Power and Strategies

More often than not, it is the hypnotic dimension of prestige which takes hold of groups and individuals rather than the moral dimension of prestige, even though it is the moral dimension which preserves and sustains prestige over the long run, whereas the hypnotic dimension of prestige fades away and leaves desolation and failure in its wake. Through hypnosis, the group and its leader can prompt or lure certain individuals into advancing and promoting the group’s core interests, one of which is the retention of its privileged power status. But in certain individuals, the moral dimension of prestige resists and overcomes the hypnotic effect of prestige, and as mentioned before, the hypnotic effect of prestige is ultimately bound to “an erotic tie” to borrow from Freud. Thus, in certain cases, one’s moral conscience and one’s moral compass beats out and outweighs all else. As Sigmund Freud wrote: 

“It is noticeable that, even when there is complete suggestive compliance in other respects, the moral conscience of the person hypnotized may show resistance. But this may be due to the fact that in hypnosis as it is usually practiced some knowledge may be retained that what is happening is only a game, an untrue reproduction of another situation of far more importance in life.” 

As noted before, a major part of prestige and thus hypnosis is to convey an image of the group as being insurmountable and unchallengeable. Power is thus intertwined with prestige, and both have to be pursued in tandem. And arguably, it is power and prestige which are the core interests of any group. And in terms of the essence of power, it has been written that: “Power is thus represented as interdict, with law as its form and sex as its content.” And as Foucault argued: “Law is neither the truth of power nor its alibi. It is an instrument of power which is at once complex and partial. The form of law with its effects of prohibition needs to be resituated among a number of other, non-juridical mechanisms.” 

In turn, power needs to be hegemonic in order to convey an image and a sense of ubiquity and ineluctability. But all of this can be eluded and surmounted if one arrives at the realization that the image and the feeling conveyed on the part of power is part of a hypnosis that can be resisted through a moral conscience and with the right kind of knowledge. As Foucault wrote: “It seems to me that power is ‘always already there,’ that one is never ‘outside’ it, that there are no ‘margins’ for those who break with the system to gambol in. But this does not entail the necessity of accepting an inescapable form of domination or an absolute privilege on the side of the law.” Foucault added: “To say that one can never be ‘outside’ power does not mean that one is trapped and condemned to defeat no matter what.”

Because of the moral conscience and the moral dimension of prestige which in turn preserves and sustains prestige over the long run, it follows that resistance is always an appendage and a complementary feature of power. Where there is power, there is also resistance. This is a necessary condition, and the two cannot be separated from one another. Foucault argued that “there are no relations of power without resistance; the latter are all the more real and effective because they are formed right at the point where relations of power are exercised;” He added that “resistance to power does not have to come from elsewhere to be real, nor is it inexorably frustrated through being the compatriot of power. It exists all the more by being in the same place as power; hence, like power, resistance is multiple and can be integrated in global strategies.” It is perhaps with these facts and realities in mind that the prevailing hegemonic discourse and the established and long-standing social relations based on domination and hegemony have to be reconsidered and reevaluated. 

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