If I didn’t know better, I’d have thought New York Times columnist David Brooks was having a laugh at our expense. Alas, Brooks means every word of his column titled “The Follower Problem,” as anyone who reads him regularly will realize.
“I don’t know if America has a leadership problem; it certainly has a followership problem,” Brooks laments. “Vast majorities of Americans don’t trust their institutions.”
Worse than that, he thinks Americans dislike all authority.
We live in a culture that finds it easier to assign moral status to victims of power than to those who wield power.... Then there is our fervent devotion to equality, to the notion that all people are equal and deserve equal recognition and respect.... But the main problem is our inability to think properly about how power should be used to bind and build.... Those “Question Authority” bumper stickers no longer symbolize an attempt to distinguish just and unjust authority. They symbolize an attitude of opposing authority.
I think Brooks is wrong, though I wish he were right. I see little real rejection of political authority. Too bad. We need it.
But let’s assume Brooks is right. Is anti-authoritarianism a problem? You’d have to be a nationalist devotee of intrusive government to think so. Who else would value mindless obeisance to political authority?
Click here to read the entire article.
Sheldon Richman (photo)