HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Topics » Politics & Government » Populist Reform of the Democratic Party (Group) » The Authoritarian Persona...

Sat Nov 21, 2015, 01:14 PM

 

The Authoritarian Personality Why do some people seem irrational in their devotion

to certain authoritative leaders regardless of what these leaders do or have done and regardless what these leaders stand for? I believe the answer is important in knowing what we are dealing with.

Eric Fromm in his essay, “The Authoritarian Personality” subscribes this behavior to authoritarian personalities. He explains that there are two distinct types of authoritarians. One that wants to rule, control, or restrain others and the other type that tends to submit and obey. In other words leaders and followers. While seemingly different these two types are bound together in a symbiotic relationship.

“What they have in common, what defines the essence of the authoritarian personality is an inability: the inability to rely on one’s self, to be independent, to put it in other words: to endure freedom.”

This would explain why some are so willing to follow leaders that obviously are not interested in freedoms or liberties, but quite the opposite. Let's face it, being free is a lot of work and too tough for some.

Authoritarian followers seek the protection, or what they see as protection, of strong authoritarian leaders. And followers will strongly defend this authority in a number of ways including the persecution of whistle-blowers, investigative journalists, protesters, and liberals in general; those that challenge authorities and seek the truth. This disturbs the followers because they don't want to deal with the truth, they really can't handle the truth.

Authoritarian leaders on the other hand, while seeming to be tough and strong, actually are nothing without their submissive followers. But hese apparently strong, tough leaders themselves are followers to a higher authoritarian authority (ie, the bigger bully).

This is not to say that all authority contains something pathological? There is a very significant distinction between rational and irrational authority.

“Rational authority is the recognition of authority based on critical evaluation of competences. When a student recognizes the teacher’s authority to know more than him, then this a reasonable evaluation of his competence.”
Rational authority is not based on excluding reason and critique but rather assumes it as a prerequisite.
This does not make one small and the authority great but allows authority to be superior where and as long it possesses competence. Rational authority is challenged often. The respect for this authority must be maintained.

On the other hand irrational authority is based on emotional submission to another person, follower to leader. This is not because of a belief that the leader is competent, honorable, or principled, but more likely because of a perceived strength that the follower admires. Irrational authority is never challenged by the follower, and the follower will try to silence those that do challenge the authority, because it might expose the authority (leader) to be a fraud.

“The opposite of the (irrational) authoritarian character is the mature person: a person who does not need to cling to others because they actively embrace and grasp the world, the people, and the things around them.”

Children have a need to be dependent when they are young. As children grow and develop they need to be taught the difference between rational and irrational authority. This puts a burden on the authority figures in a child's life. Children need to be taught to be independent, skeptical and open minded; to heed authority and/or to question authority when appropriate.
Children need to be taught to reason. “Reason is the activity of the mind which attempts to get through the surface to reach the core of things, to grasp what really lies behind these things, what the forces and drives are that — themselves invisible — operate and determine the manifestations.”

Sadly it's expedient to use irrational authority as a parent, a teacher, a coach, a religious leader, a boss, etc. This behavior is acceptable in our culture. Our culture in the United States accepts, if not promotes authoritarianism (bullying). Throughout history we've used our wealth and power to bully the rest of the world.

Many popular TV shows and movies honor the bullies like Dirty Harry and Jack Bauer. The rationalization is always that we only bully for goodness. The NSA/CIA is a huge bully and the fact that they are not being regulated bothers some, however, the authoritarians among us support them, blindly believing that they only bully for goodness.

Again from Eric Fromm, “But I do not want to close without emphasizing that the individual’s goal must be to become his own authority; i.e. to have a consciousness in moral issues, conviction in questions of intellect, and fidelity in emotional matters. However, the individual can only have such an inner authority if he has matured enough to understand the world with reason and love. The development of these characteristics is the basis for one’s own authority and therefore the basis for political democracy.”

I hope this explains why some people we run into won't discuss politics rationally. Most often these are Republicons, but almost all are conservatives. Liberals and progressives are more likely to be open minded and not blindly follow leaders.

Happy Thanksgiving



36 replies, 4513 views

Reply to this thread

Back to top Alert abuse

Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 36 replies Author Time Post
Reply The Authoritarian Personality Why do some people seem irrational in their devotion (Original post)
rhett o rick Nov 2015 OP
marym625 Nov 2015 #1
cantbeserious Nov 2015 #2
grasswire Nov 2015 #3
rhett o rick Nov 2015 #7
cantbeserious Nov 2015 #8
rhett o rick Nov 2015 #17
bvar22 Nov 2015 #33
TM99 Nov 2015 #4
Doctor_J Nov 2015 #5
KansDem Nov 2015 #10
Doctor_J Nov 2015 #18
KansDem Nov 2015 #24
rhett o rick Nov 2015 #19
Doctor_J Nov 2015 #25
rhett o rick Nov 2015 #26
phantom power Nov 2015 #6
MisterP Nov 2015 #9
forest444 Nov 2015 #11
malthaussen Nov 2015 #12
Duppers Nov 2015 #13
Betty Karlson Nov 2015 #14
rhett o rick Nov 2015 #20
Betty Karlson Nov 2015 #23
Arugula Latte Nov 2015 #15
rhett o rick Nov 2015 #22
GeoWilliam750 Mar 2016 #35
SoapBox Nov 2015 #16
DirkGently Nov 2015 #21
Doctor_J Nov 2015 #27
tularetom Nov 2015 #28
rhett o rick Nov 2015 #30
Eleanors38 Nov 2015 #29
raouldukelives Nov 2015 #31
rhett o rick Nov 2015 #32
GeoWilliam750 Mar 2016 #36
hobbit709 Dec 2015 #34

Response to rhett o rick (Original post)

Sat Nov 21, 2015, 01:16 PM

1. K&R!

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to rhett o rick (Original post)

Sat Nov 21, 2015, 01:25 PM

2. This Phenomena And Behavior Can Also Be Seen In Center And Center Right Democrats As Well

eom

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to cantbeserious (Reply #2)

Sat Nov 21, 2015, 01:30 PM

3. and particularly in people pretending to be Democrats. nt

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to cantbeserious (Reply #2)

Sat Nov 21, 2015, 02:00 PM

7. Democrats is just a label. Anyone can claim to be a Democrat. I believe that my statement about

 

conservatives being authoritarians covers "Center" and "Center Right" Democrats, as I believe them to be conservatives.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to rhett o rick (Reply #7)

Sat Nov 21, 2015, 02:03 PM

8. Not A Challenge - Just Calling Things What They Are

eom

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to cantbeserious (Reply #8)

Sat Nov 21, 2015, 04:43 PM

17. I didn't take is as a challenge and I agree with you. Just wanted to add my view. nm

 

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to rhett o rick (Reply #7)

Sat Nov 28, 2015, 02:39 PM

33. ....as obvious as a wart with a hair on the end of someon'es nose.

Impossible to miss, even in this very small community.

Remember, that traitor Snowden had boxes in his garage.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to rhett o rick (Original post)

Sat Nov 21, 2015, 01:30 PM

4. Always a big fan of Fromm.

 

We have generations that are forgetting this type of psychological insight and wisdom.

We have far too many who will become 'good little Germans'.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to rhett o rick (Original post)

Sat Nov 21, 2015, 01:36 PM

5. everyone should read Bob altmeyers free book

 

The authoritarians. It explains republican mindset, and also the new democrats/turd way.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Doctor_J (Reply #5)

Sat Nov 21, 2015, 03:03 PM

10. If I may...

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to KansDem (Reply #10)

Sat Nov 21, 2015, 04:44 PM

18. Thanks. my tablet doesn't cut and paste well

 

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Doctor_J (Reply #18)

Sun Nov 22, 2015, 02:30 PM

24. Thank you for the reference!



I've put the book on my "must read" list for Thanksgiving weekend!

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Doctor_J (Reply #5)

Sat Nov 21, 2015, 05:09 PM

19. Big fan. I've lent my paper back copy out so many times, I've lost track of it.

 

It cost me all of $10 bucks at LuLu.com
http://www.lulu.com/shop/bob-altemeyer/the-authoritarians/paperback/product-1125075.html

pdf is free of course.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to rhett o rick (Reply #19)

Sun Nov 22, 2015, 02:39 PM

25. my first download when I got my kindle for christmas

 

terrific read.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Doctor_J (Reply #25)

Sun Nov 22, 2015, 02:44 PM

26. It explains a lot about who we are dealing with. nm

 

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to rhett o rick (Original post)

Sat Nov 21, 2015, 01:58 PM

6. Because we evolved from tribal primates, and we are still tribal primates.

From that point of view, the miracle is that humans ever rise above this kind of behavior at all. In that way it's a lot like "rational behavior"; to whatever extent we achieve rational behavior, it's kind of like a stupid-pet-trick that we've acquired very recently. It's not as if we're actually good at it.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to rhett o rick (Original post)

Sat Nov 21, 2015, 02:51 PM

9. much worse than that, it's been carefully cultivated with "personality politics"--you're supposed

to back a policy because a candidate supports it, and not think too much about the policy anyway, and support the candidate because they're the candidate

very demobilizing

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to rhett o rick (Original post)

Sat Nov 21, 2015, 03:19 PM

11. Dubya and his "brain", Turd Blossom.

Probably the two best-known recent examples of the pathology just described.

Thank you for that post, Rhett; it probably explains two-thirds of the world's political ills right there.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to rhett o rick (Original post)

Sat Nov 21, 2015, 03:26 PM

12. Or, as Terry Pratchett put it succinctly:

"Humans were created with a design flaw: the tendency to bend at the knees."

-- Mal

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to rhett o rick (Original post)

Sat Nov 21, 2015, 03:28 PM

13. K & R!!

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to rhett o rick (Original post)

Sat Nov 21, 2015, 04:12 PM

14. Excellent analysis.

 

I hope we may enjoy a few more of such articles by your hand.

Out of curiosity: can Sanders win authoritarian personalities to join him? Or is that an impossibility?

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Betty Karlson (Reply #14)

Sat Nov 21, 2015, 08:45 PM

20. I don't think Sen Sanders can shake the blind loyalty of followers of any

 

other candidate. I think once he wins the primary the other Democrats will see him as the best alternative.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to rhett o rick (Reply #20)

Sun Nov 22, 2015, 07:07 AM

23. Another astute observation. eom

 

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to rhett o rick (Original post)

Sat Nov 21, 2015, 04:17 PM

15. Religion is based on this principle.

 

Turn off your brain, stomp down rationality, and let someone else tell you what to do, think, and believe, based on silly stories from long ago. There's an authoritarian (male, of course) magical sky dude watching you. He has a plan. Ours is not to question.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Arugula Latte (Reply #15)

Sat Nov 21, 2015, 09:45 PM

22. Yes there are a lot of similarities. nm

 

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Arugula Latte (Reply #15)

Mon Mar 14, 2016, 05:16 PM

35. I have long thought that

Faith is psychology
Religion is politics
God is imponderable

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to rhett o rick (Original post)

Sat Nov 21, 2015, 04:19 PM

16. K & R

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to rhett o rick (Original post)

Sat Nov 21, 2015, 09:41 PM

21. Good riff on an important essay.

Timely, too.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to DirkGently (Reply #21)

Sun Nov 22, 2015, 02:45 PM

27. I'm going to read fromm's now

 

already read altmeyer twice

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to rhett o rick (Original post)

Sun Nov 22, 2015, 03:15 PM

28. I have no respect for anyone who can't or won't think for themselves

You can call it authoritarian personality or whatever. I call them sheep.

They are responsible for all of the wars, massacres, pogroms, terrorism of modern times.

Nobody has to agree with me, but for god's sake, form an opinion on your own and defend it when its challenged.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to tularetom (Reply #28)

Sun Nov 22, 2015, 05:26 PM

30. It's so obvious that they can't think on their own. Ask one to explain how their leader stands on

 

an issue. Most will call you names and ignore the question. I doubt that they even know what their leader's stand is on issues, because it isn't important to them. The relationship between the authoritarian leader and the follower is symbiotic. Neither is anything without the other. Take the followers away from a bully and they quickly show that they are truly cowards. I have also noted that if you stand up to the bully, they immediately start whining that they are the victim.

In politics, it's no use trying to reason with an authoritarian. They haven't matured to the point of being capable of reasoning.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to rhett o rick (Original post)

Sun Nov 22, 2015, 04:23 PM

29. I used to teach government, and I had an exercise:

 


Put 100 people in a bolt-locked room. Now, what number of people are required to take over?

Most started with 50+.

But then, the number began to drop, and the immortal question of the great political theorist Chubby Checker came to bear: "How low can you go?"

When the nmber dropped to single digits, students began to look less at the bawling, nut-grabbing bully-boys, and more at themselves. Authoritarians cannot operate well unless there is a concommitant acquiescence to, ignorance of, attraction to the mere trappings of power. Most folks want to work their fields, file their reports, engross themselves in a smart phone, raise their kids.

That's when the number starts dropping.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to rhett o rick (Original post)

Mon Nov 23, 2015, 11:29 AM

31. K&R Some exist only to please power in the hopes of befriending it.

That, for them, is the endgame. All of the hard work, all of the money, all of the time, all of the life, invested in becoming as much like them as possible. In gratifying and fulfilling every wish in the faint hope of a knowing nod or a pat on the back signaling one is that much closer to full indoctrination.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to raouldukelives (Reply #31)

Tue Nov 24, 2015, 06:13 PM

32. Well put. They don't understand that their authoritarian leaders don't love them. nm

 

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to rhett o rick (Reply #32)

Mon Mar 14, 2016, 05:20 PM

36. Loyalty tends to be directly proportional to how much one gives

And inversely proportional to how much one takes.

It is easy to understand who is loyal to whom through this lens. The oligarchs are not in the least invested in our society, and mostly hold it in contempt, from what I can see.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to rhett o rick (Original post)

Tue Dec 1, 2015, 08:09 AM

34. I wasn't born to follow.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Reply to this thread