Sunday Sermon: The Authoritarians

What is an “Authoritarian?”

Well, if you were an authoritarian, you probably wouldn’t even ask that question. For you, an “authoritarian” is whatever I tell you it is: authoritarians are people who accept beliefs based on simple assertion from an authority figure. In this case, since this is my blog, I say that’s what an authoritarian is, so there you go, let’s move on, we’ve got other things to talk about.

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The Fronde

I’ll say up front, I am somewhat biased about this book. I lived through its creation, which was over a decade of my father researching and writing and organizing his history. I’m also not necessarily recommending you all run out and buy it; it’s an academic’s piece for academics, though it can be read like a novel and it’s quite engaging if you do so. Growing up with a historian, surrounded by other historians, it was kind of impractical to ask my father “what about the American revolution?” and get a high-level answer. “It’s complicated.” Indeed.

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Sunday Sermon: Military Glory – Heroism

I grew up reading feats of military derring-do, and watching films like “Seven Samurai” and “Harakiri” – books and movies about martial glory and the character of the warrior. I noticed early on that a big piece of military glory and heroism is the stand against great odds – the acceptance that one’s mission will probably cost one’s life, but that’s a secondary concern: doing the right thing matters more. I read a lot about the samurai and bushido, and I always deeply felt the distinction between katsujin ken (the life-giving sword) and setsunin-to (the life-taking sword). Somehow it all ties together in my formative anarchy as part of something basically anti-authoritarian, because the authority and the establishment usually are the “powers that be” against which the life-giving sword must work.

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