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Telos' Blog

Sep, 2021

Can 'power' have a positive connotation?

We are the devotees of morally fallen words. Our job is to lobby, a word that is always perceived in a negative sense, and we organise a series of events on another word, which is always perceived in its crooked, wrong, harmful meaning: the word power.

Some might say that we are asking for trouble. And they would be right. To present the collection TWO, a selection of interviews by PRIMOPIANOSCALAc, we launched a series of talks entitled Quell'animale strano del potere, led by Telos A&S partners Mariella Palazzolo and Marco Sonsini. You can find here the video with "the best of".

Mariella and Marco's guests were the journalist, Federico Fubini; Luciano Violante, President Emeritus of the Chamber of Deputies; Jacques Moscianese, Group Head of Institutional Affairs of Intesa Sanpaolo and Michele Corradino, President of Section of the Council of State.

Federico Fubini emphasised the dual nature of the term: "there are different types of power. Powers that had positive effects and forms of power that had damaging effects." He also reminded us how journalism must be careful not to flirt with power, a topic we addressed with BBC Africa journalist Toyosi Ogunseye, on 16 September in the first of four talks in the series on power with foreign guests Shall we call power odd and scary beast?

Luciano Violante contributed to the discussion, starting with the definition of the word 'power', focussing on its inherent ambiguity: "it is expressed in the possibility, for better or for worse, of influencing other people’s decisions."

Jacques Moscianese reminded us of the importance (and good luck) of living in a democratic system, where power does not become overpowering, because it is brought back into the ranks by other powers that balance its influence: "we live in the western hemisphere, and not in the two-thirds of the planet where power is not democratic."

Michele Corradino resumed the theme and went to the origin of power, i.e. the interest that, if it becomes power, changes society for its benefit: "we have actually lost that veil of innocence and hypocrisy that wanted the public interest to form almost automatically, by itself. In reality, the public interest is born of negotiation, of the merging of public and private interests."

Our series on power does not end here, but will continue on:

14 October 2021, The power of voting with Jason Brennan, "one of the world's leading academic experts on voting and political knowledge" (The Wall Street Journal)

18 November 2021, The power of Antitrust with Mark Leddy, Co-Chair of Cleary Gottlieb's Global Antitrust and Competition Practice

16 December 2021, The power of lobbying with Theodoros Koutroubas, Political Science Professor

Can 'power' have a positive connotation?