Humanity has suffered enough from grossly inaccurate history told by mistaken prophets.
“There will be, in the next generation or so, a pharmacological method of making people love their servitude, and producing dictatorship without tears, so to speak, producing a kind of painless concentration camp for entire societies, so that people will in fact have their liberties taken away from them, but will rather enjoy it, because they will be distracted from any desire to rebel by propaganda or brainwashing, or brainwashing enhanced by pharmacological methods. And this seems to be the final revolution.”
Aldous Huxley, conference at California Medical School, 1961
“Many anti-authoritarians who earlier in their lives were diagnosed with mental illness tell me that once they were labeled with a psychiatric diagnosis, they got caught in a dilemma. Authoritarians, by definition, demand unquestioning obedience, and so any resistance to their diagnosis and treatment created enormous anxiety for authoritarian mental health professionals; and professionals, feeling out of control, labeled them “noncompliant with treatment,” increased the severity of their diagnosis, and jacked up their medications. This was enraging for these anti-authoritarians, sometimes so much so that they reacted in ways that made them appear even more frightening to their families.”
Anti-authoritarians question whether an authority is a legitimate one before taking that authority seriously. Evaluating the legitimacy of authorities includes assessing whether or not authorities actually know what they are talking about, are honest, and care about those people who are respecting their authority. And when anti-authoritarians assess an authority to be illegitimate, they challenge and resist that authority—sometimes aggressively and sometimes passive-aggressively, sometimes wisely and sometimes not.
Some activists lament how few anti-authoritarians there appear to be in the United States. One reason could be that many natural anti-authoritarians are now psychopathologized and medicated before they achieve political consciousness of society’s most oppressive authorities.
Deconstruction is concerned with “…the impossibility of every ‘is’ as such. Deconstruction begins, as it were, from a refusal of the authority or determining power of every ‘is’, or simply from a refusal of authority in general… . Or as Derrida puts it in one of many approximations of a definition of deconstruction, to say that deconstruction consists of anything would be to say it consists of ‘deconstructing, dislocating, displacing, disarticulating, disjoining, putting ‘out of joint’ the authority of the ‘is.’” … Like every word (and the same could be said for every thing) deconstruction ‘acquires its value from its inscription in a chain of possible solutions.’ Always within a context, that is to say, the word deconstruction ‘replaces and lets itself be determined by such other words’ as differance, pharmakon, trace, supplement, hymen, iterability, parergon, and the like… . To put it tentatively, deconstruction might be said to be what ‘happens’ to things.” (12-13)
From Niall Lucy’s A Derrida Dictionary
“Concepts that have proven useful in ordering things easily achieve such authority over us that we forget their earthly origins and accept them as unalterable givens. Thus they might come to be stamped as ‘necessities of thought,’ ‘a priori givens,’ etc. The path of scientific progress is often made impassable for a long time by such errors. Therefore it is by no means an idle game if we become practiced in analysing long-held commonplace concepts and showing the circumstances on which their justification and usefulness depend, and how they have grown up, individually, out of the givens of experience. Thus their excessive authority will be broken. They will be removed if they cannot be properly legitimated, corrected if their correlation with given things be far too superfluous, or replaced if a new system can be established that we prefer for whatever reason.”
—Albert Einstein, in his obituary for physicist and philosopher Ernst Mach, Physikalische Zeitschrift 17 (1916)
From Wilhelm Reich’s “The Mass Psychology of Fascism” (1933):
“Fascist mentality is the mentality of the subjugated ‘little man’ who craves authority and rebels against it at the same time. It is not by accident that all fascist dictators stem from the milieu of the little reactionary man. The captains of industry and the feudal militarist make use of this social fact for their own purposes. A mechanistic authoritarian civilization only reaps, in the form of fascism, from the little, suppressed man what for hundreds of years it has sown in the masses of little, suppressed individuals in the form of mysticism, top-sergeant mentality and automatism.”
The triumphs of science are due to the substitution of observation and inference for authority. Every attempt to revive authority in intellectual matters is a retrograde step. And it is part of the scientific attitude that the pronouncements of science do not claim to be certain, but only to be the most probable on present evidence. One of the greatest benefits that science confers upon those who understand its spirit is that it enables them to live without the delusive support of subjective certainty.
“Acts themselves alone are history and these are neither the exclusive property of Hume, Gibbon, nor Voltaire, Echard, Rapin, Plutach, nor Herodotus. Tell me the Acts, O historian, and leave me to reason upon them as I please; away with your reasoning and your rubbish! all that is not action is not worth reading. Tell me the What; I do not want you to tell me the Why, and the How; I can find that out myself, as well as you can, and I will not be fooled by you into opinions, that you please to impose, to disbelieve what you think improbable or impossible.”
William Blake, Descriptive Catalogue, E543-44.
“He who writes things for true which none could write. But the actor. Such are most of the acts of Moses. Must either be the actor or a fable writer or a liar. If Moses did not write the history of his acts. It takes away the authority altogether it ceases to be history & becomes a Poem … Of probable impossibilities fabricated for pleasure.”
William Blake’s “Annotations to An Apology for the Bible” (E616)