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"Political tags – such as royalist, communist, democrat, populist, fascist, liberal, conservative, and so forth – are never basic criteria. The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire." - Robert A. Heinlein

Andrew O'Hehir recently posted an article on Salon [1] and Alternet [2] titled "Hey Liberals: You Haven't Won the Culture War" in which he argues that the extreme political polarization that currently exists:

. . . involves values or mores that people hold on a primordial or unconscious level, which are not easily expressed in language and not readily subjected to rational inquiry. Translated into the political realm, these fundamental cultural mores become entrenched ideological positions, modes of expressing the unshakable conviction that my side is right and yours is wrong.
He is definitely onto something. He has identified the aspect of the political environment which has created and will perpetuate its current toxicity . . .

Since the subject has been broached, lets see how it's played out over the past 40 years or so . . . The Republican party has alienated moderates to the point that even some moderate Republicans have changed their party affiliation to Independent and moderate Congressional Republicans who had the respect of their peers from both sides of the aisle have elected not to return. (Think Olympia Snowe). It now exhibits a significant redshift. Or as Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein in their book It's Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided With the New Politics of Extremism [3] put it:

. . . the Republican party, has become an insurgent outlier - ideologically extreme; contemptuous of the inherited social and economic policy regime; scornful of compromise; unpersuaded by conventional understanding of facts, evidence, and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition. When one party moves this far from the center of American politics, it is extremely difficult to enact policies responsive to the country’s most pressing challenges.
In every chapter of this book, we have documented the ways in which the Republican Party has become the insurgent outlier in American politics and as such contributes disproportionately to its dysfunction.4 If the case we have made about the GOP is accurate, then the culture and ideological center of the Republican Party itself, at the congressional, presidential, and, in many cases, state and local levels, must change if U.S. democracy is to regain its health. The contemporary GOP, to the horror of many of its longtime stalwarts and leaders like former senators John Danforth of Missouri and Alan Simpson of Wyoming, has veered toward tolerance of extreme ideological beliefs and policies and embrace of cynical and destructive means to advance political ends over problem solving. These tendencies have led to disdain for negotiation and compromise unless forced into them and rejection of the legitimacy of its partisan opposition (as manifested especially in the continuing drumbeat questioning the birthplace of President Obama, and the refusal of major party figures to condemn the birthers).
More after the break . . .

Newton's Third Law applies to politics as well as billiard balls. People can't behave the way the Republican party has behaved recently and not expect that others might find it offensive. Political scientists, sociologists, political neuroscientists and psychologists have been studying this dynamic and the causal factors that led up to this latest partitioning of the political landscape for forty years or so. It is very different from any in the past. Learning more about the divide and its causes will help one appreciate the gravity of the problem. Understanding why and how it is different will help one appreciate how much of a challenge it will be to right the ship. There are fixes, but the challenge will be implementing them.

O'Hehir suggests that the current divide is characterized by differences that are visceral and morality/values based. Yea verily, and in their book Authoritarianism and Polarization in American Politics, political scientists Marc Hetherington and Jonathan Weiler [4] show how and why it came about. They review recent political history and show how the Republicans' use of hot-button issues ended up changing the political environment into one focused on emotional (gut-level) issues. This, in turn, released the "authoritarian genie" which has ended up polarizing the population along worldview/authoritarian lines.

In their words:

Finally, our results are significant because they suggest that the growing polarization in American politics may reflect fundamental dispositional orientations. It further suggests that polarization may be persistent and sustain an increasingly intense and acrimonious political divide. [Emphasis mine] Our results suggest that the differences between authoritarians and nonauthoritarians explain an important piece of that conflict which, in turn, has become increasingly central to the nature of political conflict more generally in America today.
. . .
Considering our story up to now, we believe we have adduced powerful evidence for the increasingly central role that authoritarianism has come to play in structuring party competition, mass preferences, and the relevant issue agenda of the past forty years. Never since at least the dawning of the survey era has there been such fundamental clarity and distinction between the two parties on such a wide range of issues organized around a particular worldview. Beginning in the late 1960s, our political system began a transformation that, in fits and starts but inexorably, produced a picture in increasingly sharp resolution - one in which the division between people's fundamental outlooks became refracted onto a landscape of increasingly irreconcilable political differences.
The parties, however, have sorted more clearly along authoritarian/nonauthoritarian lines, with substantial consequences for understanding the nature of the political divide. [Emphasis mine]
In other words, rather than this polarization being driven by differences of opinion on policy, political differences now are being exacerbated by differences in personal worldviews. Hence the debt limit brouhaha last year and the current "fiscal cliff." If the works had been gummed up by issues/concerns that were truly fiscal in nature; if the debate had been at the level of "Lets figure out how to fix this problem so that we can move on to the next one;" and if all of the players had felt they had skin in the game; the process might have been ugly, but sooner or later some compromise could have been reached.

The debt limit brouhaha was brought to us by people whose only goal was to cram their position down everyone else's throats and who were prepared to play chicken with the country's economy to get their way. These people were not the least bit interested in solving the problem. They saw the problem as leverage to impose their position on everyone else and didn't care if they sank the ship in the process. They did what they did for purely personal, rigidly held my-way-or-the-highway reasons.

Mann and Ornstein again:

As bad as the atmospherics were, the new and enhanced politics of hostage taking, of putting political expedience above the national interest and tribal hubris above cooperative problem solving, suggested something more dangerous, especially at a time of profound economic peril.
Revisiting O'Hehir:
Translated into the political realm, these fundamental cultural mores become entrenched ideological positions, modes of expressing the unshakable conviction that my side is right and yours is wrong.
Hetherington and Weiler suggest that as time goes on, the polarization between the groups will continue getting greater. This is not your father's politics any more. It is a different game with different players and different rules. From the authoritarians' point of view, it is not politics. It is personal. There is no precedent for managing this kind of political environment, and it's not being managed right now.

(There are parts of the ensuing discussion that some might interpret as being unflattering or maybe even insulting to those who have certain worldviews. That was not the intent of the researchers. The subjects of discussion are worldviews, the behavior patterns associated with them and how they have affected the political process. None of what will be discussed here is intended to be taken as "Right" or "Wrong," "Good" or "Bad" any more than is hair color, eye color or handedness. If there is a value judgment to be made, it should be based on how productive the political process is and how effective it is in being able to manage the impact of these worldviews on it).

In order to appreciate the implications of Hetherington and Weiler's findings, one must understand authoritarianism and authoritarians. So what are they?

Authoritarianism is a worldview: a core set of beliefs, personal ethics, personal value system and emotions. Psychologist Karen Stenner [5] describes authoritarianism this way:

In the end, then, authoritarianism is far more than a personal distaste for difference . . . It becomes a normative "worldview" about the social value of obedience and conformity (or freedom and difference), the prudent and just balance between group authority and individual autonomy (Duckitt, 1989), and the appropriate uses of (or limits on) that authority. This worldview induces both personal coercion of and bias against different others (racial and ethnic outgroups, political dissidents, moral "deviants") as well as political demands for authoritative constraints on their behavior. The latter will typically include legal discrimination against minorities and restrictions on immigration, limits on free speech and association, and the regulation of moral behavior, for example, via policies regarding school prayer, abortion, censorship, and homosexuality, and their punitive enforcement.
And authoritarians:
Authoritarians prove to be relentlessly "sociotropic" boundary-maintainers, norm-enforcers, and cheerleaders for authority, whose classic defensive stances are activated by the experience or perception of threat to those boundaries, norms, and authorities. Those are the critical conditions to which authoritarians are eternally attentive. The perceived loss of those conditions—via disaffection with leaders, or divided public opinion—is the catalyst that activates these latent predispositions and provokes their increased manifestation in racial, political, and moral intolerance (and its corollary: punitiveness). This is the authoritarian’s classic "defensive arsenal," concerned with differentiating and defending "us", in conditions that appear to threaten "us", by excluding and discriminating against "them": racial and ethnic minorities, political dissidents, and moral "deviants." In conditions of normative threat, authoritarian fears are alleviated by defense of the collective "normative order": positive differentiation of the ingroup, devaluation of and discrimination against outgroups, obedience to authorities, conformity with rules and norms, and intolerance and punishment of those who fail to obey and conform.
Stenner gives us the 50,000 ft. view. To get down to the level of "OK, how would I know one if I saw one," we can turn to Bob Altemeyer, a psychologist who studied authoritarianism for over 40 years at the University of Manitoba. He recently wrote a book called The Authoritarians [6] in which he describes the research he did, the questionnaires he used, the methodology employed and the results he got. It is sort of a one-stop-shopping guide on authoritarianism for the ordinary person. It is well worth reading if one would like to get a good understanding of what makes authoritarians tick and how they behave.

Here are some excerpts:

Authoritarians exhibit:

1. a high degree of submission to the established, legitimate authorities in their society;
2. high levels of aggression in the name of their authorities; and
3. a high level of conventionalism
Authoritarian Submission. Everybody submits to authority to some degree. . . . But some people go way beyond the norm and submit to authority even when it is dishonest, corrupt, unfair and evil. We would expect authoritarian followers especially to submit to corrupt authorities in their lives: to believe them when there is little reason to do so, to trust them when huge grounds for suspicion exist, and to hold them blameless when they do something wrong.
Authoritarian Aggression. When I say authoritarian followers are aggressive I don’t mean they stride into bars and start fights. First of all, high RWAs [Right Wing Authoritarians] go to church enormously more often than they go to bars. Secondly, they usually avoid anything approaching a fair fight. Instead they aggress when they believe right and might are on their side. 'Right' for them means, more than anything else, that their hostility is (in their minds) endorsed by established authority, or supports such authority. 'Might' means they have a huge physical advantage over their target, in weaponry say, or in numbers, as in a lynch mob. It’s striking how often authoritarian aggression happens in dark and cowardly ways, in the dark, by cowards who later will do everything they possibly can to avoid responsibility for what they did. Women, children, and others unable to defend themselves are typical victims. Even more striking, the attackers typically feel morally superior to the people they are assaulting in an unfair fight. We shall see research evidence in the next chapter that this self-righteousness plays a huge role in high RWAs’ hostility.
Conventionalism. By conventionalism, the third defining element of the right-wing authoritarian, I don’t just mean do you put your socks on before your shoes, and I don’t just mean following the norms and customs that you like. I mean believing that everybody should have to follow the norms and customs that your authorities have decreed. Authoritarians get a lot of their ideas about how people ought to act from their religion, and as we’ll see in chapter 4 they tend to belong to fundamentalist religions that make it crystal clear what they consider correct and what they consider wrong. For example these churches strongly advocate a traditional family structure of father-as-head, mother as subservient to her husband and caretaker of the husband’s begotten, and kids as subservient, period. The authoritarian followers who fill a lot of the pews in these churches strongly agree. And they want everybody’s family to be like that.
Authoritarians do not think like everyone else does. Their cognitive processes are different. They are wired differently. First we will hear a bit more from Altemeyer and then from others from other disciplines.

How Authoritarian followers think:

The key to the puzzle springs from Chapter 2's observation that, first and foremost, followers have mainly copied the beliefs of the authorities in their lives. They have not developed and thought through their ideas as much as most people have. Thus almost anything can be found in their heads if their authorities put it there, even stuff that contradicts other stuff. A filing cabinet or a computer can store quite inconsistent notions and never lose a minute of sleep over their contradiction. Similarly a high RWA can have all sorts of illogical, self-contradictory, and widely refuted ideas rattling around in various boxes in his brain, and never notice it.
But research reveals that authoritarian followers drive through life under the influence of impaired thinking a lot more than most people do, exhibiting sloppy reasoning, highly compartmentalized beliefs, double standards, hypocrisy, self-blindness, a profound ethnocentrism, and - to top it all off - a ferocious dogmatism that makes it unlikely anyone could ever change their minds with evidence or logic.
He then goes on to catalogue and discuss in detail the "seven deadly shortfalls of authoritarian thinking."

1 – Illogical thinking -

They particularly had trouble figuring out that an inference or deduction was wrong. To illustrate, suppose they had gotten the following syllogism:

1. All fish live in the sea.
2. Sharks live in the sea.
3. Therefore, sharks are fish.

The conclusion does not follow, but high RWAs would be more likely to say that the reasoning was correct than most people would. If you ask them why it seems right, they would likely tell you, 'Because sharks are fish.' In other words, they thought the reasoning was sound because they agreed with the last statement. If the conclusion was right, they figure, then the reasoning must have been right. Or to put it another way, they don't 'get it' that the reasoning matters - especially on a reasoning test.

. . .
Deductive logic aside, authoritarians also have trouble deciding whether empirical evidence proves, or does not prove, something. They will often think some thoroughly ambiguous fact verifies something they already believe in. So if you tell them that archaeologists have discovered a fallen wall at ancient Jericho, they are more likely than most people to infer that this proves the Biblical story of Joshua and the horns is true - when the wall could have been knocked over by lots of other groups, or an earthquake, and be from an entirely different era (which it is).
2 – Highly Compartmentalized Minds -
As I said earlier, authoritarians’ ideas are poorly integrated with one another. It’s as if each idea is stored in a file that can be called up and used when the authoritarian wishes, even though another of his ideas - stored in a different file - basically contradicts it. We all have some inconsistencies in our thinking, but authoritarians can stupify you with the inconsistency of their ideas. Thus they may say they are proud to live in a country that guarantees freedom of speech, but another file holds, 'My country, love it or leave it.' The ideas were copied from trusted sources, often as sayings, but the authoritarian has never 'merged files' to see how well they all fit together. It’s easy to find authoritarians endorsing inconsistent ideas. Just present slogans and appeals to homey values, and then present slogans and bromides that invoke opposite values. The yea-saying authoritarian follower is likely to agree with all of them. Thus I asked both students and their parents to respond to, 'When it comes to love, men and women with opposite points of view are attracted to each other.' Soon afterwards, in the same booklet, I pitched 'Birds of a feather flock together when it comes to love.' High RWAs typically agreed with both statements, even though they responded to the two items within a minute of each other.
But that’s the point: they don’t seem to scan for self-consistency as much as most people do. Similarly they tended to agree with "A government should allow total freedom of expression, even it if threatens law and order" and "A government should only allow freedom of expression so long as it does not threaten law and order." And "Parents should first of all be gentle and tender with their children," and "Parents should first of all be firm and uncompromising with their children; spare the rod and spoil the child."
3 – Double Standards -
When your ideas live independent lives from one another it is pretty easy to use double standards in your judgments. You simply call up the idea that will justify (afterwards) what you’ve decided to do. High RWAs seem to get up in the morning and gulp down a whole jar of "Rationalization Pills."
4 – Hypocrisy -
You can also find a considerable amount of hypocrisy in high RWAs’ behavior. For example, the leaders of authoritarian movements sometimes accuse their opponents of being anti-democratic and anti-free speech when the latter protest against various books, movies, speakers, teachers and so on.
High RWAs don't have a problem with being in favor of capital punishment while at the same time being pro-life. Freedom of religion is very important to high RWA fundamentalists, but if they had their way, the United States would be a fundamentalist Christian theocracy. (In other words, freedom of religion is important when it comes to their religion, but theirs is the only one that counts. Rather like Henry Ford's reply when asked what colors were available for his cars. The answer attributed to him was: "Any color you want as long as it's black)."

5 - Blindness to Themselves -

If you ask people how much integrity they personally have, guess who pat themselves most on the back by claiming they have more than anyone else. This one is easy if you remember the findings on self-righteousness from the last chapter: high RWAs think they had lots more integrity than others do. Similarly when I asked students to write down, anonymously, their biggest faults, right-wing authoritarians wrote down fewer than others did, mainly because a lot of them said they had no big faults. When I asked students if there was anything they were reluctant to admit about themselves to themselves, high RWAs led everyone else in saying, no, they were completely honest with themselves.
And when I give feedback lectures to classes about my studies and describe right-wing authoritarians, it turns out the high RWAs in the room almost always think I am talking about someone else.
6 – A Profound Ethnocentrism -
They are so ethnocentric that you find them making statements such as, 'If you’re not with us, then you’re against us.' There’s no neutral in the highly ethnocentric mind. This dizzying 'Us versus Everyone Else' outlook usually develops from traveling in those 'tight circles' we talked about in the last chapter, and whirling round in those circles reinforces the ethnocentrism as the authoritarian follower uses his friends to validate his opinions.
But this is especially important to authoritarians, who have not usually thought things out, explored possibilities, considered alternate points of view, and so on, but acquired their beliefs from the authorities in their lives. They then maintain their beliefs against new threats by seeking out those authorities, and by rubbing elbows as much as possible with people who have the same beliefs.
I know I'm right because the people I agree with say I am.
Because authoritarians depend so much on their in-group to support their beliefs (whereas other people depend more on independent evidence and logic), high RWAs place a high premium on group loyalty and cohesiveness.
Authoritarian followers want to belong, and being part of their in-group means a lot to them. Loyalty to that group ranks among the highest virtues, and members of the group who question its leaders or beliefs can quickly be seen as traitors. Can you also sense from these items the energy, the commitment, the submission, and the zeal that authoritarian followers are ready to give to their in-groups, and the satisfaction they would get from being a part of a vast, powerful movement in which everyone thought the same way? The common metaphor for authoritarian followers is a herd of sheep, but it may be more accurate to think of them as a column of army ants on the march.
Authoritarian followers are highly suspicious of their many out-groups; but they are credulous to the point of self-delusion when it comes to their in-groups.
To take a non-political example of walking extra miles for authorities, when people first began to reveal they had been sexually assaulted as children by priests and ministers, bishops often issued statements saying they had thoroughly investigated the charge and found it had no merit. That was good enough for the authoritarian followers. If the evidence nevertheless grew against Father X, church authorities asked the public, "Whom are you going to believe, this obviously disturbed person who claims to have been assaulted, or the Church?" That too was an easy one for the high RWAs.

If it eventually became known that the bishops’ own inquiries had discovered that Father X was indeed a pedophile, but the bishops still denied he was and sometimes even quietly transferred Father X to another parish, where he sexually assaulted still more children, do you think the high RWAs learned anything from this? How many "disconnects" do you think they have at hand to avoid realizing they allowed themselves to be deceived?

I fear you will wait a long time before authoritarian followers wise up to their chosen leaders, and to themselves - and their leaders know it. When the Watergate revelations were sinking his ratings in the polls, Richard Nixon pointed out to his chief of staff, H. R. Haldemann, "I think there’s still a hell of a lot of people out there...[who] want to believe. That’s the point, isn’t it?" "Why sure," Haldemann replied. "Want to and do." (Conversation of April 25, 1973 recorded on the 'Watergate tapes'. reported by the New York Times on November 22, 1974, p. 20.)

7 – Dogmatism: The Authoritarian's Last Ditch Defense, or Don't Confuse Me With Facts, My Mind's Made Up -
By dogmatism, I mean relatively unchangeable, unjustified certainty.
It’s easy to see why authoritarian followers would be dogmatic, isn’t it? When you haven’t figured out your beliefs, but instead absorbed them from other people, you’re really in no position to defend them from attack. Simply put, you don’t know why the things you believe are true. Somebody else decided they were, and you’re taking their word for it. So what do you do when challenged?

Well first of all you avoid challenges by sticking with your own kind as much as possible, because they’re hardly likely to ask pointed questions about your beliefs. But if you meet someone who does, you’ll probably defend your ideas as best you can, parrying thrusts with whatever answers your authorities have pre-loaded into your head. If these defenses crumble, you may go back to the trusted sources. They probably don’t have to give you a convincing refutation of the anxiety-producing argument that breached your defenses, just the assurance that you nonetheless are right. But if the arguments against you become overwhelming and persistent, you either concede the point - which may put the whole lot at risk - or you simply insist you are right and walk away, clutching your beliefs more tightly than ever.

From a different source (Mooney [7]):
As it turned out, not even Bush’s own words could change the minds of these Bush voters . . . The remaining 41 [of 49] all came up with ways to preserve their beliefs, ranging from generating counterarguments to simply being unmovable:

INTERVIEWER: . . . the September 11 Commission found no link between Saddam and 9/11, and this is what President Bush said. [pause] This is what the commission said. Do you have any comments on either of those?

RESPONDENT: Well, I bet they say that the Commission didn’t have any proof of it but I guess we still can have our opinions and feel that way even though they say that.

(In other words, high RWAs deal with cognitive dissonance by just ignoring the datum that creates the dissonance. It's easy: Clap your hands over your ears and run away shouting "Na, na, na, I can't hear you! Don't confuse me with facts, my mind's made up!)"

Altemeyer also investigated the relationship between authoritarianism and religious fundamentalism. These phenomena are orthogonal to each other, and though there doesn't have to be any relationship between them, it turns out that fundamentalists tend to be authoritarian followers. Not all high RWAs are religious fundamentalists, but it is very, very hard to find a religious fundamentalist who does not score high on the RWA scale.

This chapter has presented my main research findings on religious fundamentalists. The first thing I want to emphasize, in light of the rest of this book, is that they are highly likely to be authoritarian followers. They are highly submissive to established authority, aggressive in the name of that authority, and conventional to the point of insisting everyone should behave as their authorities decide. They are fearful and self-righteous and have a lot of hostility in them that they readily direct toward various out-groups. They are easily incited, easily led, rather un-inclined to think for themselves, largely impervious to facts and reason, and rely instead on social support to maintain their beliefs. They bring strong loyalty to their in-groups, have thick-walled, highly compartmentalized minds, use a lot of double standards in their judgments, are surprisingly unprincipled at times, and are often hypocrites.
To this point, the selections from The Authoritarians have been taken from the discussion of authoritarian followers. RWA followers have no desire whatsoever to be the leader of the pack. After all, a primary trait of authoritarians is "a high degree of submission to the established, legitimate authorities in their society." They need to be in the pack surrounded by those who agree with them and reinforce them. They need someone else to set the rules. It's the "I know I'm right because the people who agree with me told me I am" thing. Going against the grain is complete anathema to them and anyone who is willing to challenge their "received view" poses an existential threat to it.

Altemeyer also investigated the behavior patterns of the leadership side of the authoritarian system. He characterizes the difference between authoritarian followers and leaders this way:

But huge differences exist between these two parts of an authoritarian system in (1) their desire for power, (2) their religiousness, (3) the roots of their aggression, and (4) their thinking processes . . .
How would one identify a candidate for a leadership position in an authoritarian system? There are two sets of candidates . . . one being those who score high on the Social Dominance Orientation scale. [8] High RWAs are exactly the group of people that high SDOs like. High SDOs are all about power and dominance. Altemeyer developed a couple of scales to study the nature of high SDOs and what makes them tick.

He describes the behavior patterns of people who score high on the Personal Power, Meanness and Dominance Scale this way:

High scorers are inclined to be intimidating, ruthless, and vengeful. They scorn such noble acts as helping others, and being kind, charitable, and forgiving. Instead they would rather be feared than loved, and be viewed as mean, pitiless, and vengeful. They love power, including the power to hurt in their drive to the top. Authoritarian followers do not feel this way because they seldom have such a drive to start with.
He characterizes the behavior of those who score high on the Exploitive Manipulative Amoral Dishonesty Scale like this:
Social dominators thus admit, anonymously, to striving to manipulate others, and to being dishonest, two-faced, treacherous, and amoral. It’s as if someone took the Scout Law ("A scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, ...") and turned it completely upside down: "A ‘winner’ is deceitful, manipulative, unfair, base, conniving, ..." Furthermore, while the followers may feel admiration bordering on adoration of their leaders, we should not be surprised if the leaders feel a certain contempt for their followers. They are the suckers, the _marks," the fools social dominators find so easy to manipulate.
They will say and do anything to get in a position of power. The end justifies the means and they have no scruples. All a high SDO needs to do is tell a bunch of high RWAs what they want to hear and they've got it made.
Once someone becomes a leader of the high RWAs’ in-group, he can lie with impunity about the out-groups, himself, whatever, because he knows the followers will seldom check on what he says, nor will they expose themselves to people who set the record straight. Furthermore they will not believe the truth if they somehow get exposed to it, and if the distortions become absolutely undeniable, they will rationalize it away and put it in a box. If the scoundrel’s duplicity and hypocrisy lands him on the front page of every daily in the country, the followers will still forgive him if he just says the right things.
High RWAs and high SDOs complement each other but their motivations are different. High SDOs issue the call . . .
out of meanness, as an act of intimidation and control; the follower [responds] out of fear and self-righteousness in the name of authority."
See if you can guess the source of this statement:
"Naturally, the common people don't want war, but they can always be brought to do the bidding of the leaders. Tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and endangering the country. It works the same in every country."
Sound familiar?

No . . . Dick Cheney is an excellent guess, but it was actually Herman Goering in his testimony at the Nuremburg Trials. He knew his high RWAs. And he's right. It does, indeed, work the same in every country.

The second type of authoritarian leader is what Altemeyer calls the "lethal combination," the Double Highs. These are people who score high on both the Social Dominance Orientation scale and the Right Wing Authoritarian scale . . .

But a Double High has the best chance of attracting this army of yearning and loyal supporters. He comes packaged as 'one of our own,' one of the in-group. He not only shares their prejudices, their economic philosophy, and their political leanings, he also professes their religious views, and that can mean everything to high RWAs. He too may be faking his religiousness to some extent, but he will have the credentials up front, and the phrase-dropping familiarity with the Bible to pass the test with flying colors. He’ll know the code words of the movement. He’ll appear to believe everything "all the good people" believe about Satan, being born again, evolution, the role of women, sex, abortion, school prayer, law and order, "perverts," censorship, zealotry, holy wars, America-as-God’s-right-hand, and so on. Given this head start, you can expect to find a Double High leading most of the right-wing authoritarian groups in our country.
(For those who might be interested in seeing exactly what Altemeyer's scales are all about, he includes them in his book. If one is interested in learning more about the SDO scale, visit the Your Morals web site, take the SDO questionnaire and find out where you stand among all of the other people who have taken it. (The RWA questionnaire is there also). For those interested in understanding more about the research behind the data that are presented here, reading Altemeyer's book and a visit to the Your Morals site would be well worth one's time. Along with the SDO and RWA questionnaires, there are many, many other questionnaires on the Your Morals site that have proven to be effective in teasing out all sorts of information about one's psychological makeup).

For a catalogue of high SDO and Double High leaders, how they behave in a political environment, and what they have done to our country, one could do no better than to read Conservatives Without Conscience by John Dean. [9] From the teaser on the cover flap:

By examining the legacies of old-time conservatives such as J. Edgar Hoover, Spiro Agnew, and Phyllis Schlafly and of current figures such as Dick Cheney, Tom DeLay, Bill Frist, Newt Gingrich and Jack Abramoff, he presents a compelling portrait of leaders who are indifferent to the founding principles of liberty and equality, and who cloak their actions in moral superiority while pushing the country further and further from its constitutional foundations.
For true conservatives, it will demand serious reflection as a trenchant explanation of how conservatism lost its bearings, and a warning of its dangerous ramifications.
If, after having read Conservatives Without Conscience, your tolerance for disgust has not been overwhelmed, for dessert, one might try reading Christopher Hitchens' The Trial of Henry Kissinger [10] and/or watch Eugene Jarecki's documentary, The Trials of Henry Kissinger. [11] Better yet, do both. Read the book just for the pleasure of reading Hitchens when he has his nose out of joint. Watch the documentary to hear directly from some of the people who were personally involved with Kissinger. Reading about Kissinger and what he did is one thing. Seeing and hearing people who were involved in some of the events makes them much more "up close and personal." Cheney was in the Single A minors compared to Kissinger.

An example of how authoritarian leaders and followers can come together is given by Craig Unger in an interview [12] about his book The Fall of the House of Bush. The conversation was about the confluence of the neocons and the Christian right in order to advance their agendas. When asked how it was that they ended up in bed together, Unger replied:

"They play very different roles. The neocons are an ideological vanguard and the Christian right is a mass electoral base."
There you have it. Hard-core high SDOs like Rumsfeld and Cheney and neocons like Wolfowitz, Pearle and Abrams throwing chum in the water and the Christian right in a feeding frenzy . . .

Bottom line: authoritarianism is not about politics. It is a worldview. So is nonauthoritarianism. But nonauthoritarians are not just authoritarians dialed way down. They are completely different beasts. They have different value systems; different approaches to dealing with change, novelty and conflict resolution . . . their brains work differently. [13] Where authoritarians see the world in black and white, nonauthoritarians see not only black and white, but shades of gray. Where authoritarians see differences of opinion and conflict resolution as a zero-sum game, nonauthoritarians work toward win-win resolutions. Where authoritarians have the "If you're not with us, you're agin' us" view of differences of opinion, nonauthoritarians have the perspective of "Well, we disagree, so let's just agree to disagree." Where authoritarians simply ignore information that conflicts with their beliefs, nonauthoritarians say, "Well, isn't that interesting. I guess I'll have to rethink my position."

Differences between the two worldviews show up in many scientific disciplines. Jonathan Haidt is a psychologist who studies moral reasoning. In The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion, [14] he talks about how liberals and conservatives have very different moral/value matrices which in turn determine how they weight their values and what is important to them. (For an excellent 20-minute presentation on his research and findings, see his 2008 TED Talk. [15]) Where Stenner and Altemeyer describe authoritarian behavior patterns, Haidt investigates how people assemble their worldviews and moral/values matrices and why it happens the way it does.

In The Republican Brain: The Science of Why They Deny Science – and Reality, Chris Mooney [7] does a review of the social psychological, evolutionary psychological, cognitive psychological, cognitive neuroscience and genetics literatures on how it is that conservatives continually deny reality in the face of conclusive evidence and how the brains of liberals and conservatives are different.

We have spent a lot of time getting to know authoritarians and how they think and behave. Although authoritarianism is a component of one's worldview, in the past, there was not necessarily a correlation between where a person fell along the RWA scale and her location along the political right-left dimension. Before "the big divide," there were authoritarian Democrats, authoritarian Libertarians, authoritarian Republicans and authoritarian Independents. Conversely, there were liberal Republicans, Libertarians and Democrats. But as Hetherington and Weiner have shown, the nature of the issues chosen by the Republicans, the rhetoric they employed, and the way in which Republican elites have chosen to cast the political environment as an "us or them" struggle, have ended up throwing red meat to the authoritarians in the party. By winding up the Tea Partiers, the right-wing religious fundamentalists, etc., and herding everyone to the starboard side of the ship, the Republican elites have ended up changing the nature of the political environment and rupturing the GOP.

In the past, bipartisan coalitions could work together to resolve their differences and deal with issues that affected everyone. However, we are at the point now that the most liberal Republican is more conservative than the most conservative Democrat. And since the authoritarian/nonauthoritarian dimension is a core component of peoples' worldviews, this polarization is turning into a very personal, us-against-them, I'm-going-to-do-everything-I-can-do-to-screw-you confrontation.

Now would be a good time to reflect on Mann and Ornstein's comments and start connecting the dots.

After the last election, we heard things that might lead one to believe that the strategy that the GOP had been using for the last 40 years or so had backfired:

"We’ve got to give our political organization a very serious proctology exam," Mr. Barbour said Wednesday. "We need to look everywhere."

"We have to look at everything in depth," Mr. Barbour said, "and be brutally honest."

Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin said Republicans needed to adopt a new "tone."

Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana said, "We need to modernize our party."

and best of all . . .
"I absolutely reject that notion [Romney's assertion that Obama won by "following the old playbook" of bestowing favors on special interest groups]. I don’t think that represents where we are as a party," Mr. Jindal said. He added, "We have got to stop dividing the American voters." all quotations [16]
David Frum in his book Why Romney Lost [17] opines:
The Republican Party is becoming increasingly isolated and estranged from modern America.
They are right. For the past 40 years, the GOP has been insulting its moderate constituents and alienating everyone else, and in the process, has let the "authoritarian genie" out of the bottle. Messers Barbour, Walker, Jindal and Frum are right and one wishes them good luck.

But then we come to the spanner in the works: The challenge for the Republican party is that, in order for them to succeed in "adopting a new 'tone,'" "modernize the party," and "stop dividing the American voters," it is going to have to become more moderate, more inclusive and dial back the current hard-core approach and agenda and rhetoric. It needs to show that "conservative" doesn't, in fact, mean "authoritarian." It needs to invite the RINOs and independents back to the table. It needs to show moderates that they are welcome and wanted in the party. It needs to rein in the authoritarians and demonstrate to the world that they are under control.

Doing so, however, will be immensely threatening to the authoritarians. Given what we have learned about them, (among other things, that they're full of righteous indignation and become very aggressive when they feel that they are being threatened) it is safe to say that the process will be more painful than pulling teeth without the benefit of anesthetic. The image of standing in front of a bull and waving a red flag comes to mind. If the Republican elite is serious about the party becoming based in reality rather than ignoring it, becoming more moderate, and reaching out to others, doing so is going to put the moderate Republicans and the intensely ethnocentric, don't-confuse-me-with-facts-my-mind's-made-up "Rauthoritarians" on a sticky wicket.

Right now, the GOP is really two parties: the nominal GOP and the Rauthoritarians. Authoritarians make up about 25% of the voting populace. The Republican party in toto comprises 40% +/- of the electorate. In the event of a major food fight within the party, the numbers are in the authoritarians' favor. So is the fact that they are much more cohesive and better organized than are the moderates . . . And then, there's the money . . . with the coming of the Super PAC and Citizens United, "the Party" doesn't control the purse strings to the degree it has in the past. The Club For Growth, FreedomWorks, American Crossroads, the Kochtopus and the Sheldon Adelmans of the world are free to back whomever they like. The Rauthoritarians have essentially created their own alternate universe inside the GOP.

They have the best of both worlds: they can live in their own little world more or less unencumbered by responsibility and accountability, (or reality, even) but at the same time, they have become the puppet master of the Republican party. The 2010 election season was their prom night. The last primary season was their coming out party. They're still a bit rough around the edges and they haven't quite yet gotten the knack of swinging that great double-edged sword of theirs around without nicking themselves. Nonetheless, they have demonstrated their ability to hold the Republican Party hostage and extend their influence into the real world. From a detached observer's perspective it is an incredibly interesting phenomenon that is fascinating to watch. Not so much so, though, once one begins considering the implications . . .

And then there’s ALEC. The Koch brothers and ALEC have demonstrated that Tip O’Neil’s observation that all politics being local is certainly true . . . and not only in the way he meant it. It is much easier to manage the "temperature" and direction of state and local politics than at the national level. Arizona, Florida, Wisconsin, Ohio . . . Michigan . . . Texas . . . best state governments money can buy . . .

There are few incentives for authoritarians in red states to change their stripes and, given the gerrymandering that has occurred since the last census, it is probably safe to say that "authoritarian/Tea Party" seats at both the state and national level are going to be safe for a while.

There is the potential for this conflict between state-level politics and national politics to become really messy. The electorate of any state is more homogeneous than it is at the national level and one might expect that the effect of the polarization would be greater in red states. This amplification would exacerbate the difference between red-state political environments and that at the national level. The red states could become less inclined to be "good citizens." One needs only to observe the surge to implement ALEC model legislation in newly captured Republican state houses and governorships and red states' reactions to Obamacare to believe that another outcome of this polarization is going to be increased polarization and antipathy between deep red states and the federal government.

Before we continue I'm going to introduce two terms:

Reality Bubble –

The term “reality bubble” has generalized beyond its original market-based meaning. The principle really applies to any situation where a person or group of people succeed in sustaining (for a time) a belief inconsistent with objective facts. The reality inside the bubble is what I call beta reality – beliefs are the "facts" of this reality, and their effects (the actions taken by people based upon them) are the equivalent of the effects of objective facts as enforced by the laws of physics in objective (alpha) reality, which is outside the bubble. [18]
Reality Distortion Field (RDF) –
The RDF was said by Andy Hertzfeld to be Steve Jobs' ability to convince himself and others to believe almost anything with a mix of charm, charisma, bravado, hyperbole, marketing, appeasement and persistence. RDF was said to distort an audience's sense of proportion and scales of difficulties and made them believe that the task at hand was possible. [19]
There are already glimmerings of the work the Republicans have cut out for themselves:

1. The RDF at work:

"Evangelical leaders and conservative activists have a simple message for establishment Republicans about Mitt Romney’s failed presidential bid: We told you so." [20]
Revisit Altemeyer's observation about authoritarians' blindness to themselves. Romney wasn't the problem. They were the problem. And, come "Hell or Noah's high water," they'll fight any dilution of their influence.

2. Marco Rubio replying to a question about how old he thinks the earth is in an interview for GQ:

I'm not a scientist, man. I can tell you what recorded history says, I can tell you what the Bible says, but I think that's a dispute amongst theologians and I think it has nothing to do with the gross domestic product or economic growth of the United States. I think the age of the universe has zero to do with how our economy is going to grow. I'm not a scientist. I don't think I'm qualified to answer a question like that. At the end of the day, I think there are multiple theories out there on how the universe was created and I think this is a country where people should have the opportunity to teach them all. I think parents should be able to teach their kids what their faith says, what science says. Whether the Earth was created in 7 days, or 7 actual eras, I'm not sure we'll ever be able to answer that. It's one of the great mysteries. [21]
And he is on the Senate Committee on Commerce, SCIENCE and Transportation.

3. An article on Talking Points Memo titled "Creation Controversies The Norm Among Potential Republican 2016 Contenders" which reports comments about evolution or creationism made by Chris Christie, Bobby Jindal, Rand Paul and Marco Rubio. [22] Apparently the reality bubble is still intact.

4. From Robert Land's piece in the New York Times online section "Room for Debate" discussion on "What's Next for the GOP." [23]

The G.O.P. must not, and cannot, ignore its foundation and base. Exit polls show that white evangelicals made up 26 percent of the electorate, 3 percent more than in 2004. . . . While the G.O.P. needs to expand its base by embracing immigration reform and finding younger candidates and spokespersons, especially young women to make the pro-life case, they must not moderate their social conservative message. If the G.O.P. found it hard to win with their current base, imagine how excruciatingly difficult, if not impossible, it would be for them to try and win without that base.
Stenner eschews the term "social conservatism" for "authoritarianism." This gives one an idea of the problem for the Republicans. Here is a group that comprises (so Richard Land says) 26% of the electorate. They are on a mission, and with the right leadership, will do everything in their power to advance their agenda. The challenge for the GOP as a whole is that a majority of the population has no desire to have the agenda of its "foundation and base" foisted on them. As a matter of fact, most people find it an insult to their intelligence. Many people in the last election didn't vote so much "for" the Democrats, but "against" the Rauthoritarians.

The best thing the Republican party could do to right the ship is to heave that ballast overboard. But, as already noted, there are more Rauthoritarians than there are RINOs, so the probability of that happening without a food fight is pretty low. Numbers-wise and discipline-wise, the Rauthoritarians are in the stronger position. But their main advantage is that they know what they want and have an infrastructure and an agenda to accomplish it, whereas the RINOs are just now figuring out that they really have a problem. They just took one on the chin and are still trying to figure out which way is up . . .

The worst thing for the Republicans and everyone else is that, for the Rauthoritarians, the primary function of the political process is to provide them with a mechanism to use as a shillelagh to beat "them" into submission and make "them" toe "their" line. Compromise is not part of a high RWA's vocabulary. There is no need for negotiation because they are right and that's just the way it is. They have God on their side so they feel that they can, while being wrapped in righteous indignation, justifiably give everyone else the finger. For authoritarians, negotiation is a zero-sum game and they get to keep the goodies. Richard Mourdock's definition of "compromise" [24] comes to mind here . . .

For the past fifteen years or so, the inmates have been gaining control of the asylum. As we've seen, it is the nature of the authoritarian beast to feel threatened even when there isn't any reason to be. The corrective action the Republicans need to take will be a threat and anathema to them. It is going to take some very strong leadership and a steel will to bring the party back to reality.

The longer it takes to restore some semblance of reality, respect for others and adult maturity to the organization, the bigger the gap between the beta reality of the Rauthoritarian party and the alpha reality of the 74% will become. The GOP desperately needs nonauthoritarians, but they have no incentive to participate in its current configuration. Worse yet, given the "retirement rate" and disaffiliation from the Party by moderates, there actually seems to be a disincentive for moderates to participate. The party is being hiacked by a collection of hypocritical, xenophobic, misogynistic high SDOs, Double Highs and high RWAs. And they've been off the leash long enough now that they've gotten used to it.

In the end, we all need a healthy two-party system that is focused on building and fixing rather than obstructing and tearing down. Playing political chicken with the future of the country is not the way to get more votes. In an adult world, a person can completely disagree with someone else but still respect the other person's right to their opinion. In an adult world, people realize that no one can ever get everything they want, but with a little good-faith negotiation it is possible to end up with a solution that gives everyone most of what they need.

Ideologues do not further progress, they hinder it. Remember Newton's Third Law. Authoritarians are like spoiled brats who throw temper tantrums whenever they don't get everything they want. They have no respect for others. They have no desire to play well with others. If we are going to have a healthy political system, the Republican elites are going to have to understand that this new environment is not business as usual and come up with a plan for how to lower the temperature some. Right now, the Rauthoritarians are a much bigger problem for the GOP leadership than the Democrats are. And it is hard to see how things can get better until the inertia that's driving the current polarization process is reversed.

The ball is in the GOP's court to sort this all out. They let the genie out of the bottle. If they can’t/don’t put the it back, Harrison Salisbury’s [25] words may prove to be prophetic:

Sinclair Lewis aptly predicted in “It Can't Happen Here” that if fascism came to America [or at least the Republican party] it would come wrapped in the flag and whistling "The Star Spangled Banner."
After which it will take up the cross and begin marching to a rousing rendition of "Onward, Christian Soldiers."

This discussion of the phenomenon of authoritarianism and the behavior of authoritarians was not based on opinion. It was based on reports of psychological and physiological data gathered from thousands of subjects under rigorous conditions using methodologies and procedures that have been refined over decades of research. Data are not self-righteous, nor do they have social or political agendas. Data are data. One implication of the data that we have on high RWAs, high SDOs and Double Highs is that, under certain political environments and certain leadership, “The Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave” can be turned into “The Land of the High RWAs” who will happily impose their version of Truth, Good, Right, Wrong, Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” on everyone . . . even those - ESPECIALLY those - who disagree with them.

It is the opinion of the author that the solution to the looming problem is not to go out and declare war on "The Authoritarians." That is not a helpful approach. The high RWAs' response to threat is to go into shields-up mode and become more aggressive. It is not possible to have a constructive dialogue when they are in that state.

High RWAs are not necessarily skilled debaters, but they intuitively understand that their position can be undermined if the assumptions upon which they have based their belief system are invalidated. High RWAs will not engage in any exercise that might result in having their core premises challenged. They just will not engage. They will dissemble, they will obfuscate, they will change the subject, they will make up justifications for what they believe, but under no circumstances will they expose their assumptions to critique. They will throw the baby out with the bath water first. Haidt [14] puts it this way:

  • The mind is divided into parts, like a rider (controlled processes) on an elephant (automatic processes). The rider evolved to serve the elephant.
  • You can see the rider serving the elephant when people are morally dumbfounded. They have strong gut feelings about what is right and wrong, and they struggle to construct post hoc justifications for those feelings. Even when the servant (reasoning) comes back empty-handed, the master (intuition) doesn’t change his judgment.
  • The social intuitionist model starts with Hume’s model and makes it more social. Moral reasoning is part of our lifelong struggle to win friends and influence people. That’s why I say that “intuitions come first, strategic reasoning second.” You’ll misunderstand moral reasoning if you think about it as something people do by themselves in order to figure out the truth.
  • Therefore, if you want to change someone’s mind about a moral or political issue, talk to the elephant first. If you ask people to believe something that violates their intuitions, they will devote their efforts to finding an escape hatch — a reason to doubt your argument or conclusion. They will almost always succeed.
Cognitive scientists, social psychologists and neuroscientists have studied the mechanism that people employ in doing this. The phenomenon is called motivated reasoning and is one of the mechanisms people use to mitigate cognitive dissonance. Mooney [7] uses the second chapter of his book to talk about it and to introduce what he calls the "smart idiot effect." Here is his description:
The politically sophisticated or knowledgeable are often more biased, and less persuadable, than the ignorant. "People who have a dislike of some policy—for example, abortion—if they’re unsophisticated they can just reject it out of hand," says Stony Brook’s Milton Lodge. "But if they’re sophisticated, they can go one step further and start coming up with counterarguments" These counterarguments, because they are emotionally charged and become stored in memory and the brain, literally become part of us. They thus allow a person with more sophistication to convince him- or herself even more strongly about the correctness of an initial conviction.
Basically, a snowball has a better chance to survive hell than does one have in changing a high RWA's mind if one challenges them head-on.

Remember Altemeyer's comments on authoritarians' conventionalism and dogmatism. The thought of directly confronting them brings to mind the image of poking a stick into a hornet's nest and stirring it around . . . Even better is the scene from "Blazing Saddles in which Sheriff Bart has just doused a dazed Mongo with a bucket of water. Mongo wakes up and breaks the chains that had held him to the bars of the jail. Sherriff Bart draws his gun because he thinks Mongo is going to come after him. The Waco Kid stops Sheriff Bart by saying: "No, no! Don't shoot him! You'll just make him mad." Sic est cum authoritarians. Don't try to reason with them. You'll just make them mad.

We all have the authoritarian streak in us, and when pushed/threatened/cornered enough, even those who score at the low end of the RWA scale will go postal. It's just that different people default to different places along the scale. We know how high RWAs think and how they behave. Even in their ground state high RWAs are already redlined and they're locked and loaded. We all, Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, Independents, Greens . . . have to decide whether or not we want to live in a high RWA world. If not, it is incumbent on those of us who do not to manage our political environment in such a way as to make it unsupportive of the authoritarian way of doing things.

I'm afraid that, in the short run, we're in for a rough ride. But I do believe that if we are serious, we can salvage the situation and create a social and political environment that everyone can live with. Given the inertia that Hetherington and Weiler see, this polarization will only get worse if left unattended. 6,000 years of human history tells us that. With serious work, the problem can be fixed, but only if we really want to.

Is there any hope for a non-nuclear solution? There is, but as Albert Einstein said:

The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.
There are solutions, but to do them justice requires another post. For now, I'll just list some resources from which to draw ideas:

Mann and Ornstein offer many insightful suggestions on how to modify some of the processes and mechanics of our political system to fix the nasty problems that exist right now.

In his book, David Frum has a chapter "Deliverance" in which he gently but eloquently discusses some of the mistakes the GOP has made, but also points to alternative political strategies that would be more productive. He ends the chapter with this thought:

To be a patriot is to love your country as it is. Those who seem to despise half of America will never be trusted to govern any of it. Those who cherish only the country’s past will not be entrusted with its future.
Here endeth the lesson.

Altemeyer's research was on the behavior patterns and environmental triggers of authoritarians, so he spends the last chapter of his book offering concrete suggestions on how to narrow the perceived gap between authoritarians and nonauthortarians. Kind of a cookbook on how to "defuse the bomb." Though he addressed the problem in the general sense, the techniques are applicable to political problems.

Where Altemeyer looked at the behavior of authoritarians and the environmental events that affect authoritarians' behavior, Haidt "looked under the hood" and studied the morals and value systems of authoritarians and nonauthoritarians. Altemeyer asked "What do authoritarians do . . . how do they behave?" Haidt asks "How is it and why is it that we think and respond the way we do?" The answers are fascinating. He makes three contributions to the solutions. First, he shows why liberals and conservatives think differently. Understanding why somebody does something is the first step in bridging the gap. Secondly, he makes specific suggestions about things that we can do the bridge the divide. Thirdly, the technique he uses in leading the reader through a series of steps from talking about things that have no emotional valence for the reader to where he wants the reader to be with respect to accepting ideas that might challenge the "status quo" is a perfect example of the approach he recommends. The reader gets to see firsthand that it works . . .

(I cannot recommend his book highly enough. If one could choose only one book on how and why it is that liberals and conservatives seem to have different priorities and values and motivations, this would be the one. In developing his argument, Haidt undertakes a synthesis of moral philosophy, cultural anthropology, evolutionary psychology, moral psychology, cognitive neuroscience with a dash of political neuroscience and dual process theory thrown in.

There is a lot of information in it and it is so well written and the narrative flows so smoothly that it is very easy to read right past a "tidbit" that later turns out to be a cornerstone. It is truly a gift that keeps on giving. This is not the venue for a book review, so the only thing else I'm going to say is this: If one is interested in how we go about making values-based decisions and why we do it in the way we do, this book should go to the top of your reading list).

So, hopefully now, we are aware of the problem and we understand that there are strategies to deal with it. The big question is whether the GOP leadership has the will, the discipline, the patience and the juice to take it on. I won't speculate on that, but I will say that if I were a strategist for the Democrats, I'd be working as hard as I could to figure out how the party could become more attractive to right-of-center moderates and independents as opposed to drifting even farther to the left. Given what we know about authoritarians, it is wishful thinking to believe that they would relinquish their position without a major food fight. Right now, they have no incentive at all to change . . . matter of fact, the last election gives them every reason to hunker down and take a hard line. The next few years are going to be interesting times.

Hetherington and Weiler introduce a perspective on the evolution of the political environment in the United States that is beyond the purview of the pundits and political scientists. Anyone who is concerned about the current state of our political system would do themselves a favor to read their book. Anyone who is not, would do themselves a great favor by reading it. It is our two-by-four upside the head.

Toto, we're not in Kansas any more . . .


In this post, I have attempted to connect the dots among several disciplines and levels of analysis so I have had to take the "mile-wide-inch-deep" approach. Nuance has suffered at the cost of brevity . . . to the point that in a couple of cases, a single sentence has alluded to a whole body of research. There were instances in which assertions were made without benefit of rationale. To have developed the argument that would have supported the assertions would have ended up taking more time and space than I was willing to ask the reader to put up with. However, to the best of my knowledge, every assertion is backed up by a reference. I just hope that haven't pared things down to the point that I have under- or misrepresented my sources.

This is a particularly robust phenomenon. Evidence in support of it appears in research done from many different perspectives and levels of analysis. There is every reason to believe that the polarization that we are experiencing now will get worse before it gets better, and it will only get better if active steps are taken to defuse the situation. This is not going to go away on its own.


Updated 12/4/2012 to incorporate input from commenters.

Update 12/13/2012 - This just in: An OpEd by E. J. Dionne on the Washington Post web site titled "Which path for the right?" Without using the terms nonauthoritarian and authoritarian, he has nailed the differences in the two groups and has pointed out some of the issues that will define the coming food fight . . . It is an excellent read.

Update 12/16/2012 - Let the games begin! . . . Washington Post: "Conservative activists tell GOP: Don't make a deal"

Update 12/16/2012 - No more after this one . . . Washington Post: "As Republicans ponder 2012 defeat, party's philosophy hangs in the balance"

Update 12/21/2012 - Sorry, I lied. I hadn't expected things to hit the fan as quickly as they did. Boehner's failure to get his caucus to back "Plan B" was the dimming of the house lights. Grab a bowl of popcorn and lean back in the recliner. The show's about to start:

Washington Post: "Tax fight sends GOP into chaos."

Update 12/26/2012 - Hope the recliner has a seat belt . . . Here we go . . . Looks like the Rauthoritarians are making the first move . . .

Breitbart: "House Republicans Circulate Plan to Ouster Boehner from Speakership." "Boehner Freezes Out Conservatives At His Peril."

Washington Post/AP: "Tea party activists: Go over ‘fiscal cliff’ instead of agree to Obama tax-increase compromise."

Update 1/22/2013: Haidt December 2012 TED Talk "How common threats can make common (political) ground." In this talk, Haidt makes specific recommendations about how to deal with this issue and invites people to get involved.




[3] Mann, T. & Ornstein, N. (2012). It's Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided With the New Politics of Extremism. New York, NY: Perseus Books Group.

[4] Hetherington, M, & Weiler, J. (2012). Authoritarianism and Polarization in American Politics. New York, NY: The Cambridge University Press

[5] Stenner, K. (2009). Three Kinds of "Conservatism." Psychological Inquiry, 20, 142-159, also at:

[6] Altemeyer,  R. (2007). The Authoritarians. available on his page on Authoritarianism at

[7] Mooney, C. (2012). The Republican Brain: The Science of Why They Deny Science - and Reality. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley and Sons.

[8] Sidanius, J. & Pratto, F. (1999). Social Dominance: An Intergroup Theory of Social Hierarchy and Oppression. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press

[9] Dean, J. (2006). Conservatives Without Conscience. New York, NY: Viking Penguin

[10] Hitchens, C. (2001). The Trial of Henry Kissinger. New York, NY: Hatchette Book Group

[11] Jarecki, E. (2002). The Trials of Henry Kissinger. Director: Eugene Jarecki, Studio: First Run Pictures. Amazon, IMDb

[12] Shankbone, D. (2007). Vanity Fair contributing editor Craig Unger on the Bush family feud, neoconservatives and the Christian right. online.

[13] Kuszewski, A. (2011). Your Brain on Politics: The Cognitive Neuroscience of Liberals and Conservatives. Discover Magazine online.

[14] Haidt, J. (2012). The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion. New York, NY: Pantheon Books.

[15] Haidt, Jonathan. 2008 "The Moral Roots of Liberals and Conservatives."

[16] Zeleny, Jeff. 2012 "Republican Governors Say Party Needs to Rebuild." New York Times online.

[17] Frum, D. (2012). Why Romney Lost. A Newsweek eBook

[18] Reality Bubbles. (2012). Two Realities online.

[19] Reality Distortion Field (RDF). (2012). Wikipedia.

[20] Kane, P. & Helderman, R. (2012). Conservative Republicans fight back after Romney loss. Washington Post online.

[21] Hainey, M. (2012). All Eyez on Him. GQ online.

[22] Levy, P. & McMorris-Santoro, E. (2012). Creationism Controversies The Norm Among Potential Republican 2016 Contenders. Talking Points Memo online.

[23] Land, R. (2012). Don't Ignore Social Conservatives. New York Times online.

[24] Miller, J. (2012). Mourdock: Compromise is Democrats Agreeing With Republicans. National Journal online.

[25] Salisbury, H. (1971). The Many Americas Shall Be One. New York, NY: W. W. Norton

Originally posted to lartwielder on Thu Dec 13, 2012 at 07:57 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Great analysis. (14+ / 0-)

    I was saying pretty much the same thing, but in less rigorous terms in my most recent diary:

    Amid Triumph, A Dire Warning

    In Roviet Union, money spends YOU!

    by Troubadour on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 12:36:20 AM PST

    •  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

      [ Parent ]

      •  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

        [ Parent ]

        •  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

          [ Parent ]

      •  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

        [ Parent ]

        •  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

            [ Parent ]

          •  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

            [ Parent ]

    •  Amid Triumph, A Dire Warning (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Hola Troubadour - I read your post. I really like it. It's on my recommended list. Thanks for telling me about it!

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

      by lartwielder on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 02:55:35 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  This is what George Lakoff says in his books (10+ / 0-)

    except this guy presents it in a much better (my opinion) and more understandable manner.  Thanks for this.  I've bookmarked it for future reference.  

    Obama should read this diary.  

    I do need to say I'm not convinced that all the authoritarian leaders in Congress and churches, etc., actually have this visceral looniness.  Some of them just know others do and take advantage of it to their own benefit.   OTOH, maybe they are all bat-shit crazy and I just can't get my arms around it...yet.


    The longer I live, the clearer I perceive how unmatchable a compliment one pays when he says of a man "he has the courage to utter his convictions." Mark Twain

    by Persiflage on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 02:03:00 AM PST

    •  visceral looniness (5+ / 0-)

      Hi Perseflage - You are right. That is exactly the case. I didn't spend as much time on it as I probably should have, but Altemeyer does spend a considerable amount of time on the leaders. They're a different breed. The high SDOs are almost the exact opposite of the high RWA followers. They are cold, calculating, not at all religious, amoral . . . and willing to do or say whatever it takes to get control. While the RWA follower is all about being a memember of a group and following whatever the leader says, the high SDOs could care less about the group except that he is willing to do whatever it takes to keep the group happy. The high SDO is highly self-centered and stay cool. All they have to do is throw some red meat to the followers every now and then. Think Dick Cheney.

      Now, the Double Highs are different. They are the really scary ones. The high SDO side of them is just as amoral, cold, calculating as the "regular" high SDOs. But they also got a heavy dose of the RWA dogmatism, religiosity, hypocrisy, compartmentalized thinking, etc. These are nasty people. Think Pat Robertson, Tom DeLay . . .

      The real loonies are the followers. But that's what makes them so dangerous. They will completely uncritically follow their established leadership. Which makes them prime pickings for the high SDOs and Double Highs.

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

      by lartwielder on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 03:23:32 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  No, Lakoff says most of us can be either (0+ / 0-)

      on many issues, depending on how the issue is presented, and the language used.

      That's why Obama's using right-wing language is so counterproductive.  He seems to think that will make them feel cooperative, but it just reinforces their - and many other potential supporters' - tendency to think in the right-wing mode.

      Most people are not cast in cement, either authoritarian or democratic.

  •  Heinline got it backwards. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Joieau, Larsstephens

    There are some humans who want to control their own kind and their efforts generate resistance by those who want to be free to do their own thing.
    Moreover, the current denizens of the Republican party are not capable of being insurgents, because their whole mode of being involves inaction, not doing anything. They are sticks in the mud. They exploit opportunities like sand spurs that hitch a ride on your sock.
    Given these admitted prejudices on my part, I did not peruse the whole argument presented in the post.
     Perhaps I shouldn't call them prejudices, since they are well-considered conclusions. But, there it is.

    We organize governments to provide benefits and prevent abuse.

    by hannah on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 03:12:39 AM PST

    •  You ought to read it because (11+ / 0-)

      it might change your mind.  Some people do want to be controlled, so to speak, because it gives them sense of belonging, security, whatever....   It may be strange, sick, weird, but it's true.  Think Stockholm syndrome...  


      The longer I live, the clearer I perceive how unmatchable a compliment one pays when he says of a man "he has the courage to utter his convictions." Mark Twain

      by Persiflage on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 03:30:53 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  There is a difference between being agreeable (5+ / 0-)

        and cooperative and being subject to external direction which is, by definition, contrary to the object's welfare.
        The argument that people want to be controlled is a variant of "blame the victim" logic. It gets the controlling agent off the hook. In sexual abuse, it is manifest as the "she wanted it" excuse.
        It is my contention that "control freaks" are people who become obsessed with controlling other people because they lack the capacity to control themselves. This lack of self-control means that their impulsive behavior often leads them into doing wrong (e.g. McCain crashing four planes) until they arrive at a point where they do nothing (but talk) unless they are told. That the way our political campaigns are now run by a host of managers and consultants makes them an ideal venue for people who have survived to take direction and prefer to do so would seem to be an example of a deficit being turned into an opportunity -- making lemonade out of lemons, so to speak. Movie actors and modern political candidates have much in common. Both professions employ the same skills -- imitation and repetition.

        We organize governments to provide benefits and prevent abuse.

        by hannah on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 04:35:44 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'm not arguing. I'm ill equipped in this area. (9+ / 0-)

          I've tried to reason out why some dumb-shits I know seem to consistently fall face down in the plate of conservative horse shit and gobble it up as if it was a plate of fresh warm donuts.  I can't.  

          But this diary helped explain it for me.

          That's all I'm saying....  

          The longer I live, the clearer I perceive how unmatchable a compliment one pays when he says of a man "he has the courage to utter his convictions." Mark Twain

          by Persiflage on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 05:21:46 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Both can be true: some want to be controlled (ofte (5+ / 0-)

          n bc it absolves them of responsibility and/or work - never underestimate the power of cowardice and laziness :) ), and some want to control.  Often the former become the sheep of the latter’s movements.  

          It is no coincidence that fascism (which is really authoritarianism as a popular political movement, versus royalism or bolshevism which are non-populist/'democratic' examples) becomes a 'majority' when events like the Depression or prolonged civil war make large numbers of non-authoritarian folks feel fundamentally helpless to affect/control/better their lives.  (To push my non-responsibility/laziness pt, it becomes easier to give up when it seems no amount of responsible behavior or hard work matters.  This is imo why Thugs talk so much about responsibility and hard work while fundamentally undermining and disdaining them.)

          •  Agree, at some point some people want Daddy (6+ / 0-)

            or Mommy or God to fix things... people who are inherently dependent on others older or "wiser" or in special positions that must be respected and deferred to too much for solutions or direction or whatever... these are people who were raised to think in absolutes and to look for guidance on what the borders and definitions of those absolutes are from those designated as the grownup version of parents.

            It is not inherently bad or good to respect and defer to authorities and that was the workable norm for most of human history. Traditional societies had respect for elders who were the encyclopedias, the Wikipedias, the wisdom and the advisers in everything... the place they lived in had been stable for a long time and the older people in the clan/village/tribe were reliable and important resources for continuity and stability. And so are many many older people in our own times in our own local environments... family, or valid and trustworthy authority figures are everywhere... but the trust and verify thing only goes so far and especially when the wisdom and experience are rigid, too local and not very transferable to newer things or other places in a fast paced changing world.

            When people outgrow the simpler life of childhood, there is clearly a residual need for many to have "Daddy" and "Mommy" analogues in whatever form; religious leader or political leader who can "Fix" things when there are bigger, wider problems that are just too scary or hard to understand... but in return the more the "fixers" are required to just make things go away without bothering the desperate, uninformed who need them, the more the fixers will become a problem themselves. The US right wing are continually bemoaning the nanny state and the poor becoming dependent on handouts etc... but what is actually happening here is projection; they themselves are the dependent ones... they outsource the basis of their opinions and beliefs, their understanding of what their problems actually are as well as the solutions to their moral and political leaders.

            Too many problems in the world are a mystery to these dependent citizens and they demand quick formulas for understanding causes, assigning blame and enacting remedies.... or else just want to not have to worry about any of it and the anxiety they feel can be stoked and harnessed to give the "Fixers" in authority positions and license to do as they please to further enrich and empower themselves while going through the required motions and stances to achieve the presumed goals but which only exacerbates the problems that they are supposedly meant to be fixing...

            Yes the sheep in a society do want things fixed for them so they won't be bothered by them too much. They are like an underclass version of old style aristocracies who do not want to be disturbed by elements of the real world and will accept anything however extreme if it helps maintain the fictions they want to live with. The power elite in authoritarian dominated societies draw their power from feeding the fears of those below them. And that power is bestowed on their rulers by the sheep ceding as much moral and physical power as their own ignorance and fear allows. And they cannot understand why others are so horrified at their eagerness to follow their designated leaders so blindly.

            Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie (hah...)

            by IreGyre on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 02:34:19 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Yep, which is why education and NewDeal/GreatSocie (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              IreGyre, poemworld

              ty type income-stablization and opportunity programs have been so central to Democats for so long - the latter reduces dispair and increases the chance of control over ones own life and reward for one's hard work (it is no coincidence that its called the 'Making Work Pay' tax credit), while the former provides both the perspective to understand that real Progress is possible (warts and all) and the tools for all of those (as well as shattering the hold of tradition and superstition on human minds, which is why Thugs fear and want to destroy public education, i.e., education for all).

              It really is that simple, and has been for millenia.  Ask Socrates. :)

      •  It's true (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        madhaus, mithra, Larsstephens, Persiflage

        Having been in a Christian cult for 15 years in my younger days - it was easier functioning within the box they put us in.  No need to think or have any feelings towards anything. They directed it all as "God's purpose on earth" and we followed all the dictates.    

        Using fear, lies and manipulations, as Fox News, Repugs, et al have done during the Obama presidency, it allows those that want to remain in the bubble to stay there.  It fits the box they exist in.  As Jack Nicholson said in "A Few Good Men," they can't handle the truth.  

        •  It's true (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Larsstephens, Persiflage

          Hi BeadLady - Thanks for bringing this up. A cult is probably the archetypal example of the exploitation of the dynamic between high  SDO leaders and high  RWA followers. Think Jim Jones, Rev. Moon, Scientology, etc. Once you drink the Koolaid . . .

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

          by lartwielder on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 04:44:23 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  I think authoritarian types believe in (9+ / 0-)

      really strict pecking orders. They want to control those "below" them, but be controlled by those "above" them.

      Where are all the jobs, Boehner?

      by Dirtandiron on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 06:17:10 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  strict pecking orders (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Bingo! I didn't spend any time on it in the post, but one of the defining characteristics of the environment out of which high RWAs emerge is one in which there is a strict hierarchy defined . . . Altemeyer has a lot to say about that.

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

        by lartwielder on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 04:46:49 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  The mistake in the characterization (10+ / 0-)

      is to call authoritarians "conservative." The label doesn't fit in general, and certainly not these days when the right wing is so demonstrably radical reactionary.

      It should also be noted that recent research has found that people are BORN to be either conservative or liberal - these psychological leanings are inherent. Liberals are less frightened of change and new things than conservatives. Thus one could characterize right wing authoritarianism as at root a social manifestation of deep insecurity and fear.

      •  Thugs ceased being 'conservative' long ago. As a (8+ / 0-)

        label it still has validity, if only as 'not liberal' (liberal defined traditionally tho, i.e., beleiving in liberty from which pretty much the entire D platform follows, including the New Deal and Great Society - there is no liberty without opportunity).

        But as a workable definition of the Thugs?  Nope.  The Democratic party is both the liberals and conservatives of present US politics.  The Thugs are the rich, fundies and crazies - a perfect medium to grow fascism.

        •  Truly spoken. (7+ / 0-)

          I have little in common with the various groups of socialists, communists, pacifists, feminists and environmentalists when it comes to actual policy. But I rarely pull the lever for the "R" candidate come election day, and I would never consider doing so in a federal election.

          But then these epic battles between the modern GOP and the modern Democratic Party are seldom really about policy in the sense it has always been understood. They don't care about solving problems, they frequently elect to deny that problems even exist (see global warming) so how can they be expected to come up with any policy based solutions to these problems? They don't.

          I might disagree with a liberal about how best to deal with our nation's problem energy. I would favor the construction of new nuclear facilities, whereas a liberal might disagree and suggest wind turbines. The Republican/Authoritarian would start screaming "DRILL, BABY, DRILL!!!!" as if that's not already happening, and it was realistic to think we can afford to continue down that path. Then they'd propose something crazy about abortion and blame sluts for the Cat 4 hurricane about to slam into Boston next March.

          Our politics are now more or less divided between those who are still tethered to reality and those who live in Fox News land.

          You can do whatever you want to us, but we're not going to sit here and listen to you badmouth the United States of America.

          by Eric Stratton on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 11:57:48 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yep. And the fact that you and a anti-nuker can li (4+ / 0-)

            kely have a far more civil and civilized discussion/debate kind of says it all, no?

            Pretty sad really.  Deliberately destroying the mental health of tens of millions for money, the illusion of power and trinkets...

            •  Well, yeah. And the writer mentions this. (4+ / 0-)

              In the past, the two political parties would get together and negotiate. Based on who had the most leverage, a deal would be hammered out. Maybe the anti-nuke guy didn't get all the wind farms he wanted, but he'd get something. Conversely, the nuclear energy lobbyist might not extract every dime he could from the Ways and Means Committee, but he'd understand that throwing the hippies a bone was good politics and would go a long way toward greasing the legislative gears.

              GOP authoritarians rammed everything they could down our collective throats when they were in power last decade. Now, they adopt a scorched earth policy since they can't get their way. It is indeed sad.

              You can do whatever you want to us, but we're not going to sit here and listen to you badmouth the United States of America.

              by Eric Stratton on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 01:22:37 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Reply to Eric and Chris (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                Guys, the conversation between the two of you has restored my hopes for us pulling out of the pit we're in. This is exactly what I was hoping to convey. No two people are alike in their wants, needs, desires, opinions, whatever. But it can't be any other way . . . Given that, there is no one-size-fits-all solution to any problem. The optimal solution to any problem is the one that provides the best return possible for all parties involved. I think the buzzword is "win-win." There are so many advantages to this strategy that it's beyond the scope of this venue to address them all. There is one advantage that I believe trumps all others: Human beings reciprocate. If a person perceives that another is negotiating in good faith and really wants to end up with an optimal solution, that person will reciprocate. If a person believes that another is out to run all over him and stiff him whenever and however he can, he will respond in kind. One's politics have nothing to do with how one approaches one's dealing with others. Where one falls along the RWA scale does. High RWAs treat life and their interactions with others as a zero-sum game and will do whatever they can to "win." It is good to feel like there are people who can respect each other and agree to disagree but still get problems solved . . .

                Oh, and there's this: the payback. It's a motherf**ker. What goes around comes around. Apparently the high RWAs haven't figured that out yet . . .

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

                by lartwielder on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 05:50:49 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

        •  Re: Democrats being both the liberals and (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Larsstephens, lotlizard

          conservatives in US politics. Dead on. I've been doing so much reading on the subject lately that I can't remember the sources right offhand, but that's somewhat a recurring theme among the "watchers." I really wish I could remember because there was one study that showed that along the liberal - conservative spectrum, the peak of the distribution for Democrats is to the right of where the peak for the Republicans was until the late '60s - early '70s.

          WRT "perfect medium to grow fascism," join the choir, brother!

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

          by lartwielder on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 05:12:43 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  you know, J, I read about that research you (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Joieau, Larsstephens

        mention and until it is repeated by many others and the same conclusion found, I am holding off an opinion about its merit.

        The reason being that there are a multitude of factors that could skew the results that they are seeking, that would have to be definitively proved did not impact the results.

        What was the number in the population pool?  What were the economic conditions of those studied?  Race?  Conditions at home: substance abuse, depression of one parent, etc., etc.  These variables can't be effective tested in just one test.  And then the all time validator:  would another test run by a different group according to their standards give the same results?

        I think it is way too early to latch onto that theory.  It is just from one study....

        On the other hand, the information presented in this masterful diary has come from many studies, many sources, many points of view and there is indeed a remarkable consistency in the findings.

        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 12:02:52 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well, I saw it several (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Lonely Texan, Larsstephens

          places when it came out, first on ScienceDaily. For me, the supposedly newsworthy 'finding' that individuals are innately liberal or conservative was one big laughable 'DUH'. One of those things that are so obvious through the course of life - perhaps especially for mothers/parents - that you've just got to wonder that somebody actually got a research grant to check it out at long last. And deliver the obvious.

          Sure, experience of life on planet earth is going to shape personalities, but each person comes with an innate 'nature' that presents itself from the beginning. My children, born just 14 months apart, had their own unique approaches to the world all along, and grew up to be a strong liberal thrill-seeker and a much more conservative thinker/risk avoider. Have two grandsons that are 4 years apart. The older boy is definitely a free spirit, not afraid of much and full-on for 'new' fun things. The younger boy I call my "little authoritarian." He's all about rules and making sure everybody's following them. I'm not worried about their futures - they'll be fine - but their personalities will most likely play out in how they organize their adult lives.

          None of that means there's no 'crossovers' in the middle of the range from both ends of the spectrum. Just acknowledging that people are born with certain approaches to the world... 'natures'. 2-party adversarial politics is established to represent both ends of the spectrum and be able to do what's best even if it's not optimal to one's embraced liberal or conservative d'ruthers. That is no longer possible in this country because one of the representative parties has gone stark, raving mad. Worse, so have the people they represent. The crazies must be marginalized or none of us will have a future.

          •  reply to SeaTurtle and Joieau (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Larsstephens, Joieau

            ST and J - I think you (generic) guys have taken the discussion of this topic "out to the edge." To me, that's the really fun place to be. J addresses some of the things I'm dealing with personally around this topic. The Nature-nurture question around this is fascinating and is ripe for research . . .

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

            by lartwielder on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 10:10:41 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  You did such a bang-up job (0+ / 0-)

              writing about this subject, I for one would welcome another thoughtful diary (or a few) examining the sideways questions related to nature-nurture, why people are drawn to authoritarianism, how that went so wrong for what's left of the Republican Party, and how the Democratic Party can appeal more routinely across the board.

              Oh... and perhaps get to the question of whether with the demise of the reactionary Rep party, whether we might need a new political party as 'loyal opposition' to represent the left side of the spectrum. The producer of the film Inside Job suggested that very thing would be expected by history and I think it's possible that he's right.

              Great thought-provoking stuff here, lartwielder. Thanks.

          •  Except that it's not that simple. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Joieau, tardis10

            I'll just use myself as an example.
            I am averse to * physically * adventurous/risk-taking activities for the most part. Wouldn't dream of bungee-jumping or parachuting; I don't even like rollercoasters.
            Emotionally and (I hope) intellectually, however, I'm always ready to push limits.
            I do get what you mean about temperament, and that it appears to be innate. Yet the quiet, reserved, watchful baby (per Brazelton's schema) may well grow up to be a tolerant and curious one, interested in seeing how different people live their lives, and not so much interested in having people follow rules.

            I'm seeking to organize DKos members in SE Michigan--roughly, from the Ohio line at Lake Erie NE to Port Huron, W to Flint and back S from there. If you'd like to join our new group, Motor City Kossacks (working title), please Kosmail me.

            by peregrine kate on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 07:51:19 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Oh, I agree that it's not (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              peregrine kate, tardis10, poemworld

              cut and dried on HOW one's nature plays out in life, as I've known both liberals and conservatives (by nature) whose politics didn't categorize them as one might expect based on the oversimplified labels pundits put on who joins this party or that one.

              My son the careful 'conservative' thinker type guy - and my oldest grandson who voted in his second Presidential election last month - were/are faithful Democratic voters (even though grandson #1 registered Independent just to reserve his choices). Both have been looked up to by a rich diversity of friends and even teachers as sort of 'wise beyond years'. Conversely, I've a brother-in-law who is a gifted guitarist and notable risk-taker who is so far right on the political spectrum he's almost come back around again. Almost, but unfortunately not all the way.

              It's hard to tell how people are going to side on something so ideological as politics and governing philosophies just by their inherent 'nature' as humans in the world. Things like hatred of others, desire for riches (or just to be a servant of the rich), how the necessary systems of governance are set up and run, etc. are, I think, far more influenced by social group experience than one's basic approach to life is.

              All I think I 'know' for sure about the current political situation is that one of the two objectively important parties in our system has gone completely nutz chasing religio-simpletons and die-hard haters - the reserves of unreasonably fearful and insecure people no matter how they were born - and that's all they've got left at this point. Political suicide writ large.

              •  RE: oh I agree (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                peregrine kate, poemworld

                Great comment!

                All I think I 'know' for sure about the current political situation is that one of the two objectively important parties in our system has gone completely nutz chasing religio-simpletons and die-hard haters - the reserves of unreasonably fearful and insecure people no matter how they were born - and that's all they've got left at this point. Political suicide writ large.
                I wish could say that I disagree . . . It's getting really scary out there . . .

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

                by lartwielder on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 06:05:55 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

            •  Re: It's not that simple (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              peregrine kate, poemworld

              Hola Kate - I understand what you're saying that you are "selectively adventurous." :) I think what the authors were talking about when they said openness to new experience, etc., they're talking about things on general terms as measured by questionnaires. I think you'd probably end up toward the higher end of the openness to new experience scale . . . :)

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

              by lartwielder on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 06:01:18 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Yes, probably so. And in general, I think there's (0+ / 0-)

                merit in considering the topics you're raising here. I get a little nervous when we discuss the hard-wiring of social attitudes and beliefs, however, because I think the tendency to simplify differences and to underestimate the possibility of change (let alone figure out ways to encourage such change) then comes into play in unhelpful ways.

                I'm seeking to organize DKos members in SE Michigan--roughly, from the Ohio line at Lake Erie NE to Port Huron, W to Flint and back S from there. If you'd like to join our new group, Motor City Kossacks (working title), please Kosmail me.

                by peregrine kate on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 07:25:52 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Yes, probably so . . . (0+ / 0-)

                  Hi Kate - I hear what you're saying. It didn't come out in this post because I felt like it was getting too long as it was, and it wasn't germane to the topic, but a big chunk of the research is along the nature-nurture question. It's looking like the main aspect of one's makeup that throws one into the authoritarian side of the equation is the degree to which one is open to new experience. And I don't necessarily mean bungee jumping. I mean, how narrow one's universe is and how tightly they feel they have to cling to it. Take evolution, for instance. For some people, to accept that evolution really does happen, would completely blow up their universe because the only explanation for the creation of the universe that they've been allowed to or been willing to consider is Genesis. That person will score very high on the RWA scale. Take another person who has had the same "exposure level," but is open to new experience. This person would be interested in learning about new things so they would consider the idea. After thinking about it, they may decide that they don't have enough evidence to convince them, but they were open to the idea.

                  Now, just because a person starts out in life on the low end of the openness to new experience scale doesn't mean they have to stay there forever. Occasionally people have "life-changing experiences" in which they were in a situation in which they had no control and life smacked them in the face with a "Hello! Wakey, wakey!" They couldn't avoid it because they didn't see it coming, and even if they had, they couldn't have done anything about it. So there they are in a completely new world. Their core beliefs have been shattered, so now they've got to put their world back together. They are now open to new experience by definition . . .  :) They have to change their cognitive strategy because their old strategy is no longer helpful for them because it leads them back to ground zero . . . At that point, they have to start taking responsibility for their worldview instead of letting it be dictated by someone else . . .

                  So, in the real world, there truly are genetic predispositons, but then, life can get in the way . . .

                  "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 05:45:28 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

      •  RE: The mistake in the characterization (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Joieau, Larsstephens

        Hi Joieau - I don't think you're alone in thinking that authoritarians are "conservative." Matter of fact, in her article "Three Kinds of 'Conservatism,'" Karen Stenner rejects the term "social conservative" for "authoritarian." She pretty much paints authoritarians as being different beasts from the more classical ideas of conservatism.

        WRT the nature-nurture dimension of authoritarianism, I'll have more to say about that in response to another comment, but, certainly there is a "nature" component to it.

        And you're dead on in your characterization of RWA as a manifestation of insecurity and fear. Many a word has been written about that and where high RWAs fall on the Big 5 scales.

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

        by lartwielder on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 05:05:58 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Heinlein got it backwards (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lonely Texan, kbman, Larsstephens

      Hola Hannah - I understand your prejudices/conclusions and agree with the sentiment in general. I think, though, that there is a bit more to the picture than you have seen so far. In high RWA followers, we see people who absolutely need to be controlled because they do not have the capability make their own decisions, create their own value system, etc. They need to be a member of a group that can surround them and support them. In the high SDOs, we see people who are just the opposite. They will do anything they need to do to control others . . . It is the high SDOs and Double Highs in the Republican party that are leading the insurgency. They are the master manipulators . . .

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

      by lartwielder on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 03:38:09 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  A part of this, too, is the need for certainty (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        High RWA's tend to be very concrete thinkers, not open to abstractions and contingencies. They want answers, not processes for finding and determining truth. Their religions and authoritarian leaders provide them the answers and certainty they need.

        "God said it. I believe it. That settles it."

        See! No need to bother oneself to do the hard work of evaluating and judging facts. Simply accept what your chosen authority has to say about things and you can get on with watching Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. None of that messy weighing of contradictory pieces of information, no soul-searching, no contemplation, that stuff's for weirdos and eggheads.

        Free: The Authoritarians - all about those who follow strong leaders.

        by kbman on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 05:59:03 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Wow, (6+ / 0-)

    going to have to come back to this later. Looks like you put a lot into this!

    "Okay, until next time. Keep sending me your questions, and I will make fun of you... I mean, answer them." - Strong Bad

    by AaronInSanDiego on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 03:56:14 AM PST

  •  I don't think it's possible for the GOP to go back (14+ / 0-)

    to being a responsible "center right party."

    They deliberately drove the wingnuts out in the 1960s after Goldwater was defeated, but immediately pivoted to the "Southern Strategy" of courting Southern racists, which just let another group of authoritarians into the party.

    Furthermore, since 1980 there has been a concerted effort by the extreme right wing to take over the party, driven first by guys like Richard Viguerie, Richard Mellon Scaife and Jerry Falwell, and later by people like Grover Norquist and the Koch Brothers.

    The problem with that is that the extreme right wing is a snakepit of RWA leader types - basically sociopaths who aren't in jail yet - so they keep on leapfrogging each other as they move to the right in order to seem even more ideologically pure and "severely conservative" to their followers.

    No RWA leader going to do anything that won't help him gain and retain power, so none of them are going to risk pissing off their followers by repudiating their policies. So, they'll keep on moving to the right until they fall off the political cliff . . .

    And just as well! We've seen the character of the modern Republican party, and it's banal as it is evil.

    •  Primary system guarantees no change imo. (3+ / 0-)

      Most are 'closed', i.e., on registered Thugs allowed.  As the party has shed moderates since the 70s, its primary electorate has become more and more RWA (to use the diarest's terms).  The 'elites' can not control who they nominate, as the T-vangelical proved the last 2 cycles.  Indeed, even the most minor of efforts to do so becomes a rallying cry propelling the Murdocks, Angels and 'Witches' to victory with this rump.

      IMO, the only this plays out well for the country is a right wing 3rd party that siphons more and more of the moderate, estashlishment, etc., Thugs until the current Thugs go the way of the Whgs.  Of course, bc of modern marketing and laws, that group will then appropriate the Thug name and structure.

      But, the pedulum of US politics, the fickleness if not downright corruption of the media, the utter corruption of the moneyed-class make it very, very dangerous in the interum.  Hitler was given power not by the people, but by the industrialists and 'conservative' establishment.

    •  Don't think it's possible (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Hello PRM - Wow. A kindred spirit! Thanks for reading the post and the comments. The next time you decide you want to get really depressed, read Mann and Ornstein's book . . .   :-}

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

      by lartwielder on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 04:15:00 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Re: Don't think it's possible for the GOP . . . (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Hola PRM - I really wish I thought you were wrong . . . ;-} Sometime when you want to get really bummed out, read Mann and Ornstein and Hetherington and Weiler . . . The only thing that gives me any hope is Winston Churchill's quip: "Americans will always do the right thing, but only after having exhausted all the alternatives." :-/

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

      by lartwielder on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 06:11:27 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  My sense is (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Larsstephens, lotlizard, kurt

      that the Republican Party is going to split in the next 5-10 years.

      The extremist are such as they are because they're not so much conservatives as people who simply want the certainties of an age now rather long ago- prior to 1968 at least.  I'll gladly concede that they're authoritarians but that is largely instrumental, a part of an adamant internal desire to stop or reverse time to the desired era.  

      The more that desirable time recedes into the past (now 44+ years ago) and the proportion of the population grows that has no experience  of or desire for that time, the more extreme the rhetoric and the more extreme the desire that both the right wing leaders and the followers have to demonstrate for it.  Because the horrible truth is that they barely remember that Golden Age at this point.  It's more fantasy than real.  I think all they really know is that they feel wrong- out of place- in the present and have long felt that way, and know they will feel so for a long time.  

      There is a part of their Party that is realistic and young and willing to be a constructive critic within the social democratic state that is in the making.  But the bulk of their (definitely older) establishment and their 'base' is most definitely not so- and has no capacity for it.  Something similar to this happened in the Democratic Party so that it split in the late 1960s/early 70s.  The conservative wing dominated (and often in an ugly way) until 1992 or 1993 and then has become an obstructive and somewhat treasonous faction as it slouches toward extinction.  I'll guess that Republicans won't take 40-some years to close ranks again.

      •  Re: My sense is . . . (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Hi killjoy - I think you've really nailed the current state of the Republican party. And I think/hope that you're right about the "younger generation" of the party. I just hope that we can get to the point that the "younger generation" can sync up with the rest of the world before they become the next iteration of the current condition . . . I truly do. The country doesn't need another 20 years of what we've had to deal with in the last 20 . . .

        Keeping my fingers crossed . . .

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

        by lartwielder on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 02:53:46 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  voting machines (6+ / 0-)
    the Republicans are gaming the voting machines
    Well, Tagg Romney did own some voting machines in a swing state. And there was one report of a voting machine changing a vote from Obama to Romney. The son of a candidate owning voting machines has to be a conflict of interest, how that is allowed is beyond me. So there is some reason for the suspicion of Rs and voting machines.

    Where are all the jobs, Boehner?

    by Dirtandiron on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 06:13:33 AM PST

  •  thanks. imo it has to do with need for certainty (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueoasis, azale, elwior, Larsstephens

    i think the cause is simple - since we became 'civilized' and needed to delay the age of reproduction and repressing sex with religion, humans have been getting a lot more sex with the wrong hand- the sword and hammer hand, the default hand for masturbation.

    the right hand is controlled by and connected to the left logical mathematical side of the brain. emotion, creativity, orgasm are right brained (generally), which is connected to the left hand. we're burning in long lasting neural connections/associations that get sexual energy mixed up in the logical side. logic is supposed to be the patient and truth-seeking but that sex energy wants satisfaction. logic develops a need for finality and conclusion- certainty. but nothing is certain- nature becomes a constant source of stress, anxiety, and fear. to reduce the fear our societies and value structures have evolved to create certainty, provide opportunities to apply certainty where there is none, and control and destroy sources of uncertainty- black/white, yes/no, good/evil, order/disorder. creativity and denial is needed to rationalize the alternate reality of lies. when the connection to the right creative side is made, some of the sex energy that was trapped in the logical side escapes to the pleasure centers on the right side. that is the pleasure of certitude- that's that grin on gingrich and bush and roves faces when they lie or judge or blame someone else.

    that's why authoritarian leaders have to be very certain- not flip floppers and never wrong. that is the secret of power. certainty is more important than truth.

    the spectrum is wide, with genetics and environment influencing the way it affects perception and reaction but authoritarians and cons need that certainty more than liberals- some liberals may just be diverting less of that sex energy, maybe they use their right rains more and minimize the accumulation in the left side, etc.

    here's a short youtube to explain it all:

    here's a study of cons you might be interested in- points out the need to avoid uncertainty:

    This is a list of 76 universities for Rush Limbaugh that endorse global warming denial, racism, sexism, and partisan lying by broadcasting sports on Limbaugh radio stations.

    by certainot on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 09:37:37 AM PST

    •  greed is another result (5+ / 0-)

      when the numbers side of the brain needs satisfaction.... more, bigger, faster.....

      and women have less of it because physical differences mean the connections may not be as strong-

      This is a list of 76 universities for Rush Limbaugh that endorse global warming denial, racism, sexism, and partisan lying by broadcasting sports on Limbaugh radio stations.

      by certainot on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 09:59:09 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Only certainity is death. Which may be your pt.:) (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      certainot, Larsstephens

      Interesting socio-bio analysis.  Almost certainly part of the explanation, as sex ishas historically been violence/dominance for many fascists (from Ceaser to current Thugs/fundies).

      •  it may explain the 'pleasure' (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        some get from inflicting death and violence- when that connection is made. if sex energy (or whatever) is going to the wrong side in significant proportion and the right side is relatively unused, it may be some people learn triggering behaviors, like stimulating emotion, to open the right side to receive what should have gone there in the first place.

        This is a list of 76 universities for Rush Limbaugh that endorse global warming denial, racism, sexism, and partisan lying by broadcasting sports on Limbaugh radio stations.

        by certainot on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 06:55:18 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Weirdly 3 of last 4 POTUS were left-handed, W bein (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          certainot, poemworld

          g only right-handed one.  Reagan was supposedly ambidextrous.

          This breaks down a bit as you go further back, with Hoover being left-handed, FDR right, Truman left, Ike, Kennedy, LBJ and Nixon all right, Ford - left, Carter -right.  OTOH, the only non-'war president' there who was right-handed was Ike... who was big dog in WW2 Europe and pretty much created nuclear brinksmanship.

          Make of it what u will.

          •  thanks. left handed in RH world requires (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            adaptability and tolerance, and might help brain balance i suppose.

            then there'd also be compensation and overcompensation. and i remember seeing something about hitler being left handed.... and something about the general rule of left right brain function being switched- so the right brain for logic, while stigmatized as left handed....

            i also know a left hander who says he learned sex with the right...

            This is a list of 76 universities for Rush Limbaugh that endorse global warming denial, racism, sexism, and partisan lying by broadcasting sports on Limbaugh radio stations.

            by certainot on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 12:07:53 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  and then there's the whole can of worms re: punati (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              certainot, poemworld

              ve attempts to 'correct' handedness.  How many criminals did the pegiuns create?  :)

              (BTw, I am lef-handed, went to Catholic school thru 6th grade but loved arguing with the pengiuns, little heretic that i was.  Then I went to a jesuit college... but the jesuits long ago ceased being 'good Catholics' for hard core. :) )

    •  Re: need for certainty (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      certainot, Larsstephens

      Hi certainot - Thanks for sending the links. I am familiar with Jost's work and had actually stumbled across that paper while I was doing my research. I must admit, though, that I hadn't seen the YouTube video. I must have been absent that day in Health and PE . . . :)

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

      by lartwielder on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 06:44:00 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I don't require the scientific explanation to know (4+ / 0-)

    That I hate facist asshats and the way they want to control others with their so called morality. But hey that's just me.

  •  Authoritarian Religion (4+ / 0-)

    Impose on thier members , i know lots of times ,you see Jehovah Witness smiling ,like they do not  have a care in  the world ,even while they are suffering secret inside,Watchtower taking every bit of joy God supposely has brought them,stealing it away from them,  i know it holiday time ,if you  know  a Jehovah Witness , maybe taking them out for a meal could bring a little joy into thier life, Do  not do it in the spirit of Christmas ,but in the spirit of love

  •  I find it really chilling (8+ / 0-)

    to confront irrational biases that seem a bedrock in so many peoples' consciousnesses.  

    I've been fairly vocal in this forum for certain key progressive values--e.g., reproductive freedom--and I've found the strangest, saddest little emails in my PMs afterward: "If my mother had had the 'freedom to choose' that you worship, I wouldn't even be here today." You run into irrational authoritarians all over the place online, including especially comments following media stories. Some of my favorite authoritarian "wisdom" concerns racial equality: "The fact that many blacks live in scruffy neighborhoods, proves they generally aren't as smart as whites, right?" Ooooookay.

    What got to these people, to warp and disable their ability to reason? Something sure did--probably early in life. A book I own, which I've plugged in threads before, treats this very question. "The Politics of Denial" was written by academic sociologists Conrad and Milburn, and recounts a wealth of studies that document a link between harsh, punitive treatment by elders in childhood, and the individual's adulthood embrace RW  beliefs in adulthood, including especially reactionary political ideologies.  In other words, people who espouse hard-right political beliefs, were disproportionately likely, relative to the rest of population, to have been abused in childhood.

    It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

    by karmsy on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 10:05:43 AM PST

    •  Yep, hate is taught. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      karmsy, Larsstephens

      BTW, my reply to the anti-freedom whiners is: 'Why so little faith in your mother?" and "If she'd had freedom, I wouldn't have to listen to your egocentric whining. Win-win.'  

      Harsh, i know.  But tit-for-tat imo.  They're trying to play the guilt game on you, as if you have any responsibility for their ancestors' actions.  Don;t play and tell them 1) you know what they're doing and 2) they're fools for trying, bzzt! next contestant!, thank you very much.

    •  Re: I find it really chilling . . . (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      karmsy, Larsstephens, lotlizard, tardis10

      Hi karmsky - The Politics of Denial has some valuable insights into this issue. The environment in which children are brought up definitely affects their development. They present some valuable insights. Altemeyer was also interested to see if there was any relationship between the environment in which children grew up and their tendency toward authoritarianism. Turns out that he also found a strong relationship. Not so much that they were actually physically abused, but that they grew up in a rigid,  "Father Knows Best" environment.

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

      by lartwielder on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 07:09:31 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Nice job researching this. I have a few thoughts (13+ / 0-)

    that I believe can dig even deeper.

    This diary's description of RWA followers are more accurately descriptive of hard-core RWA followers. In reality just about any of us, given the right mix of circumstances, could be swept up by an authoritarian tidal wave. Think of how popular Bush was from around the 9/11 attacks through the lead-up to the Iraq War. Opposition the that agenda found often found you in a lonely place. I say this not to "blame the victim" but to point out that all of us have an innate desire to have solidarity with our fellow human beings, but sometimes that desire can just misfire and lead us into social relationships and situations that aren't healthy. Just the same many people were brought up in environments where their curiosity and ability to think critically is drummed out of them (or "churched" out of them). Some of them have their potential rekindled, however, when they get out in the real world. Authoritarian leaders know this. That's why there are leaders such as Bill Gothard who teach many fundamentalist Christians to tightly control what media their children are allowed to be exposed to.

    How tight can that control be? A couple in the church I went to in the early 90s made her daughter throw away an Amy Grant cassette tape (Amy Grant is a well-known Christian artist, BTW) because in one song the subject matter was incest (never mind that in the song Grant sang of crying out to God asking why this happened). Thus you have some parents making sure their kids go to a Christian "university" where the things they're allowed to do are strictly controlled and enforcement is tight. Often those charged with enforcing rules at those schools act like Stasi informants. But they're resourceful in a way. Many will allow their kids to go to a "horrible evil secular school" but there are plenty of fundamentalist Christian groups like Campus Crusade for Christ or Navigators (mine was the Baptist Student Union, now named "Christian Challenge") to keep them from going astray.

    On the other hand, as progressives our desire for solidarity can bring us into healthy relationships. I've been involved in the Denver chapter of Drinking Liberally since this last July.

    Sara Robinson describes how some who may succumb to authoritarian movements or environments are more likely to escape than others here, here. and here.

    Hell, I had the look of a hard-core follower in some respects in the 1990s, but as it turned out I was much more soft-core, once I moved out of my parents' house and got out on my own, and even more once I got married and lost a couple of jobs, seeing the harsh realities of corporate life.

    liberal bias = failure to validate or sufficiently flatter the conservative narrative on any given subject

    by RockyMtnLib on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 10:13:15 AM PST

    •  'cept the muting of oppo to Bush was bc of LIES by (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      BushCo.  Once the lies were exposed, the support evaporated like water in sunshine.  (BTW, I say muting bc imo most did not 'support' him, they rallied round the flag and CinC bc the nation - all of us - was attacked.  And, to his credit, Dumbya did make some nice noises about not blaming Islam, muslims, arabs etc.  Not that Cheney et al believed any of it...)

      And as for how significant your proposed distinction bt RWA and 'hard-core' is...  estalishment Thugs have been telling rank-and-file they can't believe anything anyone but them tells them (the 'librul media') for 50 years.  The fundies just fetishize it - and yes, that term is deliberate as imo fundie-ism is often at heart a serpent of sexual perverse and self-loathing.  But that's just my opinion.)

      •  I am evidence of a (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Larsstephens, peregrine kate

        "soft core" who could be swept up in authoritarian movements but do so in a moment of weakness. Given the right (or wrong) circumstances anyone could potentially fall prey to it. Just the same, some who are ensnared in it can, under the right circumstances, escape from it. Did you read the articles I linked to?

        liberal bias = failure to validate or sufficiently flatter the conservative narrative on any given subject

        by RockyMtnLib on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 07:56:47 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  re: evidence of a "soft core" (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          You are right on both counts. All it takes is one of those "life-changing experiences" to clarify one's thinking . . . :-)

          Haven't had time to read the articles yet, but I will before the end of the day tommorow.

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

          by lartwielder on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 10:47:42 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Re: 'cept the muting . . . (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Good comments about W., I think. Part of me wants to think that he was just a pretty nice guy in way over his head . . . Cheney definitely was the voice behind the curtain . . . and then I wonder how he let the neocons talk him into Iraq . . .

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

        by lartwielder on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 09:40:06 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Re: a few thoughts (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RockyMtnLib, Larsstephens, lotlizard

      Hola RockyMtnLib - I owe you a couple of "thank yous" for your comment. You raised a couple of points that are very important to the discussion . . . which I did not address but really should have.

      Firstly, yes, this discussion focused on the behavior of what Altemeyer called "high RWAs." For his purposes, a high RWA was someone who scored in the upper 25th percentile of the RWA scale. It was my bad that I did not make it clear that "authoritarianism" is a dimension of our worldviews . . . and, depending upon the level of threat the individual perceives at the time, where they come down on the dimension changes.

      High RWAs, by default operate at a high perceived threat level, so they end up being on the high end of the scale. By default, nonauthoritarians come down on the very low end of the scale. However, the greater the threat perceived by nonauthoritarians, the farther up the scale they go. (There is a lot behind this, I'd highly recommend reading Haidt to get an understanding of the evolutionary significance of all this).

      The point is that there is a good evolutionary reason for the existence of the authoritarian dimension. It's just that, as Haidt shows, there are other dimensions to our worldview that are important also, so the critical issue is where one falls along all of those dimensions in the "ground state." Again, this is a pretty deep subject, but the main point is that, yes, when a nonauthoritarian perceives a valid threat, it is an evolutionary adaptive response to fall back behind the castle walls and form up a defensive squad. The problem for the authoritarians is that their ground state is Condition Red with the klaxons going off . . .

      To your comment that in the 1990s you had the look of a hard-core follower: again, this is an involved topic, but I'll throw this out: Although there is some evidence that some of the tendency towards or away from authoritarianism is genetic, there is much experimental and anecdotal data to suggest that the major factor in determining a person's trajectory along the authoritarianism dimension is the environment in which one grew up. Chapter 2 in The Authoritarians by Altemeyer is a good starting place.

      It seems that there are two factors that carry the most weight. One is the amount of rigidity and dogmatism to which one is exposed and the other is the degree to which the child is allowed/required to make personal decisions by themselves without dogmatic requirements from the parents. This will lead back to the "Big 5" attribute of openness to new experience.

      I have been dealing with exactly this question myself. I grew up in a very (soft) authoritarian environment myself, and until I had a life-changing experience, at one level, I was an incubating high RWA. Think the movie Animal House. One minute I was an Omega Theta Pi and the next minute I was a member of Animal House. The point I am making is that, without any experimental data to back it up, I might have had a genetic predisposition to be nonauthoritarian but I was brought up in a very high RWA household. It took a life-changing experience for me to wake up and see what had happened to me and that I was what people had taught me to be.

      So, I think that it truly is a nature-nurture issue. But I don't think it's bidirectional, in the sense that it is just as easy to go from a "nurture RWA" to a "nature nonauthoritarian" as it is the other way around. If one is not high on the openness to new experience scale, there's no way one can be  nonauthoritarian.

      This has gone on way longer than I intended and is way past the realm of data into hunch. So I'll stop here . . .

      Great comment! Thanks!

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

      by lartwielder on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 08:46:58 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Follow the continuum further out... (6+ / 0-) the context of authoritarian leaders (exploiters), and we end up in the realm of psychopathy,

    Add the works of Dr. Robert Hare to the list.

    "Life is a bitch, and then you die. And then you come back." Old Buddhist proverb

    by RubDMC on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 10:26:51 AM PST

    •  Follow the continuum (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Larsstephens, RubDMC, tardis10

      Hola RubDMC - You're right. I have friends who are psychologists and one of the games we play is to speculate how far out on "the axes" some of our "favorite" politicians are . . .

      Thanks for the reference to Dr. Hare.

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

      by lartwielder on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 10:51:39 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Hey, I thought sharks are fish...??? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AaronInSanDiego, Larsstephens

    Aren't they?  Or does a cartilage skeleton make them non-fish?

    BTW - I scored average on the SDO test.  I thought that was kindof weird.  But some of the questions seemed vague.  After all, I think some people are just stupid - OK, I think alot of people are stupid.  But, I don't think they need to be dominated and controlled, just prevented from peeing in the drinking water.  So, is that social dominance or not...???

    and their contempt for the Latin schools was applauded by Theodoric himself, who gratified their prejudices, or his own, by declaring that the child who had trembled at a rod would never dare to look upon a sword.

    by ban48 on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 10:52:05 AM PST

    •  they are. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      madhaus, Larsstephens, tardis10

      The point was that the reasoning shown was flawed, even if the conclusion was correct.

      "Okay, until next time. Keep sending me your questions, and I will make fun of you... I mean, answer them." - Strong Bad

      by AaronInSanDiego on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 11:21:38 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  He was making a subtle point ... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Larsstephens, tardis10

      Yes sharks are fish but the syllogism was a fallacy. I.e. it was not logically correct.  The conclusion is correct but the reasoning is wrong.  The "therefore" in the last sentence is wrong.

          1. All fish live in the sea.
          2. Seaweed lives in the sea.
          3. Therefore, seaweed is fish.

      "Republicans have been fleeced and exploited and lied to by a conservative entertainment complex." - David Frum

      by Glinda on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 03:37:29 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Re: I thought sharks are fish (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Hola ban48 - They are fish. But what that particular exercise was trying to get at was that the conclusion didn't follow from the premises.

      Premise 1: All fish live in the sea. - for sake of argument, True.

      Premise 2: Sharks live in the sea - True

      Conclusion: Sharks are fish. - Does not follow from the premises. Mollusks live in the sea. Mammals live in the sea. Crustaceans live in the sea . . . There is not enough information in the two premises to determine its truth-value.

      WRT your score on the SDO scale . . . Congratulations! You are normal! :-) And, yes, some of the questions are vague. On questionnaires like that, some questions are intentionally vague. Others seem vague because everyone brings different experiences, values and assumptions into the questionnaire. Because of this, questions that are ambiguous to some may (appear to) be perfectly straightforward to others. The experimenters understand this. With enough participants, the latter case will average out.

      Finally, I don't think that having problem with someone peeing in the drinking water qualifies as being a social dominant. It would be different if you felt that in order for a person to vote they had to drink a cup of pee . . .

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

      by lartwielder on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 11:25:37 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Glad this included religious fundamentalism (5+ / 0-)

    I wonder if there are any studies correlating the authoritarian mind-set with lack of intellectual prowess.

    Are they, as a rule; dumb-asses?

    The dire straits facing America are not due poor people having too much money

    by Anthony Page aka SecondComing on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 11:01:58 AM PST

    •  No, absolutely not. (6+ / 0-)

      Some of the brightest folks I know have this mentality. It's about a lack of emotional maturity much more than a lack of raw knowledge or intellect. These folks basically never advanced past adolescence. It's like they're still 12 emotionally.

      Think how many middle school whiz kids you've ever known who could probably be Jeopardy contestants, now think of the foolish things they would sometimes do and say because they just didn't have the perspective and wisdom of an emotionally mature adult. That's what being an authoritarian is.

      You can do whatever you want to us, but we're not going to sit here and listen to you badmouth the United States of America.

      by Eric Stratton on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 12:07:43 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes and no then (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Eric Stratton, Larsstephens

        Emotionally stunted equates to "challenged" in my book, anyway.
        As does holding diametrically opposing opinions and judgments and not recognizing the fallacy of such thinking.

        Purposefully wearing blinders is not smart.

        Mostly due to upbringing in authoritarian households and churches I imagine.

        The dire straits facing America are not due poor people having too much money

        by Anthony Page aka SecondComing on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 01:42:56 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I agree, but... (3+ / 0-)

          it is a mistake to think  they're all just a bunch of mouth-breathing dumbasses. There are people like this who can get into the top schools in the nation. As the author points out, exposure to facts doesn't affect them. Why should memorization of facts matter?

          They'll tell their professors what they need to about Charles Darwin to get a passing grade, then go right on thinking he's part of an evil liberal conspiracy against Jesus.

          You can do whatever you want to us, but we're not going to sit here and listen to you badmouth the United States of America.

          by Eric Stratton on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 01:47:44 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  this thread (3+ / 0-)

            AP and ES - You're tapping into what is for me, one of the most fascinating aspects of the topic. It seems that the main thing that determines which end of the authoritarian dimension one lands is a function of how one comes to deal with novelty and conflict resolution. Andrea Kuszewski's article in Discover Magazine provides a window into this area. If one looks at what goes on in various parts of peoples' brains when they have to deal with novel situations or conflict resolution situations, it turns out that there are two different ways peoples' brains react. One way is when the primitive part of the brain that deals with threat/novelty/challenge controls a person's response. The other is when the part of the brain that evaluates risks and consequences controls the response. Contrast a knee-jerk reaction to a strategic response.

            We know that high RWAs do not do well in unfamiliar or challenging situations . . . From all of the literature available - from social psychology, political psychology, moral psychology, political neurophysiology and cognitive neurophysiology . . . nonauthoritarians have the cognitive functionality that allows them to deal with novel situations and come up with solutions on the fly. On the other hand, authoritarians have to respond reflexively. If they don't have a built-in response to the situation, they have to either turtle-up or fall back to the support of the in-group. It probably doesn't pass through their verbal processing unit, but situations for which they have no pre-programmed response are immediately threatening. Thus they have to fall back to their in-group.

            So the problem does not lie with their "factoid processing unit." They can be smart as hell. They could be Steven Hawkings, but if they are confronted with a situation for which they are not prepared, they're up the creek. And the more intelligent they are, the more they can appreciate how far up the creek they really are . . .

            As long as they are in a non-threatening situation and can stay on-script, they're fine. They just can't ad-lib.

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

            by lartwielder on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 12:38:19 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory (1+ / 0-)

        I've gotten into this show recently and he reminds me of some people I knew in school. Brilliant but emotionally stunted dicks.

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

        by kovie on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 05:26:09 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  correlation of authoritarian mindset with . . . (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Hola AP - Eric is right. As a matter of fact, one of the most paradoxical findings in the research on authoritarianism is that the smarter/more educated the authoritarian is, the more firmly intrenched they are in their (untenable) position. Altemeyer is a good source . . .

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

      by lartwielder on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 11:39:25 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Emotional intellect? (0+ / 0-)

        I'm unsure what the test should look like, but we sure should find a way to qualify who we put into positions of leadership. George W. Bush was a stunted man both intellectually and emotionally but we could run across a charismatic authoritarian with a fantastic intellect and elect an even worse sociopath.

        I suspect the men running Big Oil fall into this category.

        The dire straits facing America are not due poor people having too much money

        by Anthony Page aka SecondComing on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 08:40:58 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Not at all (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Many well-known dictators (who by definition were authoritarians) were brilliant in some way, e.g. Caesar, Napoleon, Lenin, Mao, Hitler. Also many non-dictatorial authoritarians like Hamilton and Jefferson. And it clearly crosses ideological lines.

      And we've all met or know of authoritarian geniuses in non-political contexts, e.g. Edward Teller, Douglas MacArthur--or Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory.

      I do think that authoritarians, no matter how otherwise brilliant, do lack certain sub-dimensions of intelligence in terms of self-awareness, emotional intelligence and openness to new or contrary ideas. They can be REALLY dumb in these areas.

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

      by kovie on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 05:24:54 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Very interesting and timely diary (3+ / 0-)

    But I fear you have now overloaded my reading list, upending several from the top of the list.

    I love this stuff.

    The place was utterly dark—the oubliette, as I suppose, of their accursed convent.

    by bastrop on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 11:41:48 AM PST

    •  Re: interesting and timely diary (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Hi bastrop!  I'm sorry that you've had to rearrange your reading list but I have to agree that it's really interesting stuff. Problem is it's kinda like sweater that has started to unravel . . . once you start pulling on it you have to keep pulling until it's completely unraveled . . .  ;-)

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

      by lartwielder on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 12:46:10 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  This should be at the top of the rec list. (6+ / 0-)

    And it should stay there so people can see it Monday, as weekend traffic is light. I've been onto this since I read "The Authoritarians" back in 2005. It fits my own personal experiences with the Authoritarian Right perfectly and explains a great deal about our nation's current political crisis.

    It's great to get an update on the new research being done, the results are disturbing but then it was obviously never going to be a quick or easy fix.

    You can do whatever you want to us, but we're not going to sit here and listen to you badmouth the United States of America.

    by Eric Stratton on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 12:03:11 PM PST

    •  Re: This should be at the top of the rec list (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Thanks for props, Eric. There has been a lot of good stuff published since 2005. You're right, it was obviously never going to be a quick or easy fix, but maybe at last we're getting to the point that there are enough people who are concerned about it that we can begin to make some headway . . .

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

      by lartwielder on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 12:51:54 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! i've read most of the (4+ / 0-)

    material mentioned and, especially since the November elections, have felt a strong obligation to write such a diary.  However... such coherent serious writing is not where my talents lie (snarky comments re: god & other establishment credes, no prob; cogent, academic but readable analysis... not so much)(that and dkos readers' collective IQ/reasoning skill intimidates the sh*t outta me).

    Sara Robinson's series Cracks In The Wall is a really cool primer on helping fundamentalists (and, by extension, authoritarians) through crisis of conscience.  From my point of view and having been raised in a very closed, fundamentalist atmosphere, Sara's essays are spot-on.  Indirectly, they also provide some ideas about maybe precipitating that crisis of conscience in that loved one or coworker.

    Sara's series is about 60 pages worth of material in 6 parts.  I know we all have HUGE demands on our time but its well worth the read.

    seriously, Lord? legalizing weed finally gets momentum two weeks before Twinkie production stops? kind of a dick move there, Yahweh...

    by bnasley on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 12:08:18 PM PST

    •  Re: I've read most of the material mentioned . . . (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Larsstephens, bnasley

      Hi bnasley! Not to worry about the "writing talent!" Everyone has their own style. Especially don't worry about the snarky part. In appropriate doses, snarky is good . . .  If it feels good, it's probably right . . . ;-} Go for it! It'll make you feel so much better . . . :->

      Thanks very much for the pointer to Sara Robinson's work. I haven't had a chance to read it yet, but it's at the top of list. Thanks for sharing.

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

      by lartwielder on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 01:22:55 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  For those of us who have at least one RWA parent (5+ / 0-)

    or close relative, this kind of reading can only help.
    I've been reading up on this topic since my RWA parent shut me out for being part the 'democrat party' and even though understanding this sort of dynamic doesn't really make me feel any better about it, I can at least feel like I understand the big picture.  

    •  Re: For those of us who have . . . (0+ / 0-)

      Hola Philco - All I can say is that I can appreciate where you're coming from. I am the black sheep of my family. When I "came out," no one said anything directly, but the dynamic is there. So my response has been to keep my thoughts to myself when I am around them. The good thing that has come out of what I have learned is that they have no more control over their "authoritarianism" as they do over the color of their eyes. Although I am careful not to stir the pot, I no longer feel like I'm the "weird" one. The big challenge for me was to appreciate the fact that "authoritarians" are in the minority . . .

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

      by lartwielder on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 02:17:37 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  ya' know what's really funny/interesting about (5+ / 0-)

    this topic and something Chris Mooney's The Republican Brain kinda predicts?  Liberals and academics are making an honest effort to understand where the current authoritarian laden GOP is coming from.  It is overwhelmingly liberals and academics trying to understand "their" language through science and reason as opposed to the demagoguery, character attacks and mindless bloviating the current 'right' engages in.

    seriously, Lord? legalizing weed finally gets momentum two weeks before Twinkie production stops? kind of a dick move there, Yahweh...

    by bnasley on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 12:21:50 PM PST

    •  Re: ya know what's really funny . . . (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Hi bnasley - Well said!  Funny how that works. Sad how that works, too. For me, that's the big difference between authoritarians and nonauthoritarians . . . :-/

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

      by lartwielder on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 02:59:05 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The conversion and growth of fundamentalism (4+ / 0-)

    is the main pillar that supports today's Republican party by proselytizing for its political ideology and providing a network of activists which ensure enough votes to elect candidates.  Some libertarians are a separate branch of support, but I suspect the majority overlap.

    Over the last thirty years a majority of Christian religious institutions have come to identify with the authoritariansim of the Republican Party and no longer strongly believe in the importance of the separation of church and state.  Few openly advocate for theocracy but they support government that would enact legislation that codifies their beliefs into law so they are defacto dominionists.

    Without the created foundation of fundamentalist Christians over the last thirty years, the Republican Party would be very small today.

    •  Re: The conversion and growth of fundamentalism (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Hi blueoasis - You've raised an important point and a very interesting topic for a conversation. There is not doubt that at this point, the fundamentalists have carved out a hefty piece of the Republican party pie. The interesting question is what the Republican party would look like now without the right wingnut fundamentalists. It would be nice to think that all of the moderates who have bailed would still be in the party . . .

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

      by lartwielder on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 03:14:29 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Nothing new, in a sense. Socrates, Galileo, Shivo (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    madhaus, Larsstephens, tardis10

    (Terry, that is).

    All part of the same dialetic: belief in authority as Truth vs. reason.  The Renaissance vs. Vatican conflicts, for example, were literally about this, with the Church defending the claim that Truth was found in the authorities of the Ancient World (e.g., Aristotle via Aquinas) against the resurgence of the scientific method (ironically the same ancient Greeks the Church defied invented it... as so it goes.)

    But, lest you think otherwise, I hasten to add that I think this is a very good diary and very much appreciate it and your work in producing it.  I have book marked and will print and re-read it in future.

    OTOH, its both enpowering to realize The Giants who's shoes we stand in ... and depressing how little the other side has learned in so long.

    But OTOoH... we have been wiinning over the last 600 or years, and are still winning.  The lesson is as it has always been: 'the only thing necessary for the triump of evil, is for good men to do nothing'.

  •  Politics Does not work that way (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    If the Republican elite is serious about the party becoming based in reality rather than ignoring it, becoming more moderate, and reaching out to others, that is going to put the intensely ethnocentric, don't-confuse-me-with-facts-my-mind's-made-up "Republitarians" between a rock and a hard place.
    Political parties are not the private preserve of a few folks behind the beltway.  They belong to the people, the voters.  As the folks that you do not like have shown recently, repeatedly, they can win party primaries.  Simple math shows this is totally not surprising.  The authoritarians are a tad over a quarter of the population (> 25%).  The Republicans are a minority of the population (< 50%).  Regional differences, weak or outstanding candidates, etc. can make a difference, but in general the above numbers mean that the authoritarians are a majority in the Republican Party.  If push comes to shove, the authoritarians will gleefully purge the RINOS out of the party and become the overwhelming majority in a rather smaller Republican Party.

    In addition, Romney's belief that he was winning led to large numbers of fleeced giant donors who gave and gave because they believed Romney.  Those people are not going to invest in another Republican, not a  lot.  But they will look carefully at Americans Elect.  Mayor Bloomberg proved that you can put a new party on the ballot in all 50 states and DC, the American way! Bomb the problem with money!

    No, if you want a second party of sane people -- except in the south, where these people will be a majority -- you want to reform ballot access laws so that a second party shows up from someplace, say the Main Street Trolley Party.

    By the way, this was a superb article.

    We can have change for the better.

    by phillies on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 01:16:14 PM PST

    •  Re: Politics doesn't work that way (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Hola phillies - I agree with your numbers . . . and the implication. That was what I was thinking about when brought up the "bad omens." This has gnawed at me for a long time. I've come up with several scenarios of what the post-food-fight political environment might look like. Here's what I ended up with:

      1. The Republitarians figure out that if they boot the RINOs out completely, they'll end on the short side of a 3:1 split, so they decide to dial things down enough that they manage to keep the reality-based Republicans from jumping ship. Very low probability of that happening.

      2. The Republitarians purge the ranks and the RINOs try to form a center-right party. Probability of that happening - less than 10^-999.

      3. The Republitarians purge the ranks and the Democratic party moves toward the center so as to engage the reality-based Republicans. I like this option but if it happens, it will evolve slowly.

      4. The Republitarians purge the ranks and take the party further to the right, Newton's Third Law kicks in and the Democrats drift further leftward. Given Hetherington and Weiler, this could happen . . .

      5. The Republicans won't have a big food fight, the Republitarians won't dial themselves down, and, over time, the reality-based Republicans will reregister as Independents and deal. I suspect that if that happens, the Democratic party would eventually figure out that if they can do things that would appeal to the independents they would be able to squeeze the Republitarians. This could happen.

      6. The Republitarians  purge the party, dial up the rhetoric and then attempt a putsch ushering in the Age of Amerika. God forbid.

      The only thing I can say about the future with any confidence is that it's going to get worse before it gets better . . .

      But I do think you're on to something with the Main Street Trolley Party. That just might have some legs . . .

      Thanks for the compliment. Glad you liked it.

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

      by lartwielder on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 04:29:59 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Altenmyers book is one of the most important (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Snarky McAngus, kbman, Larsstephens

    books of our time.... a must read for anyone who wants to understand what the human race is up against with itself... there are constructive ways to transcend this defective streak in humanity but it will take a lot of time, awareness and intelligent organizing and planning.

    Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie (hah...)

    by IreGyre on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 02:37:10 PM PST

    •  Re: Altemeyer's book is one of the most . . . (0+ / 0-)

      Hi IreGyre - Yea, verily! Thou speakest the truth, sir! This isn't going to get better on its own . . .

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

      by lartwielder on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 04:34:14 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Awesome, awesome diary! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Snarky McAngus, kbman, Larsstephens

    I'm fascinated by the explanation of how the RWA mind handles any threat to its worldview, and I've read the Sara Robinson series and several of Chris Mooney's pieces.  But this is one of the best write-ups I've seen in a long time that fits all these ideas into an analysis of how the current Republican Party so lost its way, and why things are getting worse.

    While I would have liked to hear more on how to get through to those firmly wedged into their "beta reality," perhaps they only can be talked out by trusted members who get disillusioned first and can use the correct in-group language to those still firmly stuck in.  Just as a Double High Authoritarian knows the cue words and tropes to lead them off the cliff, similarly a group member can talk some or hopefully, most, of them out.

    I am going to have to take the test for Authoritarianism. I wonder if I'll score off the scale in the other direction. If I score high for it I will think of Altmayer and his observation that the RWA's in his class never thought he was talking about them. (Or does my ability to imagine the possibility of my scoring high prove that I won't?)

    Tipped, recced and bookmarked. I'm going to put this out on Facebook as well.  Thank you!

    •  Re: Awesome diary (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Hi madhaus - Thanks very much for your kind words. They are greatly appreciated.

      WRT "getting through to those firmly wedged into their 'beta reality:'" I've read so much on this lately that I can't remember who talked about it, but a couple of the authors suggest that the best way to engage with high RWAs is to initiate dialogue and interactions on topics that are not threatening and on which everybody can agree. With repeated interaction, while one might not be considered one of the in-group, at least one can be considered non-threatening. Over time and with patience most any subject can be broached if presented in a manner that does not does not threaten the high RWA. Softly, softly works . . . "in your face" doesn't . . .  :)

      WRT taking the RWA questionnaire . . . I strongly suspect that you'll score toward the low end. The fact that you're curious and interested in learning about it and aren't threatened by the idea suggests that you are out on the high end of the "Openness to new experience" dimension. That is one characteristic of a low RWA/nonauthoritarian and way not a characteristic of a high RWA . . . Enjoy!

      Thanks for the good words!

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

      by lartwielder on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 04:54:16 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  what can be done? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    this is an important diary for two reason. the second reason is the topic: authoritarianism.

    even more important is that all political / cultural / economic beliefs have a psychological substratum, often wholly or partially unacknowledged, but which are the puppeteers while the more public area is the puppet that we see. for example, a deep greed and an insatiable emptiness that is impossible to fill underlies most billionaires' continual grasping for more. but we are told to look at economic theory to see why they succeed. if it does come to a psychological assessment than it's a primitive non-scientific view of the can-do billionaire and the cannot-do masses, the ayn randish dichotomy between superior and inferior.

    we need a psychology that reaches out to, invites in, comforts and respects the  RWA's. iregyre's talking of coming to grips with this mindset is helpful, as is bnasely's link to sara robinson's series Cracks in the Wall, an excellent primer. obviously we can't reach the most authoritarian (or at least we can't yet - we don't know enough )
    but if can reach some RWA's everyone in this country will benefit. could we see a diary on paths to such an end?

  •  Are RWA's children covered in this book? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Or maybe all we need are RWA's attitudes to school and how they did in school. Most interesting to me, and likely most plentiful, are the RWAs who were not good students.

    I have a very half-baked theory that RWAs hate to make mistakes. I think they are highly embarrassed and, more correctly, shamed by their mistakes and want to cover them up as much as possible.  

    They seem to me to lack the capacity to learn from mistakes because of this attitude.

    Am I off-base here?

    "Republicans have been fleeced and exploited and lied to by a conservative entertainment complex." - David Frum

    by Glinda on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 04:11:09 PM PST

    •  Re: Are RWA's children covered n this book? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Hi Glinda - the short answer is yes. Chapter 2 of Altemeyer's book The Authoritarians is a good place to start learning about how authoritarians raise their children and what the impact is.

      WRT RWAs learning from mistakes . . . I have not run into a discussion specifically about the scenario you describe. We do know, that high RWAs are very dogmatic and they are dogmatic because their learning style and strategy is to uncritically accept whatever the authorities tell them. They do not learn by trial-and-error. To learn from mistakes, one must be able to change one's notion of what is true using internal cues and analytical processing. High RWAs learn by opening their heads and having their authorities/teachers pour information in. Go back and revisit the section on how authoritarians think and read it with an eye to seeing if that can account for your observation. I think it will . . .

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

      by lartwielder on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 05:26:46 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  This is a great read and thanks for doing all (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    this work to present well thought-through data and analysis.

    Still, you have to go to motivation, imo.

    Here's the core motivation of the authoritarian mindset: I want to do whatever I want to do, and when I want to, and to whomever I want to, and not get hassled about it.

    It really isn't any more complex than a drive to protect infantile values. These are people who never got over the shock of recognizing that a) there are others, b) these others require something of them which they don't want to do, or to give up.

    All the philosophy [sic], rationales, arguments, perspectives -- yea! even unto a "worldview" -- has this as the motive. Whether the mask is religion, or social darwinism, or exalted sentimentalism... the core purpose of it all is to serve this core motivation.

    They could grow up, but they'd fight any urge to do so to the death --someone's death -- for the most part. Growing up, in any case, is a strictly volunteer effort. Though conditions might be able to be contrived to make it easier to choose to do so.

    The Internet is just the tail of the Corporate Media dog.

    by Jim P on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 06:36:33 PM PST

    •  Re: thanks for doing all this work . . . (0+ / 0-)

      Hi Jim - I agree with what you've said. I think that what we're seeing is the motivational mindset that is generated by the worldview. You might find Haidt's book a really interesting read. He goes deeply into the morals and motivations and how they came about . . .

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

      by lartwielder on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 05:41:58 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  My angle on it aside, (0+ / 0-)

        you really did a nice job on this. Lots of information, real information, meaningful perspectives, all presented clearly. Admirable work, in fact.

        Do you know the BBC series "Century of the Self"? Since 1920 or so, the worldview now shared by ... well... enough people to matter... has been created by "public relations" people working closely with, first, business and banking, and then with politicians and intelligence agencies. (4 one-hour parts downloadable or streaming

        Basically, professional opinion-shapers and their clients long ago figured out that if you can create a society-wide preoccupation with "appetites taken as identity" -- permanent adolescence in effect -- you've got a malleable society. The wellspring of human actions, internal and external, is what we actually value. Make people value material advantage as the only meaningful reality, and before long (well, about 90 years) you're at widespread nihilism, whether it calls itself religion or science or nothing at all.

        In this connection, how "authoritarian (aka "evil") " world views come to dominate a society, you might be interested in the research done by a body of Polish psychologists who worked underground through the Nazi and Communist tyrannies. They came up with "Ponerology" (the study of evil) and it is a most insightful and useful angle on things. An excerpt from the book here.

        The Internet is just the tail of the Corporate Media dog.

        by Jim P on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 08:43:33 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Re: My angle on it aside (0+ / 0-)

          Hi Jim - Thanks for this follow-up. I was not aware of the the BBC series nor of the research done by the Polish psycologists. I'll definitely follow up with them. Thanks for sharing!

          And thanks for the good words.  :)

          "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 01:50:30 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  So here's the problem... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Larsstephens, tardis10

    The natural authoritarian solution to the problem of authoritarians is... identify them and keep them out of positions of power, specifically the double-highs.

    But, assuming that can be done reliably, how can it be done ethically? Democratically? And do we even know it would work? Is there any way it could be tested?

    This diary began with a quote from Heinlein and he actually came up with a solution - at least in fiction. He wrote a story "Revolt in 2100" in which a second American Revolution overthrew a theocracy that had been spawned by a fundamentalist preacher and financed by a rich follower. (A scenario that looks more plausible all the time.)

    The solution they came up with for dealing with double high authoritarian leaders and would be followers was to turn a large portion of the American heartland into "Coventry". Anyone who was identified as such was free to hold their opinions - unless they used some kind of coercion to try to impose them on others.

    Identified as such by skilled psychometricians, they were exiled to Coventry, a multi-state region that had been surrounded by an impenetrable force field. (The barrier.) Society did not impose its view on them - it removed them to a place where they could have total freedom to practice their beliefs - and the consequences of them without forcing them on anyone else.

    Of course, this being a work of fiction, Heinlein was able to postulate a psychology advanced to the point where rational versus irrational behavior could be defined well enough make these kinds of distinctions - and a society ethical enough to eschew using that same psychology to remold minds against their owner's will.

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 07:42:08 PM PST

    •  Re: so here's the problem (0+ / 0-)

      Hi xaxnar -

      The natural authoritarian solution to the problem of authoritarians is... identify them and keep them out of positions of power, specifically the double-highs.
      But, assuming that can be done reliably, how can it be done ethically? Democratically? And do we even know it would work? Is there any way it could be tested?
      Depends upon whether you're a high SDO or not . . . :)

      It can be done democratically. At the polls. I'm not being flippant. I really believe that. But just in case, I have renewed my passport and my bags are packed . . . :)

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

      by lartwielder on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 05:47:07 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  correct definition, incorrect conclusion (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Larsstephens, tardis10

    In the first paragraph here you speak as though the far right is amenable to moderation if it's in their own self-interest. They aren't, in fact they often work against their own interests to play out their prejudices. Normal people in the political rhelm don't "focus on divisive issues, we focus on issues of national import. The far right on the other hand focuses on proving Obama wrong even when they themselves once endorsed the issue. All your quotes above predict just that reaction but you still see it as a "solution", did you read your own article?
     The second paragraph is silly on its face especially the parts I boldened. You're telling people who hate and detest moderation to "try it you'll like it"... that my friend is not going to happen. Every tom dick and harry is telling them the same damn thing without making a dent in their thinking, it's getting worse in fact.
      I kept hoping that after all the quoting you would finally come to some at least debatable conclusions or solutions. There were none so I wasted a whole lot of time reading a tutorial on authoritarianism for nada.

    One solution more or less boils down to stop focusing on divisive issues and start focusing on issues in which everyone has some skin in the game and everyone needs for the issues to be resolved.

    The challenge for the Republicans is that, in order for them to succeed in "adopting a new 'tone,'" "modernize the party," and "stop dividing the American voters," the party is going to have to become more moderate, more inclusive and dial back the current hard-core approach and agenda and rhetoric. It needs to show that "conservative" doesn't, in fact, mean "authoritarian." It needs to invite the "Status Quo" conservatives" and the "Laissez Faire" conservatives back to the table. It needs to show moderates that they are welcome and wanted in the party. It needs to rein in the authoritarians and demonstrate to the world that they are under control.


    America could have chosen to be the worlds doctor, or grocer. We choose instead to be her policeman. pity

    by cacamp on Sat Dec 01, 2012 at 09:34:46 PM PST

  •  Excellent Diary. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Larsstephens, lotlizard, kurt

    I wrote a diary here a few months ago (about the Christian Dominion Movement) and posted this section from a "Cult Watch" group out of New Zealand which I think helps to capture this "authoritarian" culture within the extremist Christian movements of today, which has poisoned the Republican party.

    Cultwatch: Attack of the Super Apostles!

    (Cultwatch helps people of all belief systems. This article is aimed at a Christian audience and so contains discussions of specific Christian beliefs. People who are not Christian may not find it Interesting.)

    Cultwatch Introduction

    Cultwatch is a New Zealand based Christian ministry to the cults founded in 1989. We help all people regardless of their belief system. An important part of the mission we believe God has given us is to warn people of cultic dangers. Cultwatch has been referred to as an authority in numerous media in New Zealand and overseas, including newspapers, magazines, radio and TV. The New Zealand Government and law enforcement agencies have used Cultwatch in a consulting role. Cultwatch receives enquires from all around the world regarding cultic matters. Cultwatch is an incorporated charitable trust (a not for profit organization).

    Warning Introduction

    It all started several years ago as Cultwatch began receiving isolated reports of the same Mind Control techniques usually found in the cults being used in certain New Zealand Christian churches. The reports were concerning enough for Cultwatch to start an investigation. Since then these reports have increased in frequency and intensity. Numerous people have independently reported that the techniques detailed in the Cultwatch web site are becoming common place in more and more Christian churches both in New Zealand and around the world. Our research has confirmed that certain Christian Pastors have turned to Mind Control as a technique for growing their church. We have copies of their tapes, sermons, seminars, courses, and other documentation, that provide solid evidence of their deliberate employment of Mind Control (see the Cultwatch web site to learn more about Mind Control). Unfortunately these Pastors have done significant damage to individual Christians.

    However something was puzzling us. During our investigation we began to notice a disturbing trend relating to the spread of these underhanded techniques. These were not isolated instances; instead their spread seemed to be carefully orchestrated. Were there masterminds behind this phenomenon?

    Was someone, or some people deliberately promoting these unchristian practices?

    The Warning

    False apostles are rising up in New Zealand, the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, and in other countries. They plan to subjugate (to bring under control and governance as a subject, to conquer) Churches and their leaders. From what we can tell these "Super Apostles" aim to build a fiefdom (a medieval feudal estate) of churches with themselves as the lords, second only to God himself (the King). What these self-proclaimed apostles lack in solid Biblical Doctrine they make up with cultic Mind Control techniques (also known as spiritual abuse) and hyped prosperity preaching."

    The Super Apostles claim that the Biblical ministry of an apostle has been forgotten, and God has called them to restore it. Of course it is presumptuous of the Super Apostles to think that this God ordained ministry has died, but that is what they claim. The Super Apostles are in effect promoting a false apostolic ministry.

    Now a biblical model of an apostle can be found in Paul, a hard working humble man who was not rich, except in his incredible passion for the gospel and correct doctrine. Paul was an apostle who knew the bounds of his authority, for example in 2 Corinthians 8:8 where he refrained from commanding the Corinthians to give money.

    However these Super Apostles do not follow Paul's example. They are rigorous self-promoters who see power and wealth as important goals. They demand that you cede (to yield typically by treaty) to their authority. Church members must sign "covenants" stating that they will obey the church leadership. Church leaders themselves must "submit" their lives to the Super Apostles. To not submit is to rebel against God's will and condemn you to a barren Christian life outside the protection of the Super Apostles magical "umbrella of authority". For those who do not yield it is claimed God will leave them to fend for themselves when the enemy comes. Also rebels will suffer a life of physical poverty, not to mention terrible accidents and diseases. To reject the Super Apostles themselves is the greatest sin. Do not even suggest that they are wrong; the spiritual repercussions could be horrendous!

    Authority is a key word for this clandestine movement. Everyone must be under authority. That is, under their authority. Now of course apostles did have authority in Scripture, but these new apostles claim that authority as their own, and a great deal more too. Under the catch cries of "Church Governance" and "The Church is a theocracy not a democracy" they employ standard cultic Mind Control methods. They practice "enforced giving", where tithes and offerings of church members are recorded. Members who do not give the "correct" amount are disciplined and held back from leadership. People are banned from going to other churches and working for Para church organizations not under the apostle's control. They control relationships, ordering people to stay away from friends and family outside the movement. Some even demand Christian members seek permission to marry each other. They run a reporting structure where members watch other members, and confidential information is passed up through the leadership pyramid. Some members have even had their rooms searched. People who wish to live in cities where there is no branch of the Super Apostle's church are told not to go. Time control sees endless compulsory meetings. Failing to attend a meeting is noticed and the member is spoken to Breaking sessions are employed where leaders "character assassinate" a member until they break down. Church members are given the impression that they can only be saved by being part of the Super Apostles church. Churches outside the "kingdom" are fallen and dead. Not all of these apostles state this so blatantly, but this is the impression they cultivate within their churches. However some do allude to this in the public arena, so confident they are that God is on their side.

    "The term 'Local Church' is an important phrase in their onslaught. They claim that no Christian work can be outside of the Local Church. Para church organizations are in error for not being controlled by a 'Local Church'. Of course what they really mean is that no Christian work can legitimately exist outside of the control of a Super Apostle. The idea that those Christians under the Super Apostle's control cannot work outside of a 'Local Church' has already lead to an increased disunity in the Body of Christ. Carried through to its logical conclusion this exclusive doctrine will result in extreme disunity since no one will work together. Also their concept of the Local Church will lead to turf wars analogous to those seen in medieval Europe as the lords of that time fought to increase their fiefdoms at the expense of others. Already this sort of behaviour has been reported."

    How do they justify their stance? The Super Apostles look to pragmatism as their justification for practice, rather than Scripture. What works becomes standard operating procedure; hardly any consideration is given to whether it contravenes Scripture. Where a practice is questioned Scriptures are taken out of context, or twisted, to give the illusion that the Bible allows these methods.

    (Note: There is additional information on the nature of these cults on the website with regards to Finances, Recruitment, and that their defining nature is Control, but this should give you an adequate framework see the true nature of the Dominionism movement for what it is, namely, a cult.)
  •  As a domme, I think you missed something (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lotlizard, tardis10

    I'm pretty sure a lot of it is tied up with sex.  I'm attracted to submissives, in particular crossdressing submissive men.  It is astonishing to Me how many of them are Republican, all things considered.  There they are in dress and wig, telling Me that Rush Limbaugh is right, when Rush Limbaugh and his minions would be the first to chase after someone like them with torches and pitchforks.  I think this authoritarian submission is, at heart, a sexual submission, and if there were more dommes out there like Me taking advantage and putting this sensibility to its proper use--service to Mistress--that a lot of this pent up energy would stop being vented into harmful political sentiment.

    I think the rich people who, by necessity from our democratic form of government, need these easily led dupes, are not going to suddenly decide to stop fomenting extremism.  The two go hand-in-hand.  It is only by cultivating the submissive tendencies and political extremism that the ultra-rich can get ANYONE to vote for their interests.  Any sensible person can see that it's ridiculous to give billionaires special treatment, so the billionaires use very sophisticated marketing techniques to find and groom these gullible fools.

    If anything, I would expect that the ultra-rich would try to find drugs and foods that increase submission and try to promote them in the general populace (maybe antidepressants and soy) rather than being reasonable about reforming the Republican Party.  The ultra-rich aren't interested in reason; only holding onto power.  If they can't get enough of these RWA's to follow them, they instead will try to undermine democracy itself, and keep the non-RWA's from voting or attempt to change our system of government.

    •  Very perceptive! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tardis10, cordgrass

      In the 60s-70s, it was almost a truism that war and militarization come from sexual repression.

      "The Establishment" (went the thesis) — today we would say the 1% — always has access to the latest techniques for manipulating mass psychology and group dynamics. It skillfully and deliberately cultivates and channels people's aggressive instincts.

      It knows how to project dominance and "harness" submissive souls. It knows how to exploit religious undercurrents of masochism and guilt. It knows how to focus people's anger in directions contrary to their own interests. It knows how to work people to the bone.

      It tells them that suffering is normal, that relieving suffering only makes people soft, but that their personal suffering, real or imagined, makes them the chosen ones and the heroes, surrounded by a sea of lazy takers and parasites.

      The Dutch kids' chorus Kinderen voor Kinderen wishes all the world's children freedom from hunger, ignorance, and war.

      by lotlizard on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 06:11:47 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  No irony intended but it's not so black and white (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    There are non-authoritarian conservatives and authoritarian lefties and centrists, so I don't think that it's such a simple correlation between authoritarianism and conservatism. I think that authoritarianism is certainly overrepresented on the right compared to the left, and that it tends to take on a more aggressive nature on the right, but it's not completely asymetric. There are other big differences between the two broad sides that don't have much to do with authoritarianism.

    I mean, with up to 90% of whites voting for Romney in some areas, and 90% of black voting for Obama nationwide, does that mean that 90% of whites in those areas but only 10% of blacks everywhere are authoritarians? Makes no sense. The modern conservative mindset and policy outlook is certainly much more authoritarian than the liberal one, of course. But that doesn't mean that every self-described conservative is an authoritarian. Many, and probably most, are, but a lot are simply going along with their families and socio-cultural groups, more the victims of authoritarianism than actual authoritarians.

    Plus, I think that only about 35% of Americans, meaning not all Repubs, are self-described conservatives. Where does that leave all the other Repubs and Repub leaners and voters? And what about self-described centrists and moderates who adamantly insist that we have to cut the deficit NOW or we're all going over a cliff? Or self-described liberals who insist that their way is the only way and everybody else is an idiot (which I've been guilty of from time to time)? Or people who get personally offended when their preferred political leader is criticized and go on the attack against their critics? Or people for whom such a leader can do no right? Are they not all, to some extent, authoritarians too?

    To reduce politics to this one dimension is silly. It is an important dimension, but it's hardly the only one, or even the only important one. There's also one's core ideology and moral values, whether clung to and defended in an authoritarian or open way. There's class, ethnicity, region, culture, religion, and so on.

    So I don't believe that authoritarianism is the only lens through which we can or should view contemporary politics. And if you don't agree with me, you're an idiot and are wrong, because I'm always right, so don't argue with me.

    Heh. :-)

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

    by kovie on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 05:10:00 AM PST

    •  Re: no irony intended (0+ / 0-)

      Hi kovie - If I conveyed the impression that politics is unidimensional, I did a bad job as a writer. If anything, from where I started, it's just the opposite. The purpose was to bring attention to Hetherington and Weiler's data that show the over the past 20 years or so, authoritarianism has begun to have an impact on the political process. It is certainly not the only thing, but it's impact is being felt.

      We have spent a lot of time talking about authoritarians and how they think and behave.  It is very important to emphasize that authoritarianism is an aspect of one's worldview. In and of itself, it has nothing to do with one's political orientation. There are authoritarian Democrats, authoritarian Libertarians, authoritarian Republicans and authoritarian Independents. But as Hetherington and Weiner have shown, the nature of the issues chosen by the Republicans, the rhetoric they employed, and the way in which Republican elites have chosen to cast the political environment as an "us or them" struggle, have ended up throwing red meat to the authoritarians in the Republican party. By winding up the Tea Partiers, the right-wing religious fundamentalists, etc., and herding everyone to the starboard side of the ship, the Republican elites changed the nature of the political environment. In the past, bipartisan coalitions could work together to resolve their differences and deal with issues that involve everyone irrespective of party allegiance, race, creed, social status. Now it is a very personal us-against-them, I'm-going-to-do-everything-I-can-do-to-screw-you confrontation.
      I think the above quote from the post addresses much of what you were saying in your comment. At this point, the issue is not whether all Republicans or self-reported conservatives are authoritarians (they are not). See Stenner, Altemeyer and Haidt, for instance. The issue that I was addressing in this post was not about "liberals vs conservatives", whether all Republicans are conservative and all Democrats are liberal . . . The issue is that the strategy and means that the Republicans have employed over the past 40 years or so to try to gain a permanent majority has ended up creating a political environment that has resulted in drawing authoritarians out of the woodwork and the result has been an increasing polarization of the political environment along authoritarian/nonauthoritarian lines. They have let the genie out of the bottle and it turns out the the genie is not one of those "Your wish is my command" kinds of genies. Now, not all Republicans are authoritarians (or social conservatives as some would say). See Stenner, for instance. The problem for them is that neither they nor any other nonauthoritarians are happy with the way things have worked out, and in order to keep the moderates who are left and even hope to get independents, the Republican party is going to have to dial the authoritarian rhetoric way down . . . So the real issue of the future is not going to be so much along the liberal-conservative dimension as along the authoritarian-nonauthoritarian dimension . . .

      "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 04:10:27 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Valid points (0+ / 0-)

        But I don't agree that the real divide is between authoritarians and not. I think there are many divides and this is one of them. There is also the ideological and policy divide--i.e. what works or is right--as well as the political divide, in terms of who's more politically skilled and powerful. There's also the class divide, the race divide, the cultural divide, and so on.

        These divisions have always been with us and always will be. What's changed is that there's been a political realignment that's thrown different sides of these divides together, in ways we haven't seen before. E.g. poor whites siding with rich whites who are exploiting them, because they're on the same side of the racial, cultural and ideological divide. Or gays and historically culturally conservative blacks on the same side of the political divide, because they're on the same side of the ideological and policy divide. And so on.

        So you're probably right to point out that the authoritarian divide aligns different groups who are divided along other lines, and has become the great divider. But clearly, these other divides continue to exist and be powerful, and I believe that this makes them ripe for exploitation by our side, to ruin the temporary unity on the other side. I think it's going to happen anyway, but we can certainly do what we can to speed it up. E.g. the class divide. I don't believe that rich whites will be able to exploit the racial divide for much longer to keep the poor whites they're exploiting on their side. Eventually, these poor whites will wake up, and overcome their racism enough to leave the fold and put their economic interests first.

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

        by kovie on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 10:05:36 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Re: Valid points (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Hi kovie - I'm with you 100% I absolutely agree that there are many lines along which we are divided. If I gave the impression that this was the only thing, my very bad. What got my personal attention was that, while the other issues exist, and have existed for a while . . . a looooong time in many cases, this particular one has sorta crawled out of the woodwork over the past 40 years or so. Also, the fact that it's so completely different from the other more "historical" ones . . .

          No, you're absolutely correct. There are lots of things that divide us . . . sadly . . .

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

          by lartwielder on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 01:23:43 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  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

            [ Parent ]

            •  Re: comment and other things (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              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

              [ Parent ]

              •  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

                [ Parent ]

  •  Well, but, they would say you (and liberals) (0+ / 0-)

    are the authoritarians.  They believe they are libertarians.

    "To recognize error, to cut losses, to alter course, is the most repugnant option in government." Historian Barbara Tuchman

    by Publius2008 on Thu Dec 13, 2012 at 08:04:08 PM PST

    •  Well, but, they would say . . . (0+ / 0-)

      Hi Publius2008 - Absolutely! :-)

      From Altemeyer's discussion of the "Blindness to themselves" characteristic:

      And when I give feedback lectures to classes about my studies and describe right-wing authoritarians, it turns out the high RWAs in the room almost always think I am talking about someone else. p. 87
      Aaahhhhh, the mind of a high RWA is truly a wonder to observe . . .  :->

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

      by lartwielder on Thu Dec 13, 2012 at 08:23:10 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Think BO understands this and much of his/WH (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    things that infuriate some commentors here at Kos seem more about this than anything else:

    "if I were a strategist for the Democrats, I'd be working as hard as I could to figure out how the party could become more attractive to right-of-center moderates and independents".

    To an extent, it seems to have worked, as party ID has continued to shift D-ward from 2006 (with possible exception of 2011, but that was more a 'sugar high'/ID with the winners and even then Thug ID barely went up per Gallup - which tends to skew Thugs - and Thug gains were more about D dropping which was most likely temporary disappoint more than anything else).  

    OTOH, tho, given the cyclic nature of US politics and gerrymandering, Thugs will at least be at parity in House races and will win POTUS races, even a fascist-dominated rump.  Of course, the next Thug POTUS will run as and be portrayed as a 'moderate', but more likely to be in the 'what you hear is not what you get' mold Dumbya than anything else.

    And one thing (due to Rice/SoSt being in news) has been nibbling at my stem: regardless of what kind of POTUS they cough up, they entire Thug foreign policy cadre seems to be neocon and 'crusaders'.   Given that, I have difficulty seeing how that does not likely defines the next Thug POTUS's f/policy.  God help us.

    •  Think BO understands this (0+ / 0-)

      Hi Chris -  I truly hope you're right. In some ways, this whole thing is as big a problem for the Dems as it is the GOP. Different set of problems, but if they start going too fast or lose their situational awareness, they could outrun their headlights . . . It's going to be really interesting to watch this unfold. And I use the term interesting in sense of "May you live in interesting times."  :)

      Vous avez ecrit:

      And one thing (due to Rice/SoSt being in news) has been nibbling at my stem: regardless of what kind of POTUS they cough up, they entire Thug foreign policy cadre seems to be neocon and 'crusaders'.   Given that, I have difficulty seeing how that does not likely defines the next Thug POTUS's f/policy.  God help us.
      Yeah. That's scary as hell. When I heard that Bolton was advising Romney I did a facedesk


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

      by lartwielder on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 09:48:10 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  What is the role of media in this? Media has come (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    to be about entertainment which emphasizes differences and conflict, 'them v. them' as it were, rather than the truth-seeking model that prevailed during prior US political eras.
    And, even when there is no real crises, the media (especially certain Faux parts) constantly gins up a 'crisis' of the week, some for ideological, most for ratings reasons.

    Regardless of the desire of elites and even most voters to 'defuse and disarm' the 'Republitarians', will the media simply perpetuate and deepen the divide, re-inforcing authoritarianists isolation as well as self-righteousness and cohesion?  Is the manner of the media's thinking and presentation of US politics not perfect for authoritarian leaders to exploit?  

    IOW, can anything be successful without dealing with these and the collapse of journalism into stenography and the loss of the Fairness Doctrine and concomitant rise of Hate radio?
    If so, the mountain may be unclimable until the current radio-cable 'mass/fragmented'* media fades away.  

    Scary thought that.
    * 'mass/fragmented', i.e., we retain much of 'herd' of mass media even as the market fragments into narrow-interest networks, with the result that in many ways we get the worst of both.

    •  Re: Role of media (0+ / 0-)

      I'm with you. The media is the joker in the deck. I'm reasonably sure that we can count on Fox, Limbaugh, Hannity, Coulter, Malkin, WSJ etc. will keep the burner on high. Don't quite know yet about MSM . . . there may be some hope for them. Every now and then someone murmurs out loud that they haven't called bullshit when they saw it. Glimmer of hope, but I'm not holding my breath. Then there are the sites like this . . .   ;->

      The one sentiment on which there seems to be consensus is that the Internet has changed the face of media and media management . . . For sure, no matter what one's opinion is on any subject, one can find support and succor for it on the interwebs . . .

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

      by lartwielder on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 10:01:36 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Unfortunately, the web seems to have changed media (0+ / 0-)

        for the worse on this, as they seem to chase web hits and stories that get high web hit #s, which of course are the most us/them, and given Faux etc. pretty much guaranteed to be poutrage/fauxrage v. varying degrees of strength defending reality.

        And to that the corruption of web-based news by HuffPo and other folks justifiably seeking the megabucks... and I am not hopeful in the short-term.

        OTOH, in the longer term, I suspect the media will so utterly fragment that the real problem will be getting and maintaining even a plurality consesus on most things.  OToOH, that oddly may increase the power of real leaders, such as POTUS, to cut across all platforms and get attention and build consesus, for good or ill.  (But that would take continuously message-campaigning ala 'Pass That Bill', and a responsiveness most often found in the very authoritarians we seek to counter/education/neutralize.)

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