Power of Unorganized Masses

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Power of Unorganized Masses

In the d~ys of feudalism, government was a monopoly of the nobility' and the ordinary person had no direct voice at all. Nevertheless, government usually operated as expected. This was because- noble and commoner shared a set of institutionalized ideas about how things should be done. The noble might make the formal government decisions, but he made them on the basis of traditional beliefs a~epted by all in the society. In the modern era of rapid change, tradition has little weight and governments can take actions which violate long-standing traditions. The ordinary {citizen has the right to  vote but has little understanding of g.overn a helpless pawn pushed about by governmental forces beyond individual control? Individually, the masses may be powerless. But collectively, no! The unorganized masses can exert a decisive power.  POWER OF MASS MARKETS. In the democratic society the masses exert influence through their choices of what goods to buy, what papers to read, what television programs to watch, and so on. This power is not unlimited, or the consumer can be manipulated, as motivation research has demonstrated [Packard, 1957; Dichter, 1971]. But in a competitive market economy such as ours, consumer preferences are rarely disregarded for very long. Courting the consumers' favor may produce a gaudy vulgarity in product design and shoddy escapism in television programs, but it unquestionably attests to the power of the mass market.  MASS VETO POWER THROUGH NONCOOPERATION. Some decisions can become effective only through mass cooperation. Public health programs, mass-immunization campaigns, and voluntary blood banks are successful only if a great many people cooperate. The American civil-defense effort has limped through decades of monumental public indifference. Government makes selling marijuana a criminal offense but has little success in reducing the supply. Wherever a decision cannot be effective without mass cooperation, the veto power of the masses must be considered.