I'm becoming increasingly fascinated with the philosophical questions about 'authority': What is it? Where does it come from? Can it be rationally justified? It seems like anarchism can't answer a trivial 'no' to that last question, since parental authority seems thoroughly rational. So why can some forms of submission to authority be justifiable and some can't?
Habermas tried to rehabilitate the post-Enlightenment concept of authority by claiming that it makes sense to submit one's judgment to a person of superior insight - that, rationally, there are times when we ought to recognize the limits of our own reason and let somebody else think for us. Habermas was no anarchist (in the same essay, he describes the anarchistic utopia as a 'hermeneutically false consciousness', which certainly sounds bad), but can anarchists make use of his take on authority? On the surface, it seems like it might give reasonable criteria for 'justified authority': superior knowledge, for instance, or moral judgment.
And is authority such a necessarily poisonous concept, anyway? If there are forms of it that don't necessarily entail coercion - as the Abonilox suggests in the comments of my previous post - might anarchists embrace some form of authority without any problems at all?
I'm asking a lot of questions here, so I beg your patience. I've got no answers yet.
One final note: I notice that I'm rehashing a lot of the same ground that Helen Rittelmeyer covered years ago here. I don't want to immediately agree with the claim that authority and individuality aren't at odds - it sounds too similar to the 'freedom through submission' doublespeak of Christianity - but it is an excellent post.