On Hierarchy and Authority

I've been doing my own thinking for far longer than I care to remember, and one of the things I've been thinking about quite a lot recently is hierarchy and authority - and the conclusion I've come to is that I oppose it.

OK, once you get over that heart attack (seriously, see a doctor for that), stop yelling "ANARCHIST!" at your computer screen (you'll get a sore throat and while I toy with anarchy, I have my issues with it) and clear your brain of all those prejudices (that last one might take a while...), I'm going to explain my reasons to you. Done? Good. If not, take a deep breath and count to ten. If that doesn't help, count to ten squared, then ten cubed, then ten to the power of four...

...If nothing else, it'll keep you busy.

Anyway, I oppose hierarchy and authority - lording it over people - because it means that some people end up with their autonomy taken away from them, while others don't. It exploits people, and in a large-scale system (such as the world we live in) you end up with the many being exploited for...well...what? Keeping the system working? It came crashing down around us. The safety and protection of all? Yeah, right. And no, exploitation's not right. Giving some people more rights than others for no good reason, since we're all sentient and sapient and all equal, isn't right either. It only causes suffering and disenfranchisement, neither of which are good. Nor is hierarchy absolutely necessary: if it were, there could be no such thing as a community. Even little friendship groups would have to have defined leaders and subordinates carrying out their duties. And since they quite obviously don't have these things and still function, hierarchy is at least unnecessary in small groups, if not bigger ones. Hell, hunter-gatherers managed it, why can't we?

It's also impossible, or near-impossible, to decide just who should rule. The oldest? They could be senile or too set in their ways and consequently make bad decisions. Only one gender or race? That discriminates against others who could be equally qualified or more capable. Merit? That's too general and implies that people's natures are unchanging. Essentially, whichever method you pick, you're going to end up with some unqualified idiot lording it over people who are intelligent, capable and, more to the point, born with more rights than they're ever going to get thanks to this stupid system we call "hierarchy". It doesn't bring order, it brings oppression, disenfranchisement and suffering. The only ones who benefit are those lucky enough to be at the top, and the ones lucky enough to be at the top are too stupid, too cruel, or both to see that the ones below deserve better. I am sick of pandering to their egos by pretending that anything they do is right or justified.

I will only accept authority if it is necessary, wise, justified and right. So far, I see none of those four conditions met.