Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Authoritarianism

with 3 comments

One of my readers, a conservative, commented that the political stuff included in the blog makes it hard to read. I’m sensitive to that, and I have count many conservatives among my friends. So I’ve tried to make the posts palatable across the political spectrum by trying to be fact-based (e.g., the graph comparing troop deaths in 2006 to those in 2007, which indicates that the Surge is not working in terms of lower losses among troops—and, as the LA Times reports, civilian deaths also have increased) or by explaining why I hold positions that I do for things that are more a matter of values—trying to find a common ground. For example, in mentioning the ACLU, I point out that most Americans, liberal and conservative, embrace the Bill of Rights, and the ACLU puts most of its efforts into defending the Bill of Rights. Thus (for me) support for the Bill of Rights includes support of organizations that defend the Bill of Rights, and the ACLU is high on that list.

Glenn Greenwald, who also tries hard to be rational and fact-based (in my opinion), has an interesting post today, examining some contradictory positions held by Thomas Sowell. In the course of the post, he talks about Authoritarians and references the (free) book, The Authoritarians (PDF file, and not large).

Authoritarianism, of course, occurs across the political spectrum, from left to right. It uses a more or less rigid hierarchy in which allegiance is given to the Leader and dissenting views are strictly punished. We’ve seen this in governments and in organizations of various stripes—and again, it has nothing to do with conservative vs. liberal.

I do believe, and I think many conservatives will agree, that the American Right today includes a strong component who embrace Authoritarianism (though not by name, of course). On the Left, the on Authoritarianism I can think of that’s active today is the “Politically Correct” police—not much of a political force but having many characteristics of Authoritarianism.

I wonder whether it might be that group, the Authoritarian Right, that dislikes cats. Dogs are a group animal, organizing themselves into packs. They recognize—indeed, crave—a hierarchy and are intensely loyal. These characteristics would appeal to Authoritarians (and to others as well, but we’re trying to figure out why cat-hatred is a characteristic of the Right), and thus perhaps it is that component of the Right that hates cats because cats are solitary individuals that don’t respect authority, don’t seem to have the sort of obvious loyalty that dogs exhibit, and ignore hierarchical structure.

Written by Leisureguy

3 September 2007 at 12:55 pm

Posted in Books, Cats, Daily life, GOP

3 Responses

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  1. Many conservatives (if not most but at least me) believe the government should be smaller and have less impact in individual’s life. And how the Constitution and Bill of Rights specifically spell out how government was to be modest at the federal level. Not sure how that works with Authoritarianism, but one could argue conservatives (or at least me) would want less of that.

    Like

    Jeff

    3 September 2007 at 1:06 pm

  2. I agree. The traditional conservative positions have been (I think):

    Small government
    Limited government spending
    Balanced budget
    Encouragement of individual initiative
    Working to promote business & industrial success
    Caution in introducing new legislation (because of unintended consequences)

    The GOP today has a large and strong component that have acted against those principles—the deficit has grown tremendously, the spending (via earmarks and other devices) is tremendously high, and so on. And although Conservatives tend to be more organized and structured than Liberals, I don’t think true Conservatives would have much truck with Authoritarianism. True Conservatives (at least in my mind) are an outspoken lot and would never be “team players” to the detriment of their principles.

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    LeisureGuy

    3 September 2007 at 1:12 pm

  3. I like the cat idea. Worth testing. There are many more aspects of the ‘AP’ type that work in a similar way.

    I have noticed that those in meetings who I perceive to be AP leaders (autocratic and self-centred) tend to be those who leave the meeting first, and those who appear to be conformist AP followers stay the longest or at least until a clear plan is set for them. When their leader leaves those who then grumble about the leader are shouted down by emerging ‘deputy’ leaders.

    And when consensual decision-making and ‘woolly thinking’ are the majority order of the group AP followers moan and fidget at the lack of clarity, and their AP leaders tend to make a fuss and try to exert ‘order’ and discipline or simply storm off in order to exert a different form of control – veto. You can see this kind of thing all around society.

    Like

    wizardx

    28 June 2009 at 12:29 am


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