"power must not only refer to the capacity to realize one's ends in a conflict situation against the will of others; it must also include the capacity to prevent opposition arising in the first place [...] in one sense power is most powerful if the actor can, by manipulation, prevent issues from coming to the point of decision at all." by David Lockwood.
(cited in J.Urry and J.Wakeford (eds.) Power in Britain, 1973)
Lukes Three Dimensions of Power (1974)
According to Lukes there are three different levels at which power can operate on.
This is also known as the ‘liberal’ view of power.(Dahl and Polsby)
One part has more power because they have been able to prevail in the face of other’s opposition. That an elite can impose their wishes against a majority opposition. Dahl and Polsby argued that in order to ascertain who has the power in American society you must also prove that they can impose their will.
Whether the oppostion parties in Singapore represent a majority of suppressed individuals would be an argument which would be difficult to provide empirical evidence in support of it, I do feel that the Lee family is, or at least the Lee's themsleves think they are, an elite group. The Lee family does seem to impose their will on a very receptive society. Why is the Singaporean public so receptive and agreeable with such an un-meritocratic, nepotistic political system?
This leads nicely to the next level...
Behind the Scenes
The two-dimensional view or the 'reformist' view (Bachrach and Baratz). Power is exercised by preventing certain conflicts of interest from coming into public play in the first place. This ability to ignore legitimate issues or areas of conflict is seen to require reform in order to over come this illegitimate situation.
In Singapore public demonstrations are a thing of myth and legend, the press is owned or controlled by the PAP. Legitimate questions, such as 'what happened to contributions made to the Suharto regime in Indonesia?' will be ignored by the press. Claims made by international NGO's are largely ignored or at least not followed up. To name but two, last year the Trafficking in Persons Report listed Singapore as being complacent, Reporters Without Borders slammed the lack of press freedom in Singapore. These are only two of the many issues that have been side stepped or simply ignored by the PAP.
So the PAP have power over these two levels but Lukes believes that this discussion on power needs to go further...
People’s Thoughts and Desires
"Is it not the supreme exercise of power to get another or others to have the desires you want them to have - that is, to secure their compliance by controlling their thoughts and desires?" (Lukes , 1974:23)
The radical view
The processes of socialisation including education are part of the exercise of power in any society. This will result in a situation whereby those who are being harmed by this process will remain unaware.
As with many Education systems around the world, the government in Singapore shapes education policy from primary school to higher education. My article about Queenie was intended to highlight the level of success the PAP education policies have had over the last 45 years.
Primary school exercise books used to, or still do have the 5 values that the government holds dear. I believe that there are as follows:
The Five Shared Values:
Nation before community and society before self
Family as the basic unit of society
Community support and respect for the individual
Consensus, not conflict
Racial and religious harmony
Values One and Three seem to be contradictory, even if it is a shift from the word 'self' to 'individual'. It is a value system of consensus building and denial of conflict or criticism.
Pejorative is a word used to criticise Lukes three dimensions of power, but Queenie probably couldn't be bothered to look the word up in a dictionary, she would rather make her teacher tell her what it means.
First conceived by PM Goh Chok Tong, then the First Deputy Prime Minister, in 1988, the Shared Values ideology was nationally adopted in 1993. Spelled out in the first epigraph of this section, the ideology officially proclaims a set of beliefs as part of Singapore’s cultural heritage. The ideology thus proclaimed, as Gunther Kress and Bob Hodge might put it in a different context, has the modality of being real, natural, transparent, inevitable, factual, unquestionable, and doubtlessly true.
With a propaganda machine supported by the mass media publicizing its launch and its ongoing regurgitation in public discourse, the ideology has a widespread, even hegemonic reach. When we did a Yahoo.com search on the phrase, “Shared Values Singapore,” we found e-domains that encompass target audiences ranging from “Singapore Kids” to educators and students to “Expat Singapore.” The last website is meant for expatriates or foreign talents, living and working in the nation-state, including those who plan to do so. 12
Storeys' Secret World