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View Diary: Authoritarians at the Gate (146 comments)

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  •  Your comment (and some other things) (0+ / 0-)

    have gotten me to thinking about the various "divides" we tend to, well, divide the parties and Americans into this and that faction or leaning. More accurate would be a spectrum, e.g. far right to right to center to left to far left.

    I've come up with a few I thought I'd throw out for your reaction:


    I think that while there's some cross-breeding, and some do more so than others, for the most part the left-hand leanings tend to correlate, as do the right-hand ones (with the exception of the Statist/Libertarian one, which can be inverted and work just as well). I think that of these, the ones most applicable to today's right are authoritarian and regressive. The others also apply, but much less so.

    There is elitism on the right, but of a kind that's implied and downplayed (and race and class rather than merit-based). There is conservatism, but of a social and economic, not Burkean sort. There is libertarianism, but of a selective and hypocritical sort. And there is pragmatism, but of a cynical, really evil sort.

    But authoritarianism and regressivism are absolutely the hallmarks of today's right, which is almost exclusively about protecting the privileges of the rich, whites, straights, men and social conservatives. It's become a magnet for people for whom these privileges are preeminent, and opposed to policies which might threaten these by extending privileges for everyone else.

    Basically, they're interested in protecting their rights and privileges, whether legitimate or not, and not at all in the rights and privileges of others, no matter how legitimate--which is regressive. And they're dogmatic, and thus authoritarian, about it. Which I guess makes them elitist too.

    "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

    by kovie on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 03:19:21 PM PST

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    •  Re: comment and other things (1+ / 0-)
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      Hi kovie,

      You've thrown out quite a spectrum. :)

      You've brought up a lot to think about. But for a first shot, they're certainly all dimensions along which we differ. I wholeheartedly agree that there's some "cross-breeding." It will be an interesting exercise to try to unpack the relationships.

      I agree with your thoughts on the right to a certain extent. But there is one thing about the whole right-left, liberal-conservative dichotomy is that I've come to believe that authoritarianism is a different animal from the other flavors of conservatism. I'll see if I can put it into words: I think "we" have been guilty of lumping authoritarians, fiscal conservatives and "lets don't be so quick to change things" conservatives into the same pile. I just don't think that's fair . . . I know fiscal conservatives with whom I can spend an enjoyable evening at the pub talking about macroeconomic theories, the state of the economy, monetary policy, etc. and have a most enjoyable time and end up learning a lot. We may both have learned something, and we may or may not have changed our opinions about things, but we had a great time and came away the richer for it.

      Likewise with folks who may think that, along some dimension or another, we as a country/world/whatever may be moving to quickly. We could get frunk as a dart, but when we packed it in, we both would have had an enjoyable evening.

      In both cases, I would probably been more "liberal" than they were, but that wasn't the issue, nor was it the determinant of how I felt about the person at the end of the evening. In both cases, we both enjoyed the conversation . . . and to be frank, really didn't expect to change the other person's mind. We did it for the conversation and the intellectual exercise.

      Authoritarians are as far at the other end of the spectrum from these people as far as they can get. They can't do thrust-and-parry because they have never touched a foil or epee. Anything that comes at them that doesn't fit comfortably in their universe is an existential threat. Since that is the case, they have to either aggress to the point that the challenge goes away or run away . . . and running away is bad. So everything for them is fight-or-flight. Anything that causes them discomfort is a threat. They don't operate "in the outside world." They must operate in a world that they can control because they don't have the equipment to deal in a world that is shades of gray. They can't do "I"m OK, you're OK." or "Yeah, OK, we disagree. So what?"

      This was the long way to my feeling that: a) folks at the high end of the authoritarian scale are just different from everyone else, and b) at one level I feel sorry for them, but, at another level I think they're a real danger to themselves and others. I know high RWAs and they're just not the same of "conservative" as are the Laissez Faire conservatives and the Status Quo conservatives. I guess what I'm saying is that I believe that there are people "on the right" who are, not only not authoritarians, but nonauthoritarians . . .

      Hope this made some sense. I"ve been up since 0-dark-30 this morning and my synapeses are beginning to misfire . . .

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

      by lartwielder on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 04:49:20 PM PST

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      •  I basically agree (0+ / 0-)

        To me authoritarianism is about order, especially excessive and unnatural order out of touch with a more "organic" view of life. Mild authoritarians merely prefer order to disorder in nearly every aspect of their lives, especially ones other than where you obviously prefer to have order like roads and finances and health, e.g. one's personal life (what fun is it to have that totally ordered and predictable?). But they don't necessarily try to impose it on others or argue too strongly for it. Whereas strong authoritarians insist on imposing it on others (and in having it imposed on them) and believe themselves to be justified in that.

        As such, yes, clearly, strong authoritarians track much more closely with the right, and really far right, than with the left. But there are strong authoritarians on the left, and as you agree not all people on the right are authoritarians, at least of the stronger kind (I think that pretty much all Repubs and conservatives these days are at least somewhat authoritarian, or else they'd be liberals).

        But, again, I think that this is, while a necessary way to look at the left-right divide, also an insufficient one. We also have to look at race, class, region, culture, identity, ideology, etc. They all play an important role in determine where one stands along the L-R spectrum, and why.

        "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

        by kovie on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 11:14:46 AM PST

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