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Tilting at Windmills

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September 24, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

AUTHORITARIANISM....Since 1992, the National Election Study has asked respondents four questions that collectively make up an "authoritarian index." The four questions ask you to specify which of two attributes you value more in children:

  1. Independence vs respect for elders

  2. Self-reliance vs. obedience

  3. Curiosity vs. good manners

  4. Being considerate vs. being well behaved

The first item in each pair marks you as less authoritarian and the second item marks you as more authoritarian. After you've answered all four, the scores are added up and normalized on a scale from 0 to 1, with 1 being the most authoritarian.

It will come as no surprise that authoritarians tend to vote Republican. What may surprise you, though, is that this has only become true in recent years. Over at the Democratic Strategist, Jonathan Weiler and Marc Hetherington tell the tale:

In 1992, authoritarianism barely had an effect on partisanship. Other things being equal, authoritarians tended to score about 7 percentage points toward the Republican end of the seven-point partisanship scale. By 2004, however, that 7 percentage point difference between authoritarians and non-authoritarians had ballooned to more than 20 percentage points.

....Authoritarianism's effect in 2004 was also strong relative to other variables. Its effect was substantially smaller than that of income in 1992. By 2004, its effect was twice that of income. In 1992, its effect was less than one-fifth as strong as the effect of government spending preferences. By 2004, the effects were much closer. It is not that the traditional left-right dimension in American politics is unimportant. What has changed is how relevant authoritarianism has become.

Weiler and Hetherington also report another interesting trend: in the past, strong authoritarians were alienated individuals who tended not to vote. Today's Republican Party, however, has succeeded in mobilizing them in greater numbers. You can read the article to get the stats, but the bottom line is this:

Appeals to authoritarian issues are mobilizing non-voters into the Republican camp, making non-voters and Republican voters nearly indistinguishable in their authoritarianism. This formerly disaffected group has found a political home.

....Republicans always benefit from increasing public fears, whether about gays, terrorism, illegal immigration, or anything that activates authoritarianism. It makes people who only have a little authoritarianism share the preferences of those who have a lot. The political implications of this fact for Republican fortunes are clear.

It makes people who only have a little authoritarianism share the preferences of those who have a lot. Appeals to fear move even moderates toward the authoritarian end of the scale. Fear is the conservative's friend, never the liberal's.

Kevin Drum 10:07 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (96)

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Comments

"Fear is the conservative's friend, never the liberal's."

You need a fancy-pants study to tell you that?

Posted by: keptsimple on September 24, 2006 at 10:17 PM | PERMALINK

Fear is the fascist's friend.

Posted by: TellitStraight on September 24, 2006 at 10:19 PM | PERMALINK

Two words: Missile Gap

Posted by: skeptic on September 24, 2006 at 10:23 PM | PERMALINK

...authoritarians include abusive care-providers (whether a spouse, parent or child).

Heh. It's like that Eurythmics song:

Sweet dreams are made of this
Who am I to disagree?
I travel the world
And the seven seas
Everybody's looking for something.

Some of them want to use you
Some of them want to get used by you
Some of them want to abuse you
Some of them want to be abused

Posted by: Darryl Pearce on September 24, 2006 at 10:29 PM | PERMALINK

The playground bullies have a political party now. Lovely.

Posted by: dr sardonicus on September 24, 2006 at 10:29 PM | PERMALINK

skeptic, I presume you're alluding to the alleged missile gap that helped JFK get elected. That was a case when fear helped the Dems.

Today's Dems could have gotten to the right of the Reps on some fear issue, such as immigration or the GWOT. If they had, they'd easily control Congress.

Posted by: ex-liberal on September 24, 2006 at 10:30 PM | PERMALINK

...heh. It's like Ralphie said:
"You're either a bully, a toadie, or one of the hapless rabble of victims."

Posted by: Darryl Pearce on September 24, 2006 at 10:33 PM | PERMALINK

Ahhh, so the truth has come out. The neo-cons appeal to the very core of fascism has succeeded. Authoritatian violence in the face of mindless fear rules the political climate. The evidence on the table is overwhelming: the corruption of the FCC, A war of opportunity built on lies that has benefited only the oil and defense indurstries, an unverifiable voting system that has already resulted in highly questionable results in election for six years, and blatent violations of law extending even to the constitution by the executive branch of government. What we see being built is a police state in all but name. How much longer will it be before we begin to see a sharp rise in the arrests of their political opponents? As long as the majority of the Democratic leadership plays the hear on evil, see no evil, speak no evil monkey game there is nothing to stop this slow slide into fascism.

Posted by: joe on September 24, 2006 at 10:34 PM | PERMALINK

Fear is the conservative's friend, never the liberal's.

The only way the Dems keep their big tent from blowing away is through fear. Here's just one of the countless examples.

Regarding illegal immigration, as I pointed out here a couple days ago, things such as a national ID card or a border fence wouldn't gain as much traction if the Dems weren't completely corrupt and supported massive illegal activity.

Regarding authoritarianism in general, at least in California almost all of the nanny state proposals seem to be coming from the left side of things.

-- Immigration wiki

Posted by: TLB on September 24, 2006 at 10:36 PM | PERMALINK

Today's Dems could have gotten to the right of the Reps on some fear issue, such as immigration or the GWOT. If they had, they'd easily control Congress.

Hell, if Dems ever got to the right of Republicans on these issues they could easily control the Reichstag, never mind Congress.

Posted by: trex on September 24, 2006 at 10:37 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks for the hot tip, exlib.

Issues and principles be damned. The Dems have about six weeks to out-pander the master-panderers.

Ready. Go!

Posted by: exasperanto on September 24, 2006 at 10:38 PM | PERMALINK

Go see the movie 'Jesus Camp'. The images of children praying before a cardboard cut out of George Bush is rather unsettling.

Posted by: Press Corpse on September 24, 2006 at 10:39 PM | PERMALINK

Where is the graph? I need a frequency polygon or a histogram to illustrate this. (okay, I don'tneed it. I just like graphs.)

Posted by: Global Citizen on September 24, 2006 at 10:39 PM | PERMALINK

Hahaha, TRex, nice work.

Thanks to Kevin for posting this -- I've been meaning to write about this subject at Needlenose for a couple of months now, was just about to do so today, and procrastinated just long enough that I can read this article and work it into my post.

Posted by: Swopa on September 24, 2006 at 10:41 PM | PERMALINK

(The point of my post, incidentally, will be that the Democrats can move beyond tut-tutting the authoritarian trend and defuse it without having to "outpander the master panderers.")

Posted by: Swopa on September 24, 2006 at 10:43 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks, trex.

That was good for a chortle AND a guffaw.

Posted by: exasperanto on September 24, 2006 at 10:45 PM | PERMALINK

TLB - I happen to live about two miles from that billboard that won't link. It isn't an issue here in Kansas City, but I see tht all four Republicans in the Bay area are atwitter.

Speaking of the pot calling the kettle cast iron, Jim Talent is doing his own version of race baiting, and he is doing a tour of apostolic churches (no snake handler left behind!) with Alan Keyes and running commercials with black voters who have kids with sickle cell explaining how they are voting for him because he is against stem-cell research.

There is a hell of a lot more to get fired up about in Missouri politics than one frickin billboard at Troost and I-70.

Posted by: Global Citizen on September 24, 2006 at 10:47 PM | PERMALINK

TLB...

Reminds me of someone.

Initials very similar...

California....

Smug references to nanny state, corrupt dems, illegal immigrants...

Hmmmm.

Posted by: exasperanto on September 24, 2006 at 10:54 PM | PERMALINK

Could it be Tom Brosz, exasperanto?

Posted by: Global Citizen on September 24, 2006 at 11:07 PM | PERMALINK

The problem, Kevin, is that authoritarianism is a common feature of humanity. Those who harness authoritarian instincts at the ballot box are the ones who are going to win elections. Case in poin: the center-left Labour party in Britain has, concordant with their electoral success, turned the country into a surveillance state, in line with the strong authoritarian streak of the country which sent them into office in the first place.

Posted by: Constantine on September 24, 2006 at 11:09 PM | PERMALINK

trex: Hell, if Dems ever got to the right of Republicans on these issues they could easily control the Reichstag, never mind Congress.

exasperanto: Issues and principles be damned. The Dems have about six weeks to out-pander the master-panderers.

I admire your snappy one-liners, but disagree with your sentiment.

Many Americans think it's appropriate for the Commander in Chief to protect the country from terrorist attacks. Many of us think the head of the Executive Branch should enforce the laws, including immigration law. We see these things as normal functions of the Presidency.

Posted by: ex-liberal on September 24, 2006 at 11:13 PM | PERMALINK

Many Americans think it's appropriate for the Commander in Chief to protect the country from terrorist attacks.

It would also be appropriate for him to kill a mosquito if it landed on his temple. The method of doing so (firearm, baseball bat, slap of the hand) is what is being questioned.

Posted by: B on September 24, 2006 at 11:19 PM | PERMALINK

Many Americans think it's appropriate for the Commander in Chief to protect the country from terrorist attacks. Many of us think the head of the Executive Branch should enforce the laws, including immigration law. We see these things as normal functions of the Presidency.

Many Americans believe that this president, through his actions, has made the country less safe. And we are all for law enforcement, too. Everybody but your Boy George seems to be for border enforcement, and he is more interested in enhancing the bottom line of the businesses that exploit illegal labor.

Some of us see as a normal function of the presidency leadership in a time of war, not mere fear-mongering and jingoism.

Posted by: Global Citizen on September 24, 2006 at 11:22 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin: this sort of psychobabble is not worthy of your usually excellent blog.

Posted by: Pot Head on September 24, 2006 at 11:48 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry, GC, running around the house...

Anyway, yeah, many broszian elements. Although a rather weak attempt at re-handling, if he was aiming for disguise, IMO.

Well, we should raise our mouse-fingers and offer a welcoming cybershout.

Errr...

Posted by: exasperanto on September 24, 2006 at 11:49 PM | PERMALINK

Why can't liberals get on with what it takes to win elections rather than continue to engage in this type self congratulatory mutual wankery?

Posted by: gregor on September 24, 2006 at 11:51 PM | PERMALINK

public fears, whether about gays

Sick, sick, sick.

These cryba..., I mean authoritarians, know you can't legislate away homosexuality, but hey, why not give the wink and the nod to gay-bashing fratboys?

Posted by: exasperanto on September 25, 2006 at 12:01 AM | PERMALINK

As a libertarian, I am thrilled to see you championing the cause of anti-authoritarianism and self-reliance. I am sure that this means that we will soon see your opposition to telling people what wages are acceptable, what features their car must have, where they can and can't smoke, who they can or can't hire and fire, where they can get their health care, what schools they are forced to fund, how much fat can be in their diet, what drug risk trade-offs are acceptable, how steep their wheelchair ramps have to be, how energy efficient their appliances have to be, what minimum percentages of minorites must be at their school in their workforce, why they shouldn't be allowed to shop at Walmart or buy from Chinese manufacturers, what lisence they need to braid hair or to sell caskets, etc.

Who set up these dichotomies? Why is independence the opposite of respect for elders? Isn't this like saying Kleenex is the opposite of pudding? Why isn't the opposite of "independence" actually "the desire to mooch off other people." Why isn't the opposite of "self reliance" the "desire to have someone else run your life for you, e.g. invest your retirement funds for you because they think you are too dumb to do it yourself?"

I mean, I have strived (striven??) to have my kids be both curious and have good-manners.

Posted by: coyote on September 25, 2006 at 12:04 AM | PERMALINK

Coyote; I hear what you are saying. All that time I was teaching my three to question authority, I kept in mind that i was walking a fine line, because I was authority.

Posted by: Global Citizen on September 25, 2006 at 12:11 AM | PERMALINK

The Republican realignment via the Southern Strategy has pretty much resulted in a nearly aligment of ideology with party. It's pretty frightening to contemplate the effect of driving that realignment even deeper, along the basic fault lines of human personality.

Truly, the parties may come even more over time to despise each other, and what they stand for, should this prove true.

These are spots that don't easily change. And what authoritarian can ever admire someone who isn't, or vice versa?

Posted by: frankly0 on September 25, 2006 at 12:19 AM | PERMALINK

It makes people who only have a little authoritarianism share the preferences of those who have a lot. Appeals to fear move even moderates toward the authoritarian end of the scale. Fear is the conservative's friend, never the liberal's.

Liberals have been trying to make us afraid of our own elected government, whereas the objectively greater threat is external. Furthermore, the legitimate authorities voted for the war against Iraq, and voted to support it; whereas liberals have been undermining (one way or another) the war effort, especially the extremem liberals like the ANSWER folks who held anti-war demonstrations, and the kossites who have disparaged lawful US activity in insulting language.

Fear has nothing to do with this.

Posted by: republicrat on September 25, 2006 at 12:23 AM | PERMALINK

Many Americans think it's appropriate for the Commander in Chief to protect the country from terrorist attacks.

The Commander in Chief doesn't protect the country from terrorist attacks. That would be the military, intelligence agencies, CIA, FBI, etc.

Posted by: lucidity on September 25, 2006 at 12:37 AM | PERMALINK

That's some passion there coyote. A bit dogmatic and perhaps unwary of non-governmental authority -- but damn passionate.

For the curious, google slightly favors "I have striven" over "I have strived". I'm not sure where "strove" fits into to it. You'd have to ask a linguist.

Posted by: American Buzzard on September 25, 2006 at 12:46 AM | PERMALINK

So this means my FDR, Truman, JFK, Jimmah supporting, Democratic Party member for life, grandfather was an authoritarian fascist? Think tank hoo-haw, nice chart at Dem Strat though. The nation swings Burke to Rousseau and back, always has, always will. Deal.

BTW: Duke/CoachK basketball kind of proves that stressing both sides of the correlates in the question works.

Posted by: stevesh on September 25, 2006 at 12:48 AM | PERMALINK

Authoritarianism = Fascism.

Repukeliscum are all fascists these days.

Posted by: POed Lib on September 25, 2006 at 12:54 AM | PERMALINK

Fear has nothing to do with this

Fear has every fucking thing to do with this. You are afraid of a shadow of your own creation. A couple of guys with box cutters get lucky and you think the entire Muslim world is out to destroy us. Condoleezza Rice says maybe a few hundred Al Qaeda left, experts say a tiny percentage of radical Muslims have designs on the West, you say:

At the rate of their present expansion, Islamists will conquer Europe by 2050, slightly faster than they spread across North Africa, if we time the beginning of the expansion with the Iranian revolution.

They are coming after Americanist, and you, and after me, and all of our friends and family and neighbors. They just are not targeting Amreicanist, and you, and me in particular.

As long as Democrats do not take the Islamic military threat seriously, and offer only economic engagement and multilateral institutions as a strategy, a majority of Americans will not take the Democrats seriously.

Posted by: republicrat on September 19, 2006 at 11:47 AM | PERMALINK

That was the whole point of the article! You're afraid of a horde of boogeymen so you're voting for authority, constitution and competence be damned -- you say so yourself in that post!!! Jeez, at least have the balls to admit it.

And by the way, independent think tanks and our own intelligence agencies say the very reason we're failing in the so-called war on terror is because we're NOT offering "economic engagment and multinational institutions."

Bombing Muslim populations only radicalizes them -- period.

If you'd stop shitting your pants long enough to read some objective analysis maybe you wouldn't need to live in such abject fear and vote for daddy figures.

Posted by: trex on September 25, 2006 at 12:55 AM | PERMALINK

And, ex-liberal, remember that "Work makes you free".

It's a useful slogan.

Posted by: POed Lib on September 25, 2006 at 12:56 AM | PERMALINK

Fear is the conservative's friend, never the liberal's.

Diebold

Posted by: Neo on September 25, 2006 at 1:02 AM | PERMALINK

republicrat, you dissembling twerp.

Protest doesn't "undermine". Protest is healthy. Check out the Founders.

You initially presented yourself here as a fence-sitting, open-minded, "independent", "undecided" observer but that was a sham, wasn't it? You've devolved into the worst sort of partisan, thread-jacking troll.

I expect you'll be following this with an energetic posting spree, showering us with non-sequiturs and strawmen.

Always a pleasure.

Posted by: exasperanto on September 25, 2006 at 1:04 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin -

There is this quote in the story,

....Republicans always benefit from increasing public fears, whether about gays, terrorism, illegal immigration, or anything that activates authoritarianism.

I am uncertain if this was including that last item as part of the list as an equal item or saying that the point about fears was saying that "increasing public fears" applies there to "anything that activates authoritarianism".

The reason I ask is that Progressives/Liberals/Democrats do also have their fear list.

In case any readers wonder, I am not a troll, and consider myself a Progressive. But I don't agree with every issue that comes down the pike, especially ones that point toward fears.

The Progressive list of items that "increase public fears" include global warming and peak oil.

It is possible that the reaction to my comment here is a din of disapproval, that, "Those aren't fears! Those are real!"

But folks need to recognize that there is a LOT of bowing to the "authority" of scientists and consensus conclusions of conferences on those issues. Only some scientists agree with those points, though you would never know it to read Progressive blogs. I have myself conversed with ones who do not adhere to the CW on those issues. There actually are solid reasons to question the CW.

If most here aren't aware of the alarmism inherent in blog postings about those topics, I am. And trying to carry on a calm discussion of them I have found to be nigh impossible; no one seems to be open to listen to information other than the Progressive CW.

In that, I see a degree of similarity between GOP fear-mongering and Progressive fear issues - a case of, "If you don't agree with us, you must have defective thinking processes." It is a lot less in Progressive circles, but I see it, nevertheless.

Progressives tend to think of themselves as being very rational, and on most issues I completely agree. But there are ones that are emotional/fear ones, that (IMHO) are agreed to for reasons that hinge on, "Well everybody knows," and are not up for discussion.

Maybe I am just more Independent than Progressive...

Posted by: SteveGinIL on September 25, 2006 at 1:04 AM | PERMALINK

"Many Americans think it's appropriate for the Commander in Chief to protect the country from terrorist attacks..."

Yes, and many, or even most, Americans are looking forward to those things happening sometime in the futureafter we get rid of the Gang That Couldn't Talk Straight.

Posted by: Kenji on September 25, 2006 at 1:05 AM | PERMALINK

The President IS NOT MY COMMANDER IN CHIEF

he is supposed to be MY PUBLIC SERVANT

he is the CIC of the MILITARY

the last time I checked I was not in the military.

I am so tired of hearing that combat-evading, coke snorting, alcoholic numbskull coward referred to as OUR CIC when he is supposed to be the POTUS, no more, no less.

Posted by: Carol on September 25, 2006 at 1:15 AM | PERMALINK

Many Americans think it's appropriate for the Commander in Chief to protect the country from terrorist attacks.

ALL Americans think that, Dude.

But what was Bush doing, sitting on his butt, reading "My Pet Goat", after his aides informed him the country was under attack?

How is that protecting the country?

He should have been off his chair like a shot, and gotten to his limo and communications devices and gotten started on responding. Remember, he didn't know (or did he?) that more hijacked planes weren't out there at that moment.

NO OTHER PRESIDENT IN OUR HISTORY WOULD HAVE SAT THERE LIKE A FREAKING DOLT, WHILE THE COUNTRY WAS UNDER ATTACK.

And if protecting the country from terrorists was so important to Bush, why did he blow off all efforts to get him to focus on terrorism before 9/11? The true facts of the period from 1-20-2001 to 9-11-2001 argue that Bush did NOTHING to protect the nation from terrorists.

All that talk about Bush being the best man to protect the country is all spin, to cover up his cowardice in the face of the enemy and his inability to recognize where any threats were going to come from - even though the relevent information was right in front of him that whole time.

No, the guy dropped the ball.

He FAILED to protect the country from terrorists.

His only political option after that failure was to deflect attention from his failure.

Enter Karl Rove...

Posted by: SteveGinIL on September 25, 2006 at 1:18 AM | PERMALINK

But folks need to recognize that there is a LOT of bowing to the "authority" of scientists and consensus conclusions of conferences on those issues. Only some scientists agree with those points, though you would never know it to read Progressive blogs. I have myself conversed with ones who do not adhere to the CW on those issues. There actually are solid reasons to question the CW.

scientific authority doesn't affect policy except to the extent policy makers act on it. as such, the OVERWHELMING consensus among scientists (despite whatever random anecdotal experience you may have had) on global warming simply suggests that there is, in fact, OVERWHELMING evidence to support human exacerbation of global warming. even the wingnuts don't deny this anymore ... except the truly scientific illiterate.

this isn't authoritarianism in any sense ... it's trusting your experts, their methods, and their data.

bowing to authoritarianism would be ... fabricating evidence to convince people that an unrelated country was involved in 9/11 and was an imminent threat, and that rampant militarism and torture is the best solution.


Maybe I am just more Independent than Progressive...
Posted by: SteveGinIL

yeah ... whatever. people can convince themselves the most ridiculous fantasies in order to justify their own ignorance.

Posted by: Nads on September 25, 2006 at 1:20 AM | PERMALINK

Steve G in Il. There is a big difference in the issues Democrats think we need to get properly exercised about, and the ones the Publicans flog. Global warming is something to get fired up about, and so is peak oil.

I am more worried about melting ice caps than I am about the possibility of being killed or maimed in a terrorist attack.

Posted by: Global Citizen on September 25, 2006 at 1:23 AM | PERMALINK

Hey Nads - check the bottom of the terror report card thread - there is someone defending DU to me! Can you stand it?

Posted by: Global Citizen on September 25, 2006 at 1:27 AM | PERMALINK

I once had a prolonged argument with a wingnut who insisted, despite numerous referencing on my part, that Hiroshima and Nagasaki had no long term effects on survivors.

Posted by: Nads on September 25, 2006 at 1:39 AM | PERMALINK

As I'm sure most of you know, John Dean has written a whole BOOK on Republicans and the authoritarian personality type. Has anybody read it?

Posted by: nepeta on September 25, 2006 at 1:44 AM | PERMALINK

And, ex-liberal, remember that "Work makes you free".

It's a useful slogan.


Perhaps ex-lib knows it better as "Arbeit Macht Frei."

Posted by: Winda Warren Terra on September 25, 2006 at 1:48 AM | PERMALINK

I'm with coyote. The test itself is crap. Why doesn't anybody see this?

Posted by: sandy on September 25, 2006 at 1:50 AM | PERMALINK

There is a big difference in the issues Democrats think we need to get properly exercised about, and the ones the Publicans flog. Global warming is something to get fired up about, and so is peak oil.

Yeah, our fearmongering serves OUR political purposes, and their fearmongering serves theirs. It's really quite simple.

Posted by: dnc on September 25, 2006 at 1:55 AM | PERMALINK

Posted by: nepeta on September 25, 2006 at 1:44 AM

Haven't read it, but heard a couple of hours of podcast interviews by Dean. As far as I could tell, he basicly applied a study, originally done in the early '50s I believe and entitled 'The Authoritarian Personality' to US politics. The study involved the development of what was called the 'F-scale' to measure authoritarian tendancies.

Dean would seem to be right of course. The nuts who forty years ago outside of the South only dominated cesspools such as Orange County now rule the national roost.

Posted by: ither on September 25, 2006 at 1:59 AM | PERMALINK

To coyote and other libertarians,

Freedom is a right, BUT freedom without responsibility is anarchy. Laws and administrative regulations are there to minimize the harm to a person's freedom that can be done by the indiscriminate exercize of freedom by another. Regulations to control second-hand smoke are a prefect example of this. Laws against murder are another.

In other words, coyote, it's not all about you.

Posted by: joe on September 25, 2006 at 2:08 AM | PERMALINK

Yeah, our fearmongering serves OUR political purposes, and their fearmongering serves theirs. It's really quite simple.
Posted by: dnc

that ... and we have actual data, whereas your side is constantly being refuted by the CIA and NIE.

Posted by: Nads on September 25, 2006 at 2:14 AM | PERMALINK

This research finding doesn't have much to do with authoritarianism and a lot to do with the number of children you have. The more children you have, the more you need your kids to be obedient, respectful, polite, etc., or everyone's life will be hell. If you have one or none as your number of children, then all this self-actualization for children sounds great.

The reason these numbers have changed recently is that Republican voters now have more children than Democratic voters. That difference has only happened in the last couple of decades. Google "affordable family formation" to read about the single biggest influence on current voting patterns.


Posted by: Steve Sailer on September 25, 2006 at 2:36 AM | PERMALINK

Democrats must be the party of Hope.

Leave Fear to the Republicans.

They are better at it.

Posted by: Chris Andersen on September 25, 2006 at 2:38 AM | PERMALINK

Southern Dems and unions would have kept Democrats authoritarian in the past. East Coast well-off upper middle class helped to keep Republicans less authoritarian.

Not how things fall now.

Posted by: catherineD on September 25, 2006 at 3:06 AM | PERMALINK

Sailer, my anecdotal experience refutes yours. The kids beat down the parents over time, making them less authoritarian. See "birth order effects", among other things.

Posted by: bad Jim on September 25, 2006 at 3:17 AM | PERMALINK

Just a guess, but I think parents have less to do with authoritarian offspring than suggested by some above. More important in the US, I think, are:

a. pseudo-religion, i.e. fundamentalism.
b. group think, i.e the exorbitant importance of peer groups in the American educational system. Ancillary institutionalized devices such as scheduled 'pep-rallies', 'school spirit' and the like are pernicious. Students are encouraged to take such tripe seriously.

Posted by: ither on September 25, 2006 at 3:35 AM | PERMALINK

Fear is an atavistic force: it easily overrides ethics and intelligence. Basically only strongly perceived self-interest is capable of moving majorities away from fear. Now that the modern Republicans are the party of fear, they will only be defeated, I'm afraid, when their policies finally result in the sort of collapse that even the dimmest, most fearful sections of the electorate can understand it. Economic or military collapse would do it, I suppose. And even then the temptation is often towards more and not less fascism... (This said, the modern Republican party is not yet fascistic: it deployes many of the techniques, it constantly undermines the enlightened and liberal democratic structures of the society, but it is still operating under the enlightened cultural framework of the American Republic - and the American Revolution - as much as it seems to loath great parts of it.)

Posted by: jonathan on September 25, 2006 at 4:42 AM | PERMALINK

How are "Independence" and "Respect for elders" two ends of the same line?

Come to that, "Curiosity" vs "Good Manners"? I value both of those in my heiresses - I can't see that they are mutually exclusive.

Maybe that's the hallmark of conservative thinking - the love of false choices.

Posted by: craigie on September 25, 2006 at 5:55 AM | PERMALINK

sailer and bad jim:

I am a liberal with four kids and I value and respect the first items in the pair. I think conservatism arises from a lack of real love in a parent-child relationship. Look at the Bush family. No love there and everyone of the kids is a dysfunctional head case.

Posted by: A Cynic's Cynic on September 25, 2006 at 6:49 AM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: amr铃声 on September 25, 2006 at 7:32 AM | PERMALINK

I am amused by Coyote's inability to see a liberal government as protecting freedoms against encroachment by richer individuals and companies. Take his camplaint about regulations: most are there because two freedoms collide: the right to be healthy versus the right to profit. I work in advertising, so I know how many billions are poured into convincing a consumer that it was his idea t choose a certain product. Say, an SUV instead of the more efficient compact. Or that the smoker likes the taste of his cigarette, that it makes him look cool.

So we have laws and regulations. You have the right to do whatever you want as long as it doesn't infringe upon others' rights. You don't have the freedom to kill because it infringes upon my freedom to live.

Libertarians are so concerned about their own freedoms that they forget about the rights of others. Liberals try instead to balance all rights to grant as much general freedom as possible. Authoritarians aren't concerned with freedom, or rather they view freedom as something that only the ruling caste should have.

Posted by: Saint Fnordius on September 25, 2006 at 7:54 AM | PERMALINK

a Cynic's cynic,
As a fellow liberal with four (plus one on the way), I agree. On the above scale I'd rate a 0. I teach my children to be trustworthy not obedient. The freedom to say no to my whims and the judgement to spare me worry.

St. Fnordius,
That's basically what I wrote above at 2:08am.

Posted by: joe on September 25, 2006 at 8:57 AM | PERMALINK

This is a very strange and poorly designed survey because it is not measuring opposites. You can be both independant and still have respect for your elders; you can be curious and still have good manners; you can be considerate and be well-behaved at the same time. If the survey is faulty then the results should be questioned. It is constructing a picture of two hypothetical children - one, a brat that demands her/his own way and the other a clean cut boy scout. Which one do you want to be around? If you're going to measure authoritarianism then construct a survey that measure just that.

Posted by: Milt on September 25, 2006 at 9:38 AM | PERMALINK

So let me get this straight. Chicago is my home and the Nannycrats, excuse me, Democrats have been running the show since the glaciers carved lake Michigan. They have a proposal to ban trans-fatty acids because, presumably, the electorate is too stupid to decide what to eat for themselves. The Nannycrats just banned some crappy French turkey liver based food that a whopping 3 restaurants served because it was cruel to geese. They just decided that Walmart couldn't build stores in the city because the people were sooo stupid that they might actually take a job there and the Nannycrats decided that they jobs didn't pay enough. No jobs for you!

While you are patting yourselves on the back about how libertarian you are and how authoritarian the Republicans are keep in mind that Capitalism is a liberatarian idea and ideal. Keep in mind that the Democrats house the Food Nazi's, the safety Nazi's, and every technocrat that thinks that they can run my life better than I can.

Maybe the reason that Democrats keep getting spanked at the ballot box is because people think that YOU are the authoritarians.

Posted by: Tim on September 25, 2006 at 10:17 AM | PERMALINK

Milt,

I don't think the survey presented the ideals as opposites - it was not saying curiosity is the opposite of good manners.

Instead it was asking the survey taker to rank two attributes which were not opposites, kind of like the surveys which ask which you would rather be, beautiful or smart? They limit you to only picking one whereas it is obvious that in real life one could be both beautiful and smart - you know, democrats.

Posted by: Tripp on September 25, 2006 at 10:59 AM | PERMALINK

Tim,

Let's focus on your second example - pate made from goose liver. Are you saying that people should be free to be cruel to animals if they want to? Are you saying that the state should have no say in that matter?

Posted by: Tripp on September 25, 2006 at 11:01 AM | PERMALINK

Liberals are authoritarian when there is no, or little opposition. That is why they prey on the poor and under priveledged for support and votes, because they feel they can control them with little opposition.

Once they are faced with strong oppostion, they cower like the scared little people they are. They will not fight for their convictions because self-loathing, a self circumspect have become a core values for liberals.

Posted by: Jay on September 25, 2006 at 11:03 AM | PERMALINK

I agree with the argument that the test sets up false dichotomies. On the basis of my responses, I'm highly authoritarian. But I don't have any kids, and I simply don't want your brats bothering me in public. And I always vote Democratic.

Oh and Jay, were you born that stupid, or did you have to work at it?

Posted by: brewmn on September 25, 2006 at 11:33 AM | PERMALINK

brewmn,

Like I joked earlier, publicans are either stupid or ugly. Jay seems to be on the stupid side. The ugly publicans are those who want greated control over women, mostly because they are not very romantically successful in real life.

Jay should work in a movie theatre because he is really good at projection.

Posted by: Tripp on September 25, 2006 at 11:43 AM | PERMALINK

Many Americans think it's appropriate for the Commander in Chief to protect the country from terrorist attacks. Many of us think the head of the Executive Branch should enforce the laws, including immigration law. We see these things as normal functions of the Presidency.

Perhaps "ex-liberal" would care to enlighten us, then, on why he/she/it gives Bush a free pass for his evident failure to act on the August 6 PDB and his self-professed lawbreaking.

Ah, hell, I'll save "ex-liberal" the trouble: Because "ex-liberal" is a dishonest Bush apologist -- but I repeat myself -- whose opinion isn't worth a bucket of piss.

Posted by: Gregory on September 25, 2006 at 12:11 PM | PERMALINK

I'm a huge fan of Independence, Self-Reliance, Curiosity, and Being Considerate. And to hell with obedience.

But how is Respect for Elders and Good Manners authoritarian? I can be curious and have good manners at the same time.

Sounds more like a setup for political ammunition than a study of political philosophy.

Posted by: Staunch Moderate on September 25, 2006 at 12:20 PM | PERMALINK

KEVIN DRUM

The Depth of the Philosophical ignorance among the left is astounding. To mention such a skewed study and NOT mention that this world view is the direct result of the Frankfurt School of Marxism lead by Marxist Philosophers like Herbert Marcuse
(Father of Critical Studies)

The Frankfurt School theorized that the 'authoritarian personality' is a product of the patriarchal family. This idea is in turn directly connected to Frederich Engels' 'The Origins of the Family, Private Property and the State,' which promotes matriarchy. Furthermore, it was Karl Marx who wrote about the radical notion of a 'community of women' in the Communist manifesto. And it was Karl Marx who wrote disparagingly about the idea that the family was the basic unit of society in 'The German Ideology' of 1845.
'The Authoritarian personality,' studied by the Frankfurt School in the 1940s and 1950s in America, prepared the way for the subsequent warfare against the masculine gender promoted by Herbert Marcuse and his band of social revolutionaries under the guise of 'women's liberation' and the New Left movement in the 1960s. The evidence that psychological techniques for changing personality is intended to mean emasculation of the American male is provided by Abraham Maslow, founder of Third Force Humanist Psychology and a promoter of the psychotherapeutic classroom, who wrote that, '...the next step in personal evolution is a transcendence of both masculinity and femininity to general humanness.' The Marxist revolutionaries knew exactly what they wanted to do and how to do it. They have succeeded in accomplishing much of their agenda.


Recycled Commie Bullshit

Posted by: Fitz on September 25, 2006 at 12:21 PM | PERMALINK

Echoing a few comments above, I don't understand why this scale is said to measure "authoritarianism". It doesn't look at issues of respect for rights, rule of law etc, but rather attributes that might be said to be markers of "free-spiritedness/ regard for order; tradition, etc", although even this is a stretch.

Posted by: aidan on September 25, 2006 at 12:33 PM | PERMALINK

Franco: I don't know what he's talking about. Do you, Augusto?

Pinochet: Nah, he's a bendejo. We love freedom, don't we Anastasio?

Somoza: Si, Adolf and I were talking about that just the other day while trying to get our minds off the intense heat.

Hitler: I can't believe I'm down here with all these darkies. This is not what Valhalla was supposed to be like!

Pinochet: Wait a minute, I'm not dead yet!

Franco: I'm still dead.

Posted by: Reichstag Fire on September 25, 2006 at 12:48 PM | PERMALINK

exasperanto: Protest doesn't "undermine". Protest is healthy. Check out the Founders.
...
You initially presented yourself here as a fence-sitting, open-minded, "independent", "undecided" observer but that was a sham, wasn't it? You've devolved into the worst sort of partisan, thread-jacking troll.
...
I expect you'll be following this with an energetic posting spree, showering us with non-sequiturs and strawmen.

Some protest is healthy, but a lot of the protests organized by ANSWER are intended to undermine.

There are a lot of things wrong with the concept of authoritarianism, and the numerous dubious ways to measure it. In the VietNam war I considered the people to be the authorities, and I chose not to enlist in the services because the people had voted against the war.

The people who wrote the Geneva Conventions and the UN convention on torture didn't have any particular authority, but the US Senators who ratified them did have authority. While a lot of people on this thread have been writing vapidly about how the US now condones torture, we "authoritarians" have paid a lot of attention to the actual texts of those agreements, and the actual texts of the proposed new laws. It is possible that the "authoritarians" like us are supporting the Republicans on this issue because we have read the actual texts, whereas the "non-authoritarians" who wish to be governed by "being considerate" do not pay attention to the texts. "Being considerate" isn't really a good approach to dealing with the Islamist terrorists (though it is appropriate for dealing with the other Moslems) -- and besides, your gross exaggerations of the evils of Republicans belie any claims to "being considerate".

The real problem here is that the concept and measurements of authoritarianism have, from the start, had insurmountable (or at least non-surmounted) flaws.

Posted by: republicrat on September 25, 2006 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

Immigration is not a fear issue. It's a values issue.

Posted by: theAmericanist on September 25, 2006 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

Christ, that's idiotic: create a logical false dilemma and then draw stupid conclusions from it. I thought George Lakeoff owned that territory.

There are two types of people: those who divide other people into two types of people and those who don't.

Posted by: ahem on September 25, 2006 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

John Dean's book "Conservatives Without Conscience" is a must for everybody to read to understand the authoritarian mindset, both the leaders and the followers. The compelling narrative addresses not just the What? and the How? of the subject, but the Why?. The book was incredibly eye-opening to me, far above so many other good-to-great books... and I read a lot of books.

To get a real good overview of the concepts, check out the Firedoglake.com book salon from a few weeks ago, in which Dean and the principal authoritarianism researcher that he often cites participated. Link.

Note that John Dean still proudly identifies himself as a Goldwater conservative, but he can no longer associate with what's happened to the Republican party.

Posted by: Randy Gold on September 25, 2006 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

would you like an explanation for the emergence of politically effective authoritarianism/alienation?

look no further than the rise of right-wing talk radio/t.v. beginning with oliver north and howard hunt (of watergate fame), moving on to rush limbaugh and roger ailes' fox news,

these news outlets have legitimized being an ignorant, foolish, cynical and hostile citizen.

previously, citizens who felt this way just kept quite, but beginning around 1992, they saw their thoughts, concerns, fantasies, and illogical, emotion-dominated thought processes daily reflected back to them by the likes of limbaugh, bill o'reilley, ann coulter.

from an early beginning with lee atwater and the sub rosa racism of the first reagan campaign, the republican party under newt gingrich, karl rove, tom delay, dick chaney, and george bush has evolved to fully, publicly, and unapologetically represent in their public discourse this angry, destructive, intellectually ragtag army of citizens, dispossesed of any sense of a wise citizen's responsibilities in a democracy.

and do not think the citizens/voters i am writing about are all pick-up-truck-driving "joe sixpacks". that is an inaccurate and unfair stereotype. there are many well-educated college professors in this army, attorneys by the hundreds, businessmen and medical professionals, older citizens who have it made with a good retirement. there are voters from families with generations of wealth and from families with immense new wealth. and there are multitudes of intensely loyal, emotionally-skewed religious believers.

to borrow a verbal formula from howard dean,

the republican party today has become the republican wing of the southern democratic party.

the republican party today has gone from merely trying to attract the support of the malcontent, gullible, and ignorant from all across the nation, to fully and unequivocally reperesenting the political goals and fantasies - and their notions of governing are largely fantastical - of this group of fools.

so much so that the republican party is no longer the party it was fifty, forty, thirty, years ago.

the acronym i prefer for today's republican party is:

the Republican Authoritarian Theocratic, Corporate party,

the RATC party for short;

you can pronounce that "rat-see" or "rot-see", as you prefer.


if i were a republican who cared about the republican party, and its vital role in american government, i would vote straight democratic for a couple of election cycles until the amoral power-seekers like rove and bush who have fawned on the angry and ignorant were completely discredited by their lack of electoral effectiveness.

at just such time as the republican party recaptures its historic essence,

at that same time precisely will those citizen/voters with nothing to offer their country but their ignorance, gullibility, and free-floating anger be reduced to their former appropriately quiescent role in our government.

the genie of ignorance and anger that atwater, reagan, rove, and bush whistled up over the last 25 years - whistled up with the able assistance of such commerical exploitators of ignorance and anger as rush limbaugh and roger ailes and his fox news -will have been forced back into the bottle - to await, alas, the rise of the next wave of demagoguery in our history.


Posted by: orionATl on September 25, 2006 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

Well, Kev, I'm glad that you no longer are buying into the snakeoil that the Dems need to out fear-monger the GOP.

As I said before:

When the people are afraid, they vote Republican.

When the people are hopeful, they vote Democrat.

The problem is that it is always easier to instill fear than it is to instill hope; fortunately, the fear card can only be played so many times before the public figures out that the Repubs are crying wolf. It is the Dems best electoral strategy to help the public figure this out.

Posted by: Disputo on September 25, 2006 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

Anybody who accepts the premise of the trade-offs implied in these questions (that is, anybody willing to answer the question) is an idiot, and anybody who thinks that most of those who now call themselves "liberal" have values consistent with liberalism, classically understood, are in a coma, although probably the same could be said about conservatism and "conservatives".

A very large percentage of "liberals" today are reactionary, and a very large percentage of "conservatives" can only be considered so through the prism of such a short time period as to make the term meaningless.

Posted by: Will Allen on September 25, 2006 at 3:20 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, disputo, it is hopefullness that Democrats were appealing to when they put forth such election-year nuggets as asserting that the 1991 recession was the worst in decades, or that there was a missile gap in 1960, or that LBJ's defeat in 1964 would result in daisy-picking little girls' incineration, or that failure to put Democrats in control of Congress in 1996 would result in wheelchair-bound, Medicare-receiving, granny being shoved down the stairs. Yep, hopefullness. Really.

Posted by: Will Allen on September 25, 2006 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

I don't think the authors are saying that Democrats are always the optimists and Republicans are always the fear mongers. The post starts by pointing out that authoritarianism was not strongly related to party in 1992. In the 1960s, I would bet there was no relationship at all.

But, in recent years, the Republicans have come to be seen as the "tough guys" and the Democrats the "softies". That is what makes the appeals to fear work. If the Democrats were seen as being tough enough to deal with threats by more people, fear wouldn't work the way it does.

Posted by: mj on September 25, 2006 at 3:46 PM | PERMALINK

Will Allen, if you could read above a second grade level, you might note that the post indicates that this is a recent shift. Your antiquated counter-examples are meaningless. You may now return to filling your colostomy bag.

Posted by: Disputo on September 25, 2006 at 3:50 PM | PERMALINK

I dissent.

Why on earth would anyone think that the items posited as alternative can't exist simultaneously?

Who wouldn't want a child who was both independent and respectful? both self-reliant and obedient? both curious and well mannered?

Whoever put this survey together and purported to draw any conclusions from it is a big, fat idiot.

Posted by: DBL on September 25, 2006 at 3:51 PM | PERMALINK

Why on earth would anyone think that the items posited as alternative can't exist simultaneously?

Few. Certainly not the survey authors, who anticipated such a response to the questions and coded it accordingly.

Whoever put this survey together and purported to draw any conclusions from it is a big, fat idiot.

Nah. The idiots are those who call other people idiots without knowing WTF they are talking about.

Posted by: Disputo on September 25, 2006 at 4:00 PM | PERMALINK

Disputo, if you could write above a first grade level, you'd grasp that nothing you wrote refers to a recent past, especially nothing in this assertion....

"When the people are hopeful, they vote Democrat."

Also, it takes a particular short-sightedness to consider 1996 outside the recent past, and a particular failure in observation to think that
Democrats have not benefitted from fear-based electioneering in the past six years; that is how the tribalists get out their base, be they Republican church-goers or Democratic African-Americans. They do it because it works.

Posted by: Will Allen on September 25, 2006 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK

Will Allen, go empty your colostomy bag and when you return I'll carefully explain to you how to interpret a post in the context of its thread.

Contextual interpretation isn't usually taught until Jr High, and you probably missed it when you dropped out after the fifth grade to help support your prostitute mother.

Posted by: Disputo on September 25, 2006 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, yes, the predictable rhetoric of the "liberal". How enlightening, as is the cretinous notion that politics has changed in such a fundamental way in the past 14 years (1996 doesn't mean anything!!!!! Really!!!! Don't look behind the curtain!!!!) that fear-based electioneering now solely benefits only one of the major political factions. It takes a particular sort of idiocy to put enough faith in a "scientific" study of attitudes to believe such a conclusion.

Posted by: Will Allen on September 25, 2006 at 5:01 PM | PERMALINK

dnc -

There is a big difference in the issues Democrats think we need to get properly exercised about, and the ones the Publicans flog. Global warming is something to get fired up about, and so is peak oil.

Yeah, our fearmongering serves OUR political purposes, and their fearmongering serves theirs. It's really quite simple.

My point exactly. Thank you for seeing this objectively! It is necessary to think out of BOTH boxes, to actually BE objective and non-fear-susceptible.

Posted by: SteveGinIL on September 25, 2006 at 6:57 PM | PERMALINK

mj -
But, in recent years, the Republicans have come to be seen as the "tough guys" and the Democrats the "softies". That is what makes the appeals to fear work. If the Democrats were seen as being tough enough to deal with threats by more people, fear wouldn't work the way it does.

It isn't that the Dems ARE softies, but how the media has helped the Pugs TELL everyone (and get away with) that the Dems are not tough. The Pugs have been able to control the discussion about the Dems, defining them FOR everyone, but without the news media helping them, it wouldn't have happened.

As Bill Clinton's statements in his interview with Chris Wallace showed, Clinton actually was a whole lot MORE tough on terrorists than Bush. Because the Pugs so often control the mike *, they usually get away with applying the labels. This time, the "victim" didn't sit there and let them get away with it.

And that should teach the Dems a lesson:

If they assert somethign about you that is incorrect, don't let them get away with it. Hammer them down RIGHT THEN AND THERE. If you let it register in people's minds the Pug way, they will believe it because you didn't have the balls to call the damned Pugs out on it.

* Why in the HELL don't some rich Dems buy the damned news networks away from the WingNuts? We the non-Pugs can't even keep Air America out of Chapter 11, but they can run the media all over the country? What is wrong with this picture, folks?

Posted by: SteveGinIL on September 25, 2006 at 7:36 PM | PERMALINK

gop and terrorists agree..americans should be scared..

Posted by: factoflife on September 25, 2006 at 7:38 PM | PERMALINK
Today's Dems could have gotten to the right of the Reps ... they'd easily control Congress. ex-liberal at 10:30 PM |
I don't see Democrats making the naked appeal to racism that you are advocating. On the immigration issue, remember it is the corporate sponsors of the 'publican party that want cheap, docile workers; and if they happen to be illegal aliens, so much the better.
Regarding authoritarianism in general, at least in California almost all of the nanny state proposals seem to be coming from the left side of things. TLB at 10:36 PM
While you claim "countless" examples,you provide not one from the national party. The claim that "nanny states" are authoritarian is diametrically opposed to the evidence that it is the Daddy State that is authoritarian. When social programs do is to protect the weakest; what authoritarians, 'publicans, and Libertarians advocate is the removal of those protective programs and speak of the Myth of the Rags to Riches story and the Myth of the Lone American standing tall on his own property beating off the barbarian hordes of immigrants.
Many Americans think it's appropriate for the Commander in Chief to protect the country from terrorist attacks..... ex-liberal at 11:13 PM
Why did Bush ignore all the warning before 9-11? Why did Bush fail to capture bin Laden? Why did Bush take the counterproductive policy of attacking an innocent country? Why did Bush demote Richard Clarke? Why did Bush not avenge the Cole?
Liberals have been trying to make us afraid of our own elected government, ... republicrat at 12:23 AM
The US does face an existential threat, a threat to its democracy, and that threat comes from the authoritarian right.
the hallmark of conservative thinking - the love of false choices. craigie at 5:55 AM
The phony dilemma, the strawman, the red herring; 'publicans love 'em all. Here is the more complete test for authoritarianism. Posted by: Mike on September 25, 2006 at 9:36 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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