Authority can be a function of raw power, but among free people it is sustained by esteem and trust. Should esteem and trust falter, the public will start to contest an institution’s authority. It happens all the time to political figures. It happened here to the American Catholic Church and to the legal profession, thanks to plaintiff-bar abuse. And now the public is beginning to contest the decades-old authority of the mainstream media.
This article on the MSM via Keith Burgess-Jackson is moderately interesting. But what sparked my interest more than the article itself was the excerpt, above. I would add that authority can also be a function of intimidation, manipulation, and deceit.
You know, when you come right down to it, the root cause of all human discomfort, suffering, and even death by scumming to the consequences of avoidable problems and circumstances can be reduced to one thing: a lack of the knowledge necessary to avoid or overcome the problem or circumstance.
Now, consider, in the context of "authority" (and specifically: the history of authoritarian institutions) why it is that so many lack the requisite knowledge to solve their problems in life. Look at the history and current state of the peoples populating other countries on the globe, and ask yourself why most have such different and usually more difficult lives than Americans do. Where does "authority" play into that, and what do your conclusions tell you about the distinction between just and valid authority, and false authority?
Next, expand your analysis to encompass the realm of "unavoidable problems," i.e., those problems and circumstances currently unavoidable within the context of present human knowledge. Can you think of any "unavoidable problems" that are only unavoidable because of what people believe, and that those beliefs have basis only in respect to false "authorities," and not reality?