Authority And The Individual 1949 by Bertrand Russell

Download Authority And The Individual 1949 by Bertrand Russell Free PDF book

Download Authority And The Individual 1949 by Bertrand Russell Free PDF book

Review by Tiago

From the little I've known of Russell, he always struck me as both incredibly intelligent and wise. I was excited to discover this book, which is relatively short, would allow me to do some primary reading of his work without a lot of investment.

While his main work was logic and mathematics, he engaged deeply with social and political criticism. This book is a collection of 6 lectures, originally broadcasted by the BBC. Its core theme is the balance between individual freedom and the role of the state and overall authority and large-scale organization.

Russell argues that politics should be done at the smallest level possible. The chain of authority and bureaucracy should be minimized. This isn't only about efficiency or corruption, as a libertarian may argue, but rather to empower the individual with enough power to make a change within his immediate circle. The political landscape always has the character of being "outside" of everyday life, Russell often calls this "They". The ones at the bottom feel like no change is possible, and the people at the top are too distant from the problems they aim to solve. Something I liked in his argument is that Russell realized that this is inherent to large-scale organizations. While this culminates with the state, it's not required. It happens with private companies as well, which are completely separated from the government, and it also happens with communist states, which do not run on a capitalist system, but nevertheless, positions of power have to be created to ensure organization.

Author: Bertrand Russell
 Publication Date:1949

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