It was Public Enemy who famously encouraged people to “Fight the Power!” The song (and slogan) came to represent people’s frustrations with current social structures that promoted social divisions. “Fight the Power” was about encouraging people to take assert their rights and needs. Most often this call to fight the “power” has been interpreted as a literal fight – a goal that has to be achieved through violence. The power people were targeting was political authority and economic strength. Yet one of the members of Public Enemy explained that “Fight the Power” was about fighting the abuse of power. Fighting the abuse of power requires that people avoid taking on the same domineering and manipulative characteristics that they are in fact fighting against.
Famous fights against “power” have often resulted in violence. Pretty much every revolutionary war you can think of has led to bloodshed. At the same time there are popular examples of civil disobedience, in which those seeking for reform from those in positions of leadership sought to achieve their goals through nonviolent means. Yet turning to violence as a means of showing frustration continues to happen all too frequently. The recent fears for and acts of violence that have taken place in Egypt and Sudan illustrate that point. Even though in both of those instances the majority of the population tried to use nonviolence, brutality and aggression continued.
In our struggle to create change, how can we ensure that the means and methods by which we which we strive for the betterment of the world, including the promotion of the equality of women and men, embody and reinforce unifying, mutualistic, and cooperative expressions of power? How can we avoid “fighting the power” through fighting the power?