full transcript

From the Ted Talk by Eric Liu: How to understand power

Unscramble the Blue Letters

Every day of your life, you move through steysms of power that other people made. Do you sense them? Do you understand power? Do you realize why it matters? Power is something we are often uncomfortable talking about. That's especially true in civic life, how we live together in community. In a democracy, power is suoppsed to reside with the people, peroid. Any further talk about power and who really has it seems a little dirty, maybe even evil. But power is no more inrtenlhey good or evil than fire or physics. It just is. It governs how any form of government wokrs. It determines who gets to determine the rules of the game. So larnnieg how power operates is key to being effective, being taken seriously, and not being taken advantage of. In this lesson, we'll look at where power comes from, how it's exercised and what you can do to become more powerful in public life. Let's start with a basic definition. Power is the ability to make others do what you would have them do. Of course, this plays out in all arenas of life, from family to the workplace to our relationships. Our focus is on the civic anrea, where power means getting a community to make the choices and to take the aitocns that you want. There are six main sources of civic power. First, there's physical force and a capacity for violence. cnrotol of the means of force, whether in the police or a militia, is power at its most primal. A second core source of power is waelth. menoy creates the ability to buy results and to buy almost any other kind of power. The third form of power is sttae action, government. This is the use of law and berracuucay to cepmol people to do or not do certain things. In a democracy, for example, we the people, theoretically, give government its power through eetolcins. In a dictatorship, state power emerges from the threat of force, not the ceonnst of the governed. The fourth type of power is siacol norms or what other people think is okay. Norms don't have the centralized machinery of government. They operate in a softer way, peer to peer. They can certainly make people change behavior and even change laws. Think about how norms around marriage equality today are evolving. The fifth form of power is ideas. An idea, individual liberties, say, or racial eauqtily, can grneetae boundless amounts of power if it motivates enough people to change their thinking and actions. And so the sxith source of power is numbers, lots of humans. A vocal mass of people creates power by expressing collective intensity of interest and by asserting legitimacy. Think of the Arab Spring or the rise of the Tea Party. cdwros count. These are the six main sources of power, what power is. So now, let's think about how peowr operates. There are three laws of power wtorh examining. Law number one: power is never static. It's always either accumulating or decaying in a civic arena. So if you aren't taking action, you're being acted upon. Law number two: power is like water. It flows like a current through everyday life. pciitlos is the work of harnessing that flow in a direction you prefer. Policymaking is an effort to freeze and perpetuate a particular flow of power. Policy is power frozen. Law number three: power compounds. Power bgtees more power, and so does powerlessness. The only thing that keeps law nbmeur three from leading to a situation where only one preosn has all the power is how we apply laws one and two. What ruels do we set up so that a few people don't accumulate too much power, and so that they can't enshrine their plieigvre in policy? That's the qeiostun of decracomy, and you can see each of these laws at work in any news story. Low wage workers organize to get higher pay. Oil ceampinos push to get a big pipeline approved. Gay and lesbian couples seek the legal right to marry. Urban parents demand shcool vhecuors. You may surpopt these efforts or not. Whether you get what you want dednpes on how aepdt you are with power, which brings us finally to what you can do to become more powerful in public life. Here, it's useful to think in terms of literacy. Your cealnhlge is to learn how to read power and write power. To read power means to pay attention to as many texts of power as you can. I don't mean bokos only. I mean seeing society as a set of ttexs. Don't like how things are in your campus or city or country? Map out who has what kind of power, aryared in what systems. Understand why it turned out this way, who's made it so, and who wants to keep it so. Study the strategies others in such situations used: frontal attcak or indirection, coalitions or charismatic ahtorutiy. Read so you may write. To wirte power requires first that you believe you have the right to write, to be an author of change. You do. As with any kind of writing, you learn to express yourself, speak up in a voice that's authentic. Organize your ideas, then organize other people. Practice csosunens building. ptircace conflict. As with wrintig, it's all about practice. Every day you have a chance to practice, in your neighborhood and beyond. Set otbjevcies, then bigger ones. wtach the partetns, see what works. aadpt, repeat. This is citizenship. In this shrot lesson, we've explored where civic power comes from, how it works and what you can do to exercise it. One big question rinainmeg is the "why" of power. Do you want power to benefit everyone or only you? Are your purposes pro-social or anti-social? This question isn't about satrgety. It's about character, and that's another set of lessons. But remember this: Power plus cahatcerr equals a great citizen, and you have the power to be one.

Open Cloze

Every day of your life, you move through _______ of power that other people made. Do you sense them? Do you understand power? Do you realize why it matters? Power is something we are often uncomfortable talking about. That's especially true in civic life, how we live together in community. In a democracy, power is ________ to reside with the people, ______. Any further talk about power and who really has it seems a little dirty, maybe even evil. But power is no more __________ good or evil than fire or physics. It just is. It governs how any form of government _____. It determines who gets to determine the rules of the game. So ________ how power operates is key to being effective, being taken seriously, and not being taken advantage of. In this lesson, we'll look at where power comes from, how it's exercised and what you can do to become more powerful in public life. Let's start with a basic definition. Power is the ability to make others do what you would have them do. Of course, this plays out in all arenas of life, from family to the workplace to our relationships. Our focus is on the civic _____, where power means getting a community to make the choices and to take the _______ that you want. There are six main sources of civic power. First, there's physical force and a capacity for violence. _______ of the means of force, whether in the police or a militia, is power at its most primal. A second core source of power is ______. _____ creates the ability to buy results and to buy almost any other kind of power. The third form of power is _____ action, government. This is the use of law and ___________ to ______ people to do or not do certain things. In a democracy, for example, we the people, theoretically, give government its power through _________. In a dictatorship, state power emerges from the threat of force, not the _______ of the governed. The fourth type of power is ______ norms or what other people think is okay. Norms don't have the centralized machinery of government. They operate in a softer way, peer to peer. They can certainly make people change behavior and even change laws. Think about how norms around marriage equality today are evolving. The fifth form of power is ideas. An idea, individual liberties, say, or racial ________, can ________ boundless amounts of power if it motivates enough people to change their thinking and actions. And so the _____ source of power is numbers, lots of humans. A vocal mass of people creates power by expressing collective intensity of interest and by asserting legitimacy. Think of the Arab Spring or the rise of the Tea Party. ______ count. These are the six main sources of power, what power is. So now, let's think about how _____ operates. There are three laws of power _____ examining. Law number one: power is never static. It's always either accumulating or decaying in a civic arena. So if you aren't taking action, you're being acted upon. Law number two: power is like water. It flows like a current through everyday life. ________ is the work of harnessing that flow in a direction you prefer. Policymaking is an effort to freeze and perpetuate a particular flow of power. Policy is power frozen. Law number three: power compounds. Power ______ more power, and so does powerlessness. The only thing that keeps law ______ three from leading to a situation where only one ______ has all the power is how we apply laws one and two. What _____ do we set up so that a few people don't accumulate too much power, and so that they can't enshrine their _________ in policy? That's the ________ of _________, and you can see each of these laws at work in any news story. Low wage workers organize to get higher pay. Oil _________ push to get a big pipeline approved. Gay and lesbian couples seek the legal right to marry. Urban parents demand ______ ________. You may _______ these efforts or not. Whether you get what you want _______ on how _____ you are with power, which brings us finally to what you can do to become more powerful in public life. Here, it's useful to think in terms of literacy. Your _________ is to learn how to read power and write power. To read power means to pay attention to as many texts of power as you can. I don't mean _____ only. I mean seeing society as a set of _____. Don't like how things are in your campus or city or country? Map out who has what kind of power, _______ in what systems. Understand why it turned out this way, who's made it so, and who wants to keep it so. Study the strategies others in such situations used: frontal ______ or indirection, coalitions or charismatic _________. Read so you may write. To _____ power requires first that you believe you have the right to write, to be an author of change. You do. As with any kind of writing, you learn to express yourself, speak up in a voice that's authentic. Organize your ideas, then organize other people. Practice _________ building. ________ conflict. As with _______, it's all about practice. Every day you have a chance to practice, in your neighborhood and beyond. Set __________, then bigger ones. _____ the ________, see what works. _____, repeat. This is citizenship. In this _____ lesson, we've explored where civic power comes from, how it works and what you can do to exercise it. One big question _________ is the "why" of power. Do you want power to benefit everyone or only you? Are your purposes pro-social or anti-social? This question isn't about ________. It's about character, and that's another set of lessons. But remember this: Power plus _________ equals a great citizen, and you have the power to be one.

Solution

  1. learning
  2. watch
  3. attack
  4. write
  5. democracy
  6. writing
  7. bureaucracy
  8. challenge
  9. support
  10. rules
  11. adapt
  12. arrayed
  13. consent
  14. period
  15. practice
  16. power
  17. authority
  18. control
  19. supposed
  20. politics
  21. generate
  22. short
  23. adept
  24. texts
  25. begets
  26. money
  27. compel
  28. companies
  29. person
  30. remaining
  31. character
  32. wealth
  33. state
  34. books
  35. patterns
  36. social
  37. vouchers
  38. equality
  39. privilege
  40. worth
  41. number
  42. actions
  43. strategy
  44. depends
  45. sixth
  46. arena
  47. question
  48. objectives
  49. elections
  50. works
  51. inherently
  52. consensus
  53. school
  54. systems
  55. crowds

Original Text

Every day of your life, you move through systems of power that other people made. Do you sense them? Do you understand power? Do you realize why it matters? Power is something we are often uncomfortable talking about. That's especially true in civic life, how we live together in community. In a democracy, power is supposed to reside with the people, period. Any further talk about power and who really has it seems a little dirty, maybe even evil. But power is no more inherently good or evil than fire or physics. It just is. It governs how any form of government works. It determines who gets to determine the rules of the game. So learning how power operates is key to being effective, being taken seriously, and not being taken advantage of. In this lesson, we'll look at where power comes from, how it's exercised and what you can do to become more powerful in public life. Let's start with a basic definition. Power is the ability to make others do what you would have them do. Of course, this plays out in all arenas of life, from family to the workplace to our relationships. Our focus is on the civic arena, where power means getting a community to make the choices and to take the actions that you want. There are six main sources of civic power. First, there's physical force and a capacity for violence. Control of the means of force, whether in the police or a militia, is power at its most primal. A second core source of power is wealth. Money creates the ability to buy results and to buy almost any other kind of power. The third form of power is state action, government. This is the use of law and bureaucracy to compel people to do or not do certain things. In a democracy, for example, we the people, theoretically, give government its power through elections. In a dictatorship, state power emerges from the threat of force, not the consent of the governed. The fourth type of power is social norms or what other people think is okay. Norms don't have the centralized machinery of government. They operate in a softer way, peer to peer. They can certainly make people change behavior and even change laws. Think about how norms around marriage equality today are evolving. The fifth form of power is ideas. An idea, individual liberties, say, or racial equality, can generate boundless amounts of power if it motivates enough people to change their thinking and actions. And so the sixth source of power is numbers, lots of humans. A vocal mass of people creates power by expressing collective intensity of interest and by asserting legitimacy. Think of the Arab Spring or the rise of the Tea Party. Crowds count. These are the six main sources of power, what power is. So now, let's think about how power operates. There are three laws of power worth examining. Law number one: power is never static. It's always either accumulating or decaying in a civic arena. So if you aren't taking action, you're being acted upon. Law number two: power is like water. It flows like a current through everyday life. Politics is the work of harnessing that flow in a direction you prefer. Policymaking is an effort to freeze and perpetuate a particular flow of power. Policy is power frozen. Law number three: power compounds. Power begets more power, and so does powerlessness. The only thing that keeps law number three from leading to a situation where only one person has all the power is how we apply laws one and two. What rules do we set up so that a few people don't accumulate too much power, and so that they can't enshrine their privilege in policy? That's the question of democracy, and you can see each of these laws at work in any news story. Low wage workers organize to get higher pay. Oil companies push to get a big pipeline approved. Gay and lesbian couples seek the legal right to marry. Urban parents demand school vouchers. You may support these efforts or not. Whether you get what you want depends on how adept you are with power, which brings us finally to what you can do to become more powerful in public life. Here, it's useful to think in terms of literacy. Your challenge is to learn how to read power and write power. To read power means to pay attention to as many texts of power as you can. I don't mean books only. I mean seeing society as a set of texts. Don't like how things are in your campus or city or country? Map out who has what kind of power, arrayed in what systems. Understand why it turned out this way, who's made it so, and who wants to keep it so. Study the strategies others in such situations used: frontal attack or indirection, coalitions or charismatic authority. Read so you may write. To write power requires first that you believe you have the right to write, to be an author of change. You do. As with any kind of writing, you learn to express yourself, speak up in a voice that's authentic. Organize your ideas, then organize other people. Practice consensus building. Practice conflict. As with writing, it's all about practice. Every day you have a chance to practice, in your neighborhood and beyond. Set objectives, then bigger ones. Watch the patterns, see what works. Adapt, repeat. This is citizenship. In this short lesson, we've explored where civic power comes from, how it works and what you can do to exercise it. One big question remaining is the "why" of power. Do you want power to benefit everyone or only you? Are your purposes pro-social or anti-social? This question isn't about strategy. It's about character, and that's another set of lessons. But remember this: Power plus character equals a great citizen, and you have the power to be one.

Frequently Occurring Word Combinations

ngrams of length 2

collocation frequency
law number 4
power operates 2
public life 2
power means 2
main sources 2
civic power 2
read power 2
write power 2

Important Words

  1. ability
  2. accumulate
  3. accumulating
  4. acted
  5. action
  6. actions
  7. adapt
  8. adept
  9. advantage
  10. amounts
  11. apply
  12. approved
  13. arab
  14. arena
  15. arenas
  16. arrayed
  17. asserting
  18. attack
  19. attention
  20. authentic
  21. author
  22. authority
  23. basic
  24. begets
  25. behavior
  26. benefit
  27. big
  28. bigger
  29. books
  30. boundless
  31. brings
  32. building
  33. bureaucracy
  34. buy
  35. campus
  36. capacity
  37. centralized
  38. challenge
  39. chance
  40. change
  41. character
  42. charismatic
  43. choices
  44. citizen
  45. citizenship
  46. city
  47. civic
  48. coalitions
  49. collective
  50. community
  51. companies
  52. compel
  53. compounds
  54. conflict
  55. consensus
  56. consent
  57. control
  58. core
  59. count
  60. country
  61. couples
  62. creates
  63. crowds
  64. current
  65. day
  66. decaying
  67. definition
  68. demand
  69. democracy
  70. depends
  71. determine
  72. determines
  73. dictatorship
  74. direction
  75. dirty
  76. effective
  77. effort
  78. efforts
  79. elections
  80. emerges
  81. enshrine
  82. equality
  83. equals
  84. everyday
  85. evil
  86. evolving
  87. examining
  88. exercise
  89. exercised
  90. explored
  91. express
  92. expressing
  93. family
  94. finally
  95. fire
  96. flow
  97. flows
  98. focus
  99. force
  100. form
  101. fourth
  102. freeze
  103. frontal
  104. frozen
  105. game
  106. gay
  107. generate
  108. give
  109. good
  110. governed
  111. government
  112. governs
  113. great
  114. harnessing
  115. higher
  116. humans
  117. idea
  118. ideas
  119. indirection
  120. individual
  121. inherently
  122. intensity
  123. interest
  124. key
  125. kind
  126. law
  127. laws
  128. leading
  129. learn
  130. learning
  131. legal
  132. legitimacy
  133. lesbian
  134. lesson
  135. lessons
  136. liberties
  137. life
  138. literacy
  139. live
  140. lots
  141. machinery
  142. main
  143. map
  144. marriage
  145. marry
  146. mass
  147. matters
  148. means
  149. militia
  150. money
  151. motivates
  152. move
  153. neighborhood
  154. news
  155. norms
  156. number
  157. numbers
  158. objectives
  159. oil
  160. operate
  161. operates
  162. organize
  163. parents
  164. party
  165. patterns
  166. pay
  167. peer
  168. people
  169. period
  170. perpetuate
  171. person
  172. physical
  173. physics
  174. pipeline
  175. plays
  176. police
  177. policy
  178. policymaking
  179. politics
  180. power
  181. powerful
  182. powerlessness
  183. practice
  184. prefer
  185. primal
  186. privilege
  187. public
  188. purposes
  189. push
  190. question
  191. racial
  192. read
  193. realize
  194. relationships
  195. remaining
  196. remember
  197. repeat
  198. requires
  199. reside
  200. results
  201. rise
  202. rules
  203. school
  204. seek
  205. sense
  206. set
  207. short
  208. situation
  209. situations
  210. sixth
  211. social
  212. society
  213. softer
  214. source
  215. sources
  216. speak
  217. spring
  218. start
  219. state
  220. static
  221. story
  222. strategies
  223. strategy
  224. study
  225. support
  226. supposed
  227. systems
  228. talk
  229. talking
  230. tea
  231. terms
  232. texts
  233. theoretically
  234. thinking
  235. threat
  236. today
  237. true
  238. turned
  239. type
  240. uncomfortable
  241. understand
  242. urban
  243. violence
  244. vocal
  245. voice
  246. vouchers
  247. wage
  248. watch
  249. water
  250. wealth
  251. work
  252. workers
  253. workplace
  254. works
  255. worth
  256. write
  257. writing