Sunday, September 14, 2014

Anit-Authoritarian as a Virtue

“The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become
so absolutely free that your very existence is an act
of rebellion.”

- Albert Camus

"You know what your problem is, Niall? You have a problem with authority; with someone telling you what to do."

I've been told that on more than one occasion, and by more than one person over the years. Which I guess is why I was mildly amused when I learned that something similar was once said to Albert Einstein by one  of his professors "You have but one fault; no one can tell you anything."

A lot of people have also made the observation that I'm very bright and intelligent. However I think it's fair to say that my IQ still falls short of Einstein's

But about being anti-authority, I admit it's true. But to them, I might make the following observation "You say anti-authority like it's a bad thing." And it IS a bad thing -- for a lot of people. But not
necessarily for the reasons they would have you believe. Our society stigmatizes and ascribes pathology to anti-authoritarians in many ways. A lot of the time this takes the form of labeling and good old fashioned shaming will do. I'm no stranger to this; after all I've experienced it firsthand.

So you can imagine, it was with great interest that I read some of the work of American psychologist, Bruce E. Levine, Ph.D and self-professed anti-authoritarian. He notes that over the course of his career, he has dealt with many people who had been diagnosed by other professionals as having ADHD, ODD, GAD as well as other psychiatric problems.

According to Levine:
"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"  1
On the subject of why anti-authoritarians seem so few in number, he proposes the follwing hypothesis:
"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."
I remember reading the novel One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest for the first time during my senior year in high school. Randall Patrick McMurphy was the protagonist, though as far as Nurse Ratched and  most of the hospital staff were concerned, he was no hero. He was a threat to the establishment; a threat that needed to be dealt with. And those of you familiar with the story know what ultimately happened to him.