Social psychology
Added: 2017-10-30
Added: 2017-10-30

The featured fragment is taken from the book Psychologia społeczna, Warsaw 1912, pp. 451-454, 522-524, 525-527, 537-540.



The first question to be posed is as follows: what is the difference between authority and simple dominion over people that results directly from the influence that pursued values exercise on their surroundings, an influence derived from social preponderance, tied to a recognised position of superiority? – The differences between them can be reduced to a number of points:

1)    First of all, there is a fundamental difference between authority and influence exercised by the social value of an individual, and it cannot be reduced to a higher or lower degree of this kind of relationship. We can imagine a person who exercises authority over their surroundings – and does so effectively – but has no personal makings of superiority, no specific value that could give them charm and ensure obedience, and not even any competences required for their position. When we carry out the instructions of the policeman who ensures order on the streets, we do not ask about the personal value of individual officers or their professional talents, but obey their commands, even if we consider them irrational. Authority, therefore, differs from exercised influence not by degree, but by its very nature.

2)    The features of values blend together into a single general social value recognised purely quantitatively. However, when it comes to dominion over people, and having influence over them in particular, qualitative differences of these features do not lose their importance, as each of them operates within a certain inherent range, and the assessment of their quality by the environment plays a vital role when it comes to recognising and submitting to one's superiority. The intellectual or moral value of a man, his resourcefulness and energy, his wealth – each of these features provides advantage, importance and influence in an environment that recognises them as more important than others, and values them appropriately. In other words, when it comes to making people spiritually or materially dependent, the quality of a particular feature which warrants an influential position plays a prominent role. It is different with manifestations of authority. As a uniform and mechanised force, it completely loses its qualitative features and operates independently; however, it can be strengthened by their impact on the environment. The only factor – aside from the degree of its strength – that limits the advantage of authority is its scope of competences, and the scope of competences boils down to the scope of social magnitude that authority carries in itself and expresses. Competence, then, as a manifestation of a uniform force, only determines the extent of its scope, and does it in a purely quantitative sense. We will return to this matter at the appropriate time; at this point we only wanted to show the difference between authority and dominion, arising from the recognition of values in this particular regard.

3)   Above we have also pointed out another feature that differentiates them from each other – the effort that accompanies the former, and not the latter. Social effort manifests itself both in establishing or obtaining authority, as well as over the course of its exercise. If authority reaches further and deeper than voluntary submission to natural charm and influence exercised by the sum of valuable features of a given personality, then the excess of this advantage can only arise from effort directed towards this goal or the personality itself, which imposes its influence in an intensified form on authority or a collective, and which gives it more importance than it could naturally enjoy. And since exercise of authority is a continuous state, it requires to have an advantage constantly; effort must accompany it throughout its entire duration. If we were to express the same notion using slightly different concepts, we could say that influence is a static state, whereas authority is thoroughly functional.

4)   What is left is the most important difference, a difference reaching to the very essence of both phenomena. The influence of value attached to a given personality lies in its evaluation and recognition on the part of the environment that voluntarily submits to it, succumbing to the superiority of any kind. On the contrary – the social preponderance provided by authority exceeds the limits of voluntary recognition, or at least it can exceed it at any given moment, and remains independent from this recognition, thus always containing a more or less visible element of coercion. Without coercion, or at least without the possibility of using it, when voluntary submission is not enough, one has no power; it is precisely this functional force, which manifests itself as a uniform factor that makes up the value of the effort.

5) Finally, a consequence of the above difference can be found in the relativity of influence on the one hand, and submission on the other, which both result from the voluntary recognition of someone's superiority. Indeed, not all submit to the charm of values, especially not the same values and not to the same extent, as it is just a relation between possibilities, which comes into play only if it is based on adequate judgements. On the contrary, in its manifestations, authority remains independent from the judgements of those who must submit to it, as coercion is absolute in its application to all those subject to it.

The differences presented above constitute both the differences between simple and effortful values and basically come down to the functional – and almost exclusive to the latter – element of such an authority that bears the signs of coercion.


The first, most predominant task of authority is to create and preserve the unity of organisation inside, as well as maintain and expand its influence on the outside. This double task applies to the collective personality, its strength in relation to itself and its power in relation to other, equal personalities; however it is not an idle preservative and defensive function that only guards the already acquired importance, but an active, effortful trait that aims to comprehensively lift the social value of the gathering, to give it strength and grow its power. This task of the authority could be called its preservative and development function. It has the makings of biological nature, since everybody strives to maintain its existence and to expand; however, while spontaneous tendency in this respect is not enough, as far as internal causality that awakens creative efforts encounters obstacles of every nature, there is the factor of purposefulness present in social bodies (yet unfound in the life of lower biological creations),manifested in the form of authority that consciously and methodically removes the encountered obstacles and, by granting appropriate power to the organisation's personality, provides the opportunity to develop for the unprompted initiatives for growth that stay under its care.

Preserving the personality of a social organism, a personality that we could call effortful, involves an entire series of self-preservatory tasks, with the first consisting in the provision of a unified organisation for all the collective capabilities. This unity can be achieved through the unity of authority. The centres of initiative and creativity may be various and manifold, but the functional execution of these tasks, providing them with a possibility to actually exist, requires unity of leadership that provides permanent organisational forms to these functions. They are nothing more than functional activities of the authority, which – thanks to their regularly recurring operation – give certain external forms to bodies set in motion, a layout that starts to shape up like a growing construct. Just like the steady movement of trams, planned in advance along the tracks, the traffic of cars and horse-drawn carriages that pass each other in certain ways, finally, the movement of pedestrians shaped into two streams of opposite directions – together, they all make an impression of organised forms of street traffic, just like a manoeuvring army that seems to comprise a single organism moving at the order of the commanding body, an order which penetrates the secondary and tertiary centres and puts the masses gathered in the form of units to motion – similarly, the functions of an organisation make up permanent forms and mature in their regularly repetitive motion, unobservable to the senses of an individual, but visible to one's social sense. This impression is elevated by the system of spatial arrangements between those organisational forms. "Not only do lengths, planes and volumes add up – says one of the researchers of similar physical phenomena [Georges Mouret] – adhering to each other in space, but they also form groupings of mass, force and energy; it's just that contiguity, which prevails in geometry, is being replaced by rigidity in mechanics, i.e. the inalterability of relative position; as far as proper dynamics go, the above groups constitute phenomena that follow each other in time". As regards organisational forms – their territory, on the one hand, and on the other permanent groupings of masses, forces and energies manifested in functional activities shape them into a social structure.

As we can see from the above, maintaining the personality of an organisation, which is owed to the unity of authority, is expressed by preserving the uniformity and stability of social construction, in maintaining the form of a collective body, as a type, a consolidated whole, an effectively functioning organism. This scope of tasks comprises the so called internal affairs of each organisation, usually handed to a separate ministry. The conservative tendencies of authority do not merely secure the enforcement of laws of an organisation, but also secure its vitality, its resistance to every possible threat, and the ability to manifest these vital forces outside in a continuing push towards their organic growth.

A body that does not grow and enhance its functional activities – as we all know – declines, shrinks and becomes senile. Development functions are a necessary complement, or even a prerequisite for the success of preservative functions. What must be guaranteed to them is the inviolability of the entire being, and afterwards an opportunity for organic outward development. Therefore, every authority that represents a collective personality and provides it with forms of institutional corporeality is faced with the task of exercising representative functions, as well as defensive and offensive competences, in relation to the external environment. As permanent functions, they are limited to maintaining a continuous alert by the authority, being capable of appropriate intervention at any given time, and placed on the shoulders of either a central executive body, a special body established just for that purpose, or any other separate and often very complex organisation. […]. External conflicts, requiring great efficiency and conformity of collective movements, and therefore a strong intervention by the authority, are the most powerful factor aiding internal unity and cohesion of an organisation; successful, they contribute to thwarting internal antagonisms, strengthen the central authority and consolidate the entire structure.



The authority's preservative and development functions, in so far as they are not directed to the outside, but to the inside of an organisation, border with another set of its tasks – those involving its institutional functions. They concern the matters of regulating and co-ordinating manufacturing functions, assuming that their smooth operation depends on the intervention of authority. The entirety of each organisation's tasks is composed of various actions and activities that not only have to be technically linked together as part of a single plan of cooperation, but also come under common direction for all subsequent stages of execution. This management, as far as it does not involve the work itself, but an organisational regulation of its progress and results, falls within the competence of the central government and its executive bodies.

Within manufacturing establishments, associations and unions, these double managerial functions – technical and organisational – merge with one another; the initiative and work plan rest in the hands of the same bodies that simultaneously regulate its course and prioritise some actions over others in such a way that it is often difficult to decide where the influence of a manager ends and his authority starts, where the division of labour ends, and where the organisational and institutional forms and functions begin. The division between them does not depend on the nature of activities covered by management, but on the extent of the authority's interference, on what we refer to as state control. The authority does not have to limit itself to bringing functional order and harmony, but it can delve into all the details of manufacturing, specify work procedures, determine how to carry out individual operations and indicate the quality of the creations. In other words, the degree of state control is used to measure the scope of structural functions of the authority.

In a state organisation that achieves a high degree of diversification, the regulatory functions are almost completely separated from manufacturing functions, which depend on private initiative and spontaneous forms of cooperation. However, this cooperation, aside from production groups, is scattered, incidental, often turns into divergent interests and gives way to conflicts caused by competition, that economic and manufacturing functions do not compose a single organic whole, but a resultant of typically uncoordinated private efforts, since the society, although covered by an entire network of collaborative links, is always far from organisational unity. Hence, the state undertakes to remove the resulting deficiencies and, by means of appropriate economic policies, creates conditions that provide the desired direction to private initiative, focus it where the common good so requires, and at the same time prevents both the divergence of economic functions, and the conflicts likely to arise as its consequence. There could be actual gaps among these deficiencies of the collaboration system caused by a complete lack of private enterprise in certain branches of production; this is when state authority takes the initiative.

A direct intervention of the authority takes the form of state initiative or control, whereas an indirect intervention usually consists of a socio-economic policy. During the formation of modern states, the boundaries of state control were pushed very far and – as we know – involved purely technical issues; in any event, this interference, outlined by legislation and ordinances issued by the authority, was conducted by state bodies, which supervised the application of regulations from the outside and remained completely independent from the organisation of production itself. In modern states, functions that govern matters related to entrepreneurship do not interfere with purely manufacturing activities any more, excluding for potential control of occupational safety; however, they more strongly turn to regulating economic relations by pursuing economic policies according to a plan (trade treaties, duties, tariffs, incentives, tax system, money circulation, organisation of exchanges, chambers of commerce, etc.).

While the institutional functions of modern states have withdrawn from state control and managing production, they have expanded their scope in a different direction – partial or complete seizure of some (and increasingly more numerous) branches of manufacturing in the form of state-owned enterprises and monopolies. Their technical management and work organisation does not differ from private companies, however they remain under the control of state bodies which draw their income.

The institutional functions of an organisation rest in the hands of special departments. As far as states go – they take up the form of ministries, typically involving: the ministry of education, trade, post and telegraphs, transport, agriculture, and finance. They are least developed in clandestine organisations, which do not create anything, but rather limit themselves to preparations, strictly restricted by relevant bodies, and only as far as it comes to direct action; the same can be said about organisations whose sole purpose is to cultivate and disseminate certain traditions and beliefs, but not to act on their own accord, such as the freemasonry, various non-conspiratorial patriotic organisations, associations equipped with purely moral tasks, etc.

Whatever the nature and scope of the activities of an organisation, its institutional functions always aim to ensure the unity of its work and complement the lack of spontaneous collaboration by way of planned and mandatory regulation of its uncoordinated functions: the authority takes up these tasks, which a bottom-up functional system, a natural game of interests, and the initiative of an organisation's components cannot fulfil. The force of obligation complements the insufficient manifestations of spontaneous social energy, and the effortful values created by it allow to create effortful utility, which could not come to fruition without this intervention. […]

The intensity of the authority's functions depends on its strength, on the extent of its impact on organisational life, and as such – on the extent to which the entire sum of activities and actions that compose it is subject to the leadership that comes from the top. The bottom-up initiative of members – developed spontaneously and independently, even if as part of an organised endeavour, but without the intervention of authority – can affect the amount of work, but not the amount of organisational functions in the proper sense of the word. This means that the latter depends on the element of coercion exerted by the authorities on bodies subject to them, and members of the organisation in general. This, however, is neither about formal coercion, the force of pressure exerted on them, nor the applied rigour, but about the degree of compliance with the initiative and regulations arising from the source of authority, about the subordination (in the etymological sense of the term) of subjects under superior leadership. Even if the orders and directives coming from the top were heard voluntarily, the compulsion would be internal, rather than external, as far as this influence would not come only from acknowledging the superiority of higher-ups, but from the authority held by them – it would determine the extent of its intensity. In this way, subordination in an organisation is manifested primarily through obedience prevalent within, whether its source is found in an instinctive submission to authority, or the conviction about the need to submit for the common good, or – finally – formal constraint backed by penal enforcement, it is an objective fact, independent from various relationships between subordinates and the authority superior to them.

However, obedience does not exhaust the substance of the authority’s power, as this power does not depend only on obedience gained using various measures, but also depends at least equally on initiative, providence, energy and flexibility of governing bodies, on the extent to which their advantages become the cause and driving force of collective functions in an organisation. Creative force is just as needed when invoking effortful values to life, as when creating effortful utility, while inventions and discoveries find wide application when it comes to determining which relationships require improvements, regulations or an intervention of the authority and to what extent, what should be the direction of expansion, and what is to be done in this field.

Both of these factors of the authority's power – obedience at the bottom and flexibility at the top – not only complement each other, but also remain in a close relationship. Where the liveliness, initiative and ingenuity of authority fades, even if obedience ensures that it is still heard, and the functions that passively regulate social clashes still work, the organisation comes to a standstill, expansion ceases, life shrinks, and the disassociation of the organisation itself becomes an inevitable consequence, together with a breakdown of even the most deeply-rooted instincts of discipline, and finally – the collapse of obedience; nothing, however, is in a better position to ensure its permanence, than the flexibility of authority that is truly able to lead the public.

The degradation of obedience in an organisation, even if caused by extraneous causes, has an opposite effect on the creative activity of the authority: with all its flexibility, and even thanks to it, it will be willing to step up all of its efforts in order to ensure discipline and limit the crawling dissent, causing the subduing functions to develop immeasurably at the expense of institutional functions, and especially the development ones. There would be neither the time, nor the place, for creative initiative, which could lead to a complete degradation of the organisation if the managing authorities did not employ great effort to overcome this threatening functional one-sidedness and did not restore institutional balance by initiating new creative ventures, both internal and external. In this way, governments defend their position against the opposition, which cannot be restrained by means of restrictions and repressions, they do it by addressing internal problems or achievements in the field of foreign policy.

In general, subordination within an organisation can be ensured only through the power of authority, therefore the degree of its functional intensity can be brought down to this force, which depends on both the energy of governance and the discipline of subordinates.

The quantitative measurements of the intensity of an organisation's authority and power can only be made on the basis of their symptomatic manifestations, which cannot always be shown using purely numerical data. They can be external in nature, demonstrating the organisational power in relation to the environment, especially in terms of any clashes and battles fought against it. In such a case the degree of functional intensity of authority is measured by the number of consecutive successes and conquests, for example – in the area of diplomacy and warfare. In certain cases these kinds of measurements can be identified precisely and numerically, namely, in places where they are organised specifically to show the strength of social groups in order to determine the extent of their participation in the authority of higher order: for example, as far as proportional elections to a legislative body are concerned, the number of candidate lists submitted by each of the competing parties and number of votes on these lists are a precise indicator of their organisational strength and obedience. Regardless of everything, this kind of data can indicate the condition and mood of the public, which is only suitable for qualitative and comparative dimensions.

In the internal relations of an organisation, the power of authority is typically measured by the majority of votes it uses for governing in legislative bodies. The fluctuations of this majority allow to precisely determine the degree of subordination directly present in those bodies, perceived implicitly as meaningful in this regard, and indirectly – among all members of the organisation that established them by way of voting. When the majority starts becoming smaller and smaller or when governing bodies only have the support of a minority, they usually resign in favour of a different government, which is able to ensure a higher degree of subordination among the general public. Therefore, the stability of power is, in part, an indicator of its intensity.


Zygmunt Balicki (1858-1916) co-founder and one of the most important thinkers of the national movement. He was born on 30 December 1858 in Lublin, where he also attended gymnasium. He studied in St Petersburg and became engaged in the activities of socialist groups. He continued his collaboration with socialists after leaving Russia and settling in Lviv: together with Bolesław Limanowski he created the socialist and pro-independence group "Lud Polski" (Polish People's Party). Threatened with being betrayed to the Russians, he emigrated to Switzerland where he continued studying in Zurich and Geneva, earning a doctorate and becoming a member and correspondent of the International Institute of Sociology. The next stage in the evolution of his ideology involved the cooperation with Z. Miłkowski within Liga Polska (Polish League). Balicki was the founder of "Związek Młodzieży Polskiej" (Association of the Polish Youth) – the so called "Zet" (1887). Together with Roman Dmowski he founded the National League as well as the National-Democratic Party, becoming one of the leading politicians and political writers of this group. He mainly published his articles in "Przegląd Wszechpolski" and "Przegląd Narodowy". He died on 12 September 1916 in St Petersburg. In addition to numerous political articles, Balicki was the authored of acclaimed works on sociology and political theory, such as: Parlamentaryzm (1900) and Psychologia społeczna (1912). The Center for Political Thought published a collection of Balicki's articles entitled Parlamentaryzm in 2007.

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