That famous and amazing scene in the Monty Python classic, "Holy Grail" explores the issue of authority, its origins and likely outcome.
Now if I were to claim ultimate authority over a tract of wilderness due to the fact that i had adopted a unique uniform and a commanding viewpoint and a booming voice, it might be possible to cowe someone into obedience to this "authority" of mine. In fact, i was once told in a children's camp to act like i was in authority and the people would obey me, which i found to my astonishment to be absolutely true!
As many others have pointed out, we are all indoctrinated from our youngest days to respect "authority" and bow in obedience to it. Doubt this? Next time you're in a crowd, speak in a commanding tone and order the people around you to line up in this or that fashion, and watch them hasten to comply. (But you're on your own with this one, because i have no idea what you may order, to whom you give your instruction and what the recipients of your commands will choose to do!)
Obedience is actually quite an interesting human phenomonen and really makes you wonder what the reason might be for this built-in propensity to carry out the will of another perceived to be in authority.
And of course, as with anything in our world, there are those who will exploit this human tendency for their own purposes. Some of the worst of the worst, must have severely soiled themselves laughing in private at their underlings willingness to obey their commands, even stacking authority in ever-increasing layers for their own amusement, demanding the most ridiculous services for little or no personal reward, except to laugh at the stupidity of those beneath their command.
And, naturally enough, others have orchestrated mass murders in the millions of people. Estimates seem to range between 60 and 80 million people murdered under Mao Tse Tung's roguish command, during peacetimes! Quite a sick accomplishment to be sure! And an indication that maybe we should rethink obedience a bit! It was the obedient after all who carried out these murders! Ever thought of disobedience as being a virue? There are times it certainly is! A new thought? That's too bad and indicates a real bad case of control compliance inside of your own brain.
What if there was a ground-swell of disobedience to evil commands? A lot of things could be made right in a hurry!
I'm obviously not talking about disobedience for its own sake but a willingness to say "no" to commands which one finds morally reprehensible. We all need to give a lot of thought to this: blind obedience to any and all commands is definitely not a virtue, nor is glibly accepting the authority of another without questioning the source and value of that authority.
It may cost an individual everything he holds dear to stand up to evil. And counting on the support of friends and family in such a case is not wise. Expect if you take such a stand, to lose whatever you hold dear, but expect at the same time to gain a great level of self-respect and dignity in a decaying society. A self-respect that cannot be taken from you, even in death. A self-respect not gained by the compliant mass of men.