Authority Quotes (displaying: 1 - 30 of 602 quotes )
Authority has always attracted the lowest elements in the human race. All through history, mankind has been bullied by scum. Those who lord it over their fellows and toss commands in every direction and would boss the grass in the meadow about which way to bend in the wind are the most depraved kind of prostitutes. They will submit to any indignity, perform any vile act, do anything to achieve power. The worst off-sloughings of the planet are the ingredients of sovereignty. Every government is a parliament of whores. The trouble is, in a democracy the whores are us.
There have been so many interpretations of the story that I'm not going to choose between them. Make your own choice. They contradict each other, the various choices. The only choice that really matters, the only interpretation of the story, if you want one, is your own. Not your teacher's, not your professor's, not mine, not a critic's, not some authority's. The only thing that matters is, first, the experience of being in the story, moving through it. Then any interpretation you like. If it's yours, then that's the right one, because what's in a book is not what an author thought he put into it, it's what the reader gets out of it.
The source of irrational authority, on the other hand, is always power over people. This power can be physical or mental, it can be realistic or only relative in terms of the anxiety and helplessness of the person submitting to this authority. Power on the one side, fear on the other, are always the buttresses on which irrational authority is built. Criticism of the authority is not only required but forbidden. Rational authority is based upon the equality of both authority and subject, which differ only with respect to the degree of knowledge of skill in a praticular field. Irrational authority is by its very nature based on inequality, implying difference in value.
I doubt that my sense of personal freedom is any stronger than anybody else's. I'm happy to respect authority when it's genuine authority, based on moral or intellectual or even technical superiority. I'm eager to follow a hero if we can find one. But I tend to resist or evade any kind of authority based merely on the power to coerce. Government, for example. The Army tried to train us to salute the uniform, not the man. Failed. I will salute the man, maybe, if I think he's worthy of it, but I don't salute uniforms anymore.
I've lived most of my adult life outside the law, and never have I compromised with authority. But neither have I gone out and picked fights with authority. That's stupid. They’re waiting for that; they invite it; it helps keep them powerful. Authority is to be ridiculed, outwitted and avoided. And it is fairly easy to do all three. If you believe in peace, act peacefully; if you believe in love, act lovingly; if you believe every which way, then act every which way, that’s perfectly valid—but don’t go out trying to sell your beliefs to the System. You end up contradicting what you profess to believe in, and you set a bum example. If you want to change the world, change yourself.
The most important human endeavor is the striving for morality in our actions. Our inner balance and even our very existence depend on it. Only morality in our actions can give beauty and dignity to life. To make this a living force and bring it to clear consciousness is perhaps the foremost task of education. The foundation of morality should not be made dependent on myth nor tied to any authority lest doubt about the myth or about the legitimacy of the authority imperil the foundation of sound judgment and action.
What good does it do me, after all, if an ever-watchful authority keeps an eye out to ensure that my pleasures will be tranquil and races ahead of me to ward off all danger, sparing me the need even to think about such things, if that authority, even as it removes the smallest thorns from my path, is also absolute master of my liberty and my life; if it monopolizes vitality and existence to such a degree that when it languishes, everything around it must also languish; when it sleeps, everything must also sleep; and when it dies, everything must also perish?
...Man has a tyrant, ignorance. I voted for the demise of that particular tyrant. That particular tyrant has engendered royalty, which is authority based on falsehood, whereas science is authority based on truth. Man should be governed by science alone."And conscience," added the bishop."It's the same thing. Conscience is the quota of innate science we each have inside us.
America is the only nation in the world that is founded on a creed. That creed is set forth with dogmatic and even theological lucidity in the Declaration of Independence; perhaps the only piece of practical politics that is also theoretical politics and also great literature. It enunciates that all men are equal in their claim to justice, that governments exist to give them that justice, and that their authority is for that reason just. It certainly does condemn anarchism, and it does also by inference condemn atheism, since it clearly names the Creator as the ultimate authority from whom these equal rights are derived. Nobody expects a modern political system to proceed logically in the application of such dogmas, and in the matter of God and Government it is naturally God whose claim is taken more lightly. The point is that there is a creed, if not about divine, at least about human things.