved there are also specific views
left out of the agenda setting process to avoid conflict. An example of this is when the conservative government
refused to discuss devolution, this type of power can be used to prevent and
limiting decisions as much as making them, this is seen in democratic countries
but not as much as the 1st dimension.

Finally, it can be argued that Steven Lukes’ overall
approach on his critique over Dahl (1961) and Bachrach and Bartz (1970), in
regards to their application of its focus on behaviour, although he suggests
that this power may not be actualized due the discrepancy of individuals
interest and the interests of such power and elitist individuals which they
exclude form the process of making decisions. As Lukes suggest that it relies
on the ’empirically basis’, it can be argued that the discovery of real not
substantial, as the discovery of real interest is not up to the power subject
in this case A but to the object B, by exercising its choice in a condition of
self-government by political participation (Bradshaw, A. 1976).

In conclusion, it
can be argued that the significance of Lukes’ critique towards the pluralists
Dahl in the first dimension and neo-elitist Bachrach and Baratz, in comparison
to the third dimension, that these authors applied more focus towards
behaviourism of individuals in government settings during the process of
decision making, it also brings into question whether if society would work
more harmoniously if we only used the first dimension of power. Perhaps we
would be only observant of the legislations in the decision-making process, but
not what Lukes describes are ‘power cannot reveal the less visible way
in which a pluralist system may be biased in favour of certain groups and
against others’, but would we avoid the benefits of the second dimensions, in
which it takes certain individuals who possess only bad intentions by excluding
them debates and being able to shape policies. This also brings up its own
issues of excluding individuals and straining the freedom of speech. As a result, the third dimension in which
Steven Lukes’ takes power, to another level this is because he views the third
dimension as the most ‘supreme and most insidious exercise of power’ which both
other dimension fail to mention. As a result, in a societal context,
individuals are under a false consciousness as they are manipulated and there
perception is shaped without them having any knowledge. I believe that Steven
Lukes’ dimension does a good job in evaluating the other two dimensions, although
its significances are insufficient in the form of exploring power and how it
can be exercised. The third dimension can not only be applied in government
settings but also societal context whereby individuals are being reproduce for
inequality and to continue feeding the existence of a capitalist society, as
there perception is shaped through education of the thought that meritocracy
will allow them to succeed in life, they unconsciously being exploited as they
see no alternative and view their decisions and options as natural.










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