Today, we’re discussing authority, what is good and bad authority, and how to resist being a sheep to unjust authority.
Table of Contents
- What Is Good Authority? What Is Bad Authority?
- Why Focus On Authority and Individualism?
- The Five Ways To Avoid Being A Sheep To Authority
- What Is The Purpose of Authority?
What Is Good Authority? What Is Bad Authority?
“All persons ought to endeavor to follow what is right, and not what is established.” – Aristotle
Authority is “the power or right to give orders, make decisions, and enforce obedience.”
Good authority or leadership elevates individuals through competence, adherence to universal morality, and respect for property rights and individual sovereignty. Bad authority or management seeks to strip individuals of choice, celebrate vice, and avoid responsibility.
There are many examples of right and evil authority. An upright parent raises freethinkers who enjoy a stable, enriching childhood. A lousy parent abuses their children and guilts them into sticking around. A moral government refrains from growing in size and focuses on protection. A corrupt government becomes an unsustainable nanny-state.
Why Focus On Authority and Individualism?
Individualism is not at odds with authority. Why? Because leadership is vital for businesses, societies, households, and groups. Where there are objective standards, someone should be in charge.
“Being in charge” includes being a parent, a business leader, or a master in a specific field. “Authority” covers leaders, teachers, presidents, parents, and tradesmen. Thus, authority is deeper than government and citizen relationships. Wherever there is a hierarchy, someone is at the top, and that top is the “authority.”
The Five Ways To Avoid Being A Sheep To Authority
As individualists, however, we should avoid becoming sheep. The blind follower ensures political, religious, and structural abuse continues forward. Therefore, individuals must criticize corrupt leaders while supporting good leaders.
For the rest of the post, I discuss how to avoid being a sheep and a victim of manipulative “experts.” Here are the techniques:
- Stop desiring power
- Be investigative
- Practice universality
- Be an authority in your own life
- Celebrate competent leadership when you find it
1. Stop Desiring Power And Giving Your Consent To Bad Authority
“A mob’s always made up of people, no matter what. Mr. Cunningham was part of a mob last night, but he was still a man. Every mob in every little Southern town is always made up of people you know–doesn’t say much for them, does it?” – Harper Lee
People follow evil authority because they want power. For example, people support socialist candidates in hopes those same candidates will punish hated enemies. The result? The socialists become millionaires, take over the country, and oppress gullible citizens.
Being the teacher’s pet or a mindless voter will not give you the power you seek. You provide power to the powerful. Yet, they will never share it with you. Luckily, you are not easy to fool when you control your emotions and your desire for power.
Remember, politicians will manipulate you to “eat the rich” while those same politicians become richer. Race hustlers will lie to make you hate your neighbor’s skin color. A bad teacher will mock you as you pay them to educate you.
Corrupt authority gains its power from your consent. Withdraw it, and the power diminishes.
2. Be Investigative to avoid losing time and money to cheats
On a personal level, an individual must be critical. If you’re analytical, you won’t become a mindless consumer or useful sheep to those in power.
For example, you may need a mechanic to fix your car. The mechanic is an “authority” in automobiles. You must pay for his services. However, you shouldn’t be lazy or stupid. Ask questions. Shop around. Request estimates.
Be investigative, and you can choose the best authority to serve you, teach you a new skill, or give advice.
Investigate and you won’t fall victim to a bad teacher or salesman.
3. Practice universality to understand the actions of leaders
“A million zeros joined together do not, unfortunately, add up to one. Ultimately everything depends on the quality of the individual, but our fatally shortsighted age thinks only in terms of large numbers and mass organizations, though one would think that the world had seen more than enough of what a well-disciplined mob can do in the hands of a single madman. Unfortunately, this realization does not seem to have penetrated very far – and our blindness is extremely dangerous.” – C.G. Jung
On a societal level, the best way to avoid becoming a sheep is to practice universality.
Also, authority does not translate into truth or morality. Having power, knowledge, or talent does not make your opinions or actions correct. For example, an experienced virologist can misread the dangers of a virus.
Thus, seek universality in government, education, and media. Ask questions. Research what you can. Push back and be a freethinker
4. Be an authority in your life and earn power over yourself
Good authority is about responsibility, virtue, and morality. Therefore, to understand and appreciate proper leadership, you must become a leader in your own life.
How do you become the ruler of yourself? Through tried and true methods:
- Pursue virtue to decrease your vices, improve your behavior, and expand your opportunities. Pursue virtue by asking yourself, “is this virtuous” whenever you act.
- Controlling your emotions helps you respond reasonably. Control your emotions by practicing breathing exercises, remaining grateful, and avoiding emotionally draining situations.
- Understand yourself for insight into your attitudes, actions, and responses. Understand yourself through journaling, conversing with virtuous people, and meditating.
5. Celebrate proper authority, and you’ll see more of it
Individualists are lone dogs; it’s apart of the charm. However, we will be in positions of authority or under the jurisdiction of others. Therefore, we should celebrate good leadership.
If you have a good boss, find an honest politician, or see a hardworking father, give them support. Defend their character. Promote their attitudes and behaviors.
How do you provide support? If lazy coworkers unjustly criticize your boss, then defend your boss. If people say dads are useless, then share stories of the positive male figures. If you see a proven and honest politician running for office, then vote for them.
The world needs virtuous leaders. Yes, individualists differ on government, economics, the rule of law, and so forth. I believe, however, very few individualists are against responsible parents, reasonable bosses, or honest politicians.
What Is The Purpose of Authority?
“It is a curious thing, Harry, but perhaps those who are best suited to power are those who have never sought it. Those who, like you, have leadership thrust upon them, and take up the mantle because they must, and find to their own surprise that they wear it well.” – J.K. Rowling
Authority uses competence, goodwill, and virtue to help individuals perform admirably. Authority is not about obedience. It is about leadership.
As you travel in life, you will experience leadership or have the opportunity to be a leader. In these moments, you must keep the above lessons in mind. The more you embrace competent authority and criticize corrupt power, the better off everyone will be.
These books cover sheep mentality and how to avoid being a sheep to the ruling classes.
- 1984 by George Orwell
- The True Believer: Thoughts On The Nature Of Mass Movements by Eric Hoffer
- The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene
- Animal Farm by George Orwell
- The Road to Serfdom by F.A. Hayek
- What are the examples of good authority in your life? What are the examples of bad authority?
- Are you a leader? Are you in expert in your field or a parent to a child? What can you do to improve your leadership abilities?
- Of the list above, which action is the hardest to implement for you?
- Have you ever been a sheep to the powerful? Why? How do you feel after freeing yourself from the influence?
Please remember that it’s important to do the actionables. You’re not on this earth to simply read but to do. To become an individual, you must act more than you consume.
*Image credit to Unsplash.