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View Diary: Authoritarians at the Gate (146 comments)

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  •  I agree, T, great analysis (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elwior, IreGyre, Larsstephens, Bob Duck

    pleasure to read; so well footnoted.

    This is a fascinating topic and does need to be explored in all its ramifications.

    btw/ LUVVED your avatar, lartweilder:

    which pill?  blue or red?

    It is enough that the people know there was an election. The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything. ~~Joseph Stalin

    by SeaTurtle on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 11:56:40 AM PST

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    •  red pill? blue pill? (5+ / 0-)

      Hi SeaTurtle. Thanks for the props. It really is a fascinating topic. Takes up too much of my time . . . I gotta quit thinking about it . .   :-)

      WRT which pill? Depends on the day. When I feel like tilting at windmills - the red one. When I don't want to deal - the blue one . . .  :)

      "With sufficient thrust, pigs fly just fine." -- RFC 1925

      by lartwielder on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 03:00:31 PM PST

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      •  lw, this diary is a tour de force! (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        yes, there are days when the blue pill is good enough for me too, :-)  But the difference is that I choose to swallow the red one on those other days; so we do keep at least in touch with reality.  Sort of.... :-)

        It is enough that the people know there was an election. The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything. ~~Joseph Stalin

        by SeaTurtle on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 04:21:30 PM PST

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    •  It is a good start but is also more complex (6+ / 0-)

      The seeds of the invasive weed of institutionalized RW Authoritarianism came after WW II when the US abandoned its two century long cultural naivete and started when it emulated and recruited Nazi Fascists war criminals from Eastern Europe and Germany to man a presumed 3rd Front from an expected Soviet invasion of Europe. The book titled BLOWBACK authored by Christopher Simpson chronicled how the US brought literally thousands of Nazi's into the US. Part of them were political authoritarians who infiltrated the Republican Party in the 1950's and into the think tanks and collegiate ranks of the 1960's and '70's.

      RW Authoritarianism was not part of the political mainstay before infiltration and building of the American Post WWII Empire. Therefore I am going to say it is now part of the Republican DNA and must be exposed, crushed and and marginalized.

      I will write more about this but RW Authoritarianism has connections to a revolutionary cause and is presupposed not to compromise.  

      They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither safety nor liberty~Ben Franklin

      by RWN on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 04:31:48 PM PST

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      •  The post WW2/cold war era was a perfect (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lotlizard, peregrine kate, tardis10

        breeding ground for the authoritarians to expand,
        but I feel that if one examines history closely, it is
        quite easy to find an eternal chain of precedent in
        many different ethnicities, cultures, and nation states
        that would be considered essentially authoritarian by
        any unbiased and rational observer. And many times
        not just in powerful and wealthy elites, but among followers.

        This would suggest that such traits may be common to
        all humans to a varying degree, and thus critically demands
        the further research and study necessary to address its
        almost preternatural reemergence in times of social, economic,
        or political stress. Such may be hard wired into our DNA,
        a survival adaptation found in many species to promote
        group cohesion and cooperation. Peck order. Queen bees.
        Alpha males. Whether structure and order is naturally
        occurring or imposed by our own admittedly biased
        perceptions remains to be definitively settled as of yet.

        I think it instructive that many of the same attributes of
        the authoritarian mind can be found across the political,
        cultural, and economic spectra. One finds many appealing
        to all different sorts of authority, to a greater or lesser
        degree, right here at the GOS, should one be so inclined
        to analyze it in such a light. Are not citations, and footnotes,
        but a widely accepted and codified reference back to a
        previous authority, or expert scholar for evidentiary sake?

        Isn't the progress of science established by the appeal
        to the authority of observed and collected evidence?
        If hyperlinks to other sources of information, no matter
        their veracity or subversive intent are not appeals to
        authority, then Bernays and Lee would be disappointed.
        Not to mention Machiavelli, Sun Tzu, or eve Lao Tzu.

        Certain aspects of authoritarian behavior also appear
        to arise spontaneously in situ in masses of individuals,
        but usually this appears to have been pre conditioned,
        or somewhat entrained, by suggestion or command.

        Any who have experienced the visceral emotions of
        being within a large enough group, especially of like or
        agreeable minds will understand that authority equals
        power and vice versa. Unfortunately, the pursuit of
        absolute power or authority has almost always been
        for whatever reasons, unequally achieved, and most
        certainly, ultimately destructive and dangerous to the whole.
        And therefore demands our utmost attention and consideration.

        Very interesting reading on an essential,
        always timely, and vitally pertinent subject.

        Thanks for all of your efforts.

        •  Re: The post WW2 . . . (0+ / 0-)

          Hi Lars - Sorry about the lag in response. I missed it. My bad.

          Your comments and observations are right on. Authoritarianism is a part of a person's psychological makeup. I think you might find Jon Haidt's book very interesting. I can't do his book justice in just a short reply, but part of his book is devoted to the evolutionary adaptiveness of people having this trait (and others) in general.

          Gotta make a comment about the advancement of science dependent upon the authority of observed and collected evidence. Yes and no. Yes, the advancement of science relies on observed and collected evidence, but the advancement of science results from disproving the current received view. Data in and of themselves are neutral. The business of science is to try to hone its model of how the world works by building a model with the current data and the start poking at. The model only lasts as long no data come along to disprove it.  I don't want to drift out into the philosophy of science here, but if you're really interested in how science "evolves" its view of the universe, check out "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions" by Thomas Kuhn. Blew my socks off the first time I read it.

          It seems from your comments that you are very interested in this topic. There has been a lot of research done on the topic for 40 years or so. Earlier on by psychologists of different stripes, but recently the neuroscientists have gotten into the act. Enjoy!

          "The water won't clear up 'til we get the hogs out of the creek." -- Jim Hightower

          by lartwielder on Mon Dec 03, 2012 at 05:13:14 PM PST

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        •  Re: The post WW2 . . . (0+ / 0-)

          Hi Lars - please accept the tardiness of this reply. I don't know how I missed it when it you first posted it. Must have been absent that day . . .  :->

          Just wanted to say that you really seem to appreciate/understand the authoritarian worldview . . . along with the fact that we can all be "authoritarians" when we perceive great enough threat . . .

          I should have given that more emphasis than I did in the post. You are absolutely right . . . All of the researchers on the topic with whom I am familiar say that. And, for my money, Haidt does an absolutely fantastic job at describing the evolutionary significance of the "authoritarian foundation." I wish I'd had the time/space to do his work justice . . .

          I've got to make one short comment on "appeal to authority." My philosophy mentor would not begin a conversation until terms had been defined. (Usually because that process ended up destroying the tacit assumptions that were the "legs" of the argument . . . ;-) ) So I'll just say that for these purposes, appeal to authority means using the "weight" of the authority to whom the appeal is made to force the conclusion. I.e. "God said it, I believe it, that settles it." Well, gee, if God said it, it must be true . . .

          To me, giving references is not the same thing at all. When I give a reference for a conclusion I have drawn or a (usually data-based) statement I have made, I do it with the expectation/hope that the reader is, by default, a skeptic and would find it insulting if I expected her to just accept my statement "on faith." I provide references to that if the reader has reason to question the data that I use to bolster my argument, she may go to the reference and make a decision about the validity of the data based on the experimental design and data analysis. (And if she challenges it, she can then design her own study whose outcome will either disprove the conclusion of the prior study or fail to do so). So, to me, providing a reference is more like saying to the reader: "If you are not comfortable with my conclusion or the data on which I based my conclusion, here is how the data were obtained . . . if you see holes in the design or the analysis, I'd appreciate knowing that . . ."


          "The water won't clear up 'til we get the hogs out of the creek." -- Jim Hightower

          by lartwielder on Fri Dec 21, 2012 at 05:24:10 PM PST

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