An excellent study that captures the essence of how easily led people can be, particularly Republicons.
This book was written in 2006, halfway through George W. Bush’s second term as president. A great deal was wrong with America then, and I thought the research on authoritarian personalities could explain a lot of it. Since then a new administration has been elected, and although it has had to deal with a very serious economic crisis brought on by others, it is taking steps to correct some of what is wrong.
However, the forces that largely caused the problems have remained on the scene, and are more active today than ever before. As I try to show in the “Comment on the Tea Party Movement” (link to the left), the research findings in this book apply at least as strongly to America today as they did four years ago. Indeed, the events of 2009 and 2010 have confirmed conclusion after conclusion in The Authoritarians. I wrote in 2006 that the authoritarians in America were not going to go away if they lost the 2008 election, that they would be infuriated if a new president tried to carry out his mandate. That has certainly been the case.
If you check the “hit counter” on this page, you’ll see that this site has been visited nearly 300,000 times so far. The feedback I’ve gotten from those who have read The Authoritarians enables me to give you the major reason why you might want to do so too. “It ties things together for me,” people have said, “You can see how so many things all fit together.” “It explains the things about conservatives that didn’t make any sense to me,” others have commented. And the one that always brings a smile to my face, “Now at last I understand my brother-in-law” (or grandmother, uncle, woman in my car pool, Congressman, etc.).
Maybe it’ll work that way for you too.
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(Home Page Preface Written in 2006)
OK, what’s this book about? It’s about what’s happened to the American government lately. It’s about the disastrous decisions that government has made. It’s about the corruption that rotted the Congress. It’s about how traditional conservatism has nearly been destroyed by authoritarianism. It’s about how the “Religious Right” teamed up with amoral authoritarian leaders to push its un-democratic agenda onto the country. It’s about the United States standing at the crossroads as the next federal election approaches.
“Well,” you might be thinking, “I don’t believe any of this is true.” Or maybe, you’re thinking, “What else is new? I’ve believed this for years.” Why should a conservative, moderate, or liberal bother with this book? Why should any Republican, Independent, or Democrat click the “Whole Book” link on this page?
Because if you do, you’ll begin an easy-ride journey through some very relevant scientific studies I have done on authoritarian personalities–one that will take you a heck of a lot less time than the decades it took me. Those studies have a direct bearing on all the topics mentioned above. So if you think the first paragraph is a lot of hokum, or full of half-truths, I invite you to look at the research.
For example, take the following statement: “Once our government leaders and the authorities condemn the dangerous elements in our society, it will be the duty of every patriotic citizen to help stomp out the rot that is poisoning our country from within.” Sounds like something Hitler would say, right? Want to guess how many politicians, how many lawmakers in the United States agreed with it? Want to guess what they had in common?
Or how about a government program that persecutes political parties, or minorities, or journalists the authorities do not like, by putting them in jail, even torturing and killing them. Nobody would approve of that, right? Guess again.
Don’t think for a minute this doesn’t concern you personally. Let me ask you, as we’re passing the time here, how many ordinary people do you think an evil authority would have to order to kill you before he found someone who would, unjustly, out of sheer obedience, just because the authority said to? What sort of person is most likely to follow such an order? What kind of official is most likely to give that order, if it suited his purposes? Look at what experiments tell us, as I did.
If, on the other hand, you’re way ahead of me, and believe the extreme right-wing elements in America are poised to take it over, permanently, I think you can still get a lot from this book. The studies explain so much about these people. Yes, the research shows they are very aggressive, but why are they so hostile? Yes, experiments show they are almost totally uninfluenced by reasoning and evidence, but why are they so dogmatic? Yes, studies show the Religious Right has more than its fair share of hypocrites, from top to bottom; but why are they two-faced, and how come one face never notices the other? Yes, their leaders can give the flimsiest of excuses and even outright lies about things they’ve done wrong, but why do the rank and file believe them? What happens when authoritarian followers find the authoritarian leaders they crave and start marching together?
I think you’ll find this book “explains a lot.” Many scattered impressions about the enemies of freedom and equality become solidified by science and coherently connected here.
You think I’m pulling your leg? Click the link.