Power in Numbers?

Posted in Events, Figuratively Speaking at 9:22 am by Marion

Figuratively Speaking

Yesterday’s post reminded me of one of my favorite words. I first got acquainted with this word in college, when I was a budding Political Science major. I later dropped that major in favor of a French Language and Literature degree (you know, it’s a real money-maker), but I have always been fond of political science.

The word in question is hegemony. It means leadership or dominance, by one country or social group. It usually refers to one culture or system overtaking and subsuming another, in a malignant, stultifying way.

This week we’ve all been hearing about the crisis on Wall Street and while hegemony is probably too strong a word here, you get the picture. It seems very large systems have come to run everything — retail giants barge in and tell local governments how and where they want to build; rich countries use military force to claim territories and suck life from their citizens; large groups of people guided by ignorance stack elections and move governments backwards, and away from progress.

Call it the hegemony of hegemony. Our world is larger, and seems to run these days on force of numbers instead of wisdom.

The origins of this word are Greek, from hegemonia and hegemon, which means leader, from hegeisthai, to lead.

Some other great traditions of hegemony include suzerainty, overlordship, eminent domain. Other synonyms include iron hand, talons, claws and clutches.

Jurisdiction is another word, but implies an even-handedness that’s not apparent. With nations of the world consolidating their powers more each day, and with the officials of even our own government claiming more executive privilege, I’m not sure there’s an end in sight.


FD turns one year old today! Join FD next week for memorable posts from the past year … the Dalai Lama, Jack Kerouac and more!

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