[FORUM]Understanding the way of power

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[FORUM]Understanding the way of power

Dear Minister Chung Dong-young: Is power something you give or something you seize? I think you have to seize it. You cannot give power to someone even if you want to. Power is not an object but an organism. It is alive and wicked. Power will come to someone who seeks it. It is vain to wait for power, because no one will give it to you.
Then how can you seize power? Can you get it if you risk your life and fight for it? Not a chance. You might end up losing everything. Should you try to trick it? How about backstabbing? Well, power is no fool. It knows you better than you know yourself. That’s why it eludes the grasp of so many people.
There is only one way to get power. You can have it if you make someone with power give it to you. He cannot help giving it to you ― he is compelled to. He gives it to you, but he is being robbed. You receive it, but you have stolen it. There’s nothing wrong with the deal. It’s how power works.
How can you make this happen? First, you have to be powerful and influential. But do not be mistaken: having a few lawmakers on your side does not mean you have influence. Several hundred party members are not enough. Influence is not a number. After all, you have to have legitimacy. Justification is what’s important; it is the true form of influence. The number of people on your side is only an embellishment of the justification.
What justifies your power? There are two aspects. The first is the dynamics within existing power. The key is continuity. It is the logic of the identical power. You need to inherit your identity. However, the external logic is different. It is the logic of discontinuation. The outside world wants a new power. That is the nature of public sentiment. There is a conflict between the logics of inside and outside. Then how can you have them both? You need to be both obsequious and challenging toward the reigning power. However, you cannot recklessly stand up to him. That’s why you need a justification. It would be the standard for your behavior. That is politics. That’s why not everyone can have power, but anyone can try to get it.
Which side are you on, Mr. Chung? I will tell you what I have seen and felt. First, on the perception on the power, you seem to think it is something that will be given to you. Let’s look back on the last two-and-a-half years. Have you ever challenged the president? Have you ever pointed out his mistakes? As far as I remember, you have never gone against the reigning power. You have advocated the logic of the powerful to the citizens. Did you defend the president because he has done a good job? I don’t think so. You must have just tolerated it because you didn’t want to upset the president. To be more blunt, you were afraid that he would not give power to you. You were waiting for power to be given to you.
What have you gained from being patient? You certainly won points from the ruling party insiders. You are the front-runner among the presidential hopefuls of the governing party. Of course, your prominence is strictly limited to within the party. What about outside the party? You have lost far more outside than you gained inside. Your support rating is a good indication. What would happen if the current situation continues? You might be nominated as the ruling party’s next presidential candidate. But winning the election is difficult. In that case, the party might not choose you because the possibility that you might achieve victory is so remote.
What if you acted otherwise? Let’s consider the possibility that you have challenged the power-holder when you had something against him. You probably would have never been named minister. Even if you became a minister, your status wouldn’t have been the same. Your reputation within the party must have been less prominent. However, you could have gained a lot more outside the party. But the ruling party would not choose you as its candidate because those with power were displeased with you. But public support could mean an election victory, and the party might make you a candidate because of your popularity.
The dynamics of power are very difficult, and that’s why power is wicked. I do not mean to say that you need to be hypocritical. A faker is easily detected. That’s why you need to arm yourself with justifications. It is not that hard. You only need to have clear judgment. You should point out flaws and mistakes of the administration. It is possible when you give up personal greed. Only then will power come to you.

* The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Lee Youn-hong
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