Bases of Power

The bases of power are force, coercion and influence. To understand and succeed in politics, it is vital to realise the benefits and limitations of each base of power. (For a detailed treatise on the bases of power and their impacts, have a read of "Power its forms, bases and uses" by Dennis H Wrong.)

Understanding that power comes back to the exercise of one or more of those three bases makes it much simpler to understand what happens in various societies. In particular, it highlights why most socities are dominated by those who do, or at least will, use force more than the other bases of power. This may be either tanks

or the more familiar overwhelming and unnecessary use of force by the Police to meet their ends.


The key principle of totalitarianism is understanding that force is a necessary component of any successful society. In totalitarianism, the concept of might is right becomes supreme. There are horrific outcomes as a result of this approach - and the examples are too numerous to name. However, think of Stalinist Soviet Union or Idi Amin's Uganda to visualise the concept. The very important consideration is that this form of government has always been present somewhere in the world and is associated with some of the largest empires ever built. If size is the measure, it is very successful.

Even more important is the consideration of what such societies deliver for the inhabitants. Life value is obviously very low. The constant fear and the high probability of being subjected to deprivation of liberty, physical and psychological abuse quickly overcome any perceived benefits of a system based on force.

The success of alternative systems is based on a wide recognition that force delivers a low standard of living for all. Even those who are currently "in power" suffer a sad life in such a system. Gaining and mainting that awareness is critical to having an alternative. The other key factor in improving society is being prepared to highlight issues when they arise.

If you have not already do so, have a read of Corruption Issues and give consideration to your current actions in relation to these issue.

Empire building

A key indicator of a society that is failing to achieve for its own citizens is one that indulges in significant military operations. The increasingly unsuccesful British, Russian and United States empires are typical examples. When the difficulties of supplying adequate food, health and education increased, each of these empires attempted to focus their citizens attention on external matters and involved themselves in military operations with little strategic or economic benefit. It is important for budding politicians to understand the weakness of government in these types of actions.

An important associated activity is the coercion of the population through increased police action and imprisonment. It is not surprising that prison populations are highest among those societies that regularly indulge in military operations.

Democracy dying

The very real challenge for those who believe in democracy, and in particular, representative democracy is to ensure that the benefits of using influence are suffciently understood to have the support of the overwhelming portion of the society. The way to achieve this is through a very strong focus on education, freedom of information and a willingness to defend the rights of all. As highlighted in corruption issues, failure of a society occurs when individuals fail to demand appropriate behaviour.

If YOU believe in democracy, focus on YOUR behaviour in terms of increasing education, obtaining a balanced view of what is happening and defend the basic rights of EVERY member of YOUR society.

It may be a good time to review what you think of the Politics How To and Succeed in Politics sections.

In your lfe, use of the most appropriate of the bases of power is important. Whether politics is to be your career, or your interest, YOUR behaviour is important to YOUR society.

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