We talk a lot about the Taliban. About religious terrorists. But what kind of person will fight to the death to keep music from people, to keep women hidden and in the background, to kill you if you do not wear a beard, to kill you simply because you have a different religion. Or as in America, to organize to put people down, stop behavior that are not your business, to give everything to turn into law, punitive fascism that restricts people's rights and freedoms.
This, is the Authoritarian Personality type. Authoritarianism is the putting of governments, groups, or individuals, above the rule of law. The types of people that are so into putting their beliefs over that of the rest of the state, are authoritarians. Bob Altemeyer wrote a book called,
The Authoritarians. Here are a few words from an article on the University of Manitoba web site:
" “It [the book] 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.)."
Here is the book in Adobe .pdf format.
The following is from Prof. Altemeyer book.
"But why should you even bother reading this book? I would offer three reasons. First, if you are concerned about what has happened in America since a radical right-wing segment of the population began taking control of the government about a dozen years ago, I think you=ll find a lot in this book that says your fears are well founded.
"As many have pointed out, the Republic is once again passing through perilous times. The concept of a constitutional democracy has been under attack--and by the American government no less! The
mid-term elections of 2006 give hope that the best values and traditions of the country will ultimately prevail. But it could prove a huge mistake to think that the enemies of freedom and equality have lost the war just because they were recently rebuffed at the polls.
"I’ll be very much surprised if their leaders don’t frame the setback as a test of the followers’ faith, causing them to redouble their efforts. They came so close to getting what they want, they’re not likely to pack up and go away without an all-out drive. But even if their leaders cannot find an acceptable presidential candidate for 2008, even if authoritarians play a much diminished role in the next election, even if they temporarily fade from view, they will still be there, aching for a dictatorship that will force their views on everyone.
"And they will surely be energized again, as they were in 1994, if a new administration infuriates them while carrying out its mandate. The country is not out of danger.
"The second reason I can offer for reading what follows is that it is not chock full of opinions, but experimental evidence. Liberals have stereotypes about conservatives, and conservatives have stereotypes about liberals. Moderates have stereotypes about both. Anyone who has watched, or been a liberal arguing with a conservative (or vice versa) knows that personal opinion and rhetoric can be had a penny a pound. But arguing never seems to get anywhere.
"Whereas if you set up a fair and square experiment in which people can act nobly, fairly, and with integrity, and you find that most of one group does, and most of another group does not, that’s a fact, not an opinion. And if you keep finding the same thing experiment after experiment, and other people do too, then that’s a body of facts that demands attention.3 Some people, we have seen to our dismay, don’t care a hoot what scientific investigation reveals; but most people do. If the data were fairly gathered and we let them do the talking, we should be on a higher plane than the current, “Sez you!”
"The last reason why you might be interested in the hereafter is that you might want more than just facts about authoritarians, but understanding and insight into why they act the way they do. Which is often mind-boggling. How can they revere those who gave their lives defending freedom and then support moves to take that freedom away?
"How can they go on believing things that have been disproved over and over again, and disbelieve things that are well established? How can they think they are the best people in the world, when so much of what they do ought to show them they are not? Why do their leaders so often turn out to be crooks and hypocrites? Why are both the followers and the leaders so aggressive that hostility is practically their trademark? By the time you have finished this book, I think you will understand the reasons. All of this,
and much more, fit into place once you see what research has uncovered going on in authoritarian minds.
"Ready to go exploring?"
We have to consider what is causing this growth of Authoritarianism. We have to counter them somehow. Typically, I see people who are feeling a loss to their status quo. That means these people are rigid in their thought and unhappy with the changes coming upon them, even if it means a better life for them. They do not however, consider or take a close look at what it is they are losing, or if it would benefit them to change.
Humans strive to maintain status quo, as genetically, it means safety, productivity as things are because they are working, even if working poorly, but not proficiency. Many times these people are actually fighting to keep a defective system, and many times, a system that simply doesn't work.
More from The Professor's book:
Authoritarian followers usually support the established authorities in their society, such as government officials and traditional religious leaders. Such people have historically been the “proper” authorities in life, the time-honored, entitled, customary leaders, and that means a lot to most authoritarians. Psychologically these
followers have personalities featuring:
1) a high degree of submission to the established, legitimate authorities in their society;
2) high levels of aggression in the name of their authorities; and
3) a high level of conventionalism.
"Because the submission occurs to traditional authority, I call these followers rightwing authoritarians. I’m using the word “right” in one of its earliest meanings, for in Old English “riht”(pronounced “writ”) as an adjective meant lawful, proper, correct, doing what the authorities said."
But, they aren't always lawful, proper, or correct. Are they?
Should we be afraid of these people? No. But we should be wary of them and work to make life better for everyone and find ways to educate these confused, backward people. I do not mean, 1984, or Soviet style re-education. But real, liberal arts education.
So much authoritarianism comes from misunderstanding or ignorance. It would benefit us to take a closer look at these people and work toward some kind of way to assimilate these people into the future and the 22nd Century. This is a good way to look at it, because then we all would be trying to acclimate into this new world and there would be no reason for them for feel alone.
They need to understand, life is exciting, rewarding, not simply fearful and dangerous. Life, is good, if you just let it be and try to make a better world for us all and not just for the vocal minorities.