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Is authority still a dirty word?


Paul Verhaeghe

A great deal is going wrong these days when it comes to authority. Politics and religion have lost their credibility and parents can no longer control the behaviour of their children. In this book Paul Verhaeghe investigates how authority functions, why so little value is placed on it nowadays and what the alternative might be. Attempts to restore the authority of the past are destined to fail and they quickly degenerate into forms of pure power play. As a society we are at a crossroads, with power in one direction and new authority in the other.

His argument for a collective authority is inspired and well-founded, but also provocative and utopian.

Verhaeghe seeks and finds a new interpretation in groups, which lend authority to an individual or an institution, whether they be parents’ associations, groups of active citizens or shareholders’ meetings. This shift is well underway in childrearing and education, politics and economics, and it is producing great results.