This is how I practice being non-authoritarian

The words you choose reveal a lot about you. Do you say “You should” or “I would”? Do you say “I’ve heard” or “I know”? Do you say “They are” or “They seem”? A million details in the texture of your words say a lot about how you view yourself, and your relationship to others.

If you say, “Oh, I don’t choose my words that carefully!” even that reveals a lot about you.

Words also have a lot of power. Repeat something to yourself every day, it becomes a thought-reflex: an idea that you can’t help but think in the future. If the words you chronically choose with someone are demanding rather than loving, it colors your entire relationship and changes how both of you feel and interact, whether you intend it to or not.

One of the cornerstones of my Satanic morality is that I value individuality and freedom: both my own and that of others. Lucifer (the fictional character appearing in the Old Testament and other old crowd-sourced fictional anthologies) felt the brunt of the arbitrary authority of a despot. “Worship me or get out!” the authoritarian King said. Lucifer chose independence, and offered to take with him as many angels as would agree. He wanted freedom not only for himself, but also for others.

Over and over again in these mythologies, we see Satan being non-authoritarian and respecting people’s right to make their own choices. In the Garden of Eden (according to some versions of the myth), Satan appears as a snake to Eve. Does he command her to eat the fruit? Does he tell her that he will punish her if she disobeys? No: that is Yahweh’s method. Satan uses argument and reasoning to get Eve to make the choice herself.

The same happens with Yeshua in the desert: Satan never commands him to eat; he merely uses argument to try to convince.

I ask myself: how can I take (this fictional character) Satan as my role-model in my day-to-day life? How can I make sure I am not only resisting arbitrary authority, but also not imposing it on other people?

My answer: I can do it with my language.

When I’m giving advice, I try to describe what I would do in the person’s situation, instead of telling them what they should do.

I say: “I’d tell my dad how I really feel.”
Not: “You need to tell your dad how you really feel.”

In some situations, I will describe the situation rather than telling them how to change it.

I say: “Your whistling is irritating me.”
Not: “Stop whistling.”

If someone is making a bad choice, I will try to get them to think through the consequences instead of simply telling them to change.

I say: “Do you really think that will improve your relationship?”
Not: “Don’t cheat on your spouse.”

I will warn you: being non-authoritarian can be a lot of work. It has taken me years of practice to engage with people this way, and I still slip up when I am not careful. But it’s something I try to do, because I feel it makes me a better person.

Is it always necessary? Of course not. When you are among close friends, and people who trust you, something that is worded in an authoritarian way (“You have to do this…”) is usually interpreted as advice or a simple preference (“I think you should do this…”). Friends often give you the benefit of the doubt, and assume your intentions are good.

Will there still be people who who misinterpret what you say? Of course: there are insecure assholes out there who will scream “OMG HOW DARE YOU TELL ME WHAT TO DO?” no matter what language you use.

But none of that matters to me, because I don’t do this for other people. It isn’t about being fearful of consequences, or caring about other people’s feelings. It’s about me representing, in my day-to-day life, the kind of person I want to be.

It is my way of trying to emulate the non-authoritarian paradigm.

It’s my way of asking, “What would Satan do?”

My answer: He would give you all of the facts, and then be comfortable knowing that you would then make your own decision… whatever it is.


  1. This has given me something to think about. At my job, being the senior machine operator on my shift, and 2nd in seniority over all 3 shifts it often falls on me to train the newbs. I preface the training by telling them the process I am going to train them to follow might not even be the way I nessicary do things myself, but it is how the company says they should be done. Once they become certified they are free to find a way that is easier for them that achieves the same production and quality goals. Now I will try and even further think about my language even further during the actual training to ease them into a rather sharp learning curve

    1. I think that’s a really good way of approaching things, and I’m sure it puts at least some of them at ease. I’ve tried a similar strategy when teaching people certain types of skills: “This is the standard way people are supposed to do it. It’s important that you know this, so that if (when) you come up with else, you’re not doing it out of ignorance: you’re doing it because you figured out something that you know is better!”

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