Larken Rose’s Convoluted Definition of Authority

Just to let you guys know I’ve begun my next book critiquing a work by Larken Rose, “The Most Dangerous Superstition”. The superstition is the belief that government authority is legitimate. In the book he lays out why government is illegitimate by giving his own definition of what authority is. His definition is so convoluted it doesn’t make much sense and is ultimately self defeating. Take this for example, it is a sample from my critique:

Rose says that it’s not just force, but “the supposed moral right to forcibly control others.” This defines exactly what the NAP is. It is a moral guideline by which these people live. It’s a moral principal; they literally refer to is as one. The point of it is to claim that the initiation of force is immoral. (Of course this is completely hypocritical given that they do advocate another kind of force.) Even if Rose didn’t see it as a moral authority, the NAP itself still is a moral authority, as it provides a moral guide by which to conduct interactions between people. It’s apparent now that philosophically, Rose has no idea what he is talking about.

Rose now goes on to see the authority as a matter of perception. If people don’t see it as a moral authority, then it isn’t one. He uses street gangs as an example. People don’t see the gang as having a moral right, “They do not perceive the street thug to be any sort of legitimate, rightful ruler; they do not imagine him to be “authority.”” This is the only difference in his mind. They both use force, they demand the same obedience and they both claim to be an authority. The only difference here for Rose is that people don’t view the street gang as being a “legitimate, rightful ruler”.

If we follow this logic and apply it to Rose himself, we can conclude that Rose doesn’t see the government as an authority. He doesn’t perceive the government as being a “legitimate, rightful ruler”. Since by his own definition of what an authority is, the government doesn’t match it, then his whole book attacking authority (the government) is meaningless, because it is not an authority. This means despite having a long convoluted explanation of what authority is, his explanation is ultimately self-defeating.

In the end the guy just doesn’t make any sense and defeats his own argument.