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But Rocks Hurt Head
Jun 30, 2003

DAMN, THAT MUST BE KOOPA. I'M SURE IT'S ALSO HIM WHO'S TAKEN THE PRINCESS AWAY. OK, LET'S GO GET HIM TOGETHER!


Pillbug

At least once every 10 or so pages in the Freep, Political Cartoons, Glenn Beck, and other 'Look At These Dumbass Conservatives' threads, someone will ponder over the conservative mindset, and at least one person will point out Prof. Bob Altemeyer's The Authoritarians, a free ebook/textbook on the phenomenon of Right-Wing Authoritarianism.

The book, and two additional postscripts on the 2008 election and the rise of the Tea Party, are available free from his website at the University of Manitoba:

http://home.cc.umanitoba.ca/~altemey/

The book is a fascinating read, relatively short, and well-cited with studies the author and his colleagues have done over the last 20 or so years. From the website:

quote:

OK, what’s this book about? It’s about what’s happened to the American government lately. It’s about the disastrous decisions that government has made. It’s about the corruption that rotted the Congress. It’s about how traditional conservatism has nearly been destroyed by authoritarianism. It’s about how the “Religious Right” teamed up with amoral authoritarian leaders to push its un-democratic agenda onto the country. It’s about the United States standing at the crossroads as the next federal election approaches.

“Well,” you might be thinking, “I don’t believe any of this is true.” Or maybe, you’re thinking, “What else is new? I’ve believed this for years.” Why should a conservative, moderate, or liberal bother with this book? Why should any Republican, Independent, or Democrat click the “Whole Book” link on this page?

Because if you do, you’ll begin an easy-ride journey through some very relevant scientific studies I have done on authoritarian personalities--one that will take you a heck of a lot less time than the decades it took me. Those studies have a direct bearing on all the topics mentioned above. So if you think the first paragraph is a lot of hokum, or full of half-truths, I invite you to look at the research.

For example, take the following statement: “Once our government leaders and the authorities condemn the dangerous elements in our society, it will be the duty of every patriotic citizen to help stomp out the rot that is poisoning our country from within.” Sounds like something Hitler would say, right? Want to guess how many politicians, how many lawmakers in the United States agreed with it? Want to guess what they had in common?

Or how about a government program that persecutes political parties, or minorities, or journalists the authorities do not like, by putting them in jail, even torturing and killing them. Nobody would approve of that, right? Guess again.

Don’t think for a minute this doesn’t concern you personally. Let me ask you, as we’re passing the time here, how many ordinary people do you think an evil authority would have to order to kill you before he found someone who would, unjustly, out of sheer obedience, just because the authority said to? What sort of person is most likely to follow such an order? What kind of official is most likely to give that order, if it suited his purposes? Look at what experiments tell us, as I did.

If, on the other hand, you’re way ahead of me, and believe the extreme right-wing elements in America are poised to take it over, permanently, I think you can still get a lot from this book. The studies explain so much about these people. Yes, the research shows they are very aggressive, but why are they so hostile? Yes, experiments show they are almost totally uninfluenced by reasoning and evidence, but why are they so dogmatic? Yes, studies show the Religious Right has more than its fair share of hypocrites, from top to bottom; but why are they two-faced, and how come one face never notices the other? Yes, their leaders can give the flimsiest of excuses and even outright lies about things they’ve done wrong, but why do the rank and file believe them? What happens when authoritarian followers find the authoritarian leaders they crave and start marching together?

I think you’ll find this book “explains a lot.” Many scattered impressions about the enemies of freedom and equality become solidified by science and coherently connected here.

You think I’m pulling your leg? Click the link.

Sometimes I feel like we should have the book in a stickied thread (along with Umberto Eco's quote on fascists holding conflicting beliefs about the power of their enemies) at the top of D&D because it gets referred to so often.

The last chapter of Altmeyer's book is entitled 'What's to Be Done' - it depressingly explains why debate with individual RWA's is often futile, but suggests some broad political and societal steps that can be taken to stifle RWA on a national level.

But Rocks Hurt Head fucked around with this message at Oct 18, 2011 around 19:20

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But Rocks Hurt Head
Jun 30, 2003

DAMN, THAT MUST BE KOOPA. I'M SURE IT'S ALSO HIM WHO'S TAKEN THE PRINCESS AWAY. OK, LET'S GO GET HIM TOGETHER!


Pillbug

Oh, right, totally. Don't try to dangle the book in front of someone you're trying to debate with.

In fact, right in the book there's a passage at the end:

quote:

Maybe the solution is right in front of our noses. How about having authoritarians read this book? I mentioned in chapter 1 that when high RWAs learn about right-wing authoritarianism, and the many undesirable things it correlates with such as prejudice, they frequently wish they were less authoritarian.

So isn’t the solution to the problem as plain as the thing that’s glaring you in the face right now? Would that it were so... So I predict most authoritarian followers would sail right through this book and compartmentalize, misinterpret, rationalize, and dogmatically deny it had anything to do with them personally. If you tried to force this self-awareness on them, they would probably run away, run away, as fast as they could. So good luck if you passed on this URL to your fascist Uncle George.

The book isn't a tool to be used in a debate, it's about understanding the people you're debating better, and why they're not responding to things like simple logic and reason.

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