The Authority Instinct

The authority instinct is ubiquitous among social species. It increases the survival rate of groups by facilitating decisive action. Presidents, warlords, gang leaders and chiefs are all human analogues of the alpha.

Positive leaders can spark positive societal transformations. Unfortunately these are few and far between.

Modern politics is scripted and choreographed like theater; complete with acting, stagecraft and props. In keeping with the times it has devolved into reality television.

Unfortunately the humans who crave power, and have access to the wealth to win elections are often sociopathic degenerates that any sane society would prevent from holding any position of authority whatsoever. You really wouldn’t want these types running traffic stops, or even checking parking meters for that matter.

Crisis has a way of breeding discontent. And decadent ruling classes often don’t navigate these forces so well. In his books “The Crowd” and “The Psychology of Revolutions” Gustave Le Bon outlined the psychological dynamics of upheavals. Scary stuff really. When armed men utopian dreams set out to reshape society it usually ends badly. How badly depends on the nutcase holding the reigns when the smoke finally clears.

The problem isn’t really that there aren’t enough people out there who would make good leaders. The problem is that most of the human beings on this earth that would be truly great leaders keep their head down. They either don’t speak up or refuse to work with the authority instinct effectively. Unfortunately there is no shortage of idiots and lunatics that have no such compunctions.

In 1961 psychologist Stanley Milgram conducted a series of social experiments to test whether participants would obey an authority figure when given an order which violated their core morality. His goal was to ascertain how previously sane societies can be convinced to commit atrocities.

These experiments demonstrated that the vast majority of humans will carry out orders (albeit reluctantly) which they believe to be causing extreme pain to another human being. 65% will follow these orders to lethality.

In numerous tests, participants from a wide variety of education levels and socio-economic backgrounds obeyed commands to administer electric shocks of ever increasing voltage to a person in an adjoining room. Each shock provoked screams, and pleas to stop the experiment. Many subjects hesitated and questioned the orders, but as long as the authority remained firm most complied to a deadly 450 volts, even after the screams in the other room went silent. The only symbol of authority needed was a white medical jacket.

Authority can be signaled by uniforms, insignias, colors, and other visual representation of power. However vocal intonation and body language which convey an air of strength and certainty can sometimes be sufficient.

The police and the military are key symbols of power, as are government buildings. The disobedience of a single general or a police force refusing to clear an occupying crowd can bring down an entire regime.

It has been said that all that is needed for evil to prevail is that is needed for the good to do nothing, but this isn’t exactly true. The only way the good guys ever defeat fascism is through strong, positive leadership. Their words can’t just make more sense than those of the hateful lunatic yelling in the streets, they must awaken a deeper emotion and a sense of duty. Action becomes a moral imperative; anything less a betrayal of all that they are.

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