Political Technology is a tool of activation of man by man. The holistic or generic concept of Political Technology includes all types of political technologies. Hundreds of political technologies have been utilized in the past, but they are neither known nor readily available. Having been used in different contexts and times, they may not be readily suited to the requirements of each and every type of democracy. All political technologies have to be discovered and ‘identified’.
On the broad basis of the use of moral means, all such ‘identified’ political technologies can, at first level, be divided as (a) conventional political technologies, and, (b) Gandhian political technologies. First, we should take up conventional political technologies.
The conventional political technologies can further be classified as (i) non-coercive, and, (ii) coercion-dominating political technologies:
(i) Non-coercive Political Technologies (NCPTs):
Political leaders, in democracy, move and motivate other persons on grounds of:
(i) His personality;
(ii) His own or others’ needs and interests;
(iii) Gaining higher status, position, property and power;
(iv) Attainment of bliss, here and after, by living according to certain moral and spiritual values; and,
(v) Probable exercise of threat and coercion including force.
Accordingly, the conceptual scheme of political technologies involves levels from persuasion to force or coercion. Politics appears when there is need of generating compliance in a particular direction. People are made to act in a particular manner and volunteer compliance preferably on the basis of consent, participation and faith or legitimacy.
To practice them on a continuous basis, political leaders advance allurements and deprivations in many ways. All this involves, to a certain extent, mild exercise of threat and coercion. Political technologies operating within this arena are christened as ‘Non-coercive’.
During normal times, it is usually found that only political and Gandhian political technologies are put to use for solving many types of problems, including in dealing with opposition and other dissatisfied elements. In a democratic state, persons or political parties who take over power in terms of the periodically held free and fair popular elections and remain responsible to the people, use such technologies.
Till this condition is fulfilled, it is expected that individuals, groups and people would render obedience to those regimes. However, difficulties arise when some problems, issues and crises are not settled in normal ways, even by use of non-coercive political technologies. Some people do not accept norms or ‘rule of law’ of democracy. Such persons either do not permit the use and functioning of political technologies or oppose the verdict of elections or decisions of the legally appointed bodies and their officials.
(ii) Coercive Political Technologies (CPTs):
Generally, ‘technologies’ involving human control, influence or powers over others under milder form of coercion are considered ‘political’. A large number of people do render compliance on those grounds, but many others do not. In order to ensure compliance in important areas, greater amount of coercion is applied through legal provisions. At times, even the use of normal political technologies may not be allowed to operate or even tolerated.
The exercise of usual political technologies may prove void and may not render any result. The basic mechanism or values of the democratic system may be threatened or endangered. As it is the foremost duty of the political leaders to defend and protect the democratic system, they may be compelled to use coercive political technologies. They have to be willing and remain ready to defend the system, otherwise display their lack of commitment to have and save democracy.
During normal times, in democracies, political technologies are faced or responded to by political technologies only. However, when there is some fatal attack from non-democratic or undemocratic side, like, autocracy, dictatorship, rabid communalism, terrorism, internal subversion, or external aggression, a democratic system, under the present conceptual framework of ‘political technology’ is bound to counter it by effective coercive political technologies.
Almost all democracies in their constitutions enshrine provisions for handling such difficult situations and emergencies. When their existence is at stake, democracies are equipped with the extraordinary rights to use coercive means and methods. In all democratic political systems, under critical circumstances, exhausting all political, legal and non-coercive avenues, sometime even before their actual occurrence, the use of force of power, i.e., coercive political technologies (CPTs) is permissible within the parameters of the democratic system.
It may be pointed out that coercive political technologies can be used both by a democracy and an authoritarian system. Main difference between the two uses lies in goal or value. In the past, monarchies, autocracies, and dictatorial rulers have been using them against other States at will, and even against their own people, with the sole objective of maintaining and upholding their personal rule. Democracies too use them, but they do so after exhausting all forms of legal, political and non-coercive means.
Similarly, the Gandhian political technologies too have many forms and styles.
(b) Gandhian (Moral) Political Technologies (GPTs):
There are many peculiarities of Gandhian Political Technologies (GPTs). First of all, they were used in pre-independence era and were never known before. Secondly, they were largely based on Gandhiji’s own personality – his understanding of metaphysics and his sense of morality, which, in sum, was his own way of attaining ultimate salvation. In this sense, his technologies to a person like him would appear ‘apolitical’ or ‘non-political’. They, in fact, were the means (satyagraha, non-violence or Ahimsa) to realise the Truth (God or Satya).
Thirdly, notwithstanding the spiritual and moral basis of the Gandhian technologies, their immediate and ultimate goal was political, e.g., attainment of Swaraj (Self-government) for the people of India against the British Rule through change of heart by undergoing self-suffering. Therefore, all the Gandhian methods are put here under the category of’ political technologies’. Using them, Gandhi was able to mobilise millions of the people under his leadership to fight for India’s independence.