Hi. Welcome to the site. Please check out the About Us, and if you have a question about crime and/or punishment, perhaps look at some previous questions along those lines first.
Welcome to Anarchy101 Q&A, where you can ask questions and receive answers about anarchism, from anarchists.

Is language like "we must" or "you should" inherently authoritarian?

–1 vote
asked Dec 4, 2010 by enkidu (6,700 points)
semiotics? chomsky? language as the structural influence on thinking?
i know people know about this stuff. don't make me go read a bunch of articles...

1 Answer

+1 vote
Such language might be authoritarian or it might not. It depends on the context.

"We must leave now in order to make it to the movie on time."

"You should put some ointment on that rash if you want to alleviate the itching."

Contrast those sentences with:

"We must invade Iraq or face a nuclear mushroom cloud in Washington."

"You should put your hands on the steering wheel or I'll shoot you in the head."

In short, language — even innocuous, innocent-sounding language — can be authoritarian if backed by hierarchical power. And language — even forceful, harsh language — can be non-authoritarian if done in a supportive, mutual environment (think of consensual S&M).
answered Dec 4, 2010 by skeptic667 (140 points)
...