Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Authority Vs. Power

"I like the distinction between authority and power. It shifts the ground of discussion in a most interesting way. That’s a really neat idea, the vision of our winning not by struggling for power but struggling for authority, or finding authority, or becoming authority. It seems to me that a cogent distinction between authority and power is that authority people want to make it a tradition, to hand on the authority, in order to teach others how to ‘author’ their own lives; whereas power people are devoted to keeping the power.” (From Restoring the Goddess, interview with a Goddess woman, p. 368-69.)

Although “power” runs the world today, I predict “authority” will run it in Goddess times.

Power is something wrested away, or stolen. In contrast, authority is earned -- by people others trust to do the “right” thing.

Power is a gun. Authority is influential ideas.

Whadya think?


Morgaine said...

I usually describe it as power for the people rather than power over people. We need to move completely away from the competition model. The basic goal of civilization is cooperation to maximize benefit to everyone concerned.

obliq said...

I can agree with Athana. People use power (influence, clout, outright coersian [sp?]) to maintain a false authority.

To a degree I agree with Morgaine. The members of a community strive in a cooperative to quench, feed, and shelter. However, the basic goal of civilization was to come together so one man could get ridiculously wealthy and to defend him and his wealth (power) from another man who wasn't wealthy but commanded the respect of others to follow (authority) so he could get all that wealth.

Civilization is built from the machinations of the few (warlords) on the backs of the many (farmers). All the bad things that happen in the world, happen because someone is working overtime to gain and protect his wealth.


The barbarians are knocking. Should we answer the door?

Athana said...

I've usually thought in terms of "power for" vs "power over" too, Morgaine, a la Riane Eisler, etc. However, I like this distinction between power and authority. I don't really think you can have "authority over" anyone. Not in the true sense of the word.

I'm not sure I want anyone around me having "power," for any reason. But I do want people with good ideas in relation to what the group needs, how to get it, and so forth.

Athana said...

liberal, I think you would like the book I'm reading now: Saharasia: The 4000 BCE Origins of Child Abuse, Sex-Repression, Warfare and Social Violence in the Deserts of the Old World. It's based on the author's mapping of decades of anthropological and archaeological data. Took him ten years to do it. It's hard to argue with these maps. They show an amazing correlation between the world's deserts and the world's warlike, sex-repressed, woman-hating, and high-god cultures. The author says that around 4000 BCE North Africa and Central Asia slowly turned to desert, forcing people to become nomads and fight for what little water there was left. For millenia, hordes of nomads did nothing but fight over the water. The first cities arose around the remaining water -- for example the Tigris, Eurphrates, Nile Valley -- as a way of banding together for safety.

Athana said...

Oh, and I should add this to my last comment: These warlike, sex-repressed, woman-hating, high-god people have now spread over most of the world. We are they. The barbarians aren't knocking at our door -- they already knocked the door *down*, centuries ago, and raped and impregnated our grandmothers. And voila: you, me, Morgaine, Lisa, and most everyone else we know.

ursa said...

I agree with athanas point the barbarians are here ,and they did not bring civilisation they slowed it up. here in the uk the enginering behind our drainage systems has only caught up and surpassed the systems of ancient cities in the last two hundred years .war steals from peace as the romans stole from the etruscans ,only the tecnologys of war benefit from war and in the aftermath there is so much book burning and suppression that other sciences go backwards.

obliq said...

I do find it interesting that some of the most oppressive societies in the world live in the deserts. Women of the islamic world are forced by "religious" law to where coverings from head scarves in mildly theocratic environments to full body coverings that obscure every aspect of the feminine including the eyes.

In the resource-poor regions of deserts, the struggle to hold onto whatever one has is paramount, because there is someone who doesn't have but will kill to get. Such environment leads to the division of labor (gender roles) traditionally setting men as defenders of the band and women as the providers (water, food, sex, warriors). Defense seems to propagate a feeling in men of a bloated sense of self-importance. "Defense is a 24-hour job." "Defense is all that matters." "I put my life on the line to defend you; I deserve stuff." If a man can't hunt for himself, he needs others to provide for him.

In a harsh desert environment, women become a resource. They bear the sons that will one day fight to protect the band (or fight to steal from others). They gather/farm the food and water that feed and quench the warriors. They are (unfortunately) the target of the final outlet (climax) of stress and rage after a hard battle.

The machinations of a few (men) are built on the backs of many (women).

On ursa's comment: Science seems to make little progress without the war machine. Very unfortunate.

I am reminded of a very poignant quote from Dexter's Laboratory. Deedee said that Dexter sat in his lab all day seeking answers to questions nobody asked.

ursa said...

liberal h b.Wars are historically followed by dark ages when we emerge from them we have no idear how much knowledge may have been lost, dito other cataclysmic events.I remember when the main male excuse for the excesses of Alexander the great nuisance was that he spread culture, we now know trade links where open long before that. incidently when he marched on ethiopia in 332 bc he was met by candace a black queen and general at the head of her vast army ,he turned round and ran back to egypt. men don't have a monopoly on being warriors, very unfortunate! .I believe that without wars or floods, destification ect. humanity can only dream of where we might be today. have you read robert graves white goddess, he fought on the somme and it was partly his despair over war that in spired him to write it.

Lisa said...

Morgaine: I usually describe it as power for the people rather than power over people.

That's what Starhawk says in Spiral Dance, right?

Athana said...

Ursa said, "Here in the uk the enginering behind our drainage systems has only caught up and surpassed the systems of ancient cities in the last two hundred years." Ursa -- do you mean the Roman drainage systems, or the Minoan? I've read more than once that the Minoans were more technologically advanced in 1700 BCE than Europeans were in 1700 AD.

The writer Charles Pelegrino actually thinks that if the Minoans hadn’t been destroyed, by the time of Christ they would have landed on the moon.

ursa said...

oh yes I agree the moon and more, I meant all ancient cities up to Roman times ,they stole there tecnology from the matrilineal Etruscans and others but technology was more advanced in1700bc than in europe in 1700 ad drains were terrible and cholera rife before Bazalgett built the great sewers of london in the late 18 hundreds.