Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a day to consider the events in the socially tumultuous 1960s. It is here.
Now, here is where conflict and social resistance come into prominence for a purpose. Let’s look at MLK day through the lens of the “Theory of Social Relativity”.
This lens to conflict is what this site uses to review all conflicts, upheavals, and intractable (supposedly) acts of social tension.
MLK had a rival goal. Mediation would not even touch it. Black skinned people wanted treatment, access, opportunity, and everything else just the same as non-blacks, i.e. white skinned people.
From here on in, it is simply blacks (weaker side in the conflict) and whites (stronger side in the conflict). I just like to get the “people” part in some place because that is what is central.
The rival goal was that the blacks wanted respectful treatment in emotional, economic, and political terms. The whites did not want to treat them respectfully in these terms. In practice, the strong side wanted to hurt the weaker side continually and deeply. This is a good reason to engage in conflict.
As the strong side, whites had social control of economics and ownership; emotions of disgust, anger, outrage, and moral uprightness were exclusively in the domain of the whites. Nearly all, if not all political offices were held by whites. Yes, we are talking about the South and eastern section of the United States but the rival goals appeared nationally.
As the weaker side, Blacks were able to express anger and emotions but with much less authority. Instead of power, emotion, and “righteousness” combining in social encounters with whites, black emotion was cast as rebellion and punishable by more violence.
The powers available to the stronger and weaker sides and at use in this battle are nearly the same as dictators in totalitarian nations. According to the five main powers, this conflict fits at the high power differential level. Coercive power is the main differentiator but that power is illegal in some ways in MLK days. This conflict is not the same as coercive power dictators hold because there is a court of last resort. That court is federal and national. The USA does not support coercive power of individuals or groups “over” each other. In the global society, dictators enjoy support of the world and there is no place to march or plead if you are part of that nation.
The United States did allow coercive power of whites over blacks in Antebellum (“before the war”), South. Anytime after the Civil War, the rival goal is the ability to define and live the stated rights. This requires challenging and changing the “Status Quo” intelligently. While coercion may appear at any time anywhere, it is not the central power differentiator in this rival goal but the fear of terrorism against the weaker side was important. Written laws removed such powers by the laws, actions, and outcomes surrounding the Civil War. Now, we go to the “powers that be” “for us” to use.
French and Raven’s five powers are all for everyone to have and use as necessary. French and Raven identified these social powers and the social theory of relativity harnesses them for the benefit of everyone. That is the ultimate lesson of the social resistance training. Social resistance training applies the social theory or relativity by doing two things. First, social resistance training introduces the five powers “all required” to pass the exam of life. You may have a preferred power but all are required to be whole. Second, social resistance training provides practical exercises in applying those powers in real situations so you are whole and powerful. Powerful people together or separate, the choice is theirs, make a powerful society that can be filled with…get this…love. Love is harmony, respect, and vision. Love doesn’t mind some competition to see who can “do it” better.
The five powers in hierarchical order, most to least coercive:
Most coercive: Physical restraint to stop all challengers from pursing the rival goal.
2nd Most: Money and Physical Rewards or Access to Rewards to secure advantage in pursuit of rival goal.
3rd Most: Status-quo manipulation (also called “legitimacy”) to assert rights to rival goal. PS: I take the status out of “status Quo”
4th Most: expert knowledge related to the rival goal or the rival goal’s attainment strategy
Least: Respect received for integrity in pursuit and management of the rival goal.
The unseen power that drives goals, social development, and human connection is empathy and unity.
No power is at odds with money, capitalism, or freedom. The powers are at odds with productivity, humanity, and beauty as they become more and more imbalanced.
Life is power.
Let’s look at the level of power balance. In theory, the United States had come through the revolution necessary to remove the hand of coerciveness from the throats of blacks during the Civil War. However, implementation was lacking. In general, blacks had to learn ways to empower themselves to experience freedom in the face of unenforced laws allowing them to be free. This is the level of double standard. Free and equal, the mantra of those days, led to not equal by a long shot. Not equal led to “not free”. Did the strong group, white, or the weaker group, black, set the rules and values? Obviously, the strong side set the rules. The greatest power the strong side had, beyond the use of coercive and “illegal” force, was money and legitimacy that made the use of coercive force a “right” for the status enjoying strong side. The higher status group, white set the status quo and was the status quo.
The rules for having status and respect in those days were ownership of capital and property. Status and the rules were enforced with the legitimacy of the police and National Guard. There is really very little difference between this and dictatorship. Status also provided political status as those who paid more tax, had more economic investment in the balance, and hired the members of the weaker side. So, what was happening was that the rules for status were based on financial strength and financial strength was carefully guarded by the strong side. The strong side remained in power, leveraged the status quo to keep the rules they implemented in their favor, and had all the justification in their world to win the “rival goal” of leadership and control over the actions of the weaker side.
In this way, financial power led to status power that led to status quo of legitimate powers that gave the expert winning strong team ultimate respect. There was no unity or empathy in general.
Martin Luther King Jr. struck at the status quo as not legitimate, legal, or worthy of respect.
He gained the advantage through that and more so. Still, today, financially, blacks, women, and minorities is lacking.
Inter-dependence is a skill that minorities can use more fully. Organizing at the community level, at the educational level, the business level, and political level is still needed. Other groups that are dominate will not respect minorities until weaker sides become internally powerful just as the strong side has. As a community, each group must get powerful together, and then the unity of us all can be experienced together, as one. At that point a true transformation has occurred.
My suggestion for everyone in the world is to keep a sense of respect, empathy, and unity in the background of your vision of life and then…go for the bucks. Get rich by enriching others and demand financial education, business acumen, teach it to your children, and be passionate about it. The only reason Harvard University is so much the “status quo” for business is that they are rich in dollars. Harvard can buy the professors that will help them keep leadership and promote social agendas that make the weak seem weak indefinitely (John Rawls had little vision for the weak becoming strong but his ideas treated the weak like weaklings through his “fairness principle”). Harvard’s endowment is nearly 2X as big as its nearest competitor Yale. Any set of universities could decide to cooperate financially and compete at a higher level and create a new status quo. Harvard is a good school but like any status setting institution requires deep and powerful competition to drive everyone’s performance. The idea is to understand the power of financial power to create self-serving status quo. The Ivy League is nice but so are you, wherever you are.
The end result is…no matter who you are…especially if you are on the weaker side, increase your powers. Become strong physically, secure financially, set your teams status quo, be super expert thought leader, and gain respect you deserve and need from yourself…to live.
MLK day helps with this.