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Fri Mar 4, 2016, 08:52 PM

"The Rise of American Authoritarianism," by Amanda Taub

"A niche group of political scientists may have uncovered what's driving Donald Trump's ascent. What they found has implications that go well beyond 2016."


This is a rather long and thorough analysis of the latent authoritarian tendency in many Americans and how this tendency can be activated by threats, real or perceived.

It would be difficult to summarize this long article fairly, but here is an introductory excerpt:

Last September, a PhD student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst named Matthew MacWilliams realized that his dissertation research might hold the answer to not just one but all three of these mysteries.

MacWilliams studies authoritarianism not actual dictators, but rather a psychological profile of individual voters that is characterized by a desire for order and a fear of outsiders. People who score high in authoritarianism, when they feel threatened, look for strong leaders who promise to take whatever action necessary to protect them from outsiders and prevent the changes they fear.

So MacWilliams naturally wondered if authoritarianism might correlate with support for Trump.

He polled a large sample of likely voters, looking for correlations between support for Trump and views that align with authoritarianism. What he found was astonishing: Not only did authoritarianism correlate, but it seemed to predict support for Trump more reliably than virtually any other indicator....

In my opinion, the greatest threat to democracy as a way of life -- not just a political arrangement, but as an attitude of mind -- is authoritarianism. Authoritarianism is stoked by fear, both rational and irrational, and it looks to a strong punitive leader who promises to use force to end threats by outsiders and persons "not like us." It seeks order and stability at all costs. It subscribes to a command-and-obey or "top down" or hierarchical mentality. This is directly opposed to a democratic or "horizontal" mentality, characterized by openmindness, cooperation, and respect for others as equals.

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Reply "The Rise of American Authoritarianism," by Amanda Taub (Original post)
Koinos Mar 2016 OP
leveymg Mar 2016 #1
yortsed snacilbuper Mar 2016 #2
Koinos Mar 2016 #3

Response to Koinos (Original post)

Fri Mar 4, 2016, 09:18 PM

1. Not new. Kurt Lewin formulated all this in the 1940s.

It applies well to people in all organizations where there is reason to fear those in power. That applies also to Trump and Hillary. So what else is new?

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Response to Koinos (Original post)

Fri Mar 4, 2016, 09:26 PM

2. Thanks for posting!

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Response to yortsed snacilbuper (Reply #2)

Sat Mar 5, 2016, 12:05 AM

3. You're welcome.

Many people have written about this subject. Authoritarianism is a tendency in our society that I find unfortunate. It is in direct contradiction to the idea of democracy.

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