Brief Thoughts on Authoritarians

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The essential myth of an authoritarian is that a leader is perfect, beyond reproach, and must not be questioned. An authoritarian in power would have people believe that that every single decision they make is in the interest of those they influence or govern. Authoritarians genuinely believe they are incapable of ever making mistakes, and as such they cannot tolerate any challenges to their authority. They are likely to employ force, by whatever means are available, when such challenges arise. 

Even the most intelligent person who ever lived will often be wrong or misinformed – an authoritarian is no different, yet they believe themselves to be the exception to this rule. Regardless of their actual knowledge of the specific details of the situation at hand, the authoritarian believes that they are the best person to make a given decision. The fact that they may be wrong does not enter into their consciousness as a possibility, and lacking a shred of doubt, they take quick and decisive action without thorough regard to the consequences. To the authoritarian, the perspective of lesser-people is not worth considering, unless it is directly inflating their ego. This confidence, while it may be delusional, still will win the authoritarian many followers. Authoritarians can be extremely effective leaders for short periods of time because of the loyalty that their confidence inspires. 

The problems with authoritarians in positions of power emerge over time because of the fatally flawed myth which is necessary for authoritarians to flourish. In order to reinforce the narrative of their inerrancy, authoritarians and their followers must reward unquestioning consent while punishing and subduing dissenting opinions. This creates a loyal but thoughtless following which carries out orders and parrots propaganda, but cannot ultimately contribute to a democratized decision making process. Yes-men, thugs, and direct beneficiaries of the leaders’ actions comprise the core of an authoritarians’ following. Only those who positively reinforce the authoritarian are allowed into their inner circle, and without voices which question and challenge the authoritarian’s decision making, the leader will form blind-spots which will cause them to make lower quality decisions over time. 

The authoritarian will become increasingly incapable of leadership, as their bold actions which initially won them support will begin to have compounding negative consequences. This will inevitably begin to compromise their authority, and as such the authoritarian will increasingly rely on force to maintain power. The Authoritarian’s inability to understand their own limitations prevents them from accessing the true value of mutually beneficial relationships with others. This makes them horrible leaders, since they are essentially working without support from others. Despite this, an authoritarian may maintain power for a nearly indefinite period of time through the use of force. If the late-stage authoritarian develops, it is likely that they will only be removed from power by retaliatory force. 

Their confidence and rash decision making can cause the authoritarian to rise to power with shocking speed – it is also quite likely that the end of their power can come just as abruptly. Although it may take some time, an authoritarian will always fail. They will most likely have a very significant impact on those they influence before that happens. 

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