Authority Essay Example


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Authority As a Concept

Authority Essay Introduction

In general, the concept of authority can be analyzed in terms of a right to impose commands and obligations on a specific subject, and this right is associated with a task or duty to obey. These duties and rights are mutually recognized; hence, the concept of authority ‘’bases on consensus’’ among people (Lagerspetz 17). By delegating, permitting, exercising a veto, declaring acts, or authorizing, authority can alter the normative positions of subjects as they represent a group or organization to express intentions, opinions, or collective beliefs (Piggott 86). In this paper, authority as a concept of historical analysis is examined in terms of its implementation and relations of its various forms. Accordingly, authority can be accepted, embraced, instilled, or imposed depending on the political formation of the age, country, and society. Hence, these reactions to the various forms of authority may depend on the characteristics, historical, and sociological structure of a nation.

Historical Concept

Upon Lenin’s death in 1924, revolutionary Joseph Stalin gained power in Soviet Russia. Under his reign, a series of brutal policies led to the death of millions of his citizens until 1953 (‘’Soviet Union’’). However, Soviet Union was transformed into a military and industrial superpower from an agrarian society through consecutive Fiver-Year-Plans concentrated on ‘’forceful collectivizing’’ stemming from the communist idea (Boobbyer 29). Stalin was a dictator, and he showed an imposed form of authority on society. For instance, Russian farm owners were ‘’compelled to give up on their farmlands’’ so that the government could manage all farmlands in order to increase agricultural production, which led to devastating food shortages across the Union (Boobbyer 83). One may infer from this historical example that compelling creates resistivity. Imposing ideas to individuals may lead to success in the short term; however, you can take a horse to water, but you cannot make him drink.

On the other hand, after Stalin’s death in 1953, Nikita Khrushchev became the next leader; although he triggered a crisis in 1962 by installing nuclear weapons in Cuba, 90 miles from Florida, Khrushchev managed to transfer Soviet into a less repressive formation by implementing a series of political reforms (‘’Soviet Union’’). He was against to the ideas of Stalin, and ‘’started a process known as de-Stalinization,’’ (Jones 41). However, his legitimacy was weak due to food shortages, and Khrushchev was removed from his party by communist party members in 1964 (‘’Soviet Union’’). Unlike Stalin, he did not try to impose his authority; instead, he tried to be accepted by society. This form of authority may lead to a failure in communism when ‘’utmost consensus’’ among party members is not ensured (Foren et al. 6). Although he concentrated on improving living standards of society that were long suppressed by aggressive policies, his form of authority led to the removal from the office because consensus is a crucial element to sustain authority.

An old Chinese proverb says, it is useless to attack a city if the hearts are not won over. It appeared for a long time that Zao’s authority over society was well-established and enjoying support from all sides; however, that support seemed to ‘’stem from fear, not from love’’ (‘’History-Mao’’). Mao and other communist leaders tried to reshape the society and culture by instilling and imposing authoritarian form. Expectedly, the process backfired and led to the decline of the Great Dynasty. As the Big Brother in George Orwell’s 1984, Mao also tried to reshape the Chinese people. In his sense of authority, he first tried to impose a new socialist and communist mixture of governing. However, due to the rising aggression among landlords and shortage, Mao had to go for another form of leading, instilling (‘’History-Mao’’). He thought he could change the core elements of a thousand years of Chinese culture, which expectedly backfired and resulted in his decline. Psychological findings suggest that for a healthy intellectual shift in society, prior needs such as ‘’food and shelter must be covered first,’’ (Maslow 257). Accordingly, one may suggest that his failure to instill authority backfired because of the economic condition of Chinese society resulted from the food shortages. His instilling and imposing authority might lead to the creation of a new Chinese society if the economic odds were in his favor.

In the 1960s and 1970s, groups such as SNCC and BPP had significant impact on American society and culture; ‘’a sense of self-esteem and racial pride’’ were instilled to the black people by The Black Power movement, and the idea behind this movement included equality, self-sufficiency, and racial pride for all Black and African descent (‘’Black Power’’) However, by the mid 1960s, groups led by Stokely Carmichael had begun to perform violent protests as means of combatting racism. Gradually, the innocence of the idea turns to the point that only through a deconstruction of white power might lead to space for black and ‘’collective political voice’’ (Joseph 771). Eventually, the movement is now represented as anti-white and extremist. Unlike pure imposing, instilling and embracing a way of authority may lead to fundamental governance over society, as in this example. ‘’Emotions trigger the determination’’ of an individual, and in this case, the idea was supported by the emotion of equality and freedom rather than practical needs such as food and shelter in the above instances (Dirven 55). These already embraced individuals were triggered with a way of instilling by leaders of groups, and eventually, resulted in violence to support their beliefs.

On the other hand, ‘’guerilla warfare against France’’, and later the United States triggered and led by the Vietnamese nationalist leader Ho Chi Min brought the independence of Vietnam, which was conquered until September 2nd, 1945 (‘’Indochina Wars’’). This series of events followed by the invasion of Cambodia by Vietnam, and the participation of United States. Eventually. Vietnam won its independence after years of war. In this case, the embraced authority of Ho Chi Min seems to emerge from the nationalistic feelings. As aforementioned above, emotions and feelings may generate a surprising deal of determination and power for society. Chi Min did not mainly try to impose or instill; instead, he triggered the nationalistic feelings and let the people embrace and follow his ideas. Similarly, ‘’Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkish Republic’’, may be regarded as an example of embraced authority as he also triggered the nationalistic feelings of Turks, who later named him Ataturk (meaning father of Turks) (Renda and Kortepender 12). However, he wanted to use this power stemming from the embraced form of authority to instill society after he won the Turkish Independence War. His embraced authority later followed by a series of reforms aiming to instill Turkish culture to a more western and modern formation. The embraced authority can be counted as the most established way of leading as both leaders are still highly respected in Vietnam and Turkey.

George Orwell, the author of 1984, depicts a rather imposing and instilling form of authority. The Party of Big Brother not only wants to hold absolute power but also gradually shifts the culture and society by implementing a great deal of propaganda and censorship (Orwell ch.1). The Party even tries to ‘’change the history by rewriting’’ so that future generations will not be able to start a revolution (Orwell ch.4). After reading this dystopia, one may suggest that instilling and imposing a form of authority will eventually be resisted by individuals. Accordingly, two main characters try to resist; however, their resistance ends up with failure due to the unimaginable extent of propaganda.

Authority Essay Conclusion

After conducting a thorough and meticulous analysis consisting of historical incidents, wars, and revolutions, different forms of authority are readily observable. In order to relate the expressions with these various forms of authority, one cannot neglect the history, sociology, and characteristic of a nation as they are all interrelated. Accordingly, an authority can either be accepted, imposed, embraced and instilled. In the examples of Vietnam and Turkey, both nations accepted and embraced the idea of a revolution led by charismatic leaders who had shown a great deal of sacrifice and determination, thus triggered the people (‘’Indochina Wars’’). Accordingly, findings suggest that collectivist cultures (eastern) ‘’tend to be more emotional’’ than the individualistic cultures (western) (Fernandez et al., ‘’Differences’’). Being a nationalist is considered a feeling of belonging. As in the Black Power movement, the people wanted to have freedom, equality, and in other words, the feeling of racial pride. Hence, one may suggest that accepted and embraced forms of authority tend to emerge more in either Eastern cultures and in incidents to be triggered by feelings such as equality, pride, nationalistic, patriotic, etc. On the other hand, Stalin and Zao showed an imposing and instilling form of authority. Their most definite difference from the abovementioned leaders is that the motivation of their cause does not depend on collectivist feeling. Both aim to make their countries great by implementing restrictive regulations, compulsory laws followed by violence to their citizens, all of which contributed to the failure of their struggle.

Works Cited

Boobbyer, Philip. The Stalin Era. Taylor and Francis, 2012.

Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. Indochina Wars. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.,

O Dirven, René. “Emotions as Cause and the Cause of Emotions.” The Language of Emotions, 1997, p. 55., doi:10.1075/z.85.06dir.

Fernandez, Itziar, et al. “Differences Between Cultures in Emotional Verbal and Nonverbal Reactions.” Psicothema, 2014,

Foren, Robert, and Royston Bailey. “The Concept of Authority.” Authority in Social Casework, 1968, pp. 3–26.

Jones, Polly. The Dilemmas of De-Stalinization: Negotiating Cultural and Social Change in the Khrushchev Era. Routledge, 2009.

Joseph, P. E. “The Black Power Movement: A State of the Field.” Journal of American History, vol. 96, no. 3, Jan. 2009, pp. 751–776., doi:10.1093/jahist/96.3.751.

Lagerspetz, Eerik. “The Concept of Authority.” SpringerLink, Springer, Dordrecht, January 1st 1995.

Maslow, A. H. “Higher Needs And Personality.” Dialectica, vol. 5, no. 3-4, 1951, pp. 257–265., doi:10.1111/j.1746-8361.1951.tb01056.x.

Orwell, George. 1984. New American Library, 1955.

Piggott, Michael. “Processing the Past: Contesting Authority in History and the Archives.” Australian Academic & Research Libraries, vol. 43, no. 1, 2012, pp. 85–86., doi:10.1080/00048623.2012.10700627.

Renda Günsel, and C. Max. Kortepeter. The Transformation of Turkish Culture:the Atatürk Legacy. Kingston Press, 1986

“Soviet Union.”, A&E Television Networks, September 1st 2017,

Renda Günsel, and C. Max. Kortepeter. The Transformation of Turkish Culture:the Atatürk Legacy. Kingston Press, 1986

“The Black Power Movement.” The Black Power Movement | DPLA,

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