on authority

Wanderlust writes: “A quote that I discovered by Charles Metcalfe, a civil servant for the EIC goes, ” Our dominion in India is by conquest. It is naturally disgusting to the inhabitants and can only be maintained by military force. It is our positive duty to render them justice, to respect and protect their rights.” This quote ties in with a continuing discussion as regards to authority in class and at work. The best authority is one that is granted by the followers, a perfect example of which is Gandhi. Although the British were far from being welcome by the Indian people, especially in the 20th century, this quote reflects the importance of the notion of responsibility. That a people cannot be taken over. They must be won over. Loyalty and respect cannot be bought or demanded – they must be earned. People cannot be led by force. They must choose their Gandhis, Kings, Marxs and Nassers.”

I like it that Wanderlust is thinking along these lines: historical analogy. Keep up the good work.

3 thoughts on “on authority

  1. Maureen

    “People cannot be taken over..They must be won over”-words that can apply to our present situation in Iraq…We seek to impose by force..by the sheer strength of our will…

    We forget that the more we impose..the more they will rebel against us…It is as if we are taking over from the British in our quest for a new age of empire…

    Most Graciously,

    *A Mayde in her own little woode…

  2. Wanderlust

    I couldnt have summed it up better Maureen. Im still in the process of researching, and the similarities between what the British did then and what the U.S is doing now are startling.

    I wish I could remember the exact dates, but history books from other parts of the world speak of America’s “wannabe imperial” attitude – also known as the “Dollar Diplomacy.” Allegedly, the government scrambled for the race for colonies when it was a tad bit too late. I believe it was around the first world war. Strange for a country that had to fight once for it’s own independence. How hypocritical to speak of living and breathing in freedom. Things really are’nt much different now.

    With the benefit of retrospect, comparison results in agreeing with your conclusion.

    Sad as it may seem, it really doesnt seem more than the country trying to stake a claim now in what it couldnt have before.

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on authority

Here are the first three lines The Wife of Baths tale in The Canterbury Tales:

1: Experience, though noon auctoritee
2: Were in this world, is right ynogh for me
3: To speke of wo that is in mariage;

The idea of authority (as an idea that changes over time) has come up a lot in the texts weve been covering in EL1. Thus the Wife beginning her tale with an arrow pointing directly at it seems significant: shes earned the right to speak on the subject as an actor. We could ask the question: what is the importance of experience to the Wifes long prologue and tale, its relationship to conclusions about domination (which may or may not be obvious), gender, to the truth, and, more importantly, to the nature of Chaucers audience and what they expect of the interplay between what the Wife claims as a character in the Tales and the climax in the tale proper, where experience and female authority and supernatural motif come into contact, a la Marie de France. We could also claim that Chaucer is beginning to engage human intimacy much closer than anything weve thus far covered, including Gawain, and subjects other than the noble classes.
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