Tuesday 22 March 2011

What is anti-authoritarianism?


Anti-authoritarianism is not being 'anti' authority (because anti-authoritarians are very keen on imposing their own authority).

Anti-authoritarianism is actually 'anti' stable and ancient authority.

Anti-authoritarianism is in favour of new and unstable (changeable) authority.


All instances of actually existing authority thereby become arbitrary, hence unreal (because the real is stable and ancient).

Anti-authoritarianism is therefore in favour of the unreal.

So - following the triumph of anti-authoritarianism - all authority (including the authority of the champions of anti-authoritarianism) is regarded as presumptively arbitrary, recent, temporary, and unreal.


Is it any wonder that anti-authoritarianism inevitably leads to chaos?

And that, so long as anti-authoritarianism prevails, order cannot be restored.



Brett Stevens said...

You understand better than all others how liberalism is not a pure desire for independence, but a power grab from the lower to the higher.

Their anti-authoritarianism means rejection of any authority that does not endorse liberal values, e.g. no values except the value of the empire of no values. Like modernity, it is a meme that supplants culture.

The Crow said...

Look! The Emperor has no life!
That was a well-reasoned and (after the fact) utterly obvious observation.
I find the most earth-shaking revelations of all, are the ones where you realize them, slap your forehead, and cry: "Doh!!!"

Any anti-authoritarian government has - by its nature - no authority.
By struggling to project its authority, it fights against itself, and ultimately loses.
Unfortunately, after first taking down everything else, with it.

Anonymous said...

A rather trivial piece. Though maybe thats because I find it so obvious. From this point below:

"Anti-authoritarianism is not being 'anti' authority (because anti-authoritarians are very keen on imposing their own authority). "

The next step is that anti-authoritarians are anarchists in the modern sense (e.g lacking chaos). But that has always been, I thought, the definition of anti-authoritarianism: Against all authority and thereby wanting to make the world unstable and chaotic.

Anyway, this is apt timing given the so-called anti-authoritarian protests in the middle east. How soon will their orchestrated 'anti-authority' sentiments disappear when they start imposing strict Islamic authority?

- Breeze

Bruce Charlton said...

@Breeze - trivial and obvious are different! This piece is indeed obvious but *not* trivial.

I am pointing at the actual practice of anti-authoritarianism as it has emerged in the West post-1945; not the logical contradiction in principles.

A-A has been a *very* effective weapon in practical politics and in transforming society; but in practice it has worked for the Left like using hydrogen bombs to win a war of conquest, then colonizing the resultant nuclear wasteland.

In a sense the A-A stance is just another example of self-destroying extreme short-termism, so common in modernity.

Since moderns are nihilists and don't believe in reality - don't believe therefore in cause and effect, they can always hope that - somehow or another - things will work out OK; that if 'reality' is uncomfortable, then 'reality' can be changed.

If something apparently seems to 'work' in winning the culture wars, then they will just use it (who knows, after all, what the future holds), and hope for the best.