The Consent of the Governed - Lew Rockwell has a great piece up, wherein he discusses the relationships between force, consent, and the ability to rule:
Consider the case of the typical prison, a place where everyone is a slave and where human choice is limited to the most extreme extent possible. Here, everyone sleeps behind bars. Everyone eats at appointed times and places and only what they are permitted to eat. Work, leisure, and associations are managed from the top down. It is the ultimate controlled society.

And yet anyone who knows about prison life can tell you that coercion and force are not the dominating means of order, nor are the wardens the main authority for day-to-day operations. Every prison includes a vast hierarchy that is informally organized, a structure of government in which wardens and prisoners trade decision-making power. There are leaders and followers, and wheels within wheels of these authority arrangements.

What's true for the structure of government in prison is also true for the prison economy, which is active and complicated, where the smallest items and services serve as money, and informal structures of saving, credit, investment, and consumption take root in a funhouse mirror reflection of commercial society in the outside world.

If force alone were to replace informal networks of authority and exchange, the result would be rioting and chaos, followed by destruction and death. Because humans are by their nature not amoebas but choosing, creative, rational, and complicated, the only way to rule by force alone is via extermination.

If this is true in prison, it is all the more true in society. Power is not a substitute for consent. Those wielding the power in every society are in the minority while those obeying are in the majority.
I don't ordinarily say this, because ordinarily it is not true, but: read it all.

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