Christian Dahl: What was authority?

Abstract

What was Authority?
My paper will offer a discussion of Hannah Arendt’s essay “What is authority” from 1954, in which she argues that authority has vanished from the modern world and warns against conflating modern autocracy and totalitarianism with authoritarian government which, according to her, has a completely different foundation. Though her conclusions are polemic and even problematic, I will argue that her distinctions still remain useful for the understanding of contemporary politics. I will also offer a short example of art under authoritarian conditions from a completely different era than our own: Vergil’s Aeneid.