Fear and Authority

There’s a relationship between fear and authority. Consider, from the time that we’re born, we’re programmed to fear those who claim some kind of authority over us. Fear is first instilled in us by our parents, and we fear them even if they’re not violent. Think about that threat often wielded against misbehaving children: “Just wait until your father gets home.”

We’re supposed to feel fear. That fear is supposed to alter our behavior.

After our parents program us to feel fear, we then learn to fear the teacher. And if we don’t fear the teacher, there’s the threat of being sent to the principal’s office.

We fear preachers, rabbis, imams, and priests. And if we don’t fear them personally, we certainly fear the eternal hell-fire they can bring down on us. We fear children’s service operatives and cops and judges. We fear bosses and landlords and bill collectors.

We fear the things all of these authorities can do to us, can do to our lives. That fear gets us to conduct our daily lives differently than if we didn’t live in the constant shadow of their threats.
I remember when I went through basic training as an 18 year-old idiot, I was confronted by a drill sergeant who was roughly half my size. If we were in the Kroger parking lot arguing over a parking space, I could beat the little bastard’s brains out. But there I was at Fort Knox, doing push-ups in the rain and mud with this guy screaming until he was purple in the face, straddling me, yanking up and down on the waistband of my underwear.

He had that smoky-the-bear hat that was a symbol of his authority. It never so much as crossed my mind that I should twist his silly little head off.

It never even crossed my mind. Isn’t that crazy? And I don’t mean crazy like Trump having nuclear codes is crazy, I mean crazy like pathological.

Well, Trump having nuclar codes is pathological too, I guess. Never mind.

Here in prison, I’m surrounded by others who, supposedly, didn’t experience enough fear of the authorities, and so they experince the consequences imposed upon them for rebelling against uthority and refusing… right? But even here, there is an incedible degree of obedience and compliance. In fact, sad as this is, prisons are some of the most-orderly places in the universe.

You might think that our obedience and compliance is a consequence of that shotgun they have in the perimeter truck, and the concertina wire on the fences. Maybe so. But in the quarter century of confinement, do you know how many people I’ve seen hit the fence? Zero. None. Not one. So, for all we know, there’s nobody in that perimeter truck. For all we know, that shotgun isn’t even loaded.

So, even among the most incorrigible scoundrels with no regard for law and order, there’s not a single one of us who can overcome the indoctrination, the programmed fear of authority.

This means that in the course of everyday life, we’re all just scared and traumatized idiots doing push-ups in the mud with some sociopath yanking on the waistband of our underwear, screaming about how the best parts of us ran down the cracks of our mothers’ asses.

And whether it’s true or not, we don’t need someone screaming it all outloud in public.

I’m reminded of a story I read somewhere, about this warlord attacking a village. The people ran for their lives as warriors burned their homes and hacked unsuspecting folks to death with swords. The warlord rode his horse into the mosque on the hill, and everyone in there fled– except one person who was engaged in thikr, a kind of meditation. When the warlord saw this, he was angered. So he jumped from his horse, drew his sword, and stood over that sole practitioner. He said, as he stood over him, “Don’t you know I’m the man who can chop your head off without blinking an eye?”

In response, without otherwise moving, the meditating man said, “Don’t you know that I’m the man who can lose his head without blinking an eye.”

I think this anecdote presents to us an excellent analogy for authority. It expects our fear. It demand sour fear. It needs our fear. But just like in the story, if we don’t fear authority, what happens?

Where did the warlord’s authority go?

In this new year that confronts us, let’s consciously struggle to liberate ourselves completely and absolutely, a liberation that begins when we resolve to be fearless.

This is Anarchist Prisoner Sean Swain from Warren Corruptional in Lebanon, Ohio. If you’re listening, you ARE the resistance…
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