Boricua Power: A Political History of Puerto Ricans in the United States

By José Ramón Sánchez | Go to book overview

1
Dance
A Theory of Power

It is easy to mistake what's on the surface for what is really going on beneath. It is easy to think that what can be touched exhausts all that is real. Weapons, money, and position provide those who possess them with a clear advantage in what most people conceive as power; getting others to do what they otherwise would not do. The mere possession of those things doesn't explain, however, why that advantage exists. Similarly, it doesn't explain why having those things does not prevent the loss of power. It can't explain why it is that babies and others, like Puerto Ricans, usually considered weak in society are sometimes able to get their way, to get power, despite possessing few of those things.

The dance model can explain the origins and loss of power because it calls attention to agents and social relations rather than things. It gives importance to the role of the agent, both individual and social, in the constitution of society. More specifically, the dance model focuses on the social interests, passions, and habits that set people in motion, usually towards and with each other, and that form the foundation for the exchanges that take place between people while in motion. It is economic, political, and social interests, thus, that send people in motion into each other's arms, that keep them going as social relations, and that often bring those partnerships to an end.

Power rises and falls with social interests and the movements they inspire. Power, for that reason, is more than things. Money, weapons, and position deliver power only to the extent that others desire money, fear getting hurt, and respect authorities. Power, in that sense, gets going and is kept going because some possess values and others have interests and passions. Agents with values meet or are simply born together with agents with interests. Agents with needs, wants, or desires respond to and can be influenced by agents with the values they seek.

Power is generated in this basic two-way interaction involving agents and interests. Power is generated and is lost in repeated interactions like

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