The Paradox of Authority

by | Nov 22, 2021

Every government in human history has eventually collapsed.

Even Plato recognized this inevitability and theorized the average State lifespan was around 300 years.

Must it be this way? Is it avoidable?

Sadly, I don’t believe so.

There is no resolution for the Paradox of Authority.

What does a State desire? In a broad, “collective” sense? Leaving aside any naturally malevolent aims or outcomes, any high browed conspiracy theories, proven, admitted or otherwise. Even assuming that every State employee is a well-intentioned public servant, the collective State wants the exact same thing as any other organization or individual, generally speaking:

Relevancy. Stability. Growth.

How do you become relevant? You work tirelessly to demonstrate that not only do you solve problems for your target market, but that absent your presence in the economy or society that the problems you solve have no other viable solutions.

Striving toward relevancy works out rather advantageously in a market economy. Why? Because the election of the solutions an organization provides is Voluntary. Consumers within a market can go elsewhere if and when a solution provider materializes who solves problems differently, better, faster, more innovatively, efficiently or cheaper.

In respect to a State, a State monopolizes the services it provides and creates legally violent obstacles to any competitive provision of service. Since a State does not need to provide service differently, better, faster, more innovatively, efficiently or cheaper in order for its constituents to remain loyal, the State must rely instead on its constituent’s perception of risk for which they assign the State authority to provide protection.

Should a State do such a remarkable job that it successfully protects its constituents and solves for all possible risk within society then the State, and its employees, understand that appetite for its existence and services will inevitably wane, because the constituency doesn’t feel threatened and thus, no steady appetite for a government’s omnipresence.

To remain Relevant, a State must consistently work to identify risk for which its constituents will perceive a need for protection and then market their services to convince the public that the State is the only possible solution to the identified theater of risk.

Stability. Any organization will naturally work to insulate itself against any form of destabilization. There are millions of Americans who have constructed careers within the State. Their entire livelihoods depend on the Stability of the State. Not only would any rational individual like to ensure the Stability of their career and income, but they would also prefer to feel Relevant themselves, individually, to their mission and so will work tirelessly to grow and elevate the reach and influence of whatever position they hold within any set department. Why do you feel budgets never shrink? Relevancy. Stability. Growth.

It doesn’t matter how genius, insightful, forward thinking, or innovative one structures a government. It doesn’t matter whether it prescribes to Marxist ideals or Rothbardian. It doesn’t matter if balanced equity is realized, or income inequality is eradicated.

So long as a society grants the organization the right to possess violent authority, and that society believes, religiously, in the righteousness of that authority and so long as that society accepts that their preferred mechanism of authority holds monopolized rights to such a defined privilege, then there is no outcome other than the outcome that has always manifested over time. Reach. (for relevancy and growth) Overreach. Bloat. Collapse.

It doesn’t matter how many checks you place upon authority. It doesn’t matter how many systems of balance you design. Ultimately, every department within the organs of the State, while in theory balancing one another, all have a common interest. State relevancy. State stability. State growth. Insomuch that they all have aligned interests, they all naturally have aligned incentives and such, no mechanisms of balance possess the ability to prevent bloat and collapse. Especially considering this is a multi-generational development.

When one obtains a position of political authority during their lifetime, and uniquely recognizes threatening over-reach of contemporary State action, they will always fail to collect an appropriate degree of support and internal co-champions to put forth the work of causing real pain to those who find themselves in the current employ and career of the State at that time, if and when the size, scope, relevancy and authority of the State becomes dangerously large.

Dangerously? When I use this term, I don’t mean that in the sense that it might be dangerous to the people it’s actions impact. Petty criminals, mentally ill, speeders, parents of truant children, children caught in the crossfire of hubristic visions of Utopian prohibitionism, innocent children and non-combatants on the receiving end of falling bombs of hubristic visions of Democratarianism……though the State is particularly dangerous and efficiently deadly within reach of those victims.

No. When I state dangerous in this example, I specifically mean dangerous to the stability of the organization that is the State. So, even when the reach, size and actions of a State manifest to a point where it runs counter to the general will of the people at large and constituents begin losing patience with the largesse of the Leviathan around them, even then, State actors are powerless to curtail those actions that strive toward a perception of Stability through Growth and Relevancy.

Inevitably, as we see over and over again through history, once the largesse reaches a point of absolute obesity the people look upon the State not with reverence any longer, but with disgust. It’s this exact same social disgust that drives the Conservative mind. Conservatives are disgusted by disorder. An obese and out of control State has its disorder laid bare and transparent for all to see. Disgust fuels Revolutions.

Sadly, once the Revolution has toppled any given regime, the people go about unquestioning the validity of the unchallenged assumption as to whether the State even needs to exist to begin with. They re-order the structures of Authority, set this as the center piece of the new State and look upon their Creation with reverence and adoration. The founders are set within statures of folktale and the preaching begins.

There is generally a couple generations of calm as people are mostly left alone to carry out their individual lives. This just happens to be the secret to a calm and peaceful society; leave people alone to carry out their individual lives.

However. Right there. Wholly unnoticed to contemporary observers living in that time. Blossoming from the fertile womb of Authority itself. There is an ambitious soul looking to do right by the people who entrusted them with their reverent State. Enough time has passed that they grew up around dinner tables absent anyone who lived through the horror of bloat and collapse. Wanting to accomplish and innovate in ways never done. Wanting their names and legacy remembered as dotingly as those of the founders.

How can they do that? Certainly not by inaction! Certainly not by doing nothing. Certainly not by allowing some parts of their constituency to suffer while they have been given the authority to heroically alleviate that suffering.

Action! What action? Relevancy. Stability. Growth.

The American society is losing patience with its Leviathan. Amongst the general populace the perception frustratingly persists that it’s “others” they have little patience with. Whoever those “others” may be within any given frame of reference. Democrats. Republicans. Leftists. Right Wingers. Vaccinated. Unvaccinated. Socialists. Fascists.

What they fail to see yet is that the frustration is not with each other. It’s with the State. How is that? An overreaching State tends to find its way into all imaginable aspects to individual’s lives. As we’re seeing today, right down to medical freedom. Government policies become law. Law becomes force. Force becomes violence if one does not obey. When every aspect of every individual’s life is informed, perverted and corrupted by violent force, people get agitated and judgmental when they feel those around them are not obeying laws and thus, perhaps jeopardizing the security and safety of themselves or their families. The problem is over-politicization which brings every aspect of individual choice under scrutiny of everyone else. We’re one or two small catalytic events away from that overwhelming realization that many already see. Many already understand the common enemy of the people.

Sadly, I see us continuing with our Revolutions. We’ll revolve, like an ever-spinning wheel forever incarcerated by the unforgiving grasp of gravity, damning our offspring and many great grandchildren to the same fate we’re living through today. With any luck though, this next iteration, accompanied by all the associated human growth and innovation that pushes forward through all these transitions, these next 300 years will be even better than the last.

Even with all the ups and downs, rises and falls, human progress remains unabashed. Life is improving on planet Earth.

I may not like or agree with people’s belief in violent Authority. I may not agree with its efficacy with regard to manifesting a livable society. That said, I do respect the religious tendency, perhaps even need, that most have to adhere to these dogmatic beliefs. I just hope we keep this next turn of the wheel as free of violence as possible. Nobody’s life is worth the cause you interpret in your mind. Including your own.

Each day you go about your life in accordance with your instinctual preferences. Its these instincts and the relationships you’ve constructed around you that inform the way in which society at large blossoms and manifests up from the people. Even the physical act of constructing relationships is instinctually evolutionary. I’ve met no person who consults with local or federal code before constructing a plan for the day. With the extent of current federal code, 99% of which most of us are wholly ignorant, I’m willing to bet we’re all already felons anyway.

Live your life. Do right by the people around you to the best of your subjective judgment. You’ll already do this anyway because conveniently, doing right by the people around you is, more often than not, in your own best interest.

We’ll all be as fine as we all can be.

About Scott Shearin

Scott is a former Marine and Army Intelligence Officer. He's been through the corporate world having worked in Finance as well as leading Talent Acquisition for Fortune 500 CPG firms. For the past 6 years Scott has been an entrepreneur, currently leading a small recruiting firm for military veterans and managing a startup in the HR Tech space.
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