Do we need authority?

Just began reading a book about feminism and psychoanalysis, and the author raised an interesting question: is some form of human domination necessary in human civilization?

Freud answered this in the affirmative. He claimed that the origins of civilization lie in the struggle between father and son. The sons who overthrow the father’s authority become afraid of their own aggression and lawlessness and regret the loss of his wonderful power; and so they reinstate law and authority in the father’s image. Thus, in a seemingly unbreakable cycle, revolt is always followed by guilt and restoration of authority: “Every revolution has also been a betrayed revolution” (Herbert Marcuse).

This really struck me, particularly in relation to Egypt. It seems that the revolution was never completed and the military have become de-facto rulers a la Mubarak. Is this because of the explanation above? Was the idea of total chaos and lawlessness too much for people to deal with, and so it seemed easier to allow a new authority to come into power? Many people now are all about stability and security, even under a military dictatorship.

Even at the personal level, it makes sense. What about people who are abused in relationships? Is the prospect of being alone and facing a completely new & different life too much to handle? Is it just easier to continue?

So is human nature in need of some kind of authority? Do we NEED to be dominated? Whether by Arab dictators in the Middle East or neoliberal totalitarianism in Europe? Is freedom, real freedom, too scary?


One thought on “Do we need authority?

  1. almostclever

    Do we need authority? Yep.

    There are too many of us not to need it, for the simpleness of order – which is hard to come by without a main authority figure.
    I think we need it for the simple fact of our masses. There are too many of us.
    We don’t all trust each other, we choose control over the threat of chaos which is why revolution has to be quick or it just won’t be.

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