Sunday, August 13, 2006

The Authoritarian Personality

A 2-part series over at Orcinus, courtesy of guest blogger Sara Robinson. She starts off in this post with a discussion of the personality summarized from John Dean's book, Conservatives Without Conscience.

Dean is also emphatic that authoritarianism, in all its forms, is completely antithetical to both classical conservatism (he still considers himself a Goldwater conservative), and to the founding ideals of America. We must be clear: when right-wingers threaten liberals, they are directly threatening the seminal political impulse that created our nation. An operative democracy depends on having a populace that is open to new ideas, able to think for itself, confident in its abilities, willing to take risks, and capable of mutual trust. America was founded as the world's first radically liberal state. History has shown us that the nation's best moments, past and future, are created by people with a strong liberal orientation.

In her second post, Robinson goes deeper, first noting:

Cut loose from our moorings, in over our heads, we all look for something solid to hold onto. No matter how strong we are, we've all got areas where we are brittle and vulnerable. It's hard for any of us to say for sure that we'd walk away from an authoritarian leader who promised us precisely the right kind of salvation in precisely the wrong moment. This is something to bear in mind whenever we deal with authoritarian followers: they have simply responded to an impulse that exists -- at least to some degree -- in all of us.

And then, she discusses what it's like to leave fundamentalism, in terms that remind me most of what it can be like for gays to come out: personal enlightenment at what can be an enormous cost, personal, professional, and social. And yet, we still do it -- for what will it cost a man to keep the world when it means losing his soul?

Many of the ex-fundies I know made their break in the aftermath of sexual abuse, ruinous financial treachery, public humiliation, or power grabs that threatened their marriages or children. They saw, in devastatingly vivid color, what their leaders were capable of. Their endless loyalty was shattered, because they realized it was not being returned in kind.

The Bush Administration is not loyal to us Americans. It's time to change.

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