Only discriminating authoritarians can resist tyranny
March 22, 2014 § 112 Comments
Liberalism believes itself to be anti-authoritarian. In fact anti-authoritarianism is intrinsic to liberalism and is what constitutes its self-justification. Liberals see their political views as legitimate precisely because they see themselves as defending the freedom and equal rights of the oppressed (and potential oppressed) against authoritarian tyrants.
However, this is an illusion. There are no anti-authoritarian political philosophies.
It is important to be clear here. I am not suggesting that liberalism could be, but is not, authentically anti-authoritarian. I am pointing out that anti-authoritarian political philosophies are not possible. They do not and cannot exist, even in principle. A rationally coherent anti-authoritarian political philosophy is no more possible than white blackness, good evil, round squares, or any other self-contradictory concept. Politics and governance just are the exercise of discriminating authority: authoritarianism is essential to politics and cannot be divorced from it.
So there is no such thing as anti-authoritarian politics. As I’ve suggested before, there is only politics that is self-aware enough to know that it discriminates authoritatively in favor of a particular conception of the good, and politics that lacks self-awareness. Even anarchism proposes to impose its particular vision of the good on everyone.
It follows, perhaps counterintuitively, that only self-consciously discriminatory and authoritarian political philosophies are actually capable of coherently resisting tyranny.