“Did anyone ever hear of a nation, a church, a political party, even a benevolent association that had no membership rules? Did anyone ever hear of a society which couldn’t somehow discipline its members and enforce obedience to necessary rules and regulations? …Power to direct or govern is the essence of organization everywhere.
“Yet AA is an exception. It does not conform to this pattern. Neither its General Service Conference, its Foundation Board, nor the humblest group committee can issue a single directive to an AA member and make it stick, let alone mete out any punishment. We’ve tried it lots of times, but utter failure is always the result.
“At this juncture, we can hear a churchman exclaim, ‘they are making disobedience a virtue!’ He is joined by the psychiatrist who says, ‘Defiant brats! They won’t grow up and conform to social usage!’ The man in the street says, ‘I don’t understand it. They must be nuts!’ But all these observers have overlooked something unique in AA. Unless each AA member follows to the best of his ability our suggested Twelve Steps to recovery, he almost certainly signs his own death warrant. His drunkenness and dissolution are not penalties inflicted by people in authority; they result from his personal disobedience to spiritual principles.
“…So we of AA do obey spiritual principles, first because we must, and ultimately because we love the kind of life such obedience brings. Great suffering and great love are AA’s disciplinarian; we need no others.”