The Link between Authority and Vital Flux

August 12, 2013

Photo of the Philharmonic Orchestra of Minas Gerais in the Sala São Paulo by Gladstone Campos.

In a truly organic society, the driving force of any human group is found in that vibrant vital flux that comes from below. The role of true authority is to interpret, distill, and direct this impulse of the vital flux that comes from below, and not impose itself and destroy freedom. “An organic and diversified society,” writes Adolpho Lindenberg, “successfully accommodates two apparently opposing concepts: authority and freedom.”(*)

Gardening in Switzerland by Bernard Frohlich

Take a great symphony orchestra. The musicians display vital flux by their overwhelming passion for music. The conductor must have an intuitive yet rational notion of that which he is directing. He must wield his baton with an understanding of both the abilities of the orchestra members and the nature of their instruments. His role is to interpret their good aspirations, order their good impulses, and eliminate bad habits so that a great symphony might be played. In this way, the conductor exercises authority respectful of the vital flux of the musicians.

Painting by Albert Anker

Painting by Albert Anker

To illustrate the point yet further, we might consider the gardener that cannot force plants to grow against their nature but merely creates conditions for the vital flux of the plants to grow naturally by watering, fertilizing, and removing the weeds and pests that hinder their progress. Likewise, a leader must be like a father, for example, who, with a firm hand, stimulates and supports the spontaneous development of the qualities of his children and keeps away those who threaten their well-being. In this manner, the solidity of his power comes not just from the force of his arm but from the good order of which he is the highest expression.



(*) Adolpho Lindenberg, The Free Market in a Christian Society, trans. Donna H. Sandin (Washington, D.C.: St. Antoninus Institute for Catholic Education in Business, 1999), 203-4.


John Horvat II, Return to Order: From a Frenzied Economy to an Organic Christian Society—Where We’ve Been, How We Got Here, and Where We Need To Go (York, Penn.: York Press, 2013), 174.


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