On Power: Politics and Legitimacy

One interesting thing about politics is that there are political theories which closely “identify” with the types of power I identified earlier.

Generally speaking, conservatism identifies with military power, classical liberalism identifies with economic power and progressivism identifies with intellectual power.

What does identify mean? There are three parts. Forms of power that are blow the form that the political ideology identifies with are considered illegitimate. They are not to be used. There are generally a few exceptions – lower level power is legitimately used when it is used to counteract another use of that same type of power. For classical liberals, most recognize self defense as a valid use of military power (force) – both individually and nationally. Most progressives think it is morally just to donate to charity.

In general, the political ideologies see the fruit of the power they align with to be the core strength of society. Conservatives look to the strength of the military as a key sign of national greatness. Classical liberals look at economic output as the indicator of strength. Progressives generally see intellectual output as well as the compliance of society to the directives of the smartest as the true strength of society.

Lastly, forms of power above the one identified with by an ideology are seen to be too flimsy to be relied upon. Conservatives tend towards mercantilism because they see the military aspect of trade whereas progressives tend towards mercantilism out of a tactical alliance with unions. Intellectual power is generally not even considered real by either conservatives of classical liberals.


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