IELTS Vocabulary # Power And People

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History Today

The idea of taking back ‘control’ has come to dominate political debate in Britain. Much of the discussion has centred on the relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union (EU). Indeed, the aim of achieving control substantially shaped the referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU. For the victorious Leave campaign, the promise of this kind of power resides in the restoration of sovereignty. Yet the analysis is based on a misunderstanding. While the future of Britain outside the EU is obviously hard to determine, one thing is certain: the possession of sovereignty does not guarantee the exercise of control.

The modern debate about sovereignty began with the French thinker Jean Bodin (1530-96). Having joined the Carmelite brotherhood as a monk in his early manhood, Bodin was released from his vows in 1549 and then opted to study law at the University of Toulouse. Much of his education involved attention to Roman law and included the humanistic study of classical texts in political and legal philosophy. It was out of these materials that Bodin developed his conception of supreme power.

In his most famous work, the Six Books of the Commonwealth, which originally appeared in French in 1576, Bodin presented a definition of sovereignty. He claimed that it was ‘the absolute and perpetual power of a commonwealth, which the Latins call maiestas [majesty]’. Later in his text, Bodin made clear that the Romans had yet other terms for sovereignty, summum imperium (ultimate authority) being conspicuous among them. Yet, while the Romans, like the Greeks and the Hebrews, had a conception of supreme authority, Bodin believed that they had not fully understood its implications. Above all, he insisted, they had failed to grasp that the highest power of command was indivisible. It could not be shared among competing powers in the commonwealth.

This meant in effect that, while a state might possess a mixed system of government, it could not be based on a system of ‘shared’ sovereignty. This insight has proved confusing to posterity, above all to admirers of the American constitution: since the United States can be seen as a mixed regime, surely its sovereignty is divided among the different organs of state? This thought was later used to characterize the European Union, too, which is similarly taken to exemplify the ‘pooling’ of sovereignty.

Let us now have a look at the meaning of the difficult words stated above.

WORDMEANING
dominatehave power and influence over.
substantiallyto a great or significant extent;for the most part; essentially.
referenduma general vote by the electorate on a single political question which has been referred to them for a direct decision.
victorioushaving won a victory; triumphant.
campaigna series of military operations intended to achieve a goal, confined to a particular area, or involving a specified type of fighting.
restorationthe action of returning something to a former owner, place, or condition.;the return of a monarch to a throne, a head of state to government, or a regime to power.
sovereigntysupreme power or authority;the authority of a state to govern itself or another state.
misunderstandinga failure to understand something correctly.;a disagreement or quarrel.
possessionthe state of having, owning, or controlling something.;something that is owned or possessed.
debatea formal discussion on a particular matter in a public meeting or legislative assembly, in which opposing arguments are put forward and which usually ends with a vote.;argue about (a subject), especially in a formal manner.
monka member of a religious community of men typically living under vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience.
legalpermitted by law.
conceptionthe action of conceiving a child or of one being conceived.;the forming or devising of a plan or idea.
posterityall future generations of people.;the descendants of a person.
regimea government, especially an authoritarian one.;a system or ordered way of doing things.
conspicuousclearly visible;attracting notice or attention.
characterizedescribe the distinctive nature or features of.;) be typical or characteristic of.

IELTS BAND7

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