Waging-Nonviolent-Struggle-20th-Century-Practice-and-21st-Century-Potential (5)

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The sources of power depend on obedience and cooperation

These six sources of political power are necessary to establish or retain power and control. Their availability, however, is sub- ject to constant variation and is not necessarily secure.
The more extensive and detailed the rulers’ control over the population and society, the more such assistance they will require from individuals, groups, organizations, and branches of the gov- ernment. If these needed “assistants” reject the rulers’ authority, they may then carry out the rulers’ wishes and orders ineffi- ciently, or may even flatly refuse to continue their usual assis- tance. When this happens, the total effective power of the rulers is reduced.
Because the rulers are dependent on other people to operate the system, the rulers are continually subject to influence and re- striction by both their direct assistants and the general population. The potential control of these groups over the rulers will be greatest where the rulers depend on them most.
Let us, for example, consider authority and sanctions from this point of view. The other four sources of power are highly de- pendent on these two.
Authority is necessary for the existence and operation of any regime. All rulers require an acceptance of their authority: their right to rule, command and be obeyed. The key to habitual obe- dience is to reach the mind. Obedience will scarcely be habitual unless it is loyal, not forced. In essence, authority must be volun- tarily accepted.
The weakening or collapse of authority inevitably tends to loosen the subjects’ predisposition towards obedience. Then the decision to obey or not to obey will be made consciously. Obedi- ence may even be refused. The loss of authority sets in motion the disintegration of the rulers’ power. Their power is reduced to the degree that their authority is repudiated.
Sanctions may be applied to enforce obedience and coopera- tion. However, the rulers require more than reluctant outward compliance. Sanctions will be inadequate as long as acceptance of the rulers’ authority is limited. Despite punishments, the popula- tion may still not obey or cooperate to the needed extent.
A special relationship exists between sanctions and submission. First, the capability to impose sanctions derives from the obedi- ence and cooperation of at least some subjects. Second, whether these sanctions are effective or not depends on the response of the subjects against whom they are threatened or applied. The ques- tion is to what degree people obey without threats, and to what degree they continue to disobey despite punishments.
Even the capacity of rulers to detect and punish disobedience depends on the existing pattern of obedience and cooperation. The greater the obedience of the rulers’ subjects, the greater the chances of detection and punishment of disobedience and nonco- operation. The weaker the obedience and cooperation of the sub- jects, the less effective the rulers’ detection and enforcement will be.
The rulers’ power depends on the continuous availability of all the needed forms of assistance. This assistance comes not only from individuals, officials, employees and the like, but also from the subsidiary organizations and institutions that compose the system as a whole. These may include departments, bureaus, branches, committees, and the like. Just as individuals and inde- pendent groups may refuse to cooperate, so too these unit organi- zations may refuse to provide sufficient help to effectively maintain the rulers’ position and to enable them to implement their policies. No complex organization or institution, including the State, can carry out orders if the individuals and unit organi- zations that compose such an institution do not enable it to do so.
The internal stability of rulers can be measured by the ratio of the strength of the social forces that they control and the strength of the social forces that oppose them.

Obedience is the heart of political power
The relationship between command and obedience is always one of mutual influence and some degree of interaction. That is, command and obedience influence each other. Without the ex- pected obedience by the subordinates (whether in the form of passive acquiescence or active consent) the power relationship is not complete, despite the threat or infliction of sanctions.
The reasons why people obey rulers are multiple, complex, vari- able, and interrelated. These reasons include the following:
• Habit
• Fear of sanctions
• Moral obligation
• Self-interest
• Psychological identification with the ruler
• Indifference
• Absence of self-confidence to disobey
All rulers use the obedience and cooperation they receive from part of the society in order to rule the whole. The part of the population that administers and enforces the rulers’ policies is most likely to obey and cooperate in those duties because of feel- ings of moral obligation and of personal self-interest, especially motives related to economic gain, prestige, and status.
Most people in the general population obey from habit. Yet, the degree of obedience among the general population, even among these administrators and enforcers, is never fixed, nor automatic, nor uniform, nor universal. Because the reasons for obedience are always variable, the degree of obedience is also variable, depending on the individuals concerned and on the so- cial and political situation. In every society there are boundaries within which rulers must stay if their commands are to be obeyed and if the population is to cooperate.
Disobedience and noncooperation by the general populace are rarely undertaken lightly. Noncompliance usually is followed by punishments. However, under certain circumstances, members of the population will become willing to endure the consequences of noncooperation and disobedience, including inconvenience, suf- fering, and disruption of their lives, rather than continue to sub- mit passively or to obey rulers whose policies and actions can no longer be tolerated.
When the reasons for obedience are weak, the rulers may seek to secure greater obedience by applying harsher sanctions or by offering increased rewards for obedience. However, even then, the results desired by the rulers are not guaranteed. A change in the population’s will may lead to its withdrawing its service, co- operation, submission and obedience from the rulers.
This withdrawal of cooperation and obedience under certain circumstances may also occur among the rulers’ administrators and agents of repression. Their attitudes and actions are espe- cially important. Without their support, the oppressive system disintegrates.
Being accustomed to widespread obedience and cooperation, rulers do not always anticipate generalized noncompliance and therefore often have difficulties handling strong disobedience and noncooperation.
Consent and withdrawal of consent
Each reason for obedience, whether it is free consent or fear of sanctions (intimidated consent), must operate through the will or volition of the individual person to produce obedience. The pre- sent reasons for obeying must be seen by the population as suffi- cient grounds to obey. However, the will or volition of the individual may change with new influences, events, and forces. In varying degrees, the individual’s own will can play an active role in producing obedience or disobedience. This process can happen with large numbers of people.
The personal choice between obeying and disobeying will be influenced by an evaluation of either the short-term or the long- term consequences of obeying or disobeying, or of a combination of the two, depending on the individual. If the subjects perceive the consequences of obedience to be worse than the consequences of disobedience, then disobedience is more likely.
Obedience only exists when one complies with the command. If you are sentenced to imprisonment and walk to jail willingly, you have obeyed. If you are dragged there, you have not obeyed.2
Physical compulsion may yield some results, but since it affects only the body, it does not necessarily produce obedience. Only certain types of objectives can be achieved by direct physical compulsion of disobedient subjects—such as moving them physi- cally, preventing them from moving physically, seizing their money or property, or killing them. But these actions do not nec- essarily result in obedience. The overwhelming majority of rulers’ commands and objectives can be achieved only by inducing the subject to be willing for some reason to carry them out. (The ditch remains undug even if the men who refuse to dig it are shot.) It is not the sanctions themselves that produce obedience, but the fear of them.
However, people generally seek to avoid severe penalties for disobedience and noncooperation, except for special cases in which feelings are very intense. In such cases, disobedience and noncooperation sometimes occur despite repression.
In summary, the rulers’ power depends upon the availability of its six sources, as reviewed previously. This availability is deter- mined by the degree of obedience and cooperation given by the subjects. Despite inducements, pressures, and even sanctions, such obedience and cooperation are, however, not inevitable. Obedi- ence remains essentially voluntary. Therefore, all government is based upon consent.
This does not mean that the subjects of all rulers prefer the es- tablished order. Consent is at times granted because of positive approval. However, it is also often granted because people are at times unwilling to suffer the consequences of the refusal of con- sent. The latter is consent by intimidation. Refusal of consent re- quires self-confidence, motivation to resist, and knowledge of how to act to refuse, and often involves considerable inconvenience and suffering.
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2 David Austin, Lectures on Jurisprudence or the Philosophy of Positive Law (Fifth edition, rev. and ed. by Robert Campbell; 2 vols. London: John Murray, 1911), vol. I, pp. 295-297.



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