Authority vs. Authoritarianism: A Problem of The Times



These days, a polarization or "separation of camps" exists between authorities and authoritarians. An "anti-authority" sentiment has arisen in one camp that distinguishes poorly between legitimate, helpful, knowlegeable authority and illegitimate, detrimental, ignorant authoritarianism -- or "dominator authorities". 

A "pro-authoritarian sentiment" has grown in the other camp, a sentiment that resists and attacks the inevitable new developments of newly emerging authorities ("progressives").

Very often, people use the word, "authority", to describe both, indiscriminately, so that people mis-categorize persons of authority as authoritarians and resist or otherwise fail to support them, when their services are direly needed.

This polarization has crippled people's intelligence and rendered them more susceptible to manipulation by persons of malicious or self-serving intent.

This piece exists to clarify the difference, so that people exercise their intelligence, better and save themselves from the machinations of authoritarians.

Authority vs. Authoritarianism

There's a night-and-day difference between authority and authoritarianism.

The words authority and author are obviously related. An authority is someone with a comprehensive understanding of how things work in some aspect of life. Someone who writes it all down is called an author.

Authoritariasn on the other hand, are people who believe in the right of the authority to control others. What's important to them is not understanding, but obedience.

To clarify that difference, let's make a distinction. And authority is rightfully a teacher. An authoritarian on the other hand, is a controller of others – a control freak. An authoritarian believes in the right of an authority to dominate, who expects to be dominated and, on the basis of that "chain of authority", expects to dominate others.

There's a world of difference between teaching and dominating, isn't there?

Teaching versus Dominating

Every competent teacher knows that teaching involves the voluntary cooperation of the student. The teacher presents information or a viewpoint. The cooperative student voluntarily internalizes that viewpoint or understanding. The teacher hands it off. The student captures it. The process of capturing it is known as self-discipline.

Authoritarians, on the other hand, believe that they have the right to compel cooperation. The words, "Thank you for your cooperation," then take on an ominous tone.

Instead of relying upon self-discipline, the authoritarian relies upon enforcement or punishment. What the student of an authoritarian learns is not just the viewpoint or understanding of an authority, but also the likelihood of punishment for failing to learn it.

Just to be clear about the distinction, discipline is self generated from within; enforcement and punishment are imposed from outside.

Rebellion: the problem of the times

People confuse authorities with authoritarians. They expect that with authority comes the likelihood of punishment rather than caring instruction.

So, they become resistant to all legitimate, helpful authority.

And therein lies the problem. People are making themselves both dense and opinionated -- thus making their culture both dense and incapable of meeting the challenges of change.

Authorities are like good parents. Authoritarians are like bad parents.

A good parent teaches self-discipline; a good parent gives lessons. A bad parent punishes in the guise of teaching; a bad parent "is going to teach you a lesson you won't forget".

Authoritarianism leads to mistrust. Mistrust leads to the crippling of a society and to the incompetence of its members.

That incompetence leads to dependency. And that dependency leads to authoritarianism.

Why?

Because people are unwilling voluntarily to submit themselves to the instruction of authorities. They must then be compelled, even for their own good.

Because they don't distinguish cleanly between authorities and authority figures, "for their own good" becomes suspect to them. They suspect that every authority is actually an authoritarian.

And away we go.

Isn't that what we are seeing in these times?

Then, instead of going for, learning, people go for idle distractions, which are non-threatening, but ineffectual. Think, entertainment.

Ineffectual people, despite their resistance to authority, ultimately become more controllable by authoritarians, more manipulable, more gullible than competent people.

The authorities they choose are of their own choosing, rather than of the greatest competence.

Again, why?
Authority has Inherent Power; Authoritarianism Seizes Power

The communications of authorities in some area of knowledge embody a kind of forcefulness, the forcefulness of self-assurance, of competence, of integrity.

This, people who confuse authority with authoritarianism regard as a threat to their own autonomy, their right to decide, for themselves.

The communications of authoritarians contain the feeling of a hidden threat – or they may be couched in terms that pander to the concerns of listeners in ways that flatter the intelligence of listeners, rather than informing that intelligence.

In true teaching, there is no threat to autonomy. Rather, true teaching is empowering. True teaching gets people to discover, or test, things for themselves. That's where the true learning comes in.

An authoritarian doesn't want people to test things for themselves. An authoritarian wants people simply to believe the authoritarian and go along. This, people rightfully resist.

But they must learn to distinguish the difference. And authoritarians, and their followers, who are also authoritarians, resist learning from outside their accepted "chain of authority". They are like dogs who obey only their master. They resist exercising their own intelligence, resist taking "unauthorized" initiative. They want the assurance of their authoritarian superiors that they will not be threatened. So, they conform.

The true authority faces, that is, is willing to confront, authoritarians.

The true authority, and the student of true authority, has the courage to question or to refuse.

The authoritarian is a coward feigning the appearance of strength. The authoritarian uses the clich├ęs of, the language of, entrenched power, or of tradition.

The true authority develops his or her own language of expression, coins his or her own terminology to express something new, something to be learned. Understanding that new language of expression or terminology requires a person to exercise their intelligence.

Authoritarians are afraid to exercise their own intelligence. They conform, but without intelligence -- if with cleverness to maintain the dominance of their (inherited) view. They conform, merely obediently.

That, indeed, is their stupidity, and it is self inflicted. So where authoritarians self-inflict stupidity, the students of an authority apply self discipline – which requires them to exercise their intelligence, and also the courage to test and question.

Can you tell the difference?

On the Pathos of the Authoritarian State of Development | from an "Authoring Authority" Point of View

One difference between an authoritarian and an authority has to do with listening.

An authoritarian wants communication to be one-way: out to others. (S)he never listens long enough to get a sense of the other's experience, but only long enough to identify ways of undercutting the other, whose opinion differs.

An authority, on the other hand, listens. Closely.

That's how an authority gets to be an authority and to stay an authority -- by listening enough to get a sense of things previously overlooked,
-- by staying open enough and long enough to sense things of which one saw previously oblivious
-- by allowing what comes in to resonate us and to relax any stresses that show up. To one degree or another, they do.

The authority stays an authority not by remaining fixed in stone. No, that's the authoritarian.

The authority stays an authority by staying current, by changing to incorporate the effects of experience in oneself, by incorporating the Unknown Unknown into ones worldview, so that new things may emerge.

The authority is not afraid of not-knowing. The authority knows that not-knowing is the entry-way, the mouth that feeds on the Unknown Unknown in order to generate The Known, all that is known by mind and stored in memory.

The authoritarian is afraid of not knowing, and so always purports to know (even when wrong).

The authority admits that, as much as we know, we don't know it all -- and therefore, we don't know beyond knowledge.

Therefore, the authority, who listens, who is affected, honesty acknowledges faults.

The authoritarian makes as the stock-in-trade, the willingness of silly people to tolerate his persistent faults being persistent. Therefore, (s)he is afraid of being found out.

The authority, not being concerned for the opinions of others because honest to begin with, is not afraid of being found out, since (s)he knows that whatever actions (s)he takes, they do not *come from* her; they come *to and through* her (or him). All the authority does is to consolidate into some persistent and hopefully, reproducible form, is capture what has been shown in imagination -- capture it in memory and as something tangible, that functions, that works to beneficial effect.

The authority is a benefactor.

The authority, because confronted with the mysterious origin of things the origin beyond himself, beyond all things ... is naturally humble about his personal credit for what (s) has invented -- and will take credit only for doing the hard work!

The authoritarian is a parasite.

Authoritarians want to make the way things develop be the way that will get the most approval from the prevailing power structure. Thus, authoritarians are strong on memory fixation and weak on open imagination.

What they imagine is shaped by what they remember of "where the bread is buttered" and by the expectation that it continues to continue.

Authoritarians feed off the system while impaired in the ability to provide a fair exchange. They plunder The System. Think, "financiers" -- and many others -- "fossil-fuel industries", "chemical companies", "military contractors". get the idea? Mooooooooooooh.

Authority gets its persuasive prestige for the benefits that authorities channels into The System, by means of exercising their expertise. Their prestige is the prestige of being regarded as a source of benefit -- prestige that grows as more people benefit.

Authoritarians do not contribute what is needed because they do not listen. They do not wish to listen. To listen is to be affected. They do not want to be affected. They want a one-way channel: out. They want the power because they imagine that getting everything to go as they imagine they want it to will bring relief from their distress at being fixated in memory with stunted imagination compelled by inherited and now outdated senses of values.

Authoritarians come heavily laden with the inherited trauma of ancient ancestors, of recent ancestors, of childhood upbringing and social *prevalences* (NOT "norms"). They're full of it. And their inherited conditioning comes with a fear-laden threat: *Don't change any of this on pain of punishment."

So, authoritarians don't like true authorities. True authorities make authoritarians look bad, who then have to react (generally with lies and denials) to avoid the fear of the threat of punishment for coming clean. True authorities make authoritarians feel like imposters, who then retaliate with false characterizations of individuals who act like authorities (such as, "So-and-so doesn't know what they're talking about." "I have such contempt for "so-and-so", etc., etc.). They have "status issues".

I think that the "status issue" of authorities is about whether their work is used well, or not, about whether it gets the recognition it deserves for the benefit it can provide. So to speak. Other than that, authority is there to listen and to serve.

So, I've painted a pretty extensive picture, here.

There'll be a quiz on that sometime this week.

#TetraSeedAwakening