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Power of the unorganized Masses

Power refers to the ability of an individual or a group to attain its objectives in spite of the opposition from other individuals or groups. According to Weber Party is the basis of access to power. Party is an associative type of organizational structure built around a common interest. It may be a class based interest, a status based interest or ethnicity based interest, or any other type of interest.

The ability of the individuals acting to attain their interest is very limited. Quite often they might act at cross purposes and reduce each other's chances of attaining their goals. On the other hand the organizational structure of the party helps in channelizing their energies towards the common goal. Thus enhancing their ability to attain that goal or in other words in enhancing their power.

Karl Marx had stated that class-in-itself will not be successful in bringing out change in capitalist system. Only when it is transformed into class for itself it shall be able to fight for the interest of the proletariat and capture power for the proletariat class. The members of the working class should acquire an awareness of common interest and also an organizational structure should come into existence to pursue those interests. Thus according to Marx unorganized masses would remain powerless.

In modern industrial societies with the increasing fragmentation of the working class the possibility of the workers becoming a class for itself has disappeared and accordingly have disappeared the chances of workers being able to capture power for themselves through revolution. Thus so long as the masses remain unorganized either due to the lack of awareness of common interests or due to the diversity of interests they will not be able to exercise power. However sometimes under special circumstances the masses may come to share a sense of deprivation and leadership and ideology and an organizational structure may also come into existence.

In such situations mass movements may develop and the masses may acquire power. The various backward class movements like Dravidian movement in Tamil Nadu, Mahar movement illustrate as how the growth of organization enables masses to exercise power. On the other hand most of the agricultural labour in India remains unorganized and are therefore unable to achieve their legitimate interests. The barriers of caste, ethnicity, language and religion continue to act as hindrances to the growth of any viable organization. However being deprived of legitimate access to power sometimes the unorganized masses may acquire short lived power through illegitimate means. In case of mob violence based on common grievance the unorganized masses may develop a short-lived spontaneous organizational structure of a mob and may give expression to their sense of frustration through violent and destructive activities.