For using Gandhian Political Technologies (GPTs), the operation of the power process of Gandhian non-violence should be understood in a comprehensive manner.
The power-process of non-violence consists of four stages or forms:
1. Spiritual Power or Soul-force (SP):
When a person realizes soul, God, Truth, Brahma etc., he, as proclaimed by the Shastras, attains real spiritual power. Gandhi aspired to have that power. This power enables one to change the heart of his adversary even without self-suffering. But the satyagrahi, as part of Universal Spirit through self-suffering invokes the souls or spirits of all human beings, including the adversary, and gains sympathy for his cause.
As the people believe in the goals and values of their leader gather together on his call, they feel that the leader has the power of non-violence of the brave. In fact, it is the organisation and number of followers gathered around him that makes him look powerful.
Spiritual or soul-force alone cannot be considered as power in the sense of interpersonal influence. Soul-force remains confined to the ‘person’ of the individual concerned. It attains attributes (not real) when that individual considers himself to be in possession of that mystic, abstruse or enigmatic power, or the people alike him or those who are under his influence, credulously believe that he holds power of non-violence in his person. In this manner, he becomes the source of power. This power is lost when followers leave him alone.
2. Initial Formative Power (IFP):
Soul-force, whatever be the number of admirers or followers, remains confined to the leader. When the latter attracts and gathers a large number of people for a purpose on the basis of faith in some ‘common moral values/principles’, power begins to generate. This moral power has no political goal. Common values initiate or generate ‘corporate’ power. It can be named as Initial Formative Power, which resides in that spiritual or saintly person and also his followers.
When that person takes up some public or political cause, and organises a large number of people, his Initial Formative Power (IFP) is converted into ‘direct physical power’. Issues of morality and conscience are converted into concrete ‘formative’ power. Both soul-force and formative power of moral principles take shape around some issue, demand or claim of a large number of people.
3. Actual Physical Power of the People (APPP):
The man-of-religion or a leader like Gandhi employs various tools and techniques like hartal, picketing, demonstration etc. The followers usually remain peaceful till they remain behind their non-violent leader. But under the leadership of a man of non-violence, they are expected to be peaceful.
In his absence, they may be organised or un-organised, violent or non-violent and constitutional or unconstitutional. Direct or actual physical power appears in the form of a large number of people organised by the leader making a claim or demand.
It is this concrete reality which stands before the adversary or the government. In this way, Initial Formative Power (IFP) is translated into Actual Physical Power of the People (APPP). It is actual operating power of the agitating people. The number of agitators increases when the leader is put under greater and greater suffering like beating, imprisonment, confiscation of property, fast unto death, and other threats to life.
4. Probable Potential Power of the People (PPPP):
This power rests with the people who do not take part in the movement. They live in the countryside, away from the scene of the struggle, and may remain apathetic, dormant and inactive. This dormant power does not operate in accordance with the wishes or directives of the non-violent leader.
Their power is probable but irresistible. When it is active, it can compel the adversary to relent and concede the demands. Every large group, community or organisation invariably possesses probable potential power even without displaying its actual physical power. It is a condition precedent of all sorts of power including assumed or actual power.
When the government with the help of the police and army tries to crush their non-violent movement, a large number of people join it. As these people are not trained and initiated in the methods and techniques of non-violence, they act and operate as insurgents and rebels. All of them together release or make up this ‘probable potential power’ of the people. It is this power which a government keeps in mind.
By its neglect, the government might be facing riots, rebellion, anarchy and armed struggle. Potential power of the people remains dormant, silent and apathetic till their basic values and interests are not at stake. When some leader of their liking calls on them or puts his life in danger, the whole community stands up in defense.
Gandhi or Gandhi-like leadership, on the basis of moral values like non-violence, initiates power by gathering people around those values. But those values only do not make up power. Power consists in the number, organisation and goals of those people. This has been labeled as their Actual Physical Power of the People.
It becomes much more effective when if is supported by Probable Potential Power of the People. Devoid of APPP and PPPP no non-violence can prove to be effective. Even fasting by a satyagrahi leader appears effective only when they are propped up by APPP and PPPP. But neglecting the real source of power behind this fasting, a leader may make moves, which happen to not be relevant to the situation.
Influence of the votary of non-violence of the brave dwindles if the bond of common values and goals existing between the leader and his followers disappears. Non-violence of a leader turns powerless when it is supported neither by Actual Physical Power (APPP) nor by Probable Potential Power (PPPP). When larger issues are involved, more and more people come out to join the satyagraha movement. However, the Probable Potential Power of the People (PPPP) has to face the Power of Counter-Forces (PCF), and, sometimes, is rendered into Non-Power (NP) if the Probable Potential Power is split and weakens.
Of course, invoking some other common values, a leader belonging to some form of Counter-Force (PCF) can simultaneously seek help from both APPP and PPPP of his community. It was so done by M.A. Jinnah of the Muslim League. It can also be successful if supported by the powerful Adversary. The British Raj had helped the Muslim League against the Indian National Congress and granted partition. In a way, it was more successful than the non-violence of Gandhi at all the three levels.
There can be more than two or three such leaders. If one group, under Gandhian type of leadership, sticks to non-violence without the support of APPP or PPPP, and the other does not resort to non-violence of any type, the former has have to surrender to the demands of the latter. If the Gandhian movement too comes down to the latter level, there could be anarchy, insurgency or rebellion.
Thus, the operational process of non-violence moves normally from:
(a) Assumed power of spirit or soul of a Gandhi-like leader to
(b) Initial formative power of a few followers to
(c) Actual physical power of the people taking part in the movement, but they also carry with them
(d) Potential physical power of the whole people or community which may burst out when the adversary appears to cross all limits.
However, owing to close moral bonds between the saint-leader and the people at large, the former while sacrificing his life for them through ‘fast unto death’ or otherwise, also can directly invoke the probable potential power of the people. A government can always invoke the power of other counter-forces like minorities, caste and class groups, unions and other vested interests to transform of the power of a movement into non-power.