There’s a new article making the rounds on the Internet titled “Bright Minds and Dark Attitudes: Lower Cognitive Ability Predicts Greater Prejudice Through Right-Wing Ideology and Low Intergroup Contact” by Hodson and Busseri. They say “Despite their important implications for interpersonal behaviors and relations, cognitive abilities have been largely ignored as explanations of prejudice. … – we found that lower general intelligence in childhood predicts greater racism in adulthood, and this effect was largely mediated via conservative ideology. A secondary analysis of a U.S. data set confirmed a predictive effect of poor abstract-reasoning skills on antihomosexual prejudice….”

I think there’s a grain of truth to it but the authors overlook the fact that many on the right are pretty smart, which is not the same as being sane. Statistics aren’t the whole truth. Nor is a partial, in this case, non-political analysis.

It may be good as a talking point about the thugs – racist or anti-gay – but I don’t see it as a guide to action. I’d rather take them seriously and never operate on the basis that their cognitive abilities limit their ability to wield a knife or a club or pull a trigger or fighting for state power. People made the mistake of not taking the fascists seriously from the beginning in Italy, Germany and Spain and it was a disaster.

Some are still making the same mistake. Anders Behring Breivik, who recently killed so many children in Norway meticulously and expertly carried out a many pronged plan of mass murder.  

They should have read Mein Kamph before it became state policy.  And they should have been scared shitless about being led by a lunatic, but they weren’t. Zionists, the western powers, Stalin, most German Parties, the Czechs and Poles all thought he was sane and they could work with him. Millions died because they were stupid and he was crazy.

Here’s quick review of the Mass Psychology of Fascism by Wilhelm Reich, an ex leftist who also took a dim view of the intelligence of fascists but blamed it on sexual repression.  “The question at the heart of Reich’s book was this: Why did the masses turn to authoritarianism which is clearly against their interests? Reich set out to analyze “the economic and ideological structure of German society between 1928 and 1933” in this book. … Reich argued that the reason Nazism was chosen over fascism was sexual repression. As a child, a member of the proletariat had learned from his or her parents to suppress sexual desire. Hence, in the adult, rebellious and sexual impulses caused anxiety. Fear of revolt, as well as fear of sexuality, were thus “anchored” in the character of the masses.”

I think there’s an even tinier grain of truth in Reich’s  analysis but both tend to be ignore what I think is the real truth about the right – to the extent that they’re really rightwing, homophobic, racist, misogynist or religious they’re quite insane, IQ aside. Insane people scare the hell out of me.

Bill Perdue

Bill Perdue