Maintaining Human Plurality and its Coercive Dimensions

  • 02 Pages
  • Published On: 24-11-2023

Power is an action. It is necessary for maintaining the conditions of human plurality. These conditions enable speech and action. Hence, a misinterpretation of conditions will lead to political violence (Walsh, 2015, p. 88). Alternatively, power is also the ability to constrain others of their choices by coercing others or securing their compliance and by prohibiting them from living as self and from taking individual judgment (Walsh, 2015, p. 90). Thus, power must have the three elements. They are the exercise of the coercion and constraint and impediment.

In addition or instead of these elements, they could be coercion and manipulation by which power is exercised. The basis for this reasoning is the voluntary compliance is never secured as there is always a continuous rebelling by the subordinates (Walsh, 2015, p. 90).


These elements of power are derived from the distinction between potentia (power to) and potestas (power over). However, the elements of power derived from such distinction may not be able to capture all the relations of power. The phenomenon on authority may be able to do so, which may derived voluntary compliance (Walsh, 2015, p. 91). It captures a socio-political relationship, which enables explanation of various forms of voluntary compliance. This demonstrates the difference between power and authority. Authority demonstrates the ability to channelise others’ behaviour in the absence of threat or sanction. Power demonstrates the ability to do likewise by using sanction (Walsh, 2015, p. 91).

Based on the distinction, it is worthy to determine whether or not it is power or authority that impact or shapes politics and international relations. Politics, as observed, is all about power. The nature of power defines the distribution of power in the society. It could be pluralism involving the influence of multiple political parties, elitism or Marxism (Heywood, 2015, p. 173). Power also define the way a nation would behave in international relations. For example, the US presidential government invests ranges of power on the president. However, such power must be exercised within the constraint of the political system and development and formal constitutional rules (Heywood, 2015, p. 175).

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The constraints mentioned above form the authority. Authority defines and limits the scope of power. For instance, Kremlin issued a state of emergency decree to order Soviet forces in 1990 to storm Baku and destruct the APF (Sotirio, 2019, p. 122). Alternatively, it could also be considered that authority is the means to make power official and lawful. It is power that forms the core of social and political outcomes. States have power defined by an authority to form alliance (Sotirio, 2019, p. 21). 21 States interaction creates a structure and there is a continuing process between the state and the structure enabling constrain over states from certain conduct while at the same time propel them towards others. The determinants of this process are representation of the power or capabilities distribution across states (Sotirio, 2019, p. 22).

Authority, thus, comes from delegated or designated duties and responsibilities, whereas power possesses the authority. Power commands more of control or influence in a political structure and in international relations.


Heywood, A. (2015). Key Concepts in Politics and International Relations . Palgrave Macmillan .

Sotirio, S. A. (2019). Politics and International Relations in Eurasia . Lexington Books .

Walsh, P. (2015). Arendt Contra Sociology: Theory, Society and Its Science. Ashgate Publishing Limited 2015.

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