Many men tend to erroneously conflate authority, influence, and power.
Authority is the right to use power, symbolized by the trappings of power — its symbols. The scepter, the orb, and the crown are all such symbols. The eagle is another such symbol. The CEO has formal authority over the company that he’s charged with. The President is commander-in-chief of the military. Authority is not itself power, but the right to use it. It’s the formal expression of who can use it legitimately.
Influence is the capacity to affect the thoughts and behavior of others. Influence can’t compel, but if it can compel reliably enough, it can lead to the gradual accumulation of power and authority.
Attempting to make a run at authority without accumulating sufficient influence before doing so is usually fatal or otherwise damaging, because people who have it are rarely eager to give it up. Influence without authority is temporarily toothless, but authority without influence is pathetic. Trying to grab authority without preparing the scene is either suicidal, revolutionary, or both — which tends to appeal to the left, but not so much to the pro-civilizational types.
Establishing authority is a consolidation and formalization of existing influence. For example, when two men start a company together, formalize their titles, and assign share ownership, they’re just formalizing in law their preexisting relationship with each other, and setting that down contractually to facilitate the venture.
Power is the capacity to act without interference — and can also mean violence or the capacity to use it for certain ends. The mugger uses power against his victim, but it’s illegitimate, and the reigning authority reserves the right to rectify the wrong using its own retaliatory force in order to preserve law and order. In the nonviolent realm, we would say that the boss with the authority to make purchases, sales, hire and fire people, has some form of local power over his environment. If I can terminate your employment contract, I have authority over you.
When people ambitious for influence and power go wrong, they tend to misunderstand how far their influence is likely to go, or whether or not their actual influence maps to their stated authorities. A manager in a corporation will lose prestige if he issues orders which his subordinates flout publicly. If his authority says that he’s in command over the department, but the reality is that it’s actually something else, that manager will become next to useless or worse.
Therefore, if you want to consolidate influence into authority, it’s best not to issue commands. The sergeant can command the private, but men together who have no formal rank don’t know who’s the superior to whom.
The authority to use power within the law confers a special influence all on its own, in the same way that a gun barrel pressing into a man’s back encourages his compliance. So, the lack of authority confers a special disadvantage in the competition of influence, but less so if you can provoke that authority to act in ways that oversteps its own real support.
There’s a particular progression to these developments which can’t be skipped. Putting on a crown and declaring yourself emperor makes yourself like Norton. Norton had no legitimacy, so he was a joke. Going through the antecedent steps makes you more like Napoleon, for better or worse. Napoleon had near universal support of the citizenry upon his coronation, at least so far as could be verified by referendum.
In America, authority matches fairly well with raw power, but it matches poorly to influence. Those with power have little influence, which makes it so that those with influence have a fairly easy time subverting the formal authority — including foreign powers and international capital. This creates an erratic, tyrannical, and unstable politics, especially as most of the serious European competitors have been successfully repressed.