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Abuse of power

Abuse of power / Misuse of power

Abuse of power occurs when people in authority misuse the power bestowed upon them by virtue of their position or office. One may misuse his/her powers to enrich him/herself or to mistreat others. In the text, power is abused by the Governor, Natella, the soldiers / ironshirts and the Fat Prince.

The Governor abuses power by enriching himself whereas his people remain poor. He is said to be as rich as Croesus, with very many horses and a vast estate yet many of his people are beggars. When he goes to church, he is confronted by many beggars, petitioners and mothers with hungry children. They cry for him to reduce the high taxes (pg. 14). His son has two doctors (p. 15) and he is said to be preparing to tear down slums to start the building of the east wing of his garden. He does not care about where the poor, slum people will go.

Natella is also seen to abuse her powers through her treatment of servants. She orders them around, insults them and even uses physical violence on them. For example, she beats up a young woman whom she accuses of almost tearing up her dress. She tells her, “I’ll kill you, you bitch!” (p.24)

The ironshirts/soldiers also abuse their powers on many occasions. They lash the people with thick whips when they move nearer to see Micheal. The Corporal also abuses his powers when harassing Grusha by making sexual advances at her (p.  ). The soldiers also use violence on Azdak when they beat him on realizing that the Grand Duke is back.

The Fat Prince and the other princes also abuse their powers by overthrowing the Grand Duke and his Governor. The Fat Prince goes ahead and raids his brother’s palace and arrests the Governor. He then kills him and orders the ironshirts to hang his head on the door. He also orders them to look for Michael and to kill him (p.28). He also tries to have his nephew, Bizergan Kazbeki, appointed as the new Judge (p. 71).

Azdak also abuses power by favouring the poor in his judgements. Though his actions are motivated by the injustices that the poor have endured, he misuses his powers as judge in seeking revenge. He, for example, rules in favour of the bandit who is clearly a criminal.

Finally, it is the misuse of power that leads to other social ills such as injustice, violence and political instability. When those who are entrusted with power in society misuse it, it begets social and political turmoil. The citizens will find it difficult to obey authority if those in power do not obey the rules they expect others to follow.

Discussion point

Can you think of people in your society that abuse power? Discuss.

Greed and Materialism

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