Imagine, if you will, a population what's asleep to the world around them. They believe the government, business, and religious leaders. They keep to the rigid path their masters have laid out for them.
Waking up is hard. Most of the population grew up in the system and think it's normal, moral and right. They may not even dream that things can be different. One day a man notices his chains. He sees that the system, with its laws, rules, mores, and traditions are not for his benefit, but to protect the masters.
What happens then? Some cannot deal with it. They strike out against the system. Most of the time they get flattened. The system is forever vigilant to strike down the rebellious. They've had lots of practice and are very very good at it.
The awakened wise man does not strike out, as he knows that's the masters are watching for. At first, from the outside, he appears little different from the sleepers. He is different. He's studying his chains, looking for weak links -and he finds them.
He sees how consumerism, debt, and bankers have put chains on him. Slowly he eliminates that debt. Then he attacks the system at the root with barter, precious metals, and even a gift economy. That may even loosen the chains the tax man put on him.
Break one chain and the others also weaken. One technique to getting out of the money system is to grow and gather one's own food. Better food makes for better health, so the medical masters have less hold on him. Working outside in the garden is not only good for physical health, but also mental health. The chains of the head shrinkers fall free when mental well being does not come in a pill.
The awakened man has not broken any of the system's written rules, yet the system has less and less power over him. He may obey rules, but not out of habit, but choice. The speed limit might be 65 and he doesn't drive more than that. Unlike the sleepers, it's not blind obedience. The reward of driving faster is judged not worth the risk. Perhaps he feels that 65 is a prudent speed for the road conditions.
What makes him different from the sleepers? On day he decides to not drive 65 for his own reasons, whatever they are. The man examines this world and the conditions constantly. As soon as it makes sense for him to break the rules, the rules are broken. That attitude becomes part of his being. Habits and traditions become suspect. Who is served by this, he thinks, them or me?
Nothing scares the masters like the sleepers waking up. There's not enough police and military to force everyone to obey. They rely on those invisible chains. When people break those chains, the system weakens. Bankers can't make loans. Company profits go down. Tax revenue diminishes. Little by little, the systems of control weaken. The awakened see the remaining chains are stretched thin and much easier to break, so they break more chains.
Look at things from the master's viewpoint. They observe a great sea of people. Most look asleep, but how many have revolution in heir hearts? How many are quietly sawing away at hidden links the masters can't clearly see? Then can strike out, hoping to destroy the quiet revolutionaries, but those hard blows rattle everyone's chains -chains they wish to remain unnoticed. All that rattling and thrashing about wakes up more sleepers.
The masters have relied on carrots and sticks to train the population. They are running low on carrots and there's aren't enough sticks in the world to make up the difference.