The concept of “authority” depends upon the concepts of right and wrong (i.e., morality). To wit, having “authority” does not merely mean having the ability to forcibly control other people, something possessed by countless thugs, thieves and gangs who are not referred to as “authority”; it means having the right to control other people, which implies that those being controlled have a moral obligation to obey, not just to avoid punishment but also because such obedience (being “law-abiding”) is morally good and disobedience (”breaking the law”) is morally bad. Thus, for there to be such a thing as “authority,” there must be such a thing as right and wrong. (How one defines right and wrong, or what one believes to be the source of morality, does not particularly matter for purposes of this discussion. Use your own definitions, and the logic will still apply.) While the concept of “authority” requires the existence of right and wrong, it is also ruled out entirely by the existence of right and wrong. A simple analogy will prove that seemingly odd claim.
The laws of mathematics are an objective, unchanging part of reality. If you add two apples to two apples, you will have four apples. Those who study mathematics seek to understand more about reality, to learn about what already is. One who entered the field of math with the stated goal of altering the laws of mathematics would be seen as insane, and rightfully so. Imagine how absurd it would be for some math professor to proclaim, “I hereby decree that henceforth, two plus two shall equal five.” Yet such lunacy is what occurs every time politicians enact “legislation,” They are not merely observing the world, and trying to best determine what is right and what is wrong – something every individual should, and must, do for himself. No, they are claiming to be altering morality, by issuing some new decree, In other words, like the insane math professor who thinks he can, by mere declaration, make two plus two equal five, the politicians speak and act as if they are the source of morality as if they have the power to make up (via “legislation”) what is right and wrong:, as if an act can become bad simply because they declared it to be “illegal.”
Whether the issue is math, morality, or anything else, there is a huge difference between trying to determine what is true and trying to dictate what is true. The former is useful; the latter is insane. And the latter is what those in “government” pretend to do every day. In their “legislation,” the politicians do not merely express how they think people should behave, based upon universal standards of morality. Anyone has the right to say, “I think doing this thing is bad, and doing that thing is good,” but no one would call such opinions “laws.” Instead, the message from the politicians is, “We are making that thing bad, and making this thing good.” In short, every “legislator” suffers from a profoundly delusional god-complex, which leads him to believe that, via political rituals, he actually has the power, along with his fellow “legislators,” to change right and wrong, by mere decree.
Mortals cannot alter morality any more than they can alter the laws of mathematics. Their understanding of something may change, but they cannot, by decree, change the nature of the universe. Nor would anyone sane attempt to. Yet that is what every new “law” passed by politicians pretends to be: a change in what constitutes moral behavior. And as idiotic as that notion is, it is a necessary element to the belief in “government”: the idea that the masses are morally obligated to obey the “lawmakers”– that disobeying (”breaking the law”) is morally wrong – not because the politicians’ commands happen to match the objective rules of morality, but because their commands dictate and determine what is moral and what is not.
Understanding the simple fact that mere mortals cannot make good into evil, or evil into good, all by itself makes the myth of “government” disintegrate. Anyone who fully understands that one simple truth cannot continue to believe in “government,” because if the politicians lack such a supernatural power, their commands carry no inherent legitimacy, and they cease to be “authority.” Unless good is whatever the politicians say it is – unless right and wrong actually come from the whims of the politician-gods – then no one can have any moral obligation to respect or obey the commands of the politicians, and their “laws” become utterly invalid and irrelevant.
In short, if there is such a thing as right and wrong at all, however you wish to define those terms, then the “laws” of “government” are always illegitimate and worthless. Every person is (by definition) morally obligated to do what he feels is right. If a “law” tells him to do otherwise, that “law” is inherently illegitimate, and should be disobeyed. And if a “law” happens to coincide with what is right, the “law” is simply irrelevant, The reason, for example, to refrain from committing murder is because murder is inherently wrong. Whether or not some politicians enacted “legislation” declaring murder to be wrong – whether or not they “outlawed” it – has no effect whatsoever on the morality of the act. “Legislation,” no matter what it says, is never the reason that something is good or bad. As a result, even “laws” prohibiting evil acts, such as assault, murder and theft, are illegitimate. While people should not commit such acts, it is because the acts themselves are intrinsically evil, not because man-made “laws” say they are wrong. And if there is no obligation to obey the “laws” of the politicians, then, by definition, they have no “authority.”
Returning to the math professor analogy, if the professor authoritatively declared that, by his mere decree, he was going to make two plus two equal five, any sane individual would view that decree as incorrect and delusional. If, on the other hand, the professor declared that he was going to make two plus two equal four, such a declaration would still be silly and pointless even though two plus two does equal four. The professor’s declaration is not the reason it equals four. Either way, the professor’s declaration would and should have no effect on people’s ability to add two and two. And so it is with the “laws” of politicians: whether or not they actually coincide with objective right and wrong, they never have “authority,” because they are never the source of right and wrong, they never create an obligation for anyone to behave a certain way, and so should have no bearing on what any individual judges to be moral or immoral.
Consider the example of narcotics “laws.” To believe that it is bad to use violence against someone for having a beer (which is “legal”), but good for “law enforcers” to use violence against someone smoking pot (because it is “illegal”), logically implies that politicians actually have the ability to alter morality – to take two essentially identical behaviors and make one into an immoral act that even justifies violent retribution. Moreover, if one accepts the legitimacy of “laws” (politician commands), one must also accept that drinking alcohol was perfectly moral one day, but was immoral the next day – the day “prohibition” was enacted. Then, not many years later, it was immoral one day, and moral the next – the day prohibition was repealed. Even the gods of most religions do not claim the power to constantly amend and revise their commandments, to regularly change what is right and wrong. Only politicians claim such a power. Every act of “legislation” involves such lunacy: the notion that one day an act could be perfectly permissible, and the very next day – the day it was “outlawed” – it would be immoral.
This is an excerpt from the book “The Most Dangerous Superstition” by Larken Rose