Groups seeking total authority cannot often directly impose their vision. They face opposition that must be weakened and dissolved. An important part of this dissolution process is making the population doubt everything that might undermine or challenge the authoritarian’s replacement order.
What is the target of this doubt? It depends on whether the authoritarian employs a pro-establishment or anti-establishment strategy.
For pro-establishment authoritarians the target is all individual judgment that might question or defy institutionally established truth.
For anti-establishment authoritarians the target is institutionally established truth that discredit truths developed around a kernel of specific individual intuitions.
The pro-establishment authoritarian will deploy institutional power to attack the legitimacy of intuition, intuitive sense of truth and personal conscience by emphasizing the unreliability and deceptiveness of individual judgment. To be certain that we are not forming wrong beliefs with cumulatively catastrophic results, we must suspend our highly-fallible individual judgment and go with the superior judgment of authorities. It might be a religious priest class combatting the influence of demons and heretics, or it might be a scientistic expert class discrediting naive “system 1” common sense notions, and replacing them with carefully-constructed counter-intuitive “system 2” truth. In both cases, the individual is made to doubt all personal conceptions of truth and instead to adopt official doctrines of elites. And yes, these doctrines feel stilted, artificial and counter-intuitive — but one is to trust them even more because they feel wrong, because intuitiveness is a symptom of seductive error and succumbing to sin, motivated reason, bourgeois values, etc. The faith of the pro-establishment authoritarian says: “adhere to this truth because it is absurd!” Trust the institutions!
The anti-establishment authoritarian, on the the other hand, confronts and defies institutional authority with claims of gnosis, of insights and practices that go deeper than reason into the heart of metaphysics. This strategy exalts individual intuition — or at least those intuitions that resonate with and reinforce the universalized intuitions of the gnostic leaders of the movement. According to the anti-establishment faith, these intuitions that have been long suppressed and persecuted by the existing Establishment, which has been corrupted or which was corrupt from the start. Institutions must be discredited top to bottom — their purpose, their truth claims, their practices — their legitimacy. This is why revolutionary right-wing movements (as opposed to right-wing conservative movements who are pro-establishment) so often combine esoteric, mystical and romantic belief systems with extreme skepticism buttressed with conspiracy theories that habituate one’s mind to automatically intuit all competing accounts as doubtful. Anti-establishment authoritarians instinctively, intuitively gravitate to whatever clears the ground for their own authority. It starts with “Question everything!”, proceeds to “we think with our blood!” or “trust your feelings!” and continues that way until some new Establishment can be founded, at which time the movement goes pro-establishment, while their formerly pro-establishment authoritarian enemies go anti-establishment.
In times like these, when the pro-establishment authoritarians and anti-establishment authoritarians change strategies en masse, when post-modern radical skeptics start demanding trust of institutions, and the God & Country types learn to despise and distrust their own national authorities — it is hard to get our bearings. Who is the oppressor, and who is the oppressed? Who has the power, and who is subjected to it? Who is conventional, and who is radical? Who is the elitist, and who is the anti-elitist? How do we distinguish righteous anger from elitist rage, righteous offense from elitist fragility, counterbalancing from gratuitous vengeful humiliation?
Who decides? How is it decided?
Generally, it takes a bloodbath to re-teach all the assorted pro- and anti-establishments omniscients the wisdom of liberal-democratic institutions.