The Demand For Obedience


It is chiefly in magisterial speech that the power of winners resides. To be powerful is to have one’s words obeyed. It is only by magisterial speech that the emblematic property of winners can be safeguarded. Those entitled to their possessions have the privilege of calling the police, calling up an army, to force the recognition of their emblems.

The power of gods is known principally through their utterances. The sicut dixit dominus (thus says the lord) is always a signal for ritual silence. The speech of a god can be so perfectly expressive of that god’s power that the god and its speech become identical: “In the beginning was the word. The word was with God, and the word was God.”

One is speechless before a god, or silent before a winner, because it no longer matters to others what one has to say . To lose a contest is to become obedient; to become obedient is to lose one’s listeners. The silence of obedience is an unheard silence. It is the silence of death . For this reason the demand for obedience is inherently evil.


– James Carse


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