On legitimate authority:

Ok heavy topic today, the crux of this one is legitimacy. I do not mean it in the post world war one sense of the word. While democratically elected officials are a nice step in the legitimate authority direction it is not the end all be on for making an authority legitimate.

First there is a basic dichotomy on authority, and sadly it comes down to intent vs. ability, the highest authority has historically been proven to be martial. This is what I mean by ability, authority based on force, this is the kind of authority used by governments, (some) adults on children, police and so forth. It is basically follows the narrative “do this, or I will bring harm to you because I can” where the “I “ is whatever the governing body is. This I think is the most basic, oppressive, and barbaric form of authority. It is EASILY divorced from any moral oversight, and (from a historical view) constantly directly responsible for tragedy and atrocity. The other kind of authority is one born of concern, not force, like that of an elderly parent or a religious leader, here the narrative reads “do this because it is “best” for us” now this kind of authority is only better then the first in the degree that “best for us” is open to communication and dialog. To clarify all this I give you this scene: a child wants a cookie but his parent does not want the child to have one:

With the first type of authority the parent could simply say no and move on, continued protest would result in punishment. This is the basic and “bad” type of authority, the child learns nothing beyond a dis-taste for authority ( and indeed might seek to subvert it in the future) The second type would still have the parent say no, but there would be an explanation involved: “you cannot have a cookie right now, it has far too high a sugar content and you will not be able to go to sleep” or some such reason. The key here is whoever is in a position of authority can at any time be called upon to justify the use of that authority. I know that in practice this is a HUGE PAIN IN THE ASS, but it is also HUGELY necessary for people who live under that authority. We need to understand AND consent to the authority, and not just once, not just be born into it! It must be a continuing dialogue to have legitimacy! Here in the U.S. our legal system has a small nod in that direction; while a police officer can arrest a citizen for pretty much any ( or no) reason, in theory we will at some point be taken before a judge. This is where we have the justification explained to us (kind of). It is better than simple martial authority, but I think it falls short of legitimate authority, our government does not have the right to end our lives, don’t get me wrong, it has the ability ( and uses it all the time), but this is not a legitimate authority; there is never a dialogue, “well for justice’s sake you have to die” I would argue that the ill actions of our citizens are FAR more a reflection of society’s failure to care for, provide for and understand our citizens than any personal weakness or deficit in a lone citizen. The masses need a good direct way to challenge authority, the electoral process is nice, but woefully corrupted and slow. It offers no redress for those marginalized (read as poor) peoples.

For an authority to be legitimate it must explain itself to those it rules. There MUST be a mutual understanding, and that understanding must be a living dialogue, ideally there should be consent as well; only then can the governed trust those in power, and only then can any use of martial authority be considered legitimate.

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