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Saturday, March 5, 2016

AUTHORITARIANISM

I have just finished reading an extremely interesting long article on authoritarian tendencies in the American electorate.  I strongly recommend it to you if you are interested in the roots of the Trump phenomenon.  It is deeply troubling and rather plausible.

11 comments:

Unknown said...

I've had the intuition for a while now that, regardless of the outcome of this election, we were going to be dealing with this unleashed force for a long time. I couldn't quite put my finger on why that would be. This article may have named it. Tom

Unknown said...

I read the article, and I'm a little skeptical; one data point that stands out is that 38% of 'low authoritarians' are also Trump supporters among Republican voters - that seems awfully high. I'm also concerned that something like an 'in-group' orientation is being lumped in with an 'authoritarian' or pro-hierarchy orientation. These might be very different things, and in some cases almost opposites. For example, Danes who support the continuation of social democracy but are opposed to immigration since they fear it may weaken social democracy: are they authoritarians or something else?

Also, it might be interesting to see how certain preferences on the "left" correlate with degrees of authoritarianism - for example support for restrictions on free speech on college campuses.If these scholars' scale couldn't account for that kind of 'Leninist' authoritarianism perhaps there is an inherent bias in it (since, I'm guessing, those in favor of such free speech restrictions would likely score 'low authoritarian' using the parenting norms measures).

Robert Paul Wolff said...

I noticed that anomalous 38%. I agree that more work needs to be done, but it is certainly interesting. The larger thesis is clearly correct -- regardless of what happens to Trump, these supporters are not going anywhere, and they would almost certainly respond favorably to another figure after him.

s. wallerstein said...

This is very similar to George Lakoff's work. He says that the right has what he calls a "strict father morality", while the left has a "nurturant parent" morality.

As Unknown suggest above, that distinction works fine until you run into a bunch of leninists.

s. wallerstein said...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moral_Politics_(book)

Link to Wikipedia article on Lakoff's book.

Tom Cathcart said...

My knowledge of Marx is minimal, so let me ask what is probably a very naive question. Did Marx envision a lumpen-middle-class, or, I suppose I should say, a lumpen-bourgeoisie? I'm thinking of people, of whom there are millions in America, who are not the proletariat. Maybe they own a beauty parlor or they sell insurance or they have a landscaping business. They're not classical capitalists, although they may have some capital equipment or owe a little money to capitalists (banks), but they're not classical workers either. They already own the means of their production. Yet, until recently, they haven't become a self-conscious political class. It seems to me that this is a sector that makes up a good portion of the Trump voters. What would Marx say?

Tom Cathcart said...

I see I was finally successful in shedding my former identity (or non-identity) as Unknown. Just in time, as another person named Unknown has now joined the conversation (above).

Robert Paul Wolff said...

Tom, Marx was well aware of such complexities in the class structure, but he expected a sorting out process to take place. I have written about what he failed to foresee in my essay "The Future of Socialism," which is archived at box.net,m accessible from this blog site. Glad to see you have finally been recognized by Google's software. I am clueless about such things.

Charles Pigden said...

In answer to Tom Cathcart, Marx calls this class the petit -bourgeoisie, and he expected it to disappear. It hasn't.

Charles Pigden said...

And in answer to Unknown, there is a lot of research on this (easily downloadable from the web) by the US/Canadian psychologist Bob Altemeyer. If recollection serves, those with liberal attitudes (as measured by Altemeyer) tended to be liberals all the way through, conceding free speech rights to those they detested. So I suspect (just suspect!) that the high liberal parents would be leery of free speech restrictions even for racists which would mean that your guess would be wrong. Obviously though these are issues to be settled by empirical research.

There's a good book on this stuff using Altemeyer's research by (of all people) John Dean (yes, *that* John Dean); it's called Conservatives without Conscience.

Anders Weinstein said...

I recommend this Robert Frank piece on Trump's appeal:

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/mar/07/donald-trump-why-americans-support