Self-Analysis in the Game of Power

At the end of the forty days and forty nights, the Lord gave me the two stone tablets, the tablets of the covenant. Then the Lord told me, “Go down from here at once, because your people whom you brought out of Egypt have become corrupt. They have turned away quickly from what I commanded them and have made an idol for themselves.”

  • Deuteronomy 9:11-12

King Xerxes imposed tribute throughout the empire, to its distant shores. And all his acts of power and might, together with a full account of the greatness of Mordecai, whom the king had promoted, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Media and Persia? Mordecai the Jew was second in rank to King Xerxes, preeminent among the Jews, and held in high esteem by his many fellow Jews, because he worked for the good of his people and spoke up for the welfare of all the Jews.

  • Esther 10:1-3

“Bulgarian—born philosopher and psychoanalyst Julia Kristeva is often regarded as one of the leading voices in French feminism. Nevertheless, the question of whether, or in what way, Kristeva is a feminist thinker has been subject to considerable debate. Part of the reason for this is that for Kristeva herself, the very notion of feminism is problematic.  Feminism has arisen out of the conflict women have had with the structures that are associated with male dominance or power. Because of these roots, Kristeva warns, feminism carries with it some of the same male-centered presuppositions that it is seeking to question.
“If the feminist movement is to realize its goals fully, Kristeva believes that it is essential for it to be more self—critical. She warns that by seeking to fight what she calls the ‘power principle’ of a male—dominated world, feminism is at risk of adopting yet another form of this principle. Kristeva is convinced that for any movement to be successful in achieving true emancipation, it must constantly question its relationship to power and established social systems—and, if necessary ‘renounce belief in its own identity.’ If the feminist movement fails to take these steps, Kristeva fears that it is in serious danger of developing into little more than an additional strand in the ongoing game of power.

  • Sam Atkinson (senior editor), The Philosophy Book, Big Ideas Simply Explained

Julia Kristeva (1941-present) makes a point about all power struggles.  How often is it that the one who wrestles power away from a tyrant becomes a tyrant themselves.

Take the Russian Revolution as an example.  To solidify power, the white Russians, loyal to the emperor, had to be eradicated.  When Stalin took power, he killed many opponents.  Mao, in China, “cleansed” the nation.  Yet, the governments called themselves “peoples republics.”

The book used Margaret Thatcher as an example, taking on male traits of strength and authority to show that a woman could be an effective prime minister.  But with Ms. Kristeva’s self-critical approach, would Thatcher have done things differently.  Ms. Thatcher was what she had to be, and she was very effective in the process.

But in many power struggles, we must separate what the person truly is versus what they pretend to be in order to get the necessary votes.  Over the years, I have seen people elected to high positions, even the president of the USA by telling everyone what they wanted to here – thus contradicting themselves in two speeches given on the same day.  They simply count on people not paying attention, except when the candidate was promising them what they wanted.  And it works.

But, do we not have the capacity, regardless of gender to abuse power?

I have seen the movie Gone With the Wind several times.  Scarlett O’Hara never loses her feminine wiles, but she is one of the most ruthless businesswomen to be portrayed on screen.  And I have met many such women, having grown up in the South.

But one thing that seems to be in Ms. Kristeva’s philosophy, but not mentioned in the article is what does someone use as the standard when they perform the self-criticism or self-analysis.  It seems, as is often the case in philosophy, that there is an underlying morality at play.  This is not stated in the article, but without having some type of moral code, how can a movement, such as feminism, self-criticize?

And if we focus on the Christian ethic, with Jesus in our hearts, we come closest to achieving a greater end for all involved.  It is not a guarantee, but with self-analysis compared to the ideal model that Jesus taught and lived, we can come close to maintaining that moral code.

If you like these Tuesday morning essays about philosophy and other “heavy topics,” but you think you missed a few, you can use this LINK. I have set up a page off the home page for links to these Tuesday morning posts. I will continue to modify the page as I add more.

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

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