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Political Theory Revision

• Power, Authority and Legitimacy

• The work of Weber

• Liberalism vs. Socialism

• Socialism and the Labour party

Power, Authority and Legitimacy

Power is the influence over people using positive or negative manipulation.

Legitimacy is the link between power and authority; this is how people gain
authority. If the people vote for a party or individual then it is legitimate.
Authority is the legitimate power! Basically, the people have given that party or
individual the right to lead them and so they have the authority to exercise their

Technically, you can’t really have power without legitimacy or authority but this
isn’t true in some cases like dictatorships.

This: http://atheism.about.com/od/religiousauthority/a/whatisauthority.htm is a
good site for explaining this. Yes, it does say religious and atheism in the link,
but it still explains power, authority and legitimacy pretty well.

Lukes came up with the idea of the three faces of power.

1. Open face – this is where power is exercised for the people to see and
scrutinise. For example broadcasting the live feed from the House of
Commons and PMQ.

2. Secret face – this is where power is exercised in secret and is the ability
for things not to be discussed AKA agenda setting. For example, the
Conservatives were opposed to devolution and so it wasn’t until Labour
was in power that it was ever discussed.

3. Manipulating Desires – this is where the government exercises power on

things they want put through by convincing and persuading the people
that it is in their best interests and will serve them better in the long run
The Work of Weber

Weber wrote about Authority; there’s a load of stuff online about his work in
“Economy and Society”.
Basically, he believed there were three different types of authority.

• Traditional – Whoever is in power needs to adhere to the customs and

traditions of the people they lead and only exercise their power when
these customs and traditions demand or require it. This is a very post-
modern sort of authority that would’ve been used by monarchs. Examples;
the Tudor dynasty in England and the Mewar family in Rajasthan (India).

• Charismatic – The authority depends on the individual qualities of the

leader. You’re more likely to let someone confident and charming lead you
than someone who’s a bit of a wimp. For example in Nazi Germany, the
Germans accepted Hitler because of his strong personality; they believed
he could lead them to better things. And also Barack Obama; he was
depicted as a strong leader in the 2008 election even though at the
moment he hasn’t really done much to prove he really is!

• Rational-Legal – The authority has been given by the people; they have
went out and physically gave the power to the party or individual. Sort of
like “ballot box” authority and it is very bureaucratic in style. This type is
the most common type in places like the UK.

Remember! Although Weber said all this, he was aware that this is authority in
a “pure” form; he knew that there would be variations in real-life and mixes
between the different types. With the example of Hitler, there was an element of
each of three types. Mostly charismatic but there was a lot of reference to
German Volk tradition in his speeches and people voted for him so there is also
traditional and rational-legal authority involved.
Liberalism vs. Socialism

Individualism vs. Community

Socialism Liberalism

People need to come together Societies are created to maximise

and work together in order to freedom for the individual as
create a better society opposed to a community of people.


Socialism Liberalism

Everybody should be equal in Everyone should have equal rights

every sense no matter the and are born equal but not everyone
background or occupation etc. can be completely equal especially if
that affects freedom.


Humans are not naturally
rational and need to work Humans are naturally rational and so
together to create rational will create solutions themselves to
solutions that work. maximise their own freedom.

The most important human right is
Common ownership! No one the right to property! Having private
should have the sole ownership property is a key way to promoting
of property. individual freedom!.

Are these two theories even similar at all?!

Of course, there are a few similarities!

• Power to the people! Both believe that the power lies with the people and
not with the government or big organisations.

• Control over industry as long as it maximises the power the people have
Impact of Socialism on the Labour party

Back in the day, Labour was quite a socialist party as they came from the
working class “for the people” type background.
Oh yeah, I love the internet. This site is really good for stuff about Labour
and Socialism and about Tony Blair! Warning: It is really long.

“'THE CLASS WAR is over', declared Tony Blair at New Labour's conference last year. 'The
21st century will not be about the battle between capitalism and socialism, but between
the forces of progress and the forces of conservatism'. For Blair an independent party of
labour, forged out of class struggle, was an historic mistake. His 'Third Way' represents
an attempt at turning back the clock to before the Labour Party was formed.”

The Labour party was opposed to capitalism as they were founded on protecting
the working class. But with the social mobility thing coming into action, it was
time for change. They would never steal away voters with clause four. They are
now about reform rather than revolution. Their policies are all capitalist friendly
whilst still insisting they are for the good of the people. They have derived quite
significantly from socialism!

Bad drawing but you get the point!