Reverse Authority

In an earlier post, I’d noted the phenomenon of what I’d called the George Costanza rule – that you do the opposite of what you’re inclined to do.  Here’s the Seinfeld clip with the relevant info again:

The point is that if you find someone who you think has all the wrong inclinations, then you have a good bellwether about where things go off the tracks.  Like old Socrates’ daimon.  Call this the phenomenon of reverse authority.

The paleoconservatives have such a bellwether of reverse authority — it’s whatever progressive celebrities say.  And so, it’s headline news over at Breitbart that celebrities are objecting to  President Trump’s rescinding John Brennan’s security clearance.   This, of course, is news only if you think that celebrities with progressive politics are not only wrong about everything, but their statements must be highlighted so as to deepen one’s own commitment.  And a visit to the comments bears this out:

Dr. Strangely Deplorable: Those overpaid narcissistic aberrations known as “celebrities” are a true barometer of another person or groups rationality and Patriotism. If they are “furious”…all is well in the Great Republic at that moment and the war goes on.

It’s a strange place to be when you can tell you’re right only when the people you hate are objecting.

One thought on “Reverse Authority”

  1. Hey Scott–

    Great post.

    This seems to be (partially) an epistemic version of the “own the libs” form of argument. If “X hates p, then p is correct.” One thing I’m not sure about though is whether this version is really the core of the broader phenomenon of lib-owning, or whether, for example, the deployment of a plastic straw serves purely strategic objectives. That is to say, I’m owning X to rile X and discourage X, even though I think maybe there’s some sense to banning excess plastic (or whatever).

    Here’s a recent piece:

    And Reddit:

    And a book:

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