Power Gained by Increment

Before a problem can be solved, its existence must first be noticed and properly acknowledged.  Only when exposed to the light of day can its causes, and the players involved, be discovered.  However, when a problem evolves slowly it often goes undetected, or its progression is merely tolerated as bothersome.  People have a way of accepting and accommodating each stage of minor social inconvenience, often unaware of the cumulative long-term effects.  As such, they are vulnerable to abuse by those looking to take advantage.

Unfortunately, the human propensity to ignore or adapt to small disturbances over time allows organized nefarious players to implement undesirable changes on society through “incrementalization”.   Incrementalization is Gradualism, (also called the “Hegelian Dialectical Process” of consensus-getting), the almost imperceptible cascading effects of an initial action; the resulting reaction (opposition); a general acquiescence; and then total acceptance by a population.  Repeating over time, each step compounds on the one preceding it.  The intended outcome (that otherwise would be deemed unacceptable by the populace if delivered as a full package at the outset) is achieved.

Significant change can be instituted, almost undetected in this way.  Each isolated increment of change made can be justified as something needed, and as such appears logical. Of significant note is the fact that positive change does not need to employ these types of deceptions.  It is a tool:  “incrementalization of the undesirable”.

In the aftermath of historical atrocities, onlookers are shocked at what tyrants were able to pull off by using this technique.  A tool surreptitiously deployed until full power is gained, then switching to military control.

An alert and well informed population that is politically engaged and able to think critically, combined with a properly functioning media, are paramount to ensure democracies prevail and undesirable situations are kept in check.  The importance lies in noticing the problem, acknowledging it, exposing the players, and fixing issues as soon as possible.


Coughlin, Stephen and Higgins, Richard, “Remembering the Mis-Remembered Left – The Left’s Strategy and Tactics to Transform America”, 2019, Unconstrained Analytics.