The Relationship between Power and Privilege
Power and Privilege are directly correlated. First let’s define what power is:
The capacity or ability to direct or influence the behavior of others or the course of events.
— or —
the ability to do something or act in a particular way, especially as a faculty or quality.
Keep that definition in mind as we now define privilege:
a special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group.
Key words: “granted or available to.”
The privileged in Western societies who wish to pretend that it doesn’t exist will say things like, “privilege is something that is given, but no one gave me anything.” They will never focus on the last part of the definition of privilege, that is to say something that is available. Ethnic and racial differences aside, there is a better relationship to explain the intersection of power and privilege. Wealth and influence. In Western societies, wealth equals power and that power grants you influence which equals privilege.
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There is a certain entitlement that comes from wealthier individuals, and I’ve worked in Customer Service in the past and even as a paralegal, wealthier individuals tended to be more demanding, less willing to accept no for an answer, and were generally unpleasant. Where does this come from? Because of what we’ve already determined, there is a privilege only available to the powerful, one that does not have to be purchased. And for the beautiful, they do not have to actually possess the wealth to gain the privilege, they just have to look the part. And in America if you’re of European descent its even easier:
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because racist heuristics take over, if you “look” like an elite, you can deceive much easier. You’re given a certain level of respect without having to prove you belong or that you really are wealthy. Which is why scam artists of a certain archetype was able to pull off million dollar heists, or in Madoff’s case, billions. And in Trump’s case, his history would’ve been instantly disqualifying for someone who looked like Obama for example, yes Trump is wealthier but Obama was still wealthy at the time he was elected.
But for those who don’t have the right skin color, they still have to “prove” that they are worthy even if they are wealthy or among the elite themselves, which is a negation of the privilege mentioned earlier:
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And lastly, what do those who hold both power and privilege in a society do with it? Well they grab more power and privilege of course!
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So in closing, one always begets the other. And oftentimes, they’re based on factors beyond the control of the individual, which is why privilege is a thing.