Gentle reader, as I continue quoting from Greenleaf’s ‘Persuasion as Power,’ I invite you to reflect upon and respond to his ideas.
Greenleaf writes: What will the individual do, one who believes in persuasion, who is committed to its exclusive use, and who accepts a view of social change like that suggested above? One accepts that initiatives, ‘all’ initiatives, are taken by individuals, not by institutions. Institutions can only respond to the initiatives of individuals. Two kinds of initiatives are suggested:
- Address, from the outside, the holders of ultimate coercive power in one institution at a time…
- Establish oneself inside some institution, avoid a coercive power role as much as possible, and slowly evolve as a persuader – wherever there is opportunity.
Both roles require diligent preparation. One should not assume, just because one’s motives are good, that one is effective as a persuader. It is a very exacting role.
This approach to resolving the issue of power in an institution has the virtue of being evolutionary rather than revolutionary. The holders of ultimate power need not commit themselves to a new and untried ideology (although one may evolve that they will be committed to). They have an intent, rather than a plan. What is important is that the holders of coercive power, who are probably going to be ‘in charge’ for some time…
(1) understand the value of persuasion as the prime moving force in the institution,
(2) accept that they are inhibited from being persuasive because they hold coercive power,
(3) resolve to liberate as much persuasive energy as they can, and
(4) stand aside so that persuasion can do its work as long as it is effective.
These are not wholly new ideas; persuaders have long been effective within authoritarian institutions. In our time it has become urgent that their influence should be greatly expanded – by persuasion.