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With greater power comes greater responsibility


The apparent dichotomy between 'power' and 'responsibility' has always been a subject of an arduous debate. The manifestation of supremacy of one over the other draws a lot of speculation but it is universally acceptable that 'power' is a derivative of 'responsibility' and vice-versa. They are comparable to in a rhetorical sense, yet the underlying edifice within is indivisible.

"Power" as we like to refer to, seeks motives to conquer and exercise or rather exert unitary influence over masses. This concept is the cradle to our political accord and its evolution in the long run has carved out very existence of civilization. From the times of antiquity, the propaganda of societal culture has engulfed mankind and it is at the behest of such influence, we have witnessed an emergence of domination. 'Power', an obligatory force or more often a prerogative of the distinguished, is tool that has seen its implementation for governance and administration but also has been misused to rein terror, destruction, chaos and hegemony. In this parlance we should accentuate on the role of 'power' and how it led to unfolding of events that gave birth to modern day society, government, associations and virtually everything around us. Man has always been a slave of instinct and it is because of this we have a long quenching desire to achieve supremacy over others. We want extension of our influence and gain command over our surroundings. Some like to rule while others are only left with the option of being ruled. The desire for power laid down seeds for political developments which was later theorized into different approaches and eventually metamorphosed into systems of modern day governance and administration.

In this pretext it would be pertinent to state pivotal relationship of "responsibility" with "power". Judging from an ethical standpoint, none can plead ignorance to the imperativeness of responsibility. If the instrument of rightfully discharging the duties while one is bestowed with power and position. The captioned catchphrase on which we intend to discuss upon is aptly true however ostensible it might be. Responsibility is the virtue by which one exercises prudence and it confers upon him the right to enact proper decisions. Those who enjoy unparalleled might and breach to assume responsibilities are ones who use nefarious measures to misuse power. A pragmatic exemplification in modern day governance would be the illustration of dictatorship and authoritarian/totalitarian regimes. True responsibility always inhibits coercion and channelizes the authority towards betterment and inclusive development. It is a human nature to exhibit submission towards any charismatic personality but it is the same nature which inflicts revolt against those who utilizes their power to intimidate. The French Revolution, The American War of Independence, The Bolshevik Revolution, The Indian Freedom Struggle and many such events are real spectators of such incidents where the oppressors were jettisoned from their position and left to the mercy of the revolt.

As propounded by Aristotle that each virtue sits at the fulcrum of two extremes of vices, we can draw an analogy that responsibility is the optimum position between underutilization and misuse of power. The statement - "With greater Power comes greater Responsibility" has an impact more profound than its mere perception and is true in every possible dimension and sense. Machiavelli was an advocate on the same with philosophers like J.S Mill and Bentham also being ardently adhered to the notion. The dogma of socialism rests on the execution of responsible actions. Karl Marx was also a fervent critic of the subject and his theory relating to "proletariats" and "bourgeoisie" is an eclectic demonstration of the imbalance between power enjoyed by the capitalist class and the irresponsibility of the government shown towards the common mass.

The inference that can be drawn from the prolix discussion is utterly simple and is not at all ambivalent. Philosophers, thinkers, social and political scientists have for ages pondered upon the issues of power and responsibility and critical evaluation led to the promulgation of myriad of theories and thoughts. They are mutually co-existent facades, if constructed wisely contribute to harmonizing a healthy environment. On the ending note we may quote as -

"Power should be reserved for weightlifting and responsibility for shouldering"

-Dipanjan Dutta