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Authoritarianism and Democrat(ic) Party Loyalism

Recently, on these threads, I came across several expressions of a world view which I found telling, and somewhat distressing, to say the least.

The Authoritarian Personality (TAP) is a theory developed at UC Berkley in the 50’. In 2006 John Dean in his book Conservatives Without Conscience availed himself of its ideas to unpack the Republican character in the light of TAP. Yet in so doing, he painted only ‘half’ the picture, as the other ‘half’; the Democrat portion of the equation exhibits many of the same traits tempered only by a more or less insubstantial veneer of rhetorically superficial deference to the human condition.

It’s curious to note this graph in this article penned by Glenn Greenwald, in which as ever, G’zilla gets it:

“the “conservative” movement has become, at its core, an authoritarian movement composed of those with a psychological and emotional need to follow a strong authority figure which provides them a sense of moral clarity and a feeling of individual power, the absence of which creates fear and insecurity in the individuals who crave it. By definition, its followers’ devotion to authority and the movement’s own power is supreme, thereby overriding the consciences of its individual members and removing any intellectual and moral limits on what will be justified in defense of their movement. “

…and juxtapose it, in view of the intervening 5 years, with this link from the above article which leads us to an excerpt of John Dean’s Book, where we find Greenwald pointing us to this graph:

“(J)ournalist-turned-blogger Joshua Marshall has a remarkable ability to be among the first to spot developments in Washington, as he did in identifying the authoritarianism of the Bush administration. In analyzing a speech by Al Gore on January 16, 2006,82 addressing the Bush administration’s remarkable abuses of power, Marshall wrote, “The point Gore makes in his speech that I think is most key is the connection between authoritarianism, official secrecy and incompetence. The president’s critics are always accusing him of law-breaking or unconstitutional acts and then also berating the incompetence of his governance. And it’s often treated as, well…he’s power-hungry and incompetent to boot! Imagine that! The point though is that they are directly connected. Authoritarianism and secrecy breed incompetence; the two feed on each other. It’s a vicious cycle. Governments with authoritarian tendencies point to what is in fact their own incompetence as the rationale for giving them yet more power” (italics Marshall’s).””

Telling, in as much as Josh Marshall (TPM) having exhibited correct insights with regards to the Republican Party, now displays no self reflective, self critical abilities when it comes to the Democratic Party – his Party.

In the book The Authoritarian Personality; Adorno, et al., offer a list of 9 traits defining the authoritarian personality. They include:

Conventionalism, authoritarian submission, authoritarian aggression, anti-intraception (characterized by traits such as obedience, dogmatism, prejudice, contempt for weakness, low tolerance for ambiguity, hostility to members of ‘outgroups’, and superstition), superstition and stereotypy, power and “toughness,” destructiveness and cynicism, projectivity, and exaggerated concerns over sex.

When we talk about Autism, we are presented with a laundry list of traits, not all of which need to be met to land a prospective subject on the autistic spectrum. Same should be applied to TAP. It is a Spectrum Disorder.

Josh Marshall apart, I raise this issue because I find it material to my perceptions of a substantial portion of attitudes present at FDL, and in particular those of the content managers of this site. Which then brings me to this point:

A seemingly growing number of FDL members are rejecting the iron fist of the two party duopoly, and in so doing are helping to wrest the distorting constraints of Deans assessment of our political environment, away from its mythological roots.

What we appear to be witnessing is not an electorate divided along the established D/R framework, as both Authoritarian Parties and their acolytes would lead us to believe, but an altogether different dynamic. Currently 25% and 28% of the electorate identifies with the Republican and Democrat(ic) Parties respectively. Thus 47%, almost half the voting population are conveniently not accounted for.

If real change is going to materialize, it will do so in spite of, and in reaction to, the efforts of authoritarian party minders in either camp.

Some of us should welcome the derision of those, who, reject the notion that the independent minded 47%, faring from the Democrat(ic) left, and the Republican right, may have far more in common, and therefore should explore and weigh those commonalities against the status quo which, when looked at dispassionately, offers the worst of the libertarian ideals (SOTU), and next to none of those animating the passions of the true Left.

Out of the box thinking, has always been touted as the path to innovation, and, for better or worse ‘progress’ — the least we should do is start thinking in ernest!

cross posted @ Mosquito Cloud

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