Universidad Mayor | CEAS Ausencia de autoridad CIAH | Universidad Mayor
09 July 2019

[Op-ed] Lack of authority

CEAS' Director on La Tercera newspaper

Original article here (in spanish).

Lack of authority

When a teenager climbs to the roof of a school and burns himself by manipulating a homemade molotov cocktail; when a Minister doesn't want to look at the faces of the mobilized teachers and refuses to listen and dialogue; when an obfuscated Mayor decides to threaten to close a public school with more than 200 years of history if students don't comply with his agenda; while another Mayor seeks that any adult bestows the power to arrest young boys in the streets of his commune; when an angry right-wing congressman wants to finish the discussion of a bill in Congress alluding to a supposed regulation; one asks with concern, what is happening with the challenge of excersing authority in our country.

There is always a great tension, in those who bestow positions of power, between forcing people to do their will; or decide to exercise authority, or the art of getting people to voluntarily do what someone in a position of power wants, because of their personal influence.

This tension is clear in a parent-child relationship. A tension between compelling them, because "I am your father / mother" (by force) or trying to convince them that they do, by their own will, what the parents wanted (being authorities). There are specialists who believe that the presence of parental authority is assessed when the children already has the autonomy to decide what to do, not before.

Now, this idea applies to the any human and political institution. Especially in politics, which can be understood as "a means of realizing the integration of all individuals in the community and of creating the perfect city of which Aristotle spoke" (Duverger, 1970). In this case, the challenge is always to convince, since it is obviously impossible to carry out community integration by force. But there are those who believe that "politics is essentially a struggle, a contest that allows individuals and groups that hold power to dominate society". In this case, as those who try to maintain privileges already have them, the temptation to use force and coertion is much greater.

The behavior of many young boys today speaks of the lack of parental authority in our country, and we must ask ourselves what we have done as a society to fail like this. However, the behavior of several right-wing politicians who hold positions of power also shows us what kind of politics they believe in, one to maintain the privileges of the minority and not one to create community, and how they lack the ability to be political authorities, where the point is not to force, but to convince.

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Centro de Economía y Políticas Sociales, U. Mayor

José Toribio Medina 29

+56 22518 9709|ceas@umayor.cl