Maybe Authoritarianism Is What It's All About

Posted by CircuitGuy 2 years, 7 months ago to Politics
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[Repost to correct error in title.] I see most mainstream politicians and are not that radically different. They accept a bipartisan consensus of the government managing things, taking responsibility for the economy, and gov't spending remaining a big fraction of GDP. So when I read about a bitter partisan divide, I'm baffled. I just don't get why anyone is so fired up. This article in the NYT says it's because of levels of authoritarianism. I'm not of this answer, but it's better than any others I've heard. If I'm right, politicians are convincing people to hat one another over minor personality differences. The article quotes a paper titled Idealogues Without Issues. I love that title. "The three authors use a long-established authoritarian scale — based on four survey questions about which childhood traits parents would like to see in their offspring — that asks voters to choose between independence or respect for their elders; curiosity or good manners; self-reliance or obedience; and being considerate or well-behaved. Those respondents who choose respect for elders, good manners, obedience and being well-behaved are rated more authoritarian. "The power behind the labels “liberal” and “conservative” to predict strong preferences for the ideological in-group is based largely in the social identification with those groups, not in the organization of attitudes associated with the labels. That is, even when we are discussing ideology — a presumably issue-based concept — we are not entirely discussing issues. "Identity-based ideology can drive affective ideological polarization even when individuals are naïve about policy. The passion and prejudice with which we approach politics is driven not only by what we think, but also powerfully by who we think we are." Affective means emotionally driven. I had to look it up.
SOURCE URL: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/05/opinion/trump-authoritarianism-republicans-contract.html


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  • Posted by chad 2 years, 7 months ago
    The questions are posed in such a manner as to prevent the idea the well behaved and curious can be and should be the same person. Being well behaved does not preclude being curious. It is interesting that the article also concludes that if you are well behaved you are authoritarian rather than the correct conclusion that if you are well behaved you don't need an authority. Both sides of the current political aisle want the same thing, to be the authority in charge and determine how people will live and what they can buy with their time. Not interested in either side.
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    • Posted by $ Solver 2 years, 7 months ago
      I agree. Both sides ramp up their “unnessary evil.” Rarely is it discussed much less debated how much of even the “necessary evil” is actually necessary.
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  • Posted by freedomforall 2 years, 7 months ago
    As usual NYT is nothing but biased rubbish pretending to be honest analysis. Utterly typical NYT rubbish.
    I even tried to re-read the article thinking about the content as if it was published by an independent un-biased source. It was impossible. It is filled with biased statements without any objective support.
    As for the "long-established authoritarian scale"? Who "established" it and when did it become accepted by peer review? Frankly the questions are total horse poo and are ignoring reality. Judging everyone and labeling them with a biased connoted label on 4 puny unrealistic question? The only person who could take that seriously is one who wants to support an irrational premise without any objective evidence.

    CG, your comments on it are much more interesting and are intellectually honest, unlike the puerile article itself.
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    • Posted by mccannon01 2 years, 7 months ago
      For some reason I'm late to this thread, but spot on freedomforall!!! Reading the article in depth was painful as I quickly realized the author didn't seem to know that authoritarianism and personal responsibilities are not the same thing. It seemed any time responsible behavior was required it was deemed "authoritarian".
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    • Posted by $ MikeMarotta 2 years, 7 months ago
      FFA, it was peer-reviewed but you would condemn peers along with the study.

      " Authoritarianism, Social Dominance, and Generalized Prejudice: A proposal to continue studying Right-Wing Authoritarianism and Social Dominance Orientation in the 2016 ANES Times Series" http://www.electionstudies.org/online...

      "The child-rearing questions are deceptively simple — just those four pairs of words in the first paragraph of this story. Is it more important for a child to have independence, or respect for elders? Obedience or self reliance? Curiosity, or good manners? Being considerate, or well behaved? " -- https://www.pri.org/stories/2016-02-2...
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      • Posted by $ Olduglycarl 2 years, 7 months ago
        All those "or's" should be "and's"....of course, that would require parents to be grown up and posses those attributes also.
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        • Posted by mccannon01 2 years, 7 months ago
          I agree OUC, but in some cases the "ands" in one circumstance could be "ors" in another. The parental duty is to teach the child to develop wisdom in knowing the difference. No child is born with wisdom. It must be acquired, but good parenting can provide the root of the process and speed its acquisition and, hopefully, it catches on before the child reaches the age of majority.
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  • Posted by DrZarkov99 2 years, 7 months ago
    A simple-minded discussion of authoritarianism. I find it strange that some seem to characterize a powerful head of state as an authoritarian figure. Trump may be full of himself, and a bully at times, but I'm more results-oriented, and I see his actions as fostering more independence than his nanny state predecessor. Lifting often irrational regulations backed more by bias than science is a sensible step; lifting the medical insurance mandate restored the right of individuals to make their own health care decisions; revising tax codes to return more money to the individual taxpayer. These are hardly the actions of an authoritarian.

    Establishment Republicans and Democrats have been drifting toward the all powerful state, which is why the indivdualists in the Tea Party created an uprising among conservatives. Establishment Democrats have drifted so far toward socialism and overbearing state control that the Communist Party of the USA has embraced Democrat candidates for President, rather than field their own. Electing Trump was a rebellion against an authoritarian state. People recognized he would likely be somewhat of a bull in the Washington china shop, but felt it was necessary to loosen the ever tightening grip of establishment parties.
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    • Posted by BeenThere 2 years, 7 months ago
      "Electing Trump was a rebellion against an authoritarian state." You bet it was!!!!!!!!!!!!
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      • -2
        Posted by ewv 2 years, 7 months ago
        Electing Trump was a power struggle between competing authoritarians. His policies have been mixed and unpredictable but he has not done even the good ones on behalf of the rights of the individual.
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        • Posted by DrZarkov99 2 years, 7 months ago
          I could care less about the purity of his motivation. I'm more interested in the results that have benefited individual freedom. Rock hard purity of principle may be emotionally satisfying, but it seldom yields result in a nation with as many widely disparate political views as we have.
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          • Posted by ewv 2 years, 7 months ago
            Rejecting unprincipled pragmatism is not about "purity". Ideas and principles matter here in reality. The rights of the individual as the founding principle of this country matter, which is why they must be stressed and protected, especially with the dominance of "disparate political views" from unprincipled pragmatists and collectivists, including range of the moment anti-intellectual conservatives who couldn't care less about here now result.

            Trump is doing nothing for individual freedom. Whatever he temporarily does that is good for the economy in some way despite his statism and unpredictability is an accident drowned in the combination of his bad policies and the downward, collectivist, authoritarian trend of the country. His anti-intellectual emotional shoot-from the hip thinking is adding to that. Range of the moment 'man on the white horse' and "'purists' shut up" does not help.
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    • Posted by ewv 2 years, 7 months ago
      Trump is authoritarian, but is cashing in on its acceptance as the "man on the white horse"; his election did not create the trend.

      Some of what he does happens to be good and some not, but none of the good has been motivated by supporting the rights of the individual. It's all about what he emotionally decrees as best for a collective economy.
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      • -1
        Posted by 2 years, 7 months ago
        Exactly what ewv wrote. I would have taken a whole screen of text trying to say these three sentences, and I would have had one omitted/wrong word in each paragraph.
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  • Posted by mia767ca 2 years, 7 months ago
    the last thing they want are free, liberty-minded, independent thinking individuals...who identify themselves as individuals...divide and conquer...
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  • Posted by Herb7734 2 years, 7 months ago
    Just in order to cut through all the gobbledegook the basics are always the same wip away all the non essentials of any proposition until you get to the bare bones and if what's left is "Have the government do it", you know that it will give you less freedom to take care of yourself as opposed to Washington telling you what to do. It doesn't matter what the issue is, it always boils down the same way.. You may think I'm being over ly simple but the difference between good and evil, freedom and slavery, Capitalism and any other economic system always gets simple in the end. Everything else is window dressing to make the the unacceptable palatable.
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  • Posted by dukem 2 years, 7 months ago
    I say it's all a false dichotomy. I suffer along with the rest of humanity at the supposed necessity to make such a choice. I believe I exhibit some, most, all, or none of those choices. I have been on all sides of the partisan divide, see valid points in both, and think the most thrive on division because it seems to give their pitiful lives some possible meaning.
    And that's my mean old grump for the day. Now I'll go searching once more for unicorns and rainbows.
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  • Posted by jdg 2 years, 7 months ago
    I fail to follow the above, but it seems wrong to me. The difference between the mainstream left and right is that the right's policies allow the private sector's mechanisms for supporting people and ideas to produce what spontaneous order it can, while the left is all about either deliberately suppressing or hijacking those mechanisms.
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    • Posted by 2 years, 7 months ago
      The article is about authoritarianism rather than left/right. By your definition "right" is anti-authoritarian and "left" is authoritarian. By your definition, leaving people free to produce what spontaneous order emerges from that freedom, most of us here are "right wing".
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      • Posted by ewv 2 years, 7 months ago
        Terms like 'left' and 'right' have never been very precise, but 'right' in American politics used to mean generally individualistic in comparison with the collectivism of the left and the European notion of 'right' as authoritarian nationalism. Europe did not have American individualism. With the lack of defense of individualism the American 'right' has now become less individualistic in a more contradictory mishmash, as illustrated by the Trump idolatry. This is how Trump's influence is helping to destroy individualism. He opposes the establishment intellectuals but has nothing to replace them with.
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  • Posted by ewv 2 years, 7 months ago
    A "study" that concludes "The election of Donald Trump has created [sic] an authoritarian moment" and that less than 15% of the "most authoritarian" voted for Clinton is seriously flawed.

    A false major premise helps explain why: "Those respondents who choose respect for elders, good manners, obedience and being well-behaved are rated more authoritarian", as selected from the false alternatives of children with "independence or respect for their elders; curiosity or good manners; self-reliance or obedience; and being considerate or well-behaved." Equating well-behaved children with "authoritarian" while implying that the four choices for children are mutually exclusive explains how the left can pretend that ANTIFA and Clinton are "not authoritarian".
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    • Posted by 2 years, 7 months ago
      You disagree with the researchers' definition of authoritarianism.

      BTW, is there an error in "The election of Donald Trump has created""
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      • Posted by ewv 2 years, 7 months ago
        They didn't define authoritarian, only used it in an arbitrary and conceptually incoherent manner in accordance with their false premises.

        The election did not "create" an "authoritarian moment". Trump has been authoritarian all along and so has politics before his election. Only the style of openly anti-intellectual, loutish rhetoric has become worse. As the "man on the white horse" claimed to save us from the authoritarian swamp he and his supporters are only further entrenching it. It isn't "built on several long-term trends that converged"; it is the trend. It's also contrary to the tea party movement, much of which has supported it.
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        • -1
          Posted by 2 years, 7 months ago
          I feel like there could be a book on what authoritarianism actually means and how trends converging on authoritarianism are actually one trend.

          "It's also contrary to the tea party movement, much of which has supported it."
          Why do you say the tea party movement is contrary to authoritarianism yet supporting authoritarianism?
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          • Posted by ewv 2 years, 7 months ago
            The tea party movement began as a rejection of the statism near the end of the Bush administration and the subsequent statist onslaught under Obama. A lot of them found and liked Atlas Shrugged during that period. But as conservatives, many of them never understood Ayn Rand and the ideas of reason and intellectual independence or its role as the basis of political freedom. Without understanding the philosophical basics they quickly turned to Trump idolatry as their savior. It was the 'man on the white horse' movement that Ayn Rand had warned of long ago.
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  • Posted by $ prof611 2 years, 7 months ago
    I stopped reading after the very first sentence made no sense: "I see most mainstream politicians and are not that radically different." Different from what? Or is the second part of the sentence missing a noun -- "..politicians and [ something missing here? ] "

    I am tired of inadequate proofreading! And I am finished with wasting my time trying to figure out what the author meant to say. You are being very rude to your readers not to take the time to read over your post before posting it!
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    • Posted by 2 years, 7 months ago
      I see most mainstream politicians as not that radically different [from one another]. They accept a bipartisan consensus of the government managing things, taking responsibility for the economy, and gov't spending remaining a big fraction of GDP.
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      • Posted by ewv 2 years, 7 months ago
        The Democrats have become much more explicitly radical left over the last several decades. The Republicans' "me too but slower" has been dragged along with them to progressively more extremes.
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        • Posted by 2 years, 7 months ago
          I see it exactly opposite from that, but it doesn't matter which group is leading the way and which group is dragging along with them.
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          • Posted by ewv 2 years, 7 months ago
            The Republicans are in control now and imposing increasing statism, far beyond what they would have done decades ago, but are still behind where the Democrats would be if back in power like they were under Obama, Pelosi and Reid. You see it today with the antics of Pelosi and Schumer. In the name of 'responsibility' the Republicans are more 'conservative' in implementing and imposing the same basic premises. It matters which group is more extreme only in the rate at which is imposed.
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            • Posted by $ Solver 2 years, 7 months ago
              The more Obama got away with, the more Trump can get away with. Statism is a cycle that continues to feeds itself.
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              • Posted by ewv 2 years, 7 months ago
                Statism isn't a self-energizing cycle, it comes from false premises of irrationalism, altruism and collectivism. Its growth is fed as the premises are followed toward their logical conclusions. Most people don't fully believe it and object to steps that are too large, but once a precedent is established at a new level, people become accustomed to the new level of controls and entitlements which become the base for the next step. The 'cycle' won't be broken until the premises are eliminated and stop feeding it.
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              • Posted by 2 years, 7 months ago
                " Statism is a cycle that continues to feeds itself."
                Yes. I say the Constitution is broken; it doesn't have teeth to limit gov't. ewv will say no document can have teeth. It depends on the philosophy of the people.

                I wish there were some amazing communicator who could broker some great agreement to limit gov't. That's probably the person-on-a-white-horse wish.

                I don't see an obvious path to reducing gov't size/intrusiveness.
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                • Posted by ewv 2 years, 7 months ago
                  There is no path to immediate reform. The spread and understanding of radically new ideas and ways of thinking throughout the culture, overturning the opposition of the established intellectuals, take time and thought that is a lot more than an "amazing communicator".

                  Ayn Rand did that but could not do it all alone or all at once, which is why she spent the last couple of decades of her life after publishing Atlas Shrugged publicly speaking and writing on non-fiction -- in defense and explanation of her philosophy -- and on contemporary trends. She urged that those who agreed with her ideas go into the professions where they could spread and apply them. Understanding that and what is required is far more and much different than the emotional conservatives running around with their inconsistencies, believing their slogans about tradition and faith will make any improvements as they undermine reason and egoism as required for political freedom and pursuit of happiness.
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            • Posted by 2 years, 7 months ago
              As I said, transpose Republicans and Democrats, and this is what I think.
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              • Posted by ewv 2 years, 7 months ago
                You can think what you like about Republicans and Democrats. The facts are that the Democrat agenda and its record is openly and explicitly more statist and collectivist across the board with few exceptions (like anti abortion). In particular presidents and candidates from McGovern to Obama and Clinton have been far worse in their opposition to American individualism.
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  • Posted by term2 2 years, 7 months ago
    The differences among politicians in my opinion are rooted in HOW FAST we get to complete government control, not WHETHER we should have government control over our lives. All I thought we would get from Trump is a slowing down of the march to socialism- he would stand in the way (to a degree). Lately he has been caving into liberal pressure more and more. I am beginning to wonder about him.
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    • Posted by 2 years, 7 months ago
      "I am beginning to wonder about [President Trump]."
      I said since he was a candidate he was a Rorschach blot that people see their desired policies in. I suppose that's true for any good politician or showman.

      After he was elected, I decided he was just attention seeking. I also think he may or may not have some kind of problem with drugs/alcohol. In any case, he seems to say one thing and then contradict himself, for not reason. It's not like he caved to political pressure. He just runs is mouth without thinking.
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      • Posted by term2 2 years, 7 months ago
        I would also say he is being affected by all the obstructionism out there. Maybe he is trying to get SOMETHING done and it involves pandering to liberals. It’s a shame though
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        • Posted by 2 years, 7 months ago
          Are you saying he has specific things he wants to do, but he has to say some things that appear contradictory to appease other politicians to move his agenda forward?
          I used to think things like this, and I came to see him as random. Does he want US to spend less on defense of NATO countries? When does he believe in deal-making protectionism and when does he believe in letting market participants alone? Should PATRIOT Act powers be reduced? Should the fed encourage, discourage, or stay out of asset forfeiture? Should the Fed adopt a tighter monetary policy?
          He doesn't know or care? He never thought about it. He just knows what gets morbid attention. He knows what to put on an infomercial to make someone stop channel surfing to gawk.

          His critics and supporters alike speculate on how it could all be head-fakes in some complicated chess game. They think he went along with increasing deficits because that was the one move all the career politicians didn't leave covered. They think his lurid tweets are timed to cover up politically unpopular policies.

          I can't rule the idea that he's smarter than his public persona, but I don't see evidence of it.
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          • Posted by term2 2 years, 7 months ago
            I think he did try to get rid of Obamacare- but he caved into the idea of "replacing" it. Even that didnt work as his own party wouldnt support it.

            I think he wants free trade, but he wants all around free trade. His duty ideas are a negotiating tactic which may yet work, who knows. If he just caves and leaves the tariffs there, I would say he caved to the idea of getting more money for the government.

            He totally caved on Patriot act powers, and going after Snowden (I expected him to pardon snowden and let him come back to the USA and help to protect us FROM the government)

            He wanted to get rid of DACA, but eventually caved to allow even 18 million of potential DACA people stay. Even that was not enough caving to enable him to get anywhere.

            I would say that the entire system is fu&k$% up. If trump cant protect our freedoms, even a little bit, this country isnt going to be saved from collectivism. Look to Venezuela, as we are going there fast.
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            • Posted by 2 years, 7 months ago
              "did try to get rid of Obamacare"
              I'm not saying he did not take action. I'm saying he does not know or care what he thinks about policy ideas. He cares about attention, which comes in the form of "winning", making people angry, or making people look bad. His policy idea on healthcare was PPACA was awful, and he was going to replace it with something similar but much more effective. He said it turned out creating such a program was complicated. "Who knew?" he said.

              "he wants all around free trade. His duty ideas are a negotiating tactic"
              This is one issue that he's been consistent on and followed through. He doesn't want free tree. He wants protectionism, or what protectionists call "fair trade". I disagree so strongly with protectionism that I find it hard to evaluate him on this. In general, I think this is one example of him having an actual policy idea, and he followed through on it.

              "caved on Patriot act powers,"
              You think he has an opinion on this and he's going against his opinion for political reasons?

              "He wanted to get rid of DACA"
              I'm less than knowledgeable about this. It seems to me like he had the reasonable position that he wanted to Congress to address it because that's what the Constitution requires. I didn't follow the ups and downs, but it seems like he started out campaigning on really stupid racist arguments. Then he seemed to be saying Congress should act. Then I heard he was going work with them not only to DACA but on a path to citizenship for millions of people who are here illegally. Then he bounced back to the mindless racists crap. Democrats jumped on at the first sign of he implied racism, as if they wanted the "issue" more than to resolve the problem of 15 million people living here illegally.. And nothing gets done. We're back to the same policy of looking the other way.

              "If trump cant protect our freedoms, even a little bit, this country isn't going to be saved from collectivism. "
              I hope you're wrong about this because I am confident President Trump cannot protect freedoms. He campaigned on breaking the law. In a debate when the moderator said something he proposed was against the law and Constitution, he said he'd get 'em to do it, not that he would work with Congress to get a law the courts find constitutional; just that he's a strongman negotiator who can get people do operate outside the law. He's the very opposite of protecting freedoms.

              I am counting on other things to reduce collectivism. There're very few politicians running on this, so it won't come from the top down. It has to come from people telling the Congressmen to remember individual freedoms on issues as they arise.
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              • Posted by term2 2 years, 7 months ago
                I would say from the outset that the everything on the table, majority rule government we have is far more dysfunctional than trump ever expected.

                So he is realizing he really can’t accomplish much of the swamp draining he promised. The establishment doesn’t want it drained

                I don’t like protectionism. If he isn’t doing a tactic, I disapprove totally

                I think he is pandering and weakening his positions in hopes of keeping some majority in 2018. Too bad but I say he is realizing the establishment is winning

                All he can do is slow down the spread of collectivism with his veto

                I don’t hold out much home for the country at this point. It will become another Venezuela before there’s any chance of change
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                • -1
                  Posted by 2 years, 7 months ago
                  You accept that he's actually anti collectivism at heart, and I do not. I have no idea what "swamp draining" means, and I suspect President Trump doesn't know either.
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                  • Posted by term2 2 years, 7 months ago
                    Trump is not anti collectivism philosophically. He is definitely far less collectivist than the establishment of both parties. I think the swamp is the people in power who want to use politics to advance their own hidden goals
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                  • Posted by ewv 2 years, 7 months ago
                    He doesn't know what any of his slogans mean. With his emotional thinking in speaking in terms of sales promotion superlatives they don't mean much of anything. The slogan "draining the swamp" was not his idea. Someone in his campaign suggested it and he rejected it, then later tried it, found that it worked up the crowds, and continued using it. Today it seems to mean to him only railing against those in government who don't go along with his own policies.
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  • Posted by $ Abaco 2 years, 7 months ago
    Republicans want to be led also. Leftist want destruction to go along with it - domestic destruction of our kids, old people, anybody who's worked hard their whole life, families. They're both pretty similar. The Republicans don't mind sending young people off to far away places to get blown up and/or apply force. I don't relate to either one. Interesting article though. Interesting take.
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    • Posted by 2 years, 7 months ago
      My claim is most people are not rightwing nutjobs or lefts. They do not want foreign wars or domestic destruction.

      I further claim that neither party is actually significantly less likely to send our young people to war or to threaten anyone who's worked hard by borrowing and spending.

      We're supposedly very divided, but most politicians agree US gov't will stay large and intrusive. So then I come "what's this all about?"

      The article offers one possible solution. Maybe it's people's orientation on issues like those four questions. Politicians find ways to exploit those differences and turn people against their neighbors. Politicians tell people who have no problem with one another for valuing curiosity or good manners that they should hate each other.
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      • Posted by freedomforall 2 years, 7 months ago
        You are so right, CG. Government exists to steal from the rest of us under cover of keeping us safe or care for "the children", etc.
        Keeping us in fear of each other for no rational reason is their best hope to maintain power.
        Government does nothing well and when it fails just steals more from us.
        Both parties are run by looters. At the bottom grassroots level both parties have good people who are somewhat brainwashed to be afraid of the imagined enemy that is never the government.
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        • Posted by 2 years, 7 months ago
          "keeping us safe or care for "the children","
          Yes. They no longer explicitly save if it saves one child, but that that's the idea. If the premise is anything is justified by saving one child, you can justify imprisoning everyone.
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  • Posted by $ MikeMarotta 2 years, 7 months ago
    Interesting article and interesting links in support. Thanks.

    "There are authoritarians across the political spectrum, and political scientist Marc Hetherington found that in the 2008 Democratic presidential primary, authoritarians favored Hillary Clinton over Barack Obama.

    "Hetherington, who with fellow political scientist Jonathan Weiler wrote the book Authoritarianism and Polarization in American Politics, has also found that over the past couple of decades, authoritarians have moved steadily from the Democratic to the Republican party, as Democrats stood up for gay rights, immigrant rights, civil rights and other forms of freedom and equality. -- https://www.pri.org/stories/2016-02-2...
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