Anarchy Begins at Home: The Blog Series Part 3 – The Problem With Authority

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

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”


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  1. paleo police officer on October 26, 2012 at 14:57

    It’s simpler than that. You can do whatever the laws of physics/nature will let you. You just have to remember one thing, so can everyone else. Deal with it whatever way you like.

    • Richard Nikoley on October 26, 2012 at 15:15

      Ok, fine. You did a better job explaining than I did.

    • Richard Nikoley on October 26, 2012 at 15:26

      Your last one got a summary delete.

      • paleo police officer on October 26, 2012 at 22:59

        Fair enough. I shouldn’t have posted it really. I hesitated before hit submit, but not for long enough.

  2. EatLessMoveMoore on October 26, 2012 at 19:44

    All that being said, what’s your take on the current election? Any horse in this race?

    • Richard Nikoley on October 26, 2012 at 20:12

      No, never. I’m watching the World Series. I hear the dark horse is giving the Massia a run for his money, though.

      It doesn’t matter. It’ll be a spectacular 4 years of lies and bullshit either way.

  3. Jscott on October 26, 2012 at 22:12

    I want to know what the majority thinks authority is. What else should I be concerned with in regard to authority?

    • Jscott on October 27, 2012 at 17:11

      I would like to know what the heck I was trying to get at when I wrote this last night.

      • marie on October 27, 2012 at 17:54

        O.k., so not a mind reader, but here’s what you made me think : do most people even think about what constitutes authority, about who gets to decide that someone/something is an authority and based on what criteria?

      • Richard Nikoley on October 27, 2012 at 18:28

        “do most people even think about what constitutes authority”

        Of course not. Most people are pathetic fucking morons who’d die inside of two months if they didn’t have someone to vote for, to steal for them.

        Humanity is not even humanity, anymore.

      • marie on October 27, 2012 at 18:51

        Ouch. Therein lies an argument for a strong state. Why, people Need it!
        Yesterday’s burger repeating on you? There’s a cure for dyspepsia that doesn’t involve visualizing most of humanity dead in two months :)
        Here’s maybe part of it : when the shit hits the fan, most people do ‘impossible’ things

      • Richard Nikoley on October 27, 2012 at 19:46

        No, I dropped Beareice at the Airport this morning, not returning until Monday night.

        Connect the dots.

      • marie on October 27, 2012 at 20:13

        Awww! :(

      • Jscott on October 27, 2012 at 20:37

        Marie, we will go with that. Thank you.

  4. John on October 27, 2012 at 12:24

    So many brilliant point in that Story of Your Enslavement video.

    How many people have died earlier than they naturally would have because of the fear of death?

    It’s also interesting to realize that governments and businesses exist only in our minds. If all humans were wiped from the planet tomorrow, they would all cease to exist. Sure, some of the physical things produced would still be here (buildings, roads, and such), but the organizations themselves would be gone.

    • Richard Nikoley on October 27, 2012 at 13:08

      Good identification, John. All institutions are comprised of individual human beings, not a one with any natural authority over anyone else, except in the role of parent, guardian or caretaker for the infirm of aged.

  5. marie on October 27, 2012 at 18:20

    “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.”
    Supreme, unavoidable irony: humanity has now accumulated wide and deep knowledge and rigorous methods and has the unprecedented means to disperse this knowledge and methods widely, while at the same time the related complexity of modern life has made individuals rely more than ever on external authorities for daily decisions. There are just so many decisions to make that most people will have to make them ‘on autopilot’….just when the same means that disperse knowledge widely have made it harder than ever to distinguish between information and misinformation and between real and false authorities.
    So, people ‘know’ more than ever from sources outside themselves and they need that external knowledge more than ever, but the sheer volume of info makes it harder for them to distinguish good info from bad…and they have the least time than ever to devote to this.
    If anything would make me believe there’s a god, it has to be this, because only a supreme Imp could design such supreme irony (I didn’t say it had to be a Nice god ;)

    • Richard Nikoley on October 27, 2012 at 18:34

      “but the sheer volume of info makes it harder for them to distinguish good info from bad”

      Sheer malls and drive throughs make everyone fuckimg morons and we’re 90%, at least. The Americanrevolution was predicated upon 13%, so perhaps wer’re not so bad off.

      But I loath just about everyone, nonetheless.

      Nowadays, I assume every single person I deal with is an abject moron with zero sence of philosophy, history, geopolitics, etc., and Im right. They all are.

      • marie on October 27, 2012 at 19:26

        “every single person” – so your blog is an exercise in nihilism? And your interviews, and your trips to AHS and other conferences, and your books, and… No, Snap out of it!
        Tiens, because you like powerful feminine women :

      • Jscott on October 27, 2012 at 20:29

        When you wake up in the morning, tell yourself: The people I deal with today will be meddling, ungrateful, arrogant, dishonest, jealous, and surly.

        They are like this because they can’t tell good from evil. But I have seen the beauty of good, and the ugliness of evil, and have recognized that the wrongdoer has a nature related to my own- not of the same blood or birth, but the same mind, and possessing a share of the divine.

        And so none of them can hurt me. No one can implicate me with ugliness. Nor can I feel angry at my relative, or hate him. We were born to work together like feet, hands, and eyes, like the two rows of teeth, upper and lower. To obstruct each other is unnatural.

        To feel anger at someone, to turn your back on him: these are obstructions.

        –Marcus Aurelius

    • Jscott on October 27, 2012 at 20:47

      Filtering, attention management, and supreme imps.

      The perfect trifecta.

  6. paleo police officer on October 29, 2012 at 03:19

    Speaking of guilt, Derren Brown did an interesting experiment. He tried to guilt someone into believing they had committed a murder. Link to video below.

    “In The Guilt Trip, the third show in The Experiments series, an unwitting participant is placed at the centre of an elaborate, hidden-camera murder mystery – can Derren convince him to admit to a murder he didn’t commit?”

  7. […] Anarchy Begins at Home: The Blog Series Part 3 – The Problem With Authority […]

  8. […] Anarchy Begins at Home: The Blog Series Part 3 – The Problem With Authority […]

  9. […] The previous three parts here: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. […]

  10. […] previous three parts here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part […]

  11. […] previous three parts here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 and Part […]

  12. […] Part 3: The Problem With Authority […]

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