The Power of Refusal

Amos Wilson offers the following about "the Power of Refusal" in his book "Black Power." 

"Social Power is more effect than cause. It is generated by social relationships — the habitual ways in which human beings relate to and align themselves with one another. Power is based on the manner in which persons and groups interact with one another.

The powerful rule with the consent of the subordinate, consent created by ideological sleight-of-hand. Ultimately, the legitimacy and exercise of power by the powerful require the cooperation and active support of the subordinate, both behavioral orientations also skillfully manipulated by the powerful to begin with. If certain types of social relationships among the subordinate themselves and between the subordinate and the powerful are required to generate the power exercised by the powerful, then the self-determined changes of relationships among the subordinate and between the subordinate and powerful will lead to commensurate changes in the quantity and quality of power exercised by the powerful. If the cooperation and consent of the subordinate with and to the demands of the powerful are required to generate the power expropriated and exercised by the powerful, then a refusal of cooperation and consent on the part of the subordinate will lead to the disempowerment of the powerful. Successful non-cooperation, open disobedience, militant opposition, passive resistance, the withdrawal or refusal of consent and cooperation on the part of the subordinate not only lead to a reduction, neutralization or destruction of the power exercised by the powerful but more importantly, generate increased power which can be exercised by the subordinate themselves to achieve their own self-defined goals.

For, example, an economic boycott organized by the subordinate, that is, where members of the subordinate participate in refusing to have certain commercial dealings with the powerful, substantially demonstrates how the subordinate may empower themselves and simultaneously disempower the powerful and change the relations and structure of social power." [MORE]