We live in an age in which many of the old, top-down authority structures are collapsing before our very eyes. In large measure, the collapse of top-down authority is due to “democratizing” effect of technology, which is having an effect on our politics, on the media, on medicine, even on education.
What is it
Authority can refer to people or institutions that have the political power to make decisions, give orders, and enforce rules. It can also refer to a certain kind of expertise or knowledge that we might defer to. Sometimes we respect authority, and sometimes we resist it or even revolt against it. But where exactly does authority come from, and when, if ever, ought we defer to it? How do we challenge authority? What makes an authority figure authoritarian? And can there be anarchist forms of authority? Josh and Ken authorize a conversation with James Martel from San Francisco State University, author of Subverting the Leviathan: Reading Thomas Hobbes as a Radical Democrat.