This is a blog post rendition of my 1-hr presentation at The 21 Convention in Austin, TX in August, right after I gave a 20-minute abbreviated version of same at the Ancestral Health Symposium 2012, in Boston, at Harvard University School of Law.
I do not believe in immortality of the individual, and I consider ethics to be an exclusively human concern with no superhuman authority behind it. – Albert Einstein
I have as much authority as the Pope, I just don’t have as many people who believe it. – George Carlin
The ultimate authority must always rest with the individual’s own reason and critical analysis. – Dalai Lama
- Part 1: Anarchy Begins at Home: The Blog Series Part 1 – The Quality of Paleo Knowledge.
- Part 2: Anarchy Begins at Home: The Blog Series Part2 – The Quality of Neolithic Knowledge
Just as I contrasted valid, quality knowledge of reality in the Paleolithic with superstition-based “knowledge” for so many in the Neolithic in parts 1 and 2, it’s time to do essentially the same thing concerning authority: the power to determine, adjudicate, or otherwise settle issues or disputes; jurisdiction; the right to control, command, or determine (reference). Alright: power, determination, adjudication, jurisdiction, control, command. All valid, descriptive constructs covering the sorts of things that must take place in an overall context of human action and volition, in order to see to proper or better actions with respect to one’s knowledge of reality (hopefully, knowledge of high quality). The purpose of getting it right—or better than plain wrong—is, of course, to advance one’s prospects for survival, happiness, and prosperity in life.
Let’s tackle the makeup of what passes for authority for so many, now.
When you come right down to it, human beings live their entire lives subject to authority in one form or another. This is wholly natural. Unless we ourselves have worked out every single constraint to living a human life, we have to default to some form of authority, often—probably daily.
This is the given. This is part and parcel of why we’re social animals and not the sort that lives a singular existence with all knowledge for survival in a specific niche environment, inbred. We’re generalists, both in terms of food and in terms of environment and climate: equator to arctic, sea level to 16,000 feet. Moreover, unlike any other animal I’m aware of, we have the capacity via concepts (perceptual tags) and the way we symbolize them (writing), to pass on knowledge far beyond our physical years. This is a form of authority, particularly when the knowledge represented is of proven worth and high quality (i.e., it has a certain correspondence with reality that has stood the test of time).
…But just as there are qualitative differences in terms of knowledge and “knowledge,” as outlined in parts 1 and 2, there are qualitative differences in various forms of authority.
Mostly, as adults, we are our own authority in any accounting of every action taken every day (when to wake, eat, shower, shave, what route to take to work, in what order to and priority perform various tasks, etc.). The question is, in which cases ought individuals defer to authorities outside of themselves, external authorities?
We learn to defer to external authority as children when in general, the authority of our parents, grandparents, older siblings, guardians, and teachers supersedes our own on a practical level, and that’s because the quality of the underlying knowledge and experience possessed by those external authorities is greater than our own.
So in principle, not only is there nothing wrong with deferring to external authority, but doing so in many, many ways is part & parcel to our very existence, to our success as social animals. We rely upon one-another and often, the sum of such reliance is greater than the worth of the constituent parts.
It’s really not about “nobody tells me what to do…or, you’re not my mom,” but rather: valid authority vs. false authority.
Valid external authority can come from anywhere—even a stranger on the street: “LOOK OUT!” …as a fast moving bus or slow moving, flesh eating zombie approaches you from behind. False authority can come from anywhere as well: “SINNER REPENT, OR FACE ETERNAL DAMNATION!” Or, “we all need to sacrifice more.” Or, “this is the most important election of our time!” (aren’t they always?). How about: lower your cholesterol, avoid saturated fat, hearthealthywholegrains, take this drug, bore yourself to tears in cardio, I’m the doctor…and the list goes on.
What’s weird is that so many take these forms of authority for gospel, and most usually, without a thought given to the underlying quality of knowledge being represented.
In retrospect, I ought to have added non-sequitur to that list. Perhaps even at the top, because one of the cleverest ways to command authority is to first be authoritative in some matter that’s pretty obvious, so as to establish an aura of authority; then come in with edicts that don’t follow.
“We have deep economic problems. The debt is out of control, jobs are being lost, industries are in decline. We need an “economic stimulus package” and you need to be taxed more. Vote for me.”
“Life is a mystery. From where did we come? What gives rise to a human sense of conscience? …A superman in the sky, and I’m in contact.”
If you can get another human being to feel guilt in matters for which he has no culpability or blame, you have established authority over him.
In case you missed it the last time, here, The Story of Your Enslavement. Just understand: you can only be enslaved in this manner by your own volition, and that always begins by deferring to an external authority. Problems begin when that authority has no quality basis in reality from which to assert any authority whatsoever. For some additional thoughts and ideas on how we became so susceptible to the diktats of false authorities, see this post from nearly a year ago: Of The Beast and The Bi-Cameral Mind.
In Part 4 I’ll go more into what constitutes valid external authority and why they always play second fiddle to all the false authorities, i.e., the ones “in charge.”
- Part 1: The Quality of Paleolithic Knowledge
- Part 2: The Quality of Neolithic Knowledge
- Part 3: The Problem With Authority
- Part 4: Having One’s Cake and Eating It Too
- Part 5: The Real Hobgoblins
- Part 6: Democide
- Part 7: The Quality of Paleolithic Social Power
- Part 8: The Quality of Neolithic Social Power
- Part 9: Conclusion; How to Fix Everything