The Anti-Authoritarian’s Dilemma
The Anti-Authoritarian’s Dilemma by Ben Bartee for Activist Post
A lifetime spent in opposition to illegitimate authority is a lifetime spent on the wrong side of the power balance. The establishment, by definition, is forever at the reins of power, while the anti-authoritarian perpetually finds himself on the outside looking in.
Such is the anti-authoritarian resistance fighter’s cross to bear.
Resistance to undeserved power, in short, is an uphill battle with no let-up; it never gets easier. The anti-authoritarian is fated to play the role of the Rebel Alliance to the Empire forever – outgunned, out-financed, and outnumbered.
Once the Death Star is blown to ashes and the Empire disbanded, the struggle loses its allure to the anti-authoritarian hero. The torch of conflict, once the odds become more favorable, is picked up by beings of lesser moral fortitude.
There is no guarantee of victory for the anti-authoritarian; on the contrary, defeat is usually imminent. The true hero chooses battles exactly because they are seemingly unwinnable against the well-oiled forces of institutional oppression that inevitably pull at the levers of social control.
As the leftist journalist Chris Hedges puts it, “I do not fight fascists because I will win. I fight fascists because they are fascists.”
Bullies prevail because standing up to them takes a moral courage that few possess. Defying illegitimate and inhumane social norms enshrined into both written and unwritten law is, by definition, illegal and dangerous.
Even just exposing, let alone resisting, the crimes of illegitimate authority can cost the anti-authoritarian his or her life. At the very least, derision, mockery, scorn, and ostracization come with the territory.
Consider the case of Bradley Manning, an army private from Oklahoma who exposed the intentional slaughter of civilians and Reuters journalists by American Empire stormtroopers in Iraq in 2007.
Manning, regarded as a brave whistleblower in anti-authoritarian circles, leaked the video and other classified materials to another icon of the global human freedom movement, Julian Assange. Assange then published the video, titled “Collateral Murder,” in various outlets.
Instead of applauding the important work of Assange and Manning to bring the crimes of the US government to light, the bootlicking corporate press lambasted Manning. They called him a traitor. MSNBC — the infamous cable news hive of careerist deep-staters like CIA Torture Chief John Brennan – called for Manning’s extrajudicial execution.
Whatever vague rhetorical support that agents of American Empire offer for a free press, when the rubber meets the road, their actions undermine their façade. The anti-authoritarian whistleblower, as with any entity that challenges establishment power, is relegated to the margins of society.
Government actors working as PR agents for the Empire leak sensitive information to the corporate press as a routine matter of business. Rather than being fired for these leaks — which are often just as illegal as Manning’s — Empire PR agents are rewarded with promotions and praise.
The difference between state-sponsored PR leaks and unsanctioned leaks that expose government dirt is that, in the former, leakers are rewarded with future contracts in the revolving government-consulting-media door. The latter, the true hero, is threatened, imprisoned, and tortured.
So, with so much disincentive to challenge the supreme power of the state, the natural question becomes: why would anyone do it?