Pillars of support

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Pillars of support or pillars of power are "institutions and sections of the society that supply the existing regime with sources of power required for maintenance and expansion of its power capacity." - Gene Sharp in Waging Nonviolent Struggle [1]

How do pillars of support (power) work? [2]

People are the main holders of power in society. They are more effective at exercising power when they work together in the form of organizations or institutions, such as the police, civil servants, labor groups, business groups, etc. These supporting organizations each fall into 'pillars of support' because they support the power structure in society.

When organizations and institutions withdraw their support from an opponent, the opponent will no longer be able to maintain power.

Example of pillars of support (power)

The Fossil Fuel Industry [3]  

Fossil fuel derive their power from being seen as 'essential' or legitimate actors in our society.

Some of the institutions or groups they rely on include:

  • Workers and sometimes police or military
  • Researchers and universities
  • Governments and courts
  • Investors and insurance companies
  • Suppliers and business partners
  • The media (advertising and news)

Pillars of support illustrated by the International Center for Nonviolent Conflict [4]  :

International Center for Nonviolent Conflict

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