an acceptable form of authority ?

9 posts / 0 new
Last post
Croy's picture
Croy
Offline
Joined: 26-05-11
May 30 2011 18:36
an acceptable form of authority ?

I know anarchists reject authority in the sense of hierarchical sense but do anarchists reject all forms of authority ? one form of authority which I wasn't sure whether we should reject is authority of expertise, when some one can claim more authority because they are more experienced or knowledgeable on a subject

radicalgraffiti
Offline
Joined: 4-11-07
May 30 2011 18:53

authority as in the right to give someone orders and authority as in knowing more about a particular subject than others are entirely different things.

Quote:
Does it follow that I reject all authority? Perish the thought. In the matter of boots, I defer to the authority of the boot-maker.
Mikhail Bakunin

Read more: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/m/mikhail_bakunin.html#ixzz1NrZhRRVO

Chilli Sauce's picture
Chilli Sauce
Offline
Joined: 5-10-07
May 30 2011 20:20

Chomsky talks about this quite a bit in the interviews found in "Chomsky on Anarchism". Well worth a read.

arf
Offline
Joined: 25-11-06
May 30 2011 20:25

try googling natural authority vs coercive authority, you should find some stuff. if youre interested in natural authority in an educational context try john holt.

Steven.'s picture
Steven.
Offline
Joined: 27-06-06
May 30 2011 23:30

Exactly, the ability to give orders (and, importantly to enforce them with violence or the threat of withdrawal of income/food/housing) and knowing a lot about a subject are completely different things.

But an anarchist society would try to spread knowledge and expertise as much as possible to the widest number of people as possible

Croy's picture
Croy
Offline
Joined: 26-05-11
May 31 2011 11:42

I guess I would still call it an authority because you often hear the phrase "x is an authority on x" or "x has better authority on which to speak about x"

tigersiskillers
Offline
Joined: 7-08-06
May 31 2011 12:18

Years ago I read quite a good distinction (can't remember where, this is like 20 years ago when I was but a child so it was probably someone like Colin Ward embarrassed ):

You can be in authority, have authority or be an authority.

The first is the objectionable one, as it's a position of power. The second 2 are based around personal qualities.

In practice I'd be a little more nuanced than that, eg anarchist militia leaders in the Spanish revolution being placed in the first category (by consent, with limitations), presumably because they were trusted and/or had tactical skills - ie the second two categories, but it's a nice way of teasing out the bootmaker example Bakunin uses.

jef costello's picture
jef costello
Offline
Joined: 9-02-06
May 31 2011 15:36

The problem is with hierarchy, not necessarily with authority (depending upon how it is defined). There is no problem with deferring to someone with greater knowledge or expertise and I don't think that enforcing that would be a problem either. The problem is where knowledge and expertise are used to create and sustain a hierarchy. For example I wouldn't want brain surgery from an unqualified person, but I don't think that limiting that knowledge to a small elite is good practise either. As Steven said, knowledge would be shared and spread. No one would be worried about showing the new person how to do a task for fear of being replaced, no one would want to hang on to 'valuable' knowledge either, it would be just another shared resource available to humanity,

Aflwydd
Offline
Joined: 22-05-11
May 31 2011 16:21
jef costello wrote:
The problem is with hierarchy, not necessarily with authority (depending upon how it is defined). There is no problem with deferring to someone with greater knowledge or expertise and I don't think that enforcing that would be a problem either. The problem is where knowledge and expertise are used to create and sustain a hierarchy. For example I wouldn't want brain surgery from an unqualified person, but I don't think that limiting that knowledge to a small elite is good practise either. As Steven said, knowledge would be shared and spread. No one would be worried about showing the new person how to do a task for fear of being replaced, no one would want to hang on to 'valuable' knowledge either, it would be just another shared resource available to humanity,

One of the main reasons I was attracted to anarchism. If people are self-sufficient, not defined by their occupation, and free to learn whatever they want from people who are willing to teach with patience, we will live in a happier society.

In certain fields, such as mechanics and carpentry, I've noticed a distinct lack of patience on the part of certain teachers. As someone who wasn't blessed with great practical ability or much of an interest in such activities, I find it quite daunting attempting to enter a training course due to what i've seen and heard about the methods of teaching.

This lack of patience is a society issue, especially in the advanced capitalist societies, and leads to a split between people who are ostensibly 'street smart' opposed to people who are 'book smart'.

I live in an industrial town in South Wales and can't help but notice the obvious split between the 'ignorant chavs who have never read a book in their lives' and the 'bookworms who don't know anything about the real world'. Both groups are equally annoying and I don't understand why they can't be tolerant of each other, or even attempt to learn from each other.