The Power Imbalance

One of the difficulties I had a long time ago was trying to explain to high functioning individuals this notion of power imbalance. If “equals” in terms of status and power have a frank and forthright exchange and they are both able to stand up for themselves with a modicum of assertion, there is no power imbalance.

However, should a powerful professor {for example} behave in a similar manner to an undergraduate, there is a marked power imbalance, and the undergraduate might feel threatened and fearful. Someone akin to God, and who has the say so, to an extent, over their degree result, might be perceived as being highly critical. The student might then shit a large and uncomfortable brick.

Not everyone high functioning is blessed with warmth and sensitivity.

So, to use a possibly imaginary and illusory example.

Let us say a whole bunch of “posh” academics who command research budgets which run to millions of pounds and with a rounded up annual salary of say ~ £100,000 or more are talking about a single individual.

Let us say that individual, who is retired, is not in possession of the best of health and has an annual income of £12,000. He has no research budget and has to think very carefully about spending the 1000 euros needed to fix his 10-year-old car. The value of the car if it was left hand drive is ~ 6000 euros. It isn’t left hand drive.

Is there a power imbalance in this imaginary example?

Are the purveyors of wisdom in essence kicking some poor bastard who is already down?

Are they circling the wagons to keep that Apache out?

Do you think that there is a blind dog’s chance that said individual could get those in “power” to realise there is a power imbalance and that they are bullying by talking about the single poor person behind his back and without including him in the conversation?

In effect they are ganging up.

Or do you think that they will feel thoroughly justified and utterly entitled to behave just how they wish?

Do they the patrician, the wise, the great and the good, know what is best for that poor bastard?

And then if in their grace they offer him a fait accompli?

Will he doff his cap and accept graciously in awe of their magnificent benevolence?


Temptations Posed By Power – Third Natural Enemy

Power can have strange effects on people, they lose the ability to ascertain right and wrong. They can get paranoid. One might see some hints of this struggle with power in Trump’s behaviour towards the end of last year. For whom are the Covid restrictions, the pleb or the powerful?

Power Quotes

The attempt to combine wisdom and power has only rarely been successful and then only for a short while.

Albert Einstein


Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.

Abraham Lincoln


The power of man has grown in every sphere, except over himself.

Winston Churchill


Power is of two kinds. One is obtained by the fear of punishment and the other by acts of love. Power based on love is a thousand times more effective and permanent then the one derived from fear of punishment.

Mahatma Gandhi


All things are subject to interpretation whichever interpretation prevails at a given time is a function of power and not truth.

Friedrich Nietzsche


What we call Man’s power over Nature turns out to be a power exercised by some men over other men with Nature as its instrument.

C. S. Lewis


I hope our wisdom will grow with our power, and teach us, that the less we use our power the greater it will be.

Thomas Jefferson


It is impossible for you to be angry and laugh at the same time. Anger and laughter are mutually exclusive and you have the power to choose either.

Wayne Dyer


Only those who have learned the power of sincere and selfless contribution experience life’s deepest joy: true fulfilment.

Tony Robbins


The ultimate value of life depends upon awareness and the power of contemplation rather than upon mere survival.



The measure of a man is what he does with power.



I love power. But it is as an artist that I love it. I love it as a musician loves his violin, to draw out its sounds and chords and harmonies.

Napoleon Bonaparte


Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.

Mao Tse-Tung


The world’s biggest power is the youth and beauty of a woman.



Knowledge is power.

Francis Bacon


Knowledge is power. Information is power. The secreting or hoarding of knowledge or information may be an act of tyranny camouflaged as humility.

Robin Morgan


Power is the great aphrodisiac.

Henry A. Kissinger


Power always thinks… that it is doing God’s service when it is violating all his laws.

John Adams


Next to enjoying ourselves, the next greatest pleasure consists in preventing others from enjoying themselves, or, more generally, in the acquisition of power.

Bertrand Russell


Only through destroying myself can I discover the greater power of my spirit.

Chuck Palahniuk


It takes tremendous discipline to control the influence, the power you have over other people’s lives.

Clint Eastwood


We do not need more intellectual power, we need more spiritual power. We do not need more of the things that are seen, we need more of the things that are unseen.

Calvin Coolidge


The most efficient water power in the world – women’s tears.

Wilson Mizner


Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Lord Acton


Power does not corrupt. Fear corrupts… perhaps the fear of a loss of power.

John Steinbeck


The purpose of getting power is to be able to give it away.

Aneurin Bevan


What is genius but the power of expressing a new individuality?

Elizabeth Barrett Browning


Success isn’t measured by money or power or social rank. Success is measured by your discipline and inner peace.

Mike Ditka


Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.

Leo Buscaglia