Network World

Peeling the onion of authority

Authority: the power or right to give orders, make decisions, and enforce obedience.

Authority is build up over many layers of legitimacy laid down through history. The nature of these layers varies. Take for examples monarchies. Which are their layers? Clearly not formally democratic. Some of them are based on tradition. Others on historic coercion (read violence) exercised by the ancestors of the current kings and queens – basically winning battles against their adversaries for power. And others are more subtle. For example, a monarchy can construct layers based on “material democracy”, that is, not the one coming from formal democratic procedures e.g. voting, but by the consent of the people. These layers can come from very diverse sources which connect the monarch with “the people”. One of them may easily be the participation of the monarch in popular events. Don’t be fooled. This is not because he or she enjoys them, it is a rite to connect with you, to get your material consent, to be “near the people”, yet the monarchy remains an unelected institution which head position is inherited by blood.

If we want to build up a more democratic society, I believe we have to learn, together, to peel the onion of authority, otherwise we’ll be kept being fooled. Beneath the “popular king (or queen)” who seems so near “his (her)” people, there is an undemocratic legacy based on nastier things: violence, hierarchy and traditions that leave us out of actual power of decision and action. Peeling the onion of authority is uncovering these crude realities that support illegitimate authorities. And monarchy, all monarchies, is one of these illegitimate authorities.

Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth. – Albert Einstein

Creative Life Facebook me Travel

We went far, we’ll go farer (III)

In late May, I went with a friend to Saint Petersburg. That trip was probably one of the best trips I’ve ever had. The company, the weather, the city, the country and the people around brought us into a state of mind and heart that was very special. We had a few experiences that have marked our lives. I’ve already told you about two of them – an orthodox religious ceremony and life and stones. Now I want to tell you about the third and last of these life experiences. It is about a museum, paintings, beauty and overwhelming feelings. It is about the Hermitage and its impressive collection. It is about what makes us human: creativity.

Creative Life

Digression on the dying disciplining tie

I’ve never liked ties. Now, like it happened with the hat, we are witnessing the last hours of it as a necessary garment at work and certain social events. More and more, I see how some men wear it and others don’t. The first are the ones who accept the powers that be, the establishment, those who want to play by the rules established by the top: the city (finance world loves it!), the civil servants, the consultants. And nearly anybody over 50 who works in an office. So the tie is becoming a symbol of old power in front of changing times that are empowering the individual.

The tie represents the disciplining of the person to make it fit within the necessary standards that bureaucratic structures need to function. Basically the tie says: “leave yourself out, we want someone that looks and acts like us, for we need uniformity to perform uniform tasks for the sake of efficacy”. But the new world needs the opposite, it needs creativity, innovation and personalisation. It needs the individual to be him/herself to get the maximum of his/her individuality. It needs diversity. This, the tie, at least when it is an “obligatory” piece of garment, and its disciplining effects cannot and won’t provide.