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Public opinion has not yet become an institution in any country to have an impact on the government
The phrase public opinion came into existence only about 150 years ago. Before that the public was not recognised as an entity, nor were they supposed to have an opinion. The adoring public implicitly accepted what the king said. Even at that time the power of the ruler entirely rested with the public sanction. That reality was overtaken by the appearance of the government or monarchy, which was the creation of the public. As Man has become a slave to his own creations, as in the case of money, the monarchy eclipsed the population, which made monarchy possible.
No doubt public opinion is a force and it makes a lot of audible noise. As in the formula for Energy Conversion – Energy, Force, Power, and Results – public opinion begins as the opinion of an energetic public. The energy will be recognised as Energy but it is so far powerless to produce results.
- Directed by the public will, public opinion becomes a force.
- We hear of a strong public opinion making a pension fund withdraw its investment in a land mine producing company.
- A CEO of a multi-billion dollar company was forced to return a fabulous bonus he gave to himself due to the expressed outrage of the public.
- We also hear that the greatest known public movements such as the Anti-Global Warming have never touched the attitude of the US Government.
- A few hundred NGOs all over the world are intensely campaigning for the abolition of the nuclear arsenal with little effect.
It is true public opinion has become a Force to be reckoned with at some level but not a power to force governments to act.
- Still, public opinion has all the endowments to be institutionalized in a country, if the right steps are taken.
- Commenting on women’s suffrage in America, a historian said that they could have won it 70 years earlier. He added that the energy of the American women was fully absorbed in organising her house with the modern kitchen equipments that were flooding the market constantly.
- India could have won her freedom soon after the First World War had she taken to armed uprising, when the British did not honour their promise to grant freedom after the war. The Indian army mutinied in 1857 on a flimsy issue of pig’s fat and there were only 100,000 Englishmen among an Indian population of 300 millions. It is one thing the power is in potential and it is another thing it actually yields results.