“Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”
- Frederick Douglass
In our current age the word demand has been debased. A day does not go by without some person or organization “demanding” an apology or retraction or that someone do something.
These are not demands as a prior generation would have understood them.
Because there is no “or else”, not even an implicit one.
When I was a child if someone demanded something of me I always understood that they meant “or else”.
A demand which does not have a threat or a promise behind it is hollow. It means nothing. It is not, in any meaningful sense, even a demand.
A request is very distinct from a demand yet we use the word demand when we are really requesting something.
We have grown infantile in our relation to power, in our understanding of power and in our use of the language of power.
Sometimes the powerful will give something that is requested. If they do, it is because they were already considering it, because many amongst them think the benefit exceeds the cost.
But power concedes nothing that matters to the powerful without a threat, it never did and it never will.