Cover: Rebellion and Authority

Rebellion and Authority

An Analytic Essay on Insurgent Conflicts

Published 1970

by Nathan Constantin Leites, Charles Wolf, Jr.


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Economic reasoning applied to an analysis of rebellion and authority yields some new conclusions about both. Fundamentally, the struggle for popular support is not exclusively or primarily a "political" contest as these terms are usually understood. People act rationally, calculate costs and benefits, and choose sides accordingly. Successful rebels act on this assumption, applying discriminate force, coercing the populace into cooperation or compliance, and "proving" authority to be not merely unjust, but a certain loser. Rebellion is a system and an organizational technique. It can be countered, but not with rhetoric aimed at winning hearts and minds, and not necessarily with economic pump-priming. What is needed is organizational techniques to match the rebel drive -- effective intelligence coupled with a discriminating use of force capable of obtaining compliance from the population. One major caveat: authorities are not invariably worthy of support from within or without, and careful calculation of ultimate interests should guide U.S. policy on this point. (Also published by Markham Publishing Company, 1970.)

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