everyone who is a liberal needs to learn:
Just as, I’m sure, conservatives sit around putting liberals into classification boxes, so do we liberals place them into little categorized Tupperware containers. The difference is that the liberals, i.e. myself included, will explain why a label fits on a particular Tupperware container and why a particular type of conservative fits inside so nicely. This willingness and ability to explain a nuance such as "why I have classified you this way,” is a trait far more common to liberals and intellectuals of the left than of the right.
Since the rise and folly and fall of the Reagan and Bush and Bush and Gingrich administrations a psychological theorem first written about nearly fifty years ago has seen a resurgence among those who dare to ask “why? What on this Earth makes a conservative?” The theorem is call Authoritarianism.
1 : of, relating to, or favoring blind submission to authority
- authoritarian noun
This is the name of the part of the Tupperware warehouse that holds thirty-million containers categorized as American Conservatives. The theorem is widely accepted as true among the world psychologists, hence it is safe to call it a theorem.
From Wickopedia: “Right-wing Authoritarianism (RWA) is a psychological personality variable or "ideological attitude". It is defined as the convergence of three attitudinal clusters in an individual:”
- Authoritarian submission — a high degree of submission to the authorities who are perceived to be established and legitimate in the society in which one lives. "It is good to have a strong authoritarian leader."
This behavior is best observed with the ear, by listening to American talk radio. Listen over a period of time so that you can realize that the authoritarians calling in to the radio talk shows are not changing their loyalties. No matter what happens. A recent poll determined that nearly %30 of Americans still “favor the job that “president” George W. Bush is doing,” despite wide spread acknowledgement that he will not only be the worse president in American history but the most tragic. The authoritarians will stretch the facts beyond belief and beyond reasonable assumption to excuse their beloved leader. Their authority, they very classification of the leaders that give them their own title.
- Authoritarian aggression — a general aggressiveness, directed against various persons, that is perceived to be sanctioned by established authorities. "It is acceptable to be cruel to those who do not follow the rules."
For example the illegal immigrant condition: The many small and seemingly acceptable restrictions that anyone who is here without legal papers are faced with daily, become the evidence for the authoritarian that it is socially acceptable to shun the illegal, to further complain about them. “If the government is doing it, why can’t we?” Repercussions are likely to be small if anything. It’s a hateful comfort zone. In New Mexico, citizen militias have formed, from mainly white men without jobs, and stake-out regions of the Mexican border with rifles and other military equipment at hand.
- Conventionalism — a high degree of adherence to the social conventions that are perceived to be endorsed by society and its established authorities. "Traditional ways are best."
As a simple example: Do you know someone who sings television commercial jingles? Who believes every bit of those pharmaceutical company adds in magazines and television? They do because they gladly, perhaps blissfully, accept the mainstream. But paying for advertising time is not legitimizing your product, but to the authoritarian its good enough.
Some studies have discovered that the Authoritarian usually always rises upwards within the Right Wing of political party. Thus the acronym: RWA, Right Wing Authoritarian. Below are some better details of the RWA. See if you can spot that angry uncle within these descriptions:
“1: Faulty reasoning — RWAs are more likely to:
- Make many incorrect inferences from evidence.
- Hold contradictory ideas that result from a cognitive attribute known as compartmentalized thinking.
- Uncritically accept that many problems are ‘our most serious problem.’
- Uncritically accept insufficient evidence that supports their beliefs.
- Uncritically trust people who tell them what they want to hear.
- Use many double standards in their thinking and judgments.
2: Hostility Toward Outgroups — RWAs are more likely to:
- Weaken constitutional guarantees of liberty such as the Bill of Rights.
- Severely punish ‘common’ criminals in a role-playing situation.
- Admit they obtain personal pleasure from punishing such people.
- Be prejudiced against racial, ethnic, nationalistic, and linguistic minorities.
- Be hostile toward homosexuals.
- Volunteer to help the government persecute almost anyone.
- Be mean-spirited toward those who have made mistakes and suffered.
3: Profound Character Attributes — RWAs are more likely to:
- Be dogmatic.
- Be zealots.
- Be hypocrites.
- Be absolutists
- Be bullies when they have power over others.
- Help cause and inflame intergroup conflict.
- Seek dominance over others by being competitive and destructive in situations requiring cooperation.
4: Blindness To One’s Own Failings And To The Failings Of Authority Figures Whom They Respect— RWAs are more likely to:
- Believe they have no personal failings.
- Avoid learning about their personal failings.
- Be highly self-righteous.
(1) have a conservative economic philosophy; (2) believe in social dominance; (3) are ethnocentric; (4) are highly nationalistic; (5) oppose abortion; (6) support capital punishment; (7) oppose gun-control legislation; (8) say they value freedom but actually want to undermine the Bill of Rights; (9) do not value equality very highly and oppose measures to increase it; (10) are not likely to rise in the Democratic party, but do so among Republicans." (The Authoritarian Specter)”
”Altemeyer's own statement about this may be worth noting (from p. 239 of "Enemies of Freedom"): "right-wing authoritarians show little preference in general for any political party," and their prevalence in the Republican party reflects the long term effects of point (10) above.”
“Alfred Adler provided another perspective, linking the "will to power over others" as a central neurotic trait, usually emerging as aggressive over-compensation for felt and dreaded feelings of inferiority and insignificance. The authoritarian need to maintain control and prove superiority over others is rooted in a world view populated by enemies, empty of equality, empathy, and mutual benefit.”
Consider how easy it would be to turn your authoritarian mass into a fascist army of angry censor happy fundamentalists marching in lock-step shouting ugly stereotypes down the street left and right of them. Consider how easy it will be to feed them the language of the day, the faxed talking points, the television sound bites for first thing in the morning. Consider this and you are considering the end of a democracy, a bill of rights, the end of tolerance, of diversity, of equality and justice under the law.
If you are reading this and it totally reminds you of a conservative you know. Here is my suggestion: Teach him or her about him self. Teach them about authoritarianism, its history, and its narrow attributes. Don’t demean them. Teach them about it as if it were only a simple difference between you, not a flaw. Bring them around by helping them understand themselves.