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  • Posted by chad 11 months ago
    I would venture that humans are hardwired to accept authority and they seek it whether in the spiritual religious realm or in the form of a government. They do not need it and are better off if they ignore it. Religion and government are twin evils born probably at the same moment in time and support each other or try to eliminate each other or become one to make slaves of the willing masses. I started questioning statist philosophies when I was in grade school and teachers would state that there must be a graduated income tax because people who were rich would still be left with more, or the idea that if one person misbehaves with his property then everyone must be controlled to protect the community. That the state had claim on all of your property and could determine what amount to leave you with, license and control your use and even indebt your property without your permission and claim the right was given to them by the voting majority.
    I thought the principle of liberty was so simple and easy to understand that all that was necessary was to explain it to the confused populace, they would have an epiphany and accept it. Instead the populace in general demands slavery, accepts it when 'authority' claims the right and submits all of their morals to the whims of the state committing all manner of demanded barbarism in the name of protecting the states right to make them slaves. The people will kill their own by the millions to protect the state and attack any outsiders the state directs them to. The two most dangerous words are faith and duty because they can be used to get the masses to commit any crime against humanity in the name of self preservation. In reality if the masses obeyed the morals of the objectivist philosophy and ignored those who claimed to be authorities the authorities would have no power.
    If the German people had ignored the orders to kill the Jews the carnage would have been much less. Some still might have obeyed Hitler but it could have quickly been stopped if the masses refused to let "duty and authority" trump morality. Hitler didn't kill millions, he ordered it done and the serfs believing they had no alternative to resisting authority did his bidding even if they secretly believed it was wrong and those not directly involved payed their taxes to fund the war and the murder demanded by the 'leaders with authority.' Even those who claim to understand that evil is evil and should not be obeyed still wait for permission from those who claim to be authorities before allowing themselves to conform with what they understand to be moral. Resisting authority is almost unheard of among humans no matter how evil. When it is finally resisted or overthrown it is most often replaced with another evil authority and it is obeyed.
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  • Posted by Abaco 11 months ago
    I think so, yes. This is based on the behavior of my fellow Americans. My fellow Americans are, possibly, the least sheep-like people in written history. (The Vikings didn't have written history from what I understand...if you get my drift). And, I am repeatedly amazed at how our citizens worship people in costumes...Popes, judges, elected officials, on and on...
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  • Posted by  $  jlc 11 months ago
    I think that there is a real answer and that, like most things, the answer is partially genetic and partially environmental and - again like most things - the degree to which each individual follows authority falls on a Bell curve.

    datum: Social Conformity has a genetic component (per Steven Pinker, Matt Ridley)

    datum: Foraging societies are not hierarchical; all known agricultural societies are very hierarchical, tech societies are less hierarchical than agricultural but more than foraging. (per Ian Morris)

    datum: It only takes about 5,000 to evolve a new gene. (many)

    When you put that together, you have some outside parameters set by society - and whomever fills those parameters better will have more genetic descendants. Up until about 1900, the Earth was basically agricultural, so people who did well in a structured society flourished.

    The US is a genetic 'trash heap' for malcontents from Europe, so we have more of the outliers here, and - as society has gone past farming into tech - we have adapted to technology quickly.

    Jan
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  • Posted by 11 months ago
    I'd be interested in knowing how you compare American with other cultures with a written history. Ayn Rand's classic The Fountainhead does a great job describing the proliferation of "second-handers" and I see them everywhere all the time.
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    • Posted by CircuitGuy 11 months ago
      Emerson wrote about them. I too wonder how come my US society compares to other times and places. My impression is it's really good, far from a utopia of individualists, but very good as human societies go.
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  • Posted by 11 months ago
    Here is a comment from someone who knows the show and has an interesting point of view on the question.
    Interesting and thought provoking article, but to re-iterate the conclusion in another way: Societies WILL always insist on having some sort of "executive" authority figure. It is human nature, hard wired biology. All primates have it. The answer is to understand that basic fact and go from there. Leadership closest to local communities is the leadership that they can steer and control the easiest. A federal system that shares power with states and localities should only have broader authority on emergency issues, working out differences between the smaller communities, and certain matters that pertain to security- but in a controlled and strictly specific way. The North, although done with feudal lords, works in a similar way. The Northern communities are fiercely independent, and only rally to the Starks when the collective security is threatened. The Starks are a family that has built trust through integrity, but when it appears, for a time, that the Starks aren't strong enough, the Northerners temporarily lose faith in them- showing that blind loyalty is not for them. When Jon Snow returns and wins a major battle with the help of Sansa's Vale connections, the faith is restored and they once again rally to "The King in the North." Another way of seeing things- counter to your version - is that without a strong and ethical leadership, the people suffer the most. Hierarchy is a permanent condition in humanity, like it or not, but individuals can create their own agency and people can affect who sits at the top, and how they stay there or get replaced.
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  • Posted by  $  mminnick 11 months ago
    To answer your question: I don't know. I've never seen the show.
    To comment on your title line I would say no. they are however predisposed to form groups and the more aggressive of the group usually move to leadership positions. Once in these positions leaders do not naturally leave them. That is why we (in USA) have rules on time the president can casre. Not the real power mongers have excused themselves from term limits but deny the citizens the right to keep electing a popular president past two terms. keeps the opposition down. Inn other countries with parliamentary forms of government, getting rid of the leader is even easier. Just have a no confidence vote and call a general election to get rid oh the leader. The leader there can stay in power as long as they have popular support or at least a majority of the support from the parliament.
    I think the electoral turmoil is sufficient to at least point to humanity doesn't want someonw with total authority.
    On the other hand the fact that all humanity has always opted for a leader of some sort indicates a willingness to submit to authority in some form. Given the history of the overthrow of rulers etc it authority must be light handed and generally beneficial of it doesn't last too long.

    +1
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    • Posted by  $  Olduglycarl 11 months ago
      I think, among conscious humans, all we want is a mediator, someone with the wisdom and temperament to settle disputes. Maybe someone good at organizing (to accomplish a goal within our community or civilization as a whole...like a bridge or something.) as well; but in daily life as a rule, we are capable of doing for ourselves....we don't need an overlord, just some basic principles to agree on.
      The bigger the community or territory gets, the more complex it gets. That is why our forefathers set up America the way they did...but now we have useless idiots that can't even tie their shoes without making it a big deal.

      PS...not familiar with the show either.
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  • Posted by Owlsrayne 11 months ago
    I always had a rebellious nature as a child and through teenage years. Then in college, I took a course in "20th Century Revolutions" presented by a young female professor and I was hooked. That's what put me politically and philosophically to the far right. I abhor authority that tries to dictate how I should live my life. Even down to contractors who come with good ratings and recommendations who screw up a job on/in my house I become confrontational.
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  • Posted by bsmith51 11 months ago
    To me, it comes down to how children transition from the benevolent dictatorship of family to self-reliance and independence. We're all hard-wired to rebel in our teen years to facilitate this transition. The question is whether we have the tools to successfully complete it.

    Our public schools, in inculcating the notion that our individualism should be subordinated to the collective, have all but ensured that, for the millennial and snowflake generations, that answer is, "no."
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  • Posted by  $  blarman 11 months ago
    I think people need purpose and they look to leaders to give them purpose. Whether or not those leaders actually provide that is a whole other matter. It isn't absolute power which corrupts, but when the pursuit of power becomes the purpose for the authority figure. It is just very difficult for mankind to reject the allure of power (for power's sake).
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  • Posted by CircuitGuy 11 months ago
    I think we're adapted to have a need for individuality and to belong to a group. As jlc said, agricultural societies are more hierarchical than hunter-gathers or technologically advance societies. I think that's because you need to expand the feeling of a family or tribe to an entire city for agriculture. Maybe Enlightenment philosophy is associated with the science required for industrial and information technology societies.

    My impression of human nature is that we're adapted for some form of tribal collectivism, and we must use our reason to rise above that impulse.
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  • Posted by 11 months ago
    Great analogy about being handicapped Herb. People I know or know about cherish their independence and self-reliance. Yet we have large swaths of the population who gave been conditioned I to thinking its OK for government to do as much as possible. Leaders and followers are great so long as the hierarchy remains as flat as possible.
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  • Posted by Herb7734 11 months ago
    As a handicapped person, I find it tempting to simply rely on people to do things for me. It is so tempting to get them to do things that I can do for myself. All I have to do is ask and my helper, thinking I am unable will do it forme. But the far healthier thing, both physically and mentally is to do it yourself and to rely on others to do only what is actually needed because I am unable to do it myself. This is what happens when a class of people reigns over a "lower class. The temptation to be "taken care of"is very great especially when it comes to menial tasks. It is a side benefit of wealth and power. And, I might add that it is often the most abused benefit of a "ruling class." We don't need such attention but as long as you have the power, well then.....
    Every tribe has a "head man or woman" and they are either the biggest, strongest or smartest.But that doesn't mean that the average person cannot survive without them Human are way too complex to attribute one or two characteristics to them.Leave it to the anthropologists.
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  • Posted by term2 11 months ago
    Maybe its laziness that inspires us to need "authority". If not for that, isnt authority just external control with no guarantee of it being what you want. Once you give in to authority, its all up to whoever has the authority, and you have to give in to it.
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