Information and the Dissolution of Authority


This Text Can Be Found in the Book,
The Evolution of Consent: Collected Essays (Vol. I)


I was recently reading a study— published by The Royal Society B, on behalf of John R.G. Dyer, Anders Johansson, Dirk Helbing, Iain D. Couzin, and Jens Krause— regarding human consensus. These scientists took groups of volunteers and gave them rules: they were to stay with the group, not to communicate, and not to be any further apart than arm’s length from one another. There were letters on the floor and those conducting the study secretly told select individuals of the group, a small minority, to find their way to a specific location. The results showed that those who were given a location led the rest of the group to the stated location without breaking away from it and without any communication other than asserting themselves toward the goal. When individuals were given separate locations, the group split up evenly relative to the number of leaders.[i]

What this article did for me was demonstrate that knowledge is, in fact, power, and if we want to dissolve the state the way we must do it is by spreading information. When the individuals who were selected to work toward a particular destination were told to do so, they were given a form of information that the rest of the group lacked: the destination itself, a goal. Because they had this information, they asserted themselves and the group followed.1

Humans have a tendency to follow, whether in groups or as individuals. It’s been said that we are inherently pack animals. This is rational for us because we have a society based on the division of labor. The division of labor allows us to specialize in areas of knowledge so that we can become valuable to others. We tend to follow those people who assert themselves and have confidence in what they are doing with their knowledge.

In Worchel and Cooper’s Understanding Social Psychology, they discuss loci of control in regard to confidence.[ii] The following references were learned from their text. People assert themselves when they come across success in their lives. Expiriments, by H.A. Dengerink and J.D. Myers, have demonstrated this. Relatively similar individuals were unknowingly given separate challenges, some of which succeeded at the challenge and the others failed. After the tests they were put in a situation where an individual attacked them with increasing intensity. Those who succeeded on the previous tests tended to react to increasing aggression with increasing counter-aggression and those who failed tended not to increase their counter-aggression. Those who passed gained confidence from success and confidence increases ones internal locus of control. [iii]

According to J.B. Rotter, the internal locus of control exists when an individual believes they have the power to create change in their life. The external locus of control is when an individual feels that it is out of their control.[iv] Dengerink’s work suggests this largely comes from failure.[v]

Now, it is perhaps arguable that some are genetically predisposed, more than others, to success, and, for this reason, I am not arguing for perfection or the complete equality of society that can only exist from the homogenous perspective of uniformity of geno- and phenotypes. I am arguing for justice and freedom for individuals based upon their inherent qualities, with which they were born, and I call this a state of socio-economic equilibrium; where everyone is making the best choice they can, given their present situation.

We are in need of a new solution because we have not made the best decisions. The largest reason for this is the interruption in the free flow of information. We are taught from the time we are born to have an external locus of control and to leave things to the experts. The problem is that this kind of rationality negates people from becoming experts themselves. Comparative advantage certainly has its benefits, but by restricting (by way of state regulation) the competition of individuals to gain and apply knowledge, one restricts them from success. When a person is restricted from success, but sees a world in which others are succeeding greatly, they gain an external locus of control. This is what our class, the abiders, who don’t own our means of living and thus have no say in their use, is suffering from. The deciders have confidence because they have been given privilege through the monopolies of land, money, and protection. They are given subsidies for their projects, loans for their businesses, inheritance they can’t take care of by themselves, patent protection for ideas they didn’t, and could never, come up with without others’ ideas in the past, protection for their illegitimate property, and all of the good things in life that are attributed to success. When they are filmed, all of their flaws are covered in make-up and vocal mistakes cut out of the film or tape. They have all the money in the world to allow them success, and so they have confidence, and we largely believe it is for good reason; that they are just genetically more suited for success, or they worked harder to get there. Many, however, are starting to get frustrated.

John Dollard and others have suggested that aggression is largely caused by frustration. If someone frustrates another, that person is likely to act in a variety of ways, but the frustration must be released somehow. People store their frustration. They let it out on the person causing frustration if possible, but in the case they fear the results they let it out on someone else, and usually someone they associate to the frustrator somehow. John Dollard and his colleagues have shown that this happens most likely when there is a fear of reprisal or punishment.[vi] One can’t get upset at their boss, creditor, or landlord when something happens. Those people hold authority over our lives. We want to, though, and the second best option is someone we associate to them somehow; but that would mean another person with authority in our lives who would be able to cause more frustration if we acted against them. So instead we must settle with someone else entirely and this creates a cycle of aggression in our own class, because we release it on each other, the abiders of the system.

Another cause of aggression is having an advantage over others. If someone has more money, resources, or abilities, they are more likely to aggress on another person. According to Jared Diamond (and many others), Eurasian society had a geographical advantage that allowed it to aggress on other nations and this is the root of imperialism in the world. He points to things like soil conditions and water supply in the Fertile Crescent, animals used by humans, immunity to disease from the animals, and leisure time provided by easier agriculture that allowed technology to rapidly increase. This difference in resources resulted in intercultural domination in favor of those in the area who held a geographic monopoly.[vii] Once spread, however, there became almost no such thing as intercultural anything and the focus had to be transitioned to an intracultural domination, and one which rested on stopping the free flow of information. The Catholic Church, for instance, maintained Latin in their religious texts and did not share the language to be learned by commoners in order to withhold the information to control them. Our government today keeps us from much information because it knows that if people had the information to make decisions in their lives, and to gain an internal locus of control, it would give them confidence enough to pass the aggression to the ones who deserve it: those who caused the frustration.

If we stopped giving legitimacy to restrictions from success— patents, rigid zoning, subsidies, taxes, interest, rent, and profit—, authority itself would, over time, dissolve by the free competition of the market and the availability of individuals to have knowledge and success, and we would see no need in usury or control in any of its forms. Democratic institutions of voluntary association could supersede the old ones; consensual dues could replace involuntary taxation; interest, rent, and profit could be supplanted by prices dictated by the true cost of attainment instead of by monopolistic privileges; and voluntary mutual insurance could take over many functions of social welfare now mistakenly understood to be provided by government, but actually provided by ourselves through taxation. In order to solve social illness we must spread information, in hopes of increasing the internal loci of society’s control.


[i] John R.G. Dyer, et al., 781.

[ii] Worchel and Cooper, 324.

[iii] H.A. Dengerink and J.D. Myers, 88.

[iv] J.B. Rotter

[v] H.A. Dengerink, et al., 191.

[vi] J. Dollard, et al.

[vii] Jared Diamond2

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