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Political Coercion

Political coercion is difficult to discuss without bringing up strong feelings for many.

Part of human nature is to secure ourselves in a worldview and seek like-minded individuals. This principle applies equally to religious involvement and political affiliations.

The difficulty lies in speaking of political coercion while acknowledging that multiple forms of government, political parties, and systems exist.


Just because someone doesn't adhere to your political theory doesn't mean they are a victim of coercion.

On this page, we discuss some of the ways coercive diplomacy presents - both historically and in the modern day. Our hope is that this challenges you to exercise good judgement in your own life and find compassion for any whose political leanings differ from your own.

As always, if you feel you have fallen victim to any kind of coercion, know that you are not alone and help is available.

What is Political Coercion?

Political coercion occurs when governments use force, threats, or unethical means to influence a group or individual. This can take many forms:

  • Physical violence

  • Intimidation

  • Economic sanctions

  • Military force

  • Propaganda

  • Electoral fraud

  • Espionage

  • Torture or inhumane punishment

  • Restrictive legislation

  • Taking bribes or embezzlement


This list is by no means exhaustive, but it does illustrate the wide variety of ways that political coercion may occur.

These tactics are employed by governments or other powerful actors in an effort to maintain their authority, suppress dissent, or achieve policy objectives. It can also be used by insurgent groups or non-state actors who want to challenge established power structures.

The Importance of Understanding Political Coercion

Political coercion can have serious consequences for individuals, communities, and entire societies.

When people are coerced into supporting political agendas that restrict their rights, the freedoms all people are compromised. This can lead to widespread dissatisfaction, social unrest, and even violence.

Awareness of political coercion can help individuals and communities take action to protect themselves and their interests.

It can also help to promote transparency and accountability in the political process.

Understanding political coercion can help also individuals be critical consumers of news and information.

By recognizing when media outlets or political actors are using coercive strategies to manipulate public opinion, individuals can make informed decisions about what to believe and how to act.

In short, being aware of political coercion is important for protecting individual and collective rights, promoting transparency and accountability, and ensuring that political processes are fair and democratic.

Types of Political Coercion

Regardless of where an individual's beliefs lie on the political spectrum, identifying coercive threats to free thought is necessary.

Below are some details that cover a few of the coercive strategies that governments and politicians can use to control their constituents.

Economic Sanctions & Manipulation

Economic coercion is the use or restriction of wealth, resources, and financial power to influence behavior. It can have significant consequences for individuals, communities, and entire economies.

This can also take many forms:

  • Imposition of economic sanctions

  • Trade restrictions or embargos

  • Economic incentives or rewards

  • Creation of powerful lobbies to sway legislation

  • Use of offshore or international banks to hide, move, or disperse money

  • Failure of elected officials to pay fair taxes

  • Unfair or unjust taxes on any individual or group


Economic coercion can be employed by governments, businesses, or other powerful actors to achieve specific economic or political objectives, such as gaining market share, securing access to resources, or influencing the policies of other countries.

It can also be used to punish or pressure individuals or groups who are perceived as a threat or who refuse to comply with certain demands.

When left unchecked, these practices can lead to decreased trade, increased poverty, and reduced access to critical resources such as food, medicine, and energy.

As such, it is important to be aware of economic coercion an advocate for policies and practices that promote fair and equitable economic relationships.

Military Coercion

Military coercion refers to the use of military power or threats to influence the behavior of individuals, groups, states, or nations. It includes:

  • Makings threats or use of force to acquire economic, political, or social advances

  • Deployment of military assets meant to provoke a response

  • Openly displaying military strength to intimidate or induce patriotic feelings

  • Invasion or annexation of land

  • Shows of force to influence the policies of other countries

  • Suppression of dissent in unhappy or minority populations


Military coercion can have significant consequences for individuals, communities, and entire regions.

It can lead to loss of life and property, increased instability and insecurity, and long-term damage to political and economic relationships.

Awareness of military coercion allows the people of our world to advocate for policies and practices that promote peace, diplomacy, and conflict resolution. Too many people have died as a result of brute force brought on by coercive strategies that prioritize military force.

Coercive Diplomacy

Diplomatic coercion refers to the use of diplomatic power or tactics to influence others. This includes the use of diplomatic pressure, persuasion, or other forms of non-military influence to achieve specific objectives.

Here are a few ways that coercive diplomacy can be used:

  • Use of subterfuge to undermine parties in a negotiation

  • Withholding humanitarian assistance until certain conditions are met

  • Use of fallacies or lies to coerce citizens with incorrect or unreliable ideas

  • Applying pressure to secure concessions from others (nations, states, legislatures, etc.)

  • Deploying economic or political sanctions unfairly

  • Creation of campaigns to shape attitudes and perceptions of people around the world


It's difficult to speak of diplomatic coercion because it's such a broad spectrum. In fact, it's an area where many of the coercive elements that can be identified are used on a regular basis as a means to combat other destructive practices.

That said, diplomatic coercion can have significant consequences. When implemented, these actions can increase international tensions, decrease cooperation between cultures, and sometimes cause a breakdown in trust and mutual understanding.

Advocating against diplomatic coercion is part of the path toward constructive dialogue between countries and cultures in the centuries to come.

Cyber Coercion | Propaganda

Propaganda - or misleading messages that promote a particular view or cause - have long been used by powerful groups to help sway opinions in their favor.

Modern propaganda efforts occur through traditional media and the internet. In recent years, allegations of "cyber warfare" or cyber coercion have been leveled against many of the world's powerful nations.

Whether or not these allegations are true is not the intent of this page.

So, how does cyber coercion happen?

In many ways, it's similar to online drift.


A notable factor that differentiates the coercive threat of cyber coercion is that, rather than fringe groups coming together, these messages are often state-backed as part of larger efforts.

In all instances, we recommend checking the sources of the information you digest via the internet. That goes for us too! Taking care to rely on good sources, verifiable research, and trustworthy actors can help you avoid falling victim to online coercion.

Extremist Groups

A political extremist group is a group or organization that espouses extreme political views that are often considered outside of the mainstream or traditional political ideologies.

Such groups may hold radical or revolutionary beliefs that seek to overthrow or significantly alter the existing political system or government.

Political extremist groups can be found across the political spectrum, from far-left groups that promote socialist or communist ideals to far-right groups that promote white nationalism or fascism.

These groups often use propaganda, fear-mongering, and other tactics to promote their views and recruit new members.

In some cases, political extremist groups may engage in violent or illegal activities, such as terrorism, hate crimes, or armed rebellion.

These actions are typically viewed as dangerous and disruptive to society, and may result in law enforcement intervention or other forms of legal or social sanctions.

It's important to note that not all groups that hold extreme political views are violent or dangerous.

However, any group that advocates for the use of violence or other illegal activities to achieve their political goals should be viewed with caution and skepticism, as their actions can have serious and lasting consequences for individuals and communities.

Dealing With Coercive Threats in Politics

As you can see, understanding coercive threats in political arenas is vital.

The more people understand and react appropriately to coercion, the better we all are. An informed, active society is one that is not easily coerced.

Sadly, political discourse in many places has reduced to many of the unethical and coercive practices outlined in the sections above. Our hope is that sharing these thoughts helps ensure that future generations can distinguish coercion from truthful political theory.

If you feel that you're a victim of coercion and want to speak with us, please reach out.

If you believe that someone in your life is being victimized by coercion, rest assured that there are resources and professionals that can help.

Services from People Leave Cults

People Leave Cults offers a variety of services to help both cult survivors and the families/friends of cult-involved people. 

We invite you to explore whichever offering fits your needs at the links below. 

Talk to us!


Everyone's situation is unique.


If you are interested in resources, curious about intervention, or want to help spread cult awareness, get in touch!

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