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Power, Superpower & …

Delivering a speech at the UN Climate Conference, Greta Thunberg recently blasted world leaders for destroying the environment! The 16-year-old Swedish girl has become a symbol of War against Climate Change in the last one year…
However, she had to struggle a lot to wage this war. Earlier, she was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, OCD and Selective Mutism. So, she finds it difficult to communicate like the so-called normal persons. Unfortunately, she had to face criticism for that. However, the Swedish teenager said that this complex neuro problem was her Superpower!

The way Greta has shaken the entire world proves that she does have superpower! Although she has become the most powerful voice as far as the movement against Climate Change is concerned, the importance of her protest is much wider and more profound. By attending the UN Conference with a placard and openly criticising the top world leaders for destroying the environment, she actually ignored the brandishing of powerful people!
However, what is Power and who are The Powerful?
16th Century British Philosopher Thomas Hobbes considered power as the property of the ruling class that helped them control the people. Hobbes called this power structure ‘Leviathan’, which means ‘a sea monster’. Now, we realise the strength of this monster power…

Thomas Hobbes.jpg
Thomas Hobbes

According to French Philosopher Michel Foucault (October 15, 1926 – June 25, 1984), one of the forms of Power is the Discipline. In his publication ‘Discipline and Punish’ (1975), Foucault discussed about the ‘Panopticon’ – a concept of fictional prison or a type of institution building and a system of control designed by English Philosopher Jeremy Bentham in the 18th Century – in details. The design of the Panopticon allows all prisoners to be observed by a single security guard, without the inmates being able to tell whether they are being watched. Although it is physically impossible for the single guard to observe all the inmates’ cells at once, the fact that the inmates cannot know when they are being watched means that they are motivated (or forced) to act as though they are being watched at all times. Thus, the inmates are effectively compelled to regulate their own behaviour. Therefore, it becomes easier for the concerned authorities to control the inmates.

Michel Foucault

Foucault explained that this controlling system was also a form of Power found in every sphere of society. In the last line of the ‘Panopticism’ chapter (of Discipline and Punish), Foucault wrote: “Is it surprising that prisons resemble factories, schools, barracks, hospitals, which all resemble prisons?” Those, who become disciplined in this system, the French Philosopher called them Docile Bodies!
The importance of Greta’s movement is that she did not allow herself to become a Docile Body. After the rise of Greta, a cartoon went viral on the social media. The cartoon shows who are the Docile Bodies and why Greta is not!

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The cartoon

The question arises, as to how could the Swedish girl make it possible? She, herself, revealed the fact… once, Greta tweeted: “When haters go after your looks and differences, it means they have nowhere left to go. And then you know you’re winning! I have Asperger’s and that means I’m sometimes a bit different from the norm. And – given the right circumstances – being different is a superpower.
Neuroscientist David Sanders explained that the Amygdala, an almond-shape set of neurons located deep in the brain’s medial temporal lobe, plays a key role in processing of emotions. However, some parts of the brain influence the amygdala and also help it calculate disadvantages of necessary actions. The main tasks of these parts are to hold memories, to create fear and to predict the future based on previous knowledge! According to Sanders, scary memories create a Power Structure in these parts and the idea of Discipline prevents the brain from taking any important action. As a result, a prison is created in the brain. In case of Asperger’s Syndrome, the connection between amygdala and other parts of the brain is very weak. So, the person responds only on the basis of the amygdala’s instructions. Greta is no exception… that’s why she told US President Donald Trump: “How dare you…!” British novelist Lawrence Osborne wrote that there were many people with Asperger’s Syndrome, like Greta, who challenged the power structure at different levels of society.


The most important aspect of Greta’s movement is she has not only broken the conventional concept of Power, but also shown us how a New Power is generated! French philosopher, anthropologist and sociologist Bruno Latour, too, has discussed different aspects of Power. Just like Foucault, he believes that some upper class people cannot control the Power. The post-truth philosopher has explained the concept of power with the help of Physics! According to Latour, Power is basically inertia and momentum, which lie in people… the common people! He believes that a new idea or thinking of a person can prevent the conception of conventional idea of Power. The stoppage of Power is inertia… when that person influences others, then a momentum is created… and people launch a movement to bring some changes in the society… This way, a new concept of Power is born. This Power generated anew is a collective idea that will take on the oppressive power. This is the common man’s Power. Greta has created this Power. Her own thought process created the inertia… and then, it slowly spread the momentum!

Bruno Latour.jpg
Bruno Latour

The Swedish girl has helped the Global Community realise the actual meaning of Superpower. People have this Power! The important thing is that we should not allow ourselves to turn into docile bodies. This Superpower will not only protect the environment, but the entire world…

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