on the authority of direct experience as distinct from institutional power

In the midst of a variety of ideas about authority, I claim that ideas about authority are all categorically distinct from authority itself, like shadows are distinct from light. While people may follow one who displays confidence, mere confidence is also distinct from authority.

For instance, a child may be confident merely for lack of experience with the present task. “No, I have never done it, but I did read a book about it, or at least part of the book.”

However, there may be times of desperation when a display of confidence is relevant to gather a group and launch a new initiative. In other words, there are times when seeking the wisdom of someone with the authority of experience is a priority and times of emergency when experimenting even ignorantly is essential.

Mere confidence is no match for the authority of experience. For instance, one who has done something even only once has more authority through direct experience than someone who has read a book about it even many times.

Many are encouraged in their confidence because of institutions which reward them for agreeing with the institution’s ideology. Agreeing with ideology leads to an excessive confidence called arrogance.

In fascist cultures, agreement with popular ideology is essential to institutional inclusion. A child is trained as a priority to act in conformity with the ideology of popular institutions.

One must conform at least minimally to avoid persecution. One must recognize the functional authority of the fascist institution, such as the public school system, even when a child is being trained to provide answers that do not conform to reality, but do conform to the ideology of the institution. The trainee learns the distinction between a display of conformity (ideological correctness AKA political correctness) and the direct recognition of the reality.

Further, the child may learn that displaying arrogance is essential to conforming to the standards of a fascist institution or a fascist society. One pretends that institutional conformity is the highest form of authority, when in fact that is not actually authority at all, but only an arrogant conformity.

Arrogance is presented as equivalent to authority. Mere confidence without arrogance is presented as indicative of slightly less authority. Direct experience is discarded as completely irrelevant to authority or even a sign of insanity or at least foolishness.

For instance, if the approved diagnostic code of the official medical authorities dictates that certain medical conditions are incurable, that is the default official position of all agents of that institution. Direct evidence to the contrary may be dismissed, ridiculed, and even criminalized.

Of course it is possible for a licensed agent of a fascist institution to privately recognize the ultimate authority of direct experience, yet to publicly display arrogance or at least a general conformity to the institutional ideology. Outside of their official capacity as agent of the fascist institution, one may privately and discretely practice in conformity not to institutional ideology but in conformity to the authority of direct experience.

Institutional authority is a type of authority, but it is only a social authority. In fact, it is not really authority at all, but only social

Fascist symbol and date "9th year of the ...

Fascist symbol and date "9th year of the fascist era" (1931) on the facade of the Central train station in Milan, Italy. Picture by Giovanni Dall'Orto, december 28 2006. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

power. Of course, the term authority may be so often associated with other patterns like confidence or power that the unique meaning of authority is not recognized.

Authority is the natural consequence of the clarity of personal recognition that only comes from direct experience. Institutions cannot confer authority because they cannot transmit direct experience. Institutions can concentrate political power and then delegate or distribute that power, but that institutional power is not authority.

Further, those with authority in matters that do not conform to institutional ideology may accumulate direct experience in interacting with the agents of institutional ideology. First, contact with institutional agents may be kept to a minimum.

Avoid arguing with them. Avoid drawing attention to yourself. Do not seek their approval. Do not seek to correct them or educate them or govern them.

What is the social and evolutionary value of fascist institutions? They promote arrogance by training people to be arrogantly confident by adhering to the official ideologies of the institutions, then they punish those naive enough to take their personal arrogance to an extreme by attempting to protest or correct the fascist institutions for their fascism.

Fascists cultures present the arrogance of righteousness (ideologically-based confidence) as the highest virtue. In promoting foolishness, fascist cultures serve to sort the naive from the intelligent and adaptive, like a fisherman baits fish with a lure.

The least adaptive in a fascist culture will internalize the basic values of the culture, such as self-righteousness and arrogance, then hypocritically claim to reject the very fascism which is the foundation of their behavior and psychological identity, even protesting self-righteously against self-righteous fascism. The next least adaptive will never call the fascist system fascist, but will gather in to groups and compete against each other for power using the official channels of marginalizing the influence of the masses, such as the democratic elections that are so favored in fascist cultures.

Those moderately adaptive will directly promote their personal administrative power through participating in the fascist institution. Those most adaptive will publicly condemn fascism while privately promoting it, also encouraging the masses to voluntarily marginalize themselves by gathering together to compete with other special interest groups, such as gays vs disabled vs veterans vs gay disabled veterans.

They may assert that all power is derived from rightful institutional power, then condemn all specific instances of institutional power as less than rightful. They may entirely ignore the subject of the authority of direct experience, to the extent that there is any such thing.

Above: the fascist symbol, a fasces, on the city hall of Norrköping, Sweden.

In this famous sculpture of George Washington by Houdon (in the Virginia Capitol in Richmond), the General and first President of the United States rests his left hand on the fasces, symbol of Roman republican power. Fasces were composed of a bundle of rods around an axe.

Even the columns of the great holy temples of Western Political Empires are “fluted” so as to resemble the Roman fasces:

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One Response to “on the authority of direct experience as distinct from institutional power”

  1. john hardin Says:

    Great post! Very informative.

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