Saturday, December 29, 2007

Bob Altemeyer's "The Authoritarians"

I'm devouring this book, and the footnotes are as tasty and entertaining (in a dark, horrifying, goddamit, I TOLD you so sort of way) as the text itself. While this is obviously mandatory socio-political ammunition for democrats and leftists, it's far, far more vital for Centrists, Independents, Libertarians and traditional Conservatives to read and understand.

Bob Altemeyer's - The Authoritarians Chapter 6 Authoritarianism and Politics chapter6.pdf

10 On September 20, 2006 an independent Congressional-watch organization called
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington released its second annual “Most
Corrupt Members of Congress Report.” Three senators and seventeen members of the
House were named, most of them hold-overs from the first annual report (although the
news release noted with some glee that two of the previous winners were already on
their way to jail).

I found it instructive to look up the ratings these 20 lawmakers' voting records
received from the Family Research Council, the successor to the Christian Coalition
as the major lobbying organization for the Religious Right. The average was 80%.
Eight of the “most corrupt” had perfect 100% endorsements from the Family Research
Council. The lowest score was a 64% posted by the Democratic Representative Alan
Mollohan from West Virginia. (Seventeen of the twenty “most corrupt” were

To be sure, many other lawmakers who got high scores from the Family
Research Council did not get named as most corrupt. But I think I read somewhere
that there’s this interesting connection between being a lying, dishonest, amoral
manipulator and becoming a leader of right-wing political/religious movements.
Back to Chapter

And then there's footnote seven, which I absolutely must highlight, with a link to John Dean's book, Conservatives without Conscience, which is referenced here.

7 If anyone ought to be interested in understanding authoritarianism, it’s the
mainstream conservatives who used to form and control the Republican Party. They
have seen their political party hijacked by the most radical element in their party, and
it’s anybody’s guess whether they can get it back. The takeover has been so complete
that many people have forgotten what “conservative” meant before it became
“authoritarian.” I don’t look forward to “conservative” becoming a dirty word the way
“liberal” did. Until we find someone who’s always right, democracy needs both
traditional and progressive voices to choose from. But the principled conservative
options have been badly tarred lately by authoritarianism.
I can’t imagine Senator Barry Goldwater agreeing with, “Our country
desperately needs a mighty leader who will do what has to be done to destroy the
radical new ways and sinfulness that are ruining us.”As John Dean points out,
Goldwater was quite apprehensive about what the “cultural conservatives” would do
to the Grand Old Party. “Mark my word,” the former senator said after the 1994 midterm
election, “if and when these preachers get control of the party, and they’re sure
trying to do so, it’s going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly, these people frighten
me.” (Conservatives Without Conscience, p. xxxiv.)

I should also direct you to a particular post about the book - because of the hilariously ironic "criticism" of Dean's book by people who are clearly RWA's who MUST argue the premise - but cannot even seriously consider it deeply enough to argue, as it would require confronting their own demons. Almost literally.

Mr. Terence J. Nugent says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Hide post again.]
This book'spremise is the most absurd yet. He implies tha the Bush Administration fuels terror to preserve and expand quasi-dictatorial powers. In that case, it called an aisrike in on its own position on 9/11, as the White House was targeted. Perhaps Dean is on the jihadi payroll, as this is absurd as the anti-Zionist theory that the Isaelis did it.

As if this wasn't enought o prevent anyone of siound mind from spending their hard earned money on this abomination, the intellectual bankruptcy of his argument is absolutely appalling. It is axiomatic that left wing and right wing authoritarianisms are mirror images. Left and right traverse a circle that meets at dictatorship. Dean has evidently forgotten the communist authoritarian regimes of Joseph Stalin, Mau Tse Tung et. al. For a domestic example of quasi-liberal authoritarianism exhibit A is the Deomocratic dictatoship in the city of Chicago, and the County of Cook. Of course there is othing more authoitarian than jihadis, who we are trying to fight despite internal resistance from thelikes of Dean.

John Dean was driven mad by Watergate and has since become a pawn of the left, just as he was a pawn of the right during Watergate. He was then, and is now, a dangerously misguided man who would not recognize intellectual honesty if it became incarnate before his blinded eyes.
This is exactly the sort of response, of course, that Bob Altemeyer's research would suggest to be inevitable. And it's certainly exactly the sort of mindless personal attack I've come to expect from those who wish to disagree with an ethical critique, but cannot without defending the indefensible.

And of course, that means that you lose the debate - in rational circles.


Bob King said...

Pardon any errors in the above post - some glitch with Blogger is refusing to let me edit it, perhaps due to the Iframe used by the amazon link.

Since I can't edit it, I'm adding this comment to refer you to this most excellent dissection of the "view with outrage" or "Authoritarian Hissy Fit" technique that has become not just the major, but seemingly ONLY response to, well, not just criticism, but reality:

Druff said...

I read Altemeyer's very informative book a few months ago.

Yeah, has anyone not written off the entire Republican party as emotionally stunted, fear-filled psychopaths by now? They're not to be taken seriously intellectually, morally or politically. Hollow shells of humans, seemingly determined to haunt the world until they find inner peace... which will never happen. (dramatic enough?)

Fuck the Democrats too, but for different reasons.

Bob King said...

Well, if you want my viwpoint, baldly stated; it's simple.

"Remove the beam from your eye before talking of (much less attempting to remove) the mote in mine."

I believe that ethics and right action are indisputably and inherently INDIVIDUAL duties that cannot be delegated to either church OR state.

I don't mean to say that neither have proper roles - they do. And these roles have been superseded in order to make people feel comfortable with the abandonment of their own moral and social duties.

Further, both state and religon in the United States (and likely in a broader sense) have become far more interested in APPEARING to do something useful rather than actually being of positive value to anyone.

And that fig-tree is firewood.


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