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What Legitimizes Authority

What is authority? In the most basic sense it is the power to command or order. Power is associated with authority. For many, power is the ability to get something done even when there is an opposing force. When asking the question what legitimizes authority it is believed that the consent of the people legitimizes it.
When one thinks of authority the government comes into mind. The government holds the authority to execute laws. Jean – Jacques Rousseau believes that the government should be based on equality for everyone. Authority can be created through force. Rousseau has established an idea of the General Will. This concept proposes a sort of guideline for communities. Every member of a community has to work to uphold the General Will, so then sovereignty lies within the people of the community and the government. There must be a mutual agreement between authorities and the governed. This means that the governed have agreed to be ruled only so their rulers protect their happiness, property, and rights. Everything must be mutual in society from law to legislator.
Rousseau believes that everyone is born free, but all around us are chains. Freedom is a natural condition for human beings. Rousseau explains that our appetites and desires drive us all but at the same time we are also driven to become self- governing and self disciplined people. Authority could be seen as the root of this thought.
The philosopher Niccolo Machiavelli believes that it is the seizure of an opportunity that is presented that leads to the position of authority. One must always create a careful and solid plan against his enemy in order to be in authority. In a basic sense one should not hesitate. Authority is created by the powerful.

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