|Contents||Bulletin||Scripting in shell and Perl||Network troubleshooting||History||Humor|
|News||Toxic managers||Books||Recommended Links||Workplace mobbing||Double High Authoritarians||Reference|
|Main traits||Authoritarian followers||F-scale and RWA-scale||Characteristics of Emotionally Abused People||Danger to democracy|
|The psychopath in the corner office||Understanding Borderline Rage||The Fiefdom Syndrome||Learned helplessness||Office Stockholm Syndrom||Negative Politeness||Communication|
|Bully Managers||Narcissistic Managers||Micromanagers||Female bullies||Groupthink||Bureaucratic ritualism|
|Surviving a Bad Performance Review||Anger trap||Sociology of organizations||Work overload||History of authoritarian personality research||Humor||Etc|
"a quintessential kiss-up, kick-down sort of guy."
Carl Ford,, the former head
the Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR)
in the State Department about John Bolton (USA Today)
First of all it is important to understand that authoritarians are not necessary psychopaths, but all psychopath are authoritarians. At the same time all authoritarians are paranoid, so extremes meet.
In comparison with classic psychopaths such as Micromanagers and Narcissistic Managers they lack such defining features as impulsivity, exaggerated sexuality, pathological lying, excessive risk taking, inability to resist temptation. So they are different type of predators of human jungles and much more numerous then psychopaths. By some estimates psychopaths as a personality type constitute just 1% of population and approximately 4% of people in management positions. I believe the percentage of authoritarians is much higher.
Typically authoritarians do not possess glibness which is the hallmark of psychopath. But there important common areas too. First of all bouts of anger directed at subordinates. Both types are a smooth-tongued hypocrites. At the heart of the diagnosis of psychopaths was the recognition that a person could appear normal and yet close observation would reveal the personality to be irrational or even violent. This is deeply true for authoritarians.
Like all psychopaths authoritarians are suspicious, touchy, often humorless, quick to take offense and slow to forgive, self-righteous, often argumentative. They have clear tendency to interpret the actions of other people as deliberately threatening or demeaning and continual mistrust are an unmistakable sign of authoritarians, probably as much as paranoid managers.
Both types reflect the general level of sycophancy that often plagues large organizations, especially those with an established franchise where management performance is not as much of an issue and managers often tend simply to collect their "status" rents such as high remuneration, larger degree of freedom and paradoxically ability to do nothing at work.
But in many personal traits they come close and all-in-all they are one of the most toxic management types for gifted and analytically savvy people to work for. I have found that authoritarian bosses are often as toxic as micromanagers. They are invariably hostile to those who are of inferior status, but obedient of people with high status. This "kiss up, kick down" behavior pattern is a defining in authoritarian personality. And they actively try to mold subordinates in their own image, into “team players”–- shameless, cynical hacks who can be counted on to "beat the drum and march under the banner" in whatever direction necessary, if it was ordered by corporate brass. To subordinates who try to preserve some dignity they behave like classic corporate sadists with performance review as a torture camera.
It is important to distinguish authoritarians from psychopaths as they demonstrate very similar set of traits. This necessity of stimulation, thrill that drives psychopaths to risky, often reckless behavior is completely absent or is well suppressed in authoritarian bosses. They are dull, obedient dwellers of corporate jungles. Another difference is much lower tendency to sexual escapades. But like just different type of atomic weapon when "exploded" into management position in the organization they produce the same wasteland: departments or the whole organizations were most of talented people left and mediocrity and sycophants rules . They compete with micromanagers is nastiness and with narcissists in bulling. They promote "Homo homini lupus est" mentality. They tend to destroy and suppress collaboration or any collective effort in generally and as a result they create the groups on "lonely wolfs" in which everyone is isolated and hating each other. That's the feature similar to micromanagers. My way or highway is also similar to micromanagers, but the difference is that micromanager apply it indiscriminately while authoritarian can apply selectively for example where there is some financial benefits to himself (as classic hypocrites they are often corrupt to the core). They are able to pick their battles.
It is not easy to detect authoritarian if you are his/her direct report. They combine authoritarian submission, authoritarian aggression, and conventionalism. They can successfully pretend to be "nice people" with equal and higher up. Here are some warning signs:
One of the most telling signs is attitude toward those of lower rank. Authoritarians despise those who are weak or of lesser status. Like psychopaths they typically create their own network of sycophants (patsies), who channel information to them about what is happening in the group.
The other is preoccupation with punishment. Even for minor transgressions. They abuse performance reviews to inflict revenge on people who are not fully compliant with their wishes and tried to demonstrate some independence. They generally rarely give good performance reviews unless this somehow positively reflects on them. By destabilizing relationships among team members, the narcissistic authoritarian stays on top. Authoritarians, out of their own insecurities, create social systems that they can control. They are also invariably bullies, with short fuse and temper tantrums (authoritarian anger). As Eric Fromm noted (1957):
The passive-authoritarian, or in other words, the masochistic and submissive character aims — at least subconsciously — to become a part of a larger unit, a pendant, a particle, at least a small one, of this “great” person, this “great” institution, or this “great” idea. The person, institution, or idea may actually be significant, powerful, or just incredibly inflated by the individual believing in them. What is necessary, is that — in a subjective manner — the individual is convinced that “his” leader, party, state, or idea is all-powerful and supreme, that he himself is strong and great, that he is a part of something “greater.”
The paradox of this passive form of the authoritarian character is: the individual belittles himself so that he can — as part of something greater — become great himself. The individual wants to receive commands, so that he does not have the necessity to make decisions and carry responsibility. This masochistic individual looking for dependency is in his depth frightened -often only subconsciously — a feeling of inferiority, powerlessness, aloneness. Because of this, he is looking for the “leader,” the great power, to feel safe and protected through participation and to overcome his own inferiority. Subconsciously, he feels his own powerlessness and needs the leader to control this feeling. This masochistic and submissive individual, who fears freedom and escapes into idolatry, is the person on which the authoritarian systems — Nazism and Stalinism — rest.
More difficult than understanding the passive-authoritarian, masochistic character is understanding the active-authoritarian, the sadistic character. To his followers he seems self-confident and powerful but yet he is as frightened and alone as the masochistic character. While the masochist feels strong because he is a small part of something greater, the sadist feels strong because he has incorporated others — if possible many others; he has devoured them, so to speak. The sadistic-authoritarian character is as dependent on the ruled as the masochistic -authoritarian character on the ruler. However the image is misleading. As long as he holds power, the leader appears — to himself and to others — strong and powerful. His powerlessness becomes only apparent when he has lost his power, when he can no longer devour others, when he is on his own.
When I speak of sadism as the active side of the authoritarian personality, many people may be surprised because sadism is usually understood as the tendency to torment and to cause pain. But actually, this is not the point of sadism. The different forms of sadism which we can observe have their root in a striving, which is to master and control another individual, to make him a helpless object of one’s will, to become his ruler, to dispose over him as one sees fit and without limitations. Humiliation and enslavement are just means to this purpose, and the most radical means to this is to make him suffer; as there is no greater power over a person than to make him suffer, to force him to endure pains without resistance.
The fact that both forms of the authoritarian personality can be traced back to one final common point — the symbiotic tendency — demonstrates why one can find both the sadistic and masochistic component in so many authoritarian personalities. Usually, only the objects differ. We all have heard of the family tyrant, who treats his wife and children in an sadistic manner but when he faces his superior in the office he becomes the submissive employee.
They have a strong predisposition for intolerance and are naturally inclined to crash any resistance in best "my way or the highway" manner. Alfred Adler linked the "will to power over others" as a central neurotic trait, usually emerging as aggressive over-compensation for feelings of inferiority and insignificance. According to this view, the authoritarian needs to maintain control and prove superiority over others is rooted in a worldview populated by enemies and empty of equality, empathy, and mutual benefit.
Right wing authoritarianism is inversely related to openness to experience
Douglas McGregor in his seminal book 1960 book “The Human Side of Enterprise” divided management styles into two main types: Theory X and Theory Y. Here's how The Economist describes this concept:
“Theory X was the classic command-and-control type of management, the authoritarian style which (McGregor wrote) “reflects an underlying belief that management must counteract an inherent human tendency to avoid work”.
Theory Y is the antithesis of X. It “assumes that people will exercise self-direction and self control in the achievement of organizational objectives to the degree that they are committed to those objectives”.
Theory X is bent on devising the right sticks with which to prod work-shy labor; Theory Y looks for the carrots that will induce them to stay.
McGregor's dichotomy has been hugely influential in management thinking ever since his death in 1964. The new organization lies firmly at the Theory Y end of his spectrum. It challenges employees, in his words, “to innovate, to discover new ways of organizing and directing human effort, even though we recognize that the perfect organization, like the perfect vacuum, is practically out of reach.”
McGregor himself came to believe that neither management style in its pure form could work successfully. Firms would find a balance between the two that would shift over time to fit new circumstances. But the new organization is beginning to prove him wrong. Companies are coming to realize that knowledge workers, who have been identified as the creators of future wealth, thrive only under Theory Y. Theory X is becoming extinct—just like organization man himself.
Authoritarians have a little volcano of hostility bubbling away
inside them looking for a (safe, approved) way to erupt.
But in reality command-and-control type of management is far from dead. And it is successfully killing any creativity in the organizations. It is thriving in IT organizations, where supposedly creativity of employees is important. It is important to be able to detect RWA as the worst mistake individual can do is to became a direct report to such a manager. The main difficulties is that they demonstrate two completely different possibilities. One, a nice guy personality" toward high-ups and peers and the other hostile, short fuse personality to subordinates. Without talking to subordinates the second personality is invisible until too late and subordinates usually are not willing to talk about it. Here are some features which I consider to be typical for any authoritarian manager although doze of them might be different:
The most popular synonyms for authoritarian submission/authoritarian aggression pair of traits is "kiss-up, kick-down" and, to somewhat lesser extent, "my way or the highway." The latter is more typical for micromanagers and not all authoritarians are micromanagers. Like anything in life authoritarian personalities are seldom pure and real people have unique mix of those two negative traits. In any case they usually provoke strong negative reactions like:
'The vast majority of managers at every level in American business and government are mindless thugs, abusive kiss up kick down morons who have no ability to lead. Welcome to the culture that is the United States of America!'
Corporation tend to promote to manager roles people who suffer from combination of traits that include excessive conformity, submissiveness to authority, intolerance, insecurity, superstition, ridged, stereotyped thought patterns. This idea that corporations provides natural habitat for people with what generally considered is a perversion of social behavior is pretty unsettling. That applies both to authoritarian and to psychopathic/sociopathic personalities. There are influential social forces that favor this type of personalities and institutions that indoctrinate people and enhance their natural predisposition in a certain way. Extent to what such personalities are created by social environment is debatable, but there is no question that corporate environment is itself is far from being healthy. So there is a need of sanitizing it and creating countervailing forces as well as reforming institutions that can "mass-produce" and promote to key positions such people. We should not assume that the problem originates and is confined to one area: human psychology ignoring wider context.
Throughout this series we have discussed the psychological and physiological affect that power has on obedience, honesty and compassion. Now we come to the final, and perhaps most important part of this series: hypocrisy. It has become almost a cliché that the most outspoken anti-gay politicians are in fact closet homosexuals themselves, and the champions of “traditional family values” are engaged in an extramarital affairs.
Joris Lammers, from Tilburg University, and Adam Galinsky of Kellogg School of Management have conducted a battery of experiments designed to test how having a sense of power influenced a person’s moral standards, specifically whether or not they were likely to behave immorally while espousing intolerance for the behavior of others. In each of five experiments the method of inducing a powerful feeling, and the method of determining these double standards was different, but in every one the results were the same. Powerful people judge others more harshly but cheat more themselves. But what’s especially interesting is his last experiment where distinguishing between legitimate power and illegitimate power garnered the opposite results.
The first experiment was meant to determine the discrepancy between the subject’s expressed standards and their actual behavior. As in previous experiments subjects were randomly assigned to a high-power or low-power class. To induce these feelings “high-power” subjects were asked by experimenters to recall an experience where they felt a sense of power. Meanwhile, “low-power” subjects were asked by experimenters to recall an experience where they felt powerless. Then each subject was asked to rate how egregious a moral infraction they considered cheating, and they were given an opportunity to cheat at dice. They were promised some number of lottery tickets equal to the roll of two dice, and then allowed to self report their roll. The high-power subjects reported considering cheating a higher moral infraction than low-power subjects, but were also more likely to cheat themselves.
In the second experiment participants were made to conduct a mock-government with half randomly given high-power roles which give orders and half randomly given low-power roles which take orders. Then each group was asked about their feelings about minor common traffic violations, such as speeding, or rolling through stop signs. As expected, high-power subjects were more likely to give themselves permission to the bend the rules if they were running late for an important meeting, but less likely to afford other drivers the same leniency.
In the third experiment participants were divided as in the first experiment, by either recalling a personal experience where they felt powerful or powerless. Then each group was asked about their feelings about minor common tax evasions, such as not declaring freelance income on your taxes. As expected, high-power subjects were more likely to bend the rules for themselves, but less likely to afford others the same leniency.
In the fourth experiment the sense of power was manipulated in a very unusual way. All participants were asked to fill out a series of word puzzles. Half the participants were randomly given word searches that contained high-power words, such as “authority” and half were randomly given word searches that contained low-power words, such as “subjugation.” Then all participants were asked about their feelings about keeping a stolen bike that was found abandoned in the road. As in all experiments, even with such a minor insignificant power disparity, those in the high-power group were more likely to say they would keep the bike, but also that others had an obligation to seek out the rightful owner, or turn the bike over to the police.
The fifth and final experiment yielded, by far, the most interesting results of all the experiments we’ve discussed, and it is my hope that this is the direction that this type or research takes in the future. The feeling of power was induced the same as the first and third experiment, where participants were asked to describe their own experience of power in their own life, with one important distinction. In this experiment the “high-power” class was divided into two, one group which was asked to describe an experience where they felt their power was legitimate and deserved, and one group which was asked to describe an experience where they felt their power was illegitimate and undeserved.
The hypocrisy results found in the previous four experiments emerged only when high-power subjects viewed their power as legitimate. Those who viewed their power as illegitimate actually gave the opposite results, a sort of anti-hypocrisy, which researches dubbed, “hypercrisy.” They were harsher about their own transgressions, and more lenient toward others.
This discovery could be the silver bullet that society has been searching for to put down the werewolf of political corruption. The researches speculate that the vicious cycle of power and hypocrisy could be broken by attacking the legitimacy of power, rather than the power itself. As they write in their conclusion:
A question that lies at the heart of the social sciences is how this status-quo (power inequality) is defended and how the powerless come to accept their disadvantaged position. The typical answer is that the state and its rules, regulations, and monopoly on violence coerce the powerless to do so. But this cannot be the whole answer…
Our last experiment found that the spiral of inequality can be broken, if the illegitimacy of the power-distribution is revealed. One way to undermine the legitimacy of authority is open revolt, but a more subtle way in which the powerless might curb self-enrichment by the powerful is by tainting their reputation, for example by gossiping. If the powerful sense that their unrestrained self-enrichment leads to gossiping, derision, and the undermining of their reputation as conscientious leaders, then they may be inspired to bring their behavior back to their espoused standards. If they fail to do so, they may quickly lose their authority, reputation, and— eventually—their power.
In this series we have seen that those given power are more likely to lie, cheat and steal with impunity while also being harsher in their judgments of others for doing these things. We have seen that those given power feel less compassion for the suffering of others, and are even capable of the torture and murder of innocent people. What’s perhaps most disturbing is that we have seen that these sociopathic tendencies have been fostered in otherwise psychologically healthy people. In other words, the problem is not only that sociopaths are drawn to positions of authority, but that positions of authority draw out the sociopath in everyone. But this final experiment offers some hope that authoritarian sociopathy can not only be stopped, but driven into reverse, not by violence or revolution, but simply by undermining their sense of legitimacy.
All of this tears the dependent person apart, causing self-alienation and even self-loathing. The dependent person loses faith in his/her own mind and feelings with devastating self-esteem consequences. Depression, rage, mood swings, co-dependency, self-injury and self-destruction are typical outcomes. If the authority figure is a parent the person will likely develop symptoms of various "disorders" such as the so-called Borderline Personality disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, Anoexia, Bulemia etc.
There is one type of person who actually can thrive in this environment. This type of personality is called authoritarian follower. He/she typically displays the following behavior patterns:
These three patterns are intercorrelated thought to be derived from a sense of psychological insecurity and internalized low personal esteem, shame and guilt when comparing themselves to others. To no one’s surprise, authoritarian followers have higher rates than the general population of divorce, family violence, assault, theft, lying under oath, extortion, corruption, and hate crimes.
Authoritarians have a little volcano of
hostility bubbling inside them
and looking for a (safe, approved) way to erupt.
The "right wing" in right-wing authoritarianism does not necessarily refer to someone's politics, but to psychological preferences and personality. It means that the person tends to follow the established conventions and authorities in society. The personalities authorities could have either right-wing or left-wing political views.
The origins of social dominance orientation and right wing authoritarianism are different. Social dominance orientation is related to traits that emphasize competition and hierarchy, including narcissism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism (e.g., Hodson, Hogg, & MacInnis, 2009). Right wing authoritarianism is related to traits that emphasize danger or compliance (Duckitt, Wagner, de Plessis, & Birum, 2002).
Right wing authoritarianism, for example, is inversely related to openness to experience (Hodson, Hogg, & MacInnis, 2009). Right wing authoritarianism - Psychlopedia
Right-wing authoritarianism is measured by the RWA scale. The first item on the scale states, "Our country desperately needs a mighty leader who will do what has to be done to destroy the radical new ways and sinfulness that are ruining us." People who strongly agree with this are showing a tendency toward authoritarian submission (Our country desperately needs a mighty leader), authoritarian aggression (who will do what has to be done to destroy), and conventionalism (the radical new ways and sinfulness that are ruining us).
Psychometrically, the RWA scale was considered to be an improvement over the F-scale, which was the original measure of the authoritarian personality. One weakness of the F-scale was that it was worded so that agreement always indicated an authoritarian response, thus leaving it susceptible to the acquiescence response bias. The RWA scale is balanced to have an equal number of pro and anti authoritarian statements. The RWA scale also has better internal reliability, with coefficient alpha typically measured over .90. The RWA scale has been modified over the years, as many of the items lost their social significance as society changed. The current version is 22 items long, and can be found online.
Milton Rokeach's dogmatism scale was an early attempt to measure pure authoritarianism, whether left or right. The scale was carefully designed to measure "closed mindedness" without regard to ideology. Nevertheless, researchers found that it correlated with British political conservativism.
Dogma is the established belief or doctrine held by a religion, or by extension by some other group or organization. It is authoritative and not to be disputed, doubted, or diverged from, by the practitioner or believers. The term derives from Greek δόγμα "that which seems to one, opinion or belief" and that from δοκέω (dokeo), "to think, to suppose, to imagine". The plural is either dogmas or dogmata , from Greek δόγματα.
In a similar line of research, Philip Tetlock found that right wing beliefs are associated with less integrative complexity than left wing beliefs. People with moderate liberal attitudes had the highest integrative complexity in their cognitions.
It is not always easy to detect authoritarian manager while not being his/her subordinates. Sometimes it is quote difficult, as kiss up behavior can be polished to perfection. First of all, while there is correlation between authoritarianism and low intelligence it is just a correlation. Some authoritarians are quite bright (Bill O'Reilly is one example)
One telling sign that correlated with high RWA personalities in the USA is their strong support of the Republican Party. There have been a number of other attempts to identify "left-wing authoritarians" in the United States and Canada. These would be people who submit to leftist authorities, are highly conventional to liberal viewpoints, and are aggressive to people who oppose left-wing ideology. These attempts have failed because measures of authoritarianism always correlate at least slightly with the right. Or, to be more exact, ruling party phenomenon: the USSR they were members of the Communist Party. Thus, authoritarians generally favor the established ways and oppose social and political change.
It is important to stress that authoritarian managers are more likely to "staunch" republicans. I actually noticed this strange phenomenon independently before reading Altemeyer book in the corporations were I used to work. Authoritarian corporate managers generally are highly jingoistic, oppose abortion, support capital punishment. One of my former bosses, who definitely belongs to "double-high" authoritarians even displayed the picture of Sarah Palin and elections slogans in his office despite official prohibition by the company manual of such behavior. I also noticed that cubes and offices of authoritarians more often display American flag. In this sense it looks like high readings of RWA scale reliably correlates with political party affiliation, at least in the USA. Worshiping of jungle capitalism (Ann Rand style), religious orthodoxy, and acceptance of covert governmental activities are also highly typical.
Another important trait that can be observed by outsiders is that authoritarians tend to exhibit cognitive errors and symptoms of faulty reasoning. Specifically, they are more likely to make incorrect inferences from evidence and to hold contradictory ideas that result from compartmentalized thinking. Especially telling is that they are less likely to acknowledge their own limitations. Here is a short but very useful list from Our Church Administration is Critically Infected « Another Voice
1.Illogical Thinking : The lack of independent, critical thinking.
2. Highly Compartmentalized Minds : Authoritarians’ ideas are poorly integrated with one another.
3. Double Standards : When your ideas live independent lives from one another it is pretty easy to use double standards in your judgments. You simply call up the idea that will justify (afterwards) what you’ve decided to do.
4. Hypocrisy : The leaders of authoritarian movements sometimes accuse their opponents of being anti-democratic and anti-free speech when the latter protest
against various books, movies, speakers, teachers and so on.
5. Blindness To Themselves : self-righteousness.
6. A Profound Ethnocentrism : Ethnocentrism means dividing the world up into in-groups and out-groups…….in-groups are holy and good…out-groups are evil and Satanic.
7. Dogmatism: the Authoritarian’s Last Ditch Defense : By dogmatism I mean relatively unchangeable, unjustified certainty. Loyal followers obey without questions…..
Authoritarians are generally more favorable to punishment and control than personal freedom and diversity. When discussing political preferences, tor example, they are more willing to suspend constitutional guarantees of liberty such as the Bill of Rights. They also are more likely to advocate strict, punitive sentences for criminals, and they report that they obtain personal satisfaction from punishing such people.
They tend to be more ethnocentric and prejudiced against racial and ethnic minorities, and homosexuals. That's while early studies associated them with the supporters and core membership of national socialist parties (F-scale).
In role playing situations, authoritarians tend to seek dominance over others by being competitive and destructive instead of cooperative. In a study by Altemeyer, 68 authoritarians played a three hour simulation of the Earth's future entitled the Global change game. Unlike games played by individuals with low RWA scores, which resulted in world peace and widespread international cooperation, the simulation by authoritarians became highly militarized, confrontational and eventually entered the stage of nuclear war.
Authoritarianism is correlated with dominance seeking and vertical or hierarchical collectivism, which is the tendency to submit to the demands of one's ingroup. A study done on both Israeli and Palestinian students in Israel found that RWA scores of right-wing party supporters were significantly higher than those of left-wing party supporters, and scores of secular subjects were lowest.
Please note that authoritarian manager behavior toward subordinates is very difficult to detect unless you are already reporting to him. So the best way of detection is along submission to authorities intolerance toward non-conventional groups. Blindness to failing and tendency to ascribe failures to others is usually pretty visible trait that is difficult to hide.
Those considerations can be summarized in a short "Cheatsheet" way. Here is such "cheatsheet" that is adapted from: eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/how_2179992_recognize-authoritarian-personality.html#ixzz1QRaDQswz which in turn is based on Altemeyer's work on Right-Wing Authoritarianism (RWA).
- Orders considered to be final and should not be challenged. They are not changed even if they are wrong. The authoritarians both wants to give orders to lower rank and take orders from higher rank ("kiss-up, kick-down type" of people).
- The authoritarians never (or rarely) admits mistakes or apologizes.
- No "back talk" is allowed. All of the above take place in a way which does not expose the authoritarians true motives and none of this is openly talked about.
- Authoritarians want to be the masters of dependents and gravitate toward roles of parents, partners, teachers, principals, supervisors, religious figureheads, cult leaders, etc. What matters for them is the existence of a power imbalance and people dependence of some sort, whether it is physical, financial, "spiritual," psychological or emotional.
- Authoritarians want alone decide what is right and wrong. For example, in case of one IT manager to who I want to report he wanted solely to chose of hardware configurations of new equipment despite the fact that he did not understand the different between Power CPU and Intel CPU (or more exactly the fact that they run different set of instructions and require different OSes and software). If you have a different opinion you are in trouble.
- They want alone create the definitions, the rules, and the "consequences" (i.e. punishment)
- Dependents are held responsible for the authoritarians feelings (anger, disappointment, embarrassment, humiliation, happiness and unhappiness)
- The authoritarians is only responsible and accountable for good things that happen, never the bad ones. Thus the authoritarian appears to always be in the right and when things go wrong, the dependent is always blamed and feels responsible and guilty.
- The authoritarians tries to control of the dependents to the maximum extent possible. Whenever this control is not absolute, the authoritarian feels threatened.
- The ability of the dependent's to express his/her individuality is minimized as much as possible by the authoritarian.
- The authoritarians creates an intricate system of punishments and rewards which rob the dependent of any sense of inner direction, freedom and esteem. The following freedoms are denied to the dependent as much as possible:
- The freedom to chose
- The freedom to want, need. Those thing are bestow on you as authoritarian see fit.
- Authoritarians tend to be very superstitious and tend to accept pseudoscience as truth, believe in cliché, categorization; ethnic and religious prejudice; they also often have fatalistic determinism and lend credence to folktales or interpretations of history that fit their preexisting definitions of reality (thus the Founding Fathers of the US are conceptualized of as supporters of white nationalism.) \
- Authoritarians conceived the world to be black and white. They often think in terms of absolute right (their way) vs. absolute wrong (the "other" whether African American, liberal, intellectual, feminist, etc.). As a rule they are staunch republicans.
Generally dealing with authoritarians are the same as dealing with micromanagers and I would like to refer you to
Here are some marginally useful advice:
Here is another set of recommendations from Bad Boss Authoritarians in Finance - Finance and Accounting Jobs News and Advice
Most often, people who are working under such bosses throw up their hands and quit, noted the experts. But if people only want to get past the boss and not exit the organization all together, there are ways to deal with the situation, the experts say.
Get perspective: The experts advise employees to think of working for the authoritarian as a temporary assignment, and to approach it with the attitude of learning something from the experience at all costs. "Treat it as a sociological experiment," Bell advises. "Reframe that experience: What is your takeaway from this, how can I learn from this person, how can I succeed like they're succeeding?" She encourages people to remember, "this is a time-sensitive assignment, not for the rest of your life."
Don't be a doormat: Resist the bullying tactics often associated with narcissistic authoritarians. "They're looking for someone to put down, and if you show weakness, you will be their whipping boy," said Lubit. Don't be that person. If an authoritarian boss speaks to you disrespectfully, strongly signal politely that you won't accept that treatment. They'll move on to someone else. "You need to sit down with them and say, 'you can't do that.' Don't let them abuse you. If it's an authoritarian culture, you don't want to be eaten up and spit out," Bell says.
"You don't confront a grizzly bear," said Lubit. Authoritarians respond badly to authoritarian behavior, ironically. So, be polite but firm.
Deliver: Bell, Lubit and O'Donnell stress that authoritarians see themselves as people who deliver the goods, and likewise respect people who can do the same. That is some measure of protection in good perfomance. "They will develop a baby shark. If you don't see yourself as a baby shark, you have to make sure you perform," said Bell.
Just hard work won't save you: Surprisingly, Bell said, even though authoritarians respect hard work, it can also be the political undoing of their underlings. Someone who keeps their nose to the grindstone is likely to have a short tenure under an authoritarian, she said. "You have to have a constellation of support so that people know who you are and what you bring to the table," Bell said. "This is where you need to have relationships with other senior managers."
Look for the No. 2: Many companies will try to avoid firing high-producing authoritarians by pairing them with someone who is kinder and who can run interference on people issues, notes O'Donnell. At Lehman Brothers, this was former president Joe Gregory. This person might be a good proxy with whom to bring up your concerns, but remember: they are not your friends. Don't tell them what you wouldn't want the authoritarian to know.
Keep records: Bell encourages employees to keep a thorough file of all their accomplishments - at home, not in the office. The employee can present the files at review time, when the authoritarian is most likely to try to take away credit. The employee should also keep records of the authoritarian's lapses in behavior, and if they become numerous enough, try to find a sympathetic ear among higher management.
List 1 - Based on studies of Adult Children of Alcoholics
This list is from the work of Janet Geringer Woititz. She did her original work on adult children of alcoholics, but I believe her findings can be generalized to people who were emotionally abused in general. Certainly all children of alcoholics were emotionally abused. Adult Children of Alcoholics, by Janet Geringer Woititz
- Can only guess at what healthy behavior is.
- Have trouble completing things
- Lie when they don't need to. Lying might have been a survival tactic in the home. (She explains that perhaps the child learned from parents who lied to cover up problems or avoid conflict. Or simply to avoid harsh punishment, or to get needed attention. But as an adult, that tactic is no longer appropriate.)
- Judge themselves without mercy.
- Have trouble accepting compliments.
- Or they go to the other extreme and refuse to take any responsibility for mistakes while trying to take credit for the work of others.
- Have trouble having fun since their childhoods were lost, stolen, repressed.
- Take themselves very seriously or not seriously at all.
- Have difficulty with intimate relationships.
- Expect others to just "know what they want." (They can't express it because they were so often disappointed as children that they learned to stop asking for things.)
- Over-react to things beyond their control.
- Constantly seek approval & affirmation.
- Feel different from others.
- Are extremely loyal, even when facing overwhelming evidence that their loyalty is undeserved.
- Are either super responsible or super irresponsible.
- Tend to lock themselves into a course of action without giving serious consideration to alternative behaviors or possible consequences. (This impulsiveness leads to confusion, self-loathing, and loss of control over their environment. The result is they spend much energy blaming others, feeling victimized and cleaning up messes.)
She also makes this observation:
Intelligent people, through their ability to analyze, often realize things which are disconcerting, which others would not see. They also are often capable of feeling more deeply, both pain and joy.
Adapted from Struggle for Intimacy, by Janet Gerringer Woititz
List 2 - source unknown
- Feelings of low self- esteem (they say as a result of being criticized.)
- We perpetuate these parental messages by judging ourselves and others harshly. We try to cover up our poor opinions of ourselves by being perfectionistic, controlling, contemptuous and gossipy.
- We tend to isolate ourselves out of fear and we feel often uneasy around other people, especially authority figures.
- We are desperate for love and approval and will do anything to make people like us. Not wanting to hurt others, we remain "loyal" in situations and relationships even when evidence indicates our loyalty is undeserved. (I would say not wanting to lose them, having an extremely hard time "letting go.")
- We are intimidated by angry people and personal criticism. This causes us to feel inadequate and insecure. (I would say it further adds to our feelings of inadequacy and insecurity.)
- We continue to attract emotionally unavailable people with addictive personalities.
- We live life as victims, blaming others for our circumstances, and are attracted to other victims (and people with power) as friends and lovers. We confuse love with pity and tend to "love" people we can pity and rescue. (And we confuse love with need)
- We are either super-responsible or super-irresponsible. We take responsibility for solving others' problems or expect others to be responsible for solving ours. This enables us to avoid being responsible for our own lives and choices.
- We feel guilty when we stand up for ourselves or act in our own best interests. We give in to others' needs and opinions instead of taking care of ourselves.
- We deny, minimize or repress our feelings as a result of our traumatic childhoods. We are unaware of the impact that our inability to identify and express our feelings has had on our adult lives.
- We are dependent personalities who are so terrified of rejection or abandonment that we tend to stay in situations or relationships that are harmful to us. Our fears and dependency stop us form ending unfulfilling relationships and prevent us from entering into fulfilling ones. (I would add because we feel so unlovable it is difficult or impossible to believe anyone can really love us, and won't eventually leave us once they see how "bad" we are.)
- Denial, isolation, control, shame, and inappropriate guilt are legacies from our family of origin. As a result of these symptoms, we feel hopeless and helpless.
- We have difficulty with intimacy, security, trust, and commitment in our relationships. Lacking clearly defined personal limits and boundaries, we become enmeshed in our partner's needs and emotions. (i.e. become codependent)
- We tend to procrastinate and have difficulty following project through from beginning to end.
- We have a strong need to be in control. We overreact to change things over which we have no control.
Adult Children of Alcoholics, by Janet Geringer Woititz (Listened to September 1994) */
Trust your instincts. don't try to be perfect. Learn how to confront, deal with and resolve conflicts.
Fully functioning people can handle conflict, but normally people try to avoid conflict. Example of seeing someone come out of a door. Do you avoid them, ignore them, turn away, make an unrelated comment, or confront them with "I am glad I saw you. There is something we need more deeply, both pain and joy. [I have noticed this also]
"Sometimes people choose to stay in the familiar habit of misery simply because that is what they know and are familiar with and trained or conditioned to do, and the unfamiliar is always scary and uncomfortable." (Comfort zones again).
She says this was taught when they were young and those are the most powerful teachings (or brain impressions and connections).
"People from dysfunctional families have trouble accepting compliments. They often take responsibility for problems, but not successes."
IE often quick to take blame. [Or they go to the other extreme and refuse to take any responsibility for mistakes while trying to take credit for the work of others]
Side note: Ask what is lovable about a person. (ACOA tape) Tape 11?
Talks about continuing to love someone in an unhealthy relationship. How we continue to love someone even when there is nothing lovable about them anymore. Even sex is not an act of love (if it ever was). It becomes a power play. Becomes less satisfying for the woman, the man will start to complain about it. "Every aspect of the relationship is eaten by the cancer" She cautions to watch out for isolation on both people's parts.
Children from alcoholic and dysfunctional families have these characteristics according to her research:
- Guess at what normal behavior is.
- Have trouble completing things
- ACOA's (adult children of alcoholics) lie when they don't need to. Lying might have been a survival tactic in the home. Perhaps learned from parents who lied or covered up problems. Or simply to avoid harsh punishment, or to get needed attention. But as an adult, that tactic is no longer helpful. **
- Judge themselves without mercy. She says we need to separate our isolated behavioral mistakes from our overall good personalities (sph adaptation)
- Have trouble having fun. Since their childhood was lost/stolen, repressed. They need to find the child they never were.
- Take themselves very seriously.
- Have difficulty with intimate relationships (She says they Expect others to just "know what they want", can't say it because they have taught themselves not to want, so they can't be disappointed. ** [March 98 or they really don't know, because no one has taught them to express their feelings/needs]
- Over-react to things beyond their control
- Constantly seek approval & affirmation
- Feel different from others.
- Are extremely loyal, even when facing evidence loyalty is undeserved
- Super responsible or super irresponsible.
- Tend to lock themselves into a course of action w/o (without) giving serious consideration to alternative behaviors or possible consequences. This impulsivity leads to confusion, self-loathing, and loss of control over their environment. The result is they spend much energy cleaning up the mess. [and sometimes blaming others and feeling victimized]
From "Struggle for intimacy"
F-scale was developed as the result of WW2 and autocracies committed by German army. Authoritarian tendencies, they concluded, "are products of the total organization of society and are to be changed only as that society is changed." That means that democracy is always in danger and needs to be extremely vigilant against sliding into oligarchy. This idea on immanent non-stability of democracy due to the threat of authoritarianism can interpreted very differently by members of various groups in the contemporary political spectrum. In Authoritarianism and Polarization in American Politics Marc J. Hetherington and Jonathan D. Weiler:
Although politics at the elite level has been polarized for some time, a scholarly controversy has raged over whether ordinary Americans are polarized. This book argues that they are and that the reason is growing polarization of worldviews – what guides people's view of right and wrong and good and evil. These differences in worldview are rooted in what Marc J. Hetherington and Jonathan D. Weiler describe as authoritarianism. They show that differences of opinion concerning the most provocative issues on the contemporary issue agenda - about race, gay marriage, illegal immigration, and the use of force to resolve security problems -- reflect differences in individuals' levels of authoritarianism. Events and strategic political decisions have conspired to make all these considerations more salient. The authors demonstrate that the left and the right have coalesced around these opposing worldviews, which has provided politics with more incandescent hues than before.
Yet despite its flaws, the concept of authoritarian personality deserves a re-evaluation especially in context of the problem we experience in modern corporations and government. In many ways, today findings are more relevant than they were in 1950 as the threat definitely looms larger. It not limited to the level of department store managers. For example, while testifying about Bolton's often contentious personality, Carl Ford Jr., a former head of intelligence within the U.S. State Department, called him "a quintessential kiss-up, kick-down sort of guy." This quote perfectly summarizes the characteristics of authoritarian personality, those who identify with strength and disparage weakness.
John Dean recently revived the use of the term to analyze the contemporary political climate in his book Conservatives Without Conscience, an analysis of the George W. Bush administration and neoconservatism.
Many writing about authoritarian bosses recommend schmoozing as the way to placate them. That does not work well in most cases. It is better to try to separate, distance yourself, emotionally. Try to see him as just a specimen of a particular pervert type of personally. See it as immanent characteristics of this personality type and understand that it stems from a series of insecurities and experiences.
Dec 13, 2014 | The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity
What do the NYPD arresting officers of Eric Garner, the CIA officials responsible for the crimes detailed in the Torture Report and US foreign policy officials all have in common? They are all agents of institutions that have adopted an “authoritarian psychology.” So what does authoritarian psychology mean?
Alexandre Kojeve, a French fascist in Vichy France, and lifelong close friend of Neocon Godfather Leo Strauss, explained authority as follows: “Authority is the possibility of an agent acting upon others without these others reacting against him, despite being capable to do so, and without making any compromises. Any discussion is already a compromise.”
This is anathema to the authoritarian because it means their absolute authority or of the institution they represent has been lost, even if only to an imperceptible degree. That is the nature of authoritarian psychology and authoritarian government by Kojeve’s and fascist logic.
What this meant to Eric Garner was explained to Ray Suarez by a retired Chicago policeman. First, it doesn’t matter whether the arrest is for a petty crime or a felony. In the case of Garner, according to the Chicago policeman, he had been given the opportunity to surrender, to submit. When he didn’t follow the “order,” (not quick enough) he was not complying and therefore the police “took it to the next level.”
In fairness to the police, it can be presumed they would have done the same with a mass murderer or bank robber as someone selling individual cigarettes. Because at the point of arrest, according to the Chicago cop, it is irrelevant how dangerous or non-dangerous the perpetrator is. At that point, the issue is: have they fully submitted, without a peep. Anything less is resisting arrest, and it must be “taken to the next level.”
The same authoritarian principle permeates the CIA. Not just to detainees but also to their elected “masters” as this week has particularly highlighted. Their masters have forgotten their place and their new more complaint masters, the Republicans, have not yet taken office. But both CIA and Republicans are on the rampage in attacking what everyone knows: the CIA tortured, those were war crimes, and it was initiated under the Bush administration.
Space does not permit explaining in full how the Republican party is no longer a “conservative” party in the Anglo-Saxon tradition but has adopted an ideology near identical to what in Germany was called the “Conservative Revolutionary Movement.” But it suffices to say that following World War I, during the Weimar Republic, the Reichswehr, the German Army, with the collaboration of the Weimar government, became a “state within the state,” and represented the ideological interests of the Conservative Revolutionaries.
Those interests and ideology were: a belief in military expansion abroad, legal authoritarianism at home and in the captured territories they anticipated, and a belief that Germany was the highest order of civilization, an exceptional nation, all held together by a celebration of the “martial virtues” and an authoritarian legal order which would brook no disrespect toward it.
In other words, the Conservative Revolutionaries were a rival fascist ideology to the Nazis, and the political platform of the party which represented them is largely the same as the program of the 21st Century Republican party, with its emphasis on authoritarian government and the primacy of the military and paramilitary agencies to the civilian institutions. Fascism is based on irrationalism for which the Republicans have no shortage of, beginning with the Cheney’s, Nicholle “I don’t care what we did” Wallace, and their myriad of followers, including those libertarians who prefer to be “useful idiots” for the Conservative Revolutionaries than to think for themselves. Theirs is an absolutist belief in authoritarianism they went far to advance, smashing the Constitution in their path.
Finally, the United States, through Dick Cheney while he was Secretary of Defense in 1991, created a global authoritarian order with the declaration that all nations must hereafter comply with US military orders, as explained here. Not surprisingly, the Clinton administration didn’t spurn that gift, and Madeline Albright and Hilary Clinton eagerly put it to use in the Balkans.
But the doctrine required Cheney’s return in 2001 to be fully revealed as US authoritarianism applied to the world. This was expressed in the 2001 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) where it identified as a “threat” to the United States what was described as “anti-access and area denial threats.” These were exactly as the plain words stated, the United States saw as a threat to itself nations that might deny it access to their territory regardless of how nefarious our purpose maybe.
This would be explained further by its conception as an enduring national interest, our “freedom of action,” which can only be understood in an Orwellian sense. Finally, to bring that home, in some military reading in the 2002-2003 timeframe, I came across the best explanation of what that all might be: the U.S. will not tolerate any nation even having the ability to make us hesitate in our decision making. In other words, if another nation doesn’t immediately submit and comply with our order, “ we have to “take it to the next level” lest our authority and intimidation capabilities come to be questioned.
Todd E. Pierce retired as a major in the US Army Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps in November 2012.
The Insecure Authoritarian craves having power over other people, even to the point that he will take a perfectly good situation and ruin it just to cause another person anger and frustration.
Example: You are an office clerical staff and he is your supervisor. Your daughter’s school has called to inform you that your daughter is sick and needs to be taken home. You inform your supervisor that, since you have only two hours left on your shift, you would like to take your daughter home and stay there with her for the remainder of your shift. He agrees to that. Then you also request that the two hours be counted toward extra work you did the previous week in which you stayed late. He says no. You state politely that it is company policy to allow flexing your time. Why would it be a problem? He again says no, and orders you to fill out a time off slip.
At this point, the abuser is counting on you getting angry. That’s the whole point. He’s trying to boost his feeling of power by stripping you of yours. If you get angry, he succeeds. Especially if you really blow your top and a third, impartial person walks in on the scene. Then he can turn to the third person and give an expression of confusion at your behavior, further stripping you of your dignity.
How should you handle this? Of course, don’t give him what he wants. But the question is, what do you do?
Or not do. The best response to the Insecure Authoritarian is something called Office Aikido. The art of Aikido is based on non-resistance and using your opponent’s power work against himself.
Now understand something: of all the martial arts, Aikido takes the longest to master. And that means when you apply Office Aikido against an Insecure Authoritarian, you will need to learn patience. It takes time to bring him down—or more correctly, watch him bring himself down.
Here’s how it would work in the above scenario: You agree with him. In fact, you even make a short and simple comment that his way is a better idea than yours.
Why give him what he wants? It’s humiliating!
Because by agreeing with him, you really gave him exactly what he didn’t want! The Insecure Authoritarian very much wants you to disagree with him. That is where he gets his power, by making you do something you don’t want to do.
So when you go along with him, you’re robbing him of his opportunity to rob you of your self-respect.
Look at it this way: the Insecure Authoritarian pushes authority on others in ways and at times when it is unreasonable. He pushes. In order for his tactic to work, you need to resist him. Think of it as if he has put his hands against your shoulders and is trying to force his weight against you. You’re inclination is to push back.
He pushes; you resist. He has a battle. And he will always set the battle conditions in his favor, so he’s sure to have more power than you. (He won’t pull these tricks on his own supervisor!)
But when one person is pushing against another person, he can only keep pushing if the other is pushing back. So by agreeing with him, instead of pushing back, you have simply (and cleverly) stepped out of the way.
If he keeps pushing, he will fall flat on his face.
As in Aikido, you don’t step completely out of the way. You still remain in contact. That way, if you have the opportunity to guide his power push, you can.
Here’s an example of how that might work: Some time later, the district manager, his supervisor, is at the office for a meeting; you are taking the minutes. The subject of employee time off comes up. The district manager asks you to provide statistics on how many hours employees have used as paid time off, and how many as flex time. You reply that you can give him the statistics for paid time off, but not flex time, because the supervisor doesn’t allow it. Since it is a company policy to allow flex time, the district manager turns to your supervisor and requests an explanation.
…is how your supervisor might respond.
Warning! Don’t act smug when you give the district manager this information! Revenge never solves verbal abuse. Just give the facts in an honest, straightforward manner.
In the end, Insecure Authoritarians are destined to self-destruct. The hard part is letting them, as well as resisting the urge for revenge.
So let him fall flat on his face! Office Aikido really works. The less resistance you give to an insecure Authoritarian, the better.
Amazon.comMr. Ford Greene Esq
One of the most important books for the 21st century,
March 31, 2005
God. The God of Science, The God of Papal Infallibility, The God of National Security, The God of Family Values, The God of Buddhist Selflessness, The God of Unconditional Love. What are they good for? Absolutely nothing.
The Guru Papers elegantly identifies the masks that power uses to hide its abuse of others. Authoritarianism is the exercise of authority which, presuming an unquestioning obedience, can tolerate neither question nor challenge, meeting either with disregard or punishment. Assiduously distinguishing the everyday exercise of authority - living life and making choices amongst the propositions it presents - from the bullying domination intrinsic to the type of power unwilling to recognize an equal, the authors carefully dissect the threads which, woven together, comprise the cloth of abuse. Whence abusiveness flows, certain features are invariably present.
When a "leader" sets up an ideological standard of perfection or purity that no human being can attain, and our consequent failure of such attainment becomes the raison d'etre for a double standard of treatment whereby the leader gives orders and we obey them, we have lost our freedom, particularly if we believe it is for our own good.
Whenever one pole of a duality is identified as essential to good living and the other pole leads to evil, behind that mask an authoritarian moralist weaves his tale positing that which he believes is most important, that which he says is God. Gurus and religions, politicians and governments, educators and schools, parents and families, and lovers and spouses frequently equate evil with selfishness and goodness with selflessness and sacrifice. They say if I am sufficiently sincere and pure of heart, I will sacrifice what I want for what they tell me is best. Thus, I will be a better man.
There is little difference between the cult leader who demands allegiance to the unproven presumption of his godliness, and the lover who, crying "let me be myself," claims his imperfections should be accepted without limit in the name of unconditional love. When a moral demand for sacrifice is made in the name of something sacred, be it the Immaculate Conception or an Idealized Lover, one best be brave and ask one's questions. If such courage is met with punishment or disregard, one better run. If one does not, one's conduct will communicate that there is something wrong, and it's not with the other guy.
The essence of authoritarianism attacks the inner certainty of individuals by claiming that it knows a superior, more moral path. It not only condemns an individual's assertion of self as selfish and wrong, but also is unwilling to engage in dialogue which does not adopt an unquestioning regard for that which it deems sacred. If an individual adopts this moral dichotomy, he can only mistrust himself as inferior. This, Alstad/Kramer say, is the purpose of authoritarian control: to generate internal self-mistrust which makes the individual available to imposition of control by an external authority.
They correctly expose the deception that such externally imposed control is benevolent. According to Kramer/Alstad, authoritarian persons are never benevolent because such persons use others for their own selfish purposes while lying about it, saying they are not, if they are saying anything at all. "Do as I say, not as I do; and if you dare question what I do, you are questioning what all good people know is beyond reproach. You, too, would have respect if only you were a good person. Since you are not, you must do as I say. It is for your own good." Such is the circle of authoritarian ideology.
The language of authoritarianism is the language that Orwell named double-speak. There's no Orwellian double-speak in this book, just hard-hitting practical logic that rips the guts out of sacred cows that have fed too long in pastures provided by a naive and idealistic population. Such a populace, wanting to be good, denies that someone who directs their focus on great and beautiful-sounding ideals could be ripping them off, as was one of Hitler's more notable tricks.
Thus, the book shows how both the willingness to psychologically dominate, and to surrender to such, are embedded in one another. The dominating and the dominated persons both believe in an unattainable and essential purity which requires extreme sacrifices, both in its name, as well as for its attainment. One person makes the sacrifice, after the other has convinced him he must, erstwhile he would be morally condemned as selfish and self-centered for having disobeyed the other who claims to know best.
The Guru Papers recognizes that both self-centeredness and selflessness exist - you cannot purge the self of selfishness - and must work together in oneself in balance. It forcefully argues why intelligent negotiation is life-affirming whereas dumb submission invites death. It meticulously dissects the myriad protean tricks authoritarianism employs to maneuver its subjects into place and keep them there. Access to information and accountability for one's conduct are essential for the brave new world that might emerge if the reptant strain of authoritarianism in humankind does not destroy this world first in the name of knowing better.
The book says listen to yourself and if you are degraded or expelled for asking questions, recognize that the inadequacy lies with the authoritarian character, not with you. The Guru Papers makes the authoritarian predicates accountable and exposes them when they are not. It's about time!
February 26, 2012 | Mad In America
(Note: Read Bruce Levine’s latest post: Anti-Authoritarians and Schizophrenia: Do Rebels Who Defy Treatment Do Better?
In my career as a psychologist, I have talked with hundreds of people previously diagnosed by other professionals with oppositional defiant disorder, attention deficit hyperactive disorder, anxiety disorder and other psychiatric illnesses, and I am struck by (1) how many of those diagnosed are essentially anti-authoritarians, and (2) how those professionals who have diagnosed them are not.
Anti-authoritarians question whether an authority is a legitimate one before taking that authority seriously. Evaluating the legitimacy of authorities includes assessing whether or not authorities actually know what they are talking about, are honest, and care about those people who are respecting their authority. And when anti-authoritarians assess an authority to be illegitimate, they challenge and resist that authority—sometimes aggressively and sometimes passive-aggressively, sometimes wisely and sometimes not.
Some activists lament how few anti-authoritarians there appear to be in the United States. One reason could be that many natural anti-authoritarians are now psychopathologized and medicated before they achieve political consciousness of society’s most oppressive authorities.
Why Mental Health Professionals Diagnose Anti-Authoritarians with Mental Illness
Gaining acceptance into graduate school or medical school and achieving a PhD or MD and becoming a psychologist or psychiatrist means jumping through many hoops, all of which require much behavioral and attentional compliance to authorities, even to those authorities that one lacks respect for. The selection and socialization of mental health professionals tends to breed out many anti-authoritarians. Having steered the higher-education terrain for a decade of my life, I know that degrees and credentials are primarily badges of compliance. Those with extended schooling have lived for many years in a world where one routinely conforms to the demands of authorities. Thus for many MDs and PhDs, people different from them who reject this attentional and behavioral compliance appear to be from another world—a diagnosable one.
I have found that most psychologists, psychiatrists, and other mental health professionals are not only extraordinarily compliant with authorities but also unaware of the magnitude of their obedience. And it also has become clear to me that the anti-authoritarianism of their patients creates enormous anxiety for these professionals, and their anxiety fuels diagnoses and treatments.
In graduate school, I discovered that all it took to be labeled as having “issues with authority” was to not kiss up to a director of clinical training whose personality was a combination of Donald Trump, Newt Gingrich, and Howard Cosell. When I was told by some faculty that I had “issues with authority,” I had mixed feelings about being so labeled. On the one hand, I found it quite amusing, because among the working-class kids whom I had grown up with, I was considered relatively compliant with authorities. After all, I had done my homework, studied, and received good grades. However, while my new “issues with authority” label made me grin because I was now being seen as a “bad boy,” it also very much concerned me about just what kind of a profession that I had entered. Specifically, if somebody such as myself was being labeled with “issues with authority,” what were they calling the kids I grew up with who paid attention to many things that they cared about but didn’t care enough about school to comply there? Well, the answer soon became clear.
Mental Illness Diagnoses for Anti-Authoritarians
A 2009 Psychiatric Times article titled “ADHD & ODD: Confronting the Challenges of Disruptive Behavior” reports that “disruptive disorders,” which include attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and opposition defiant disorder (ODD), are the most common mental health problem of children and teenagers. ADHD is defined by poor attention and distractibility, poor self-control and impulsivity, and hyperactivity. ODD is defined as a “a pattern of negativistic, hostile, and defiant behavior without the more serious violations of the basic rights of others that are seen in conduct disorder”; and ODD symptoms include “often actively defies or refuses to comply with adult requests or rules” and “often argues with adults.”
Psychologist Russell Barkley, one of mainstream mental health’s leading authorities on ADHD, says that those afflicted with ADHD have deficits in what he calls “rule-governed behavior,” as they are less responsive to rules of established authorities and less sensitive to positive or negative consequences. ODD young people, according to mainstream mental health authorities, also have these so-called deficits in rule-governed behavior, and so it is extremely common for young people to have a “duel diagnosis” of AHDH and ODD.
Do we really want to diagnose and medicate everyone with “deficits in rule-governed behavior”?
Albert Einstein, as a youth, would have likely received an ADHD diagnosis, and maybe an ODD one as well. Albert didn’t pay attention to his teachers, failed his college entrance examinations twice, and had difficulty holding jobs. However, Einstein biographer Ronald Clark (Einstein: The Life and Times) asserts that Albert’s problems did not stem from attention deficits but rather from his hatred of authoritarian, Prussian discipline in his schools. Einstein said, “The teachers in the elementary school appeared to me like sergeants and in the Gymnasium the teachers were like lieutenants.” At age 13, Einstein read Kant’s difficult Critique of Pure Reason — because Albert was interested in it. Clark also tells us Einstein refused to prepare himself for his college admissions as a rebellion against his father’s “unbearable” path of a “practical profession.” After he did enter college, one professor told Einstein, “You have one fault; one can’t tell you anything.” The very characteristics of Einstein that upset authorities so much were exactly the ones that allowed him to excel.
By today’s standards, Saul Alinsky, the legendary organizer and author of Reveille for Radicals and Rules for Radicals, would have certainly been diagnosed with one or more disruptive disorders. Recalling his childhood, Alinsky said, “I never thought of walking on the grass until I saw a sign saying ‘Keep off the grass.’ Then I would stomp all over it.” Alinsky also recalls a time when he was ten or eleven and his rabbi was tutoring him in Hebrew:
One particular day I read three pages in a row without any errors in pronunciation, and suddenly a penny fell onto the Bible . . . Then the next day the rabbi turned up and he told me to start reading. And I wouldn’t; I just sat there in silence, refusing to read. He asked me why I was so quiet, and I said, “This time it’s a nickel or nothing.” He threw back his arm and slammed me across the room.
Many people with severe anxiety and/or depression are also anti-authoritarians. Often a major pain of their lives that fuels their anxiety and/or depression is fear that their contempt for illegitimate authorities will cause them to be financially and socially marginalized; but they fear that compliance with such illegitimate authorities will cause them existential death.
I have also spent a great deal of time with people who had at one time in their lives had thoughts and behavior that were so bizarre that they were extremely frightening for their families and even themselves; they were diagnosed with schizophrenia and other psychoses, but have fully recovered and have been, for many years, leading productive lives. Among this population, I have not met one person whom I would not consider a major anti-authoritarian. Once recovered, they have learned to channel their anti-authoritarianism into more constructive political ends, including reforming mental health treatment.
Many anti-authoritarians who earlier in their lives were diagnosed with mental illness tell me that once they were labeled with a psychiatric diagnosis, they got caught in a dilemma. Authoritarians, by definition, demand unquestioning obedience, and so any resistance to their diagnosis and treatment created enormous anxiety for authoritarian mental health professionals; and professionals, feeling out of control, labeled them “noncompliant with treatment,” increased the severity of their diagnosis, and jacked up their medications.
... ... ...
Maintaining the Societal Status Quo
Americans have been increasingly socialized to equate inattention, anger, anxiety, and immobilizing despair with a medical condition, and to seek medical treatment rather than political remedies. What better way to maintain the status quo than to view inattention, anger, anxiety, and depression as biochemical problems of those who are mentally ill rather than normal reactions to an increasingly authoritarian society.
The reality is that depression is highly associated with societal and financial pains. One is much more likely to be depressed if one is unemployed, underemployed, on public assistance, or in debt (for documentation, see “400% Rise in Anti-Depressant Pill Use”). And ADHD labeled kids do pay attention when they are getting paid, or when an activity is novel, interests them, or is chosen by them (documented in my book Commonsense Rebellion).
In an earlier dark age, authoritarian monarchies partnered with authoritarian religious institutions. When the world exited from this dark age and entered the Enlightenment, there was a burst of energy. Much of this revitalization had to do with risking skepticism about authoritarian and corrupt institutions and regaining confidence in one’s own mind. We are now in another dark age, only the institutions have changed. Americans desperately need anti-authoritarians to question, challenge, and resist new illegitimate authorities and regain confidence in their own common sense.
In every generation there will be authoritarians and anti-authoritarians. While it is unusual in American history for anti-authoritarians to take the kind of effective action that inspires others to successfully revolt, every once in a while a Tom Paine, Crazy Horse, or Malcolm X come along. So authoritarians financially marginalize those who buck the system, they criminalize anti-authoritarianism, they psychopathologize anti-authoritarians, and they market drugs for their “cure.”
April 22, 2010 | fins.com
Authoritarian management style and culture is marked by rigid hierarchies, complicated bureaucracy, and managers who require total submission from their employees, demand adherence to strict edicts that only they can issue, become enraged when challenged, and discourage the input of underlings.
To most investment bankers and traders, this sounds like an average day at the office -- and, unfortunately, it is. Authoritarianism, often tied in with narcissism, is probably the most common management style on Wall Street, said Dartmouth Tuck School of Business Professor Ella Bell, a workplace expert and author of the book "CAREER GPS: Strategies for Women Navigating the New Corporate Landscape."
"Authoritarian managers have a remarkable ability to rise within organizations and set the tone for the entire culture," said Deirdre O'Donnell, an associate director of career development at Dartmouth's Tuck School of Business and a former banker at Lehman Brothers.
In highly subjective professions like those dealing with news or markets, authoritarianism is more often than not a management disaster that leads to talent departures, expensive training costs for new people, and pervasive organizational distrust, experts say. Authoritarianism comes in different flavors, said psychiatrist Dr. Roy Lubit, the author of "Coping with Toxic Managers, Subordinates...and other Difficult People."
A good example is one of Wall Street's most authoritarian managers, former Lehman Brothers chief Richard Fuld, whose bullying earned him the nickname "The Gorilla."
Fuld's disastrous decision not to listen to his head of fixed-income, Michael Gelband, may have accelerated Lehman's downfall. According to "A Colossal Failure of Common Sense," a book about the collapse of Lehman Brothers by Lawrence G. McDonald and Patrick Robinson, in 2005, Gelband told Fuld that the market for real-estate securities was softening and that he was worried about Lehman's exposure. Gelband told Fuld Lehman was likely to lose money. His frankness fell on deaf ears and drew political penalties. In 2007, Gelband grew tired of being thwarted by Fuld and quit the firm along with several others. (The postscript: In 2008, Fuld hired Gelband back because he was one of the few people with any ideas about how to handle Lehman's real-estate disaster.)
Fuld wasn't the only one.
Former Merrill Lynch chief executive E. Stanley O'Neal was well-known for his ivory tower management style and that he surrounded himself with "yes" men. O'Neal completely missed the fact that his firm was one of the primary underwriters and buyers of toxic mortgage securities that were unable to be sold. By the time O'Neal found out, it was too late to fix the problem.
Authoritarians, particularly of the narcissistic kind, have several characteristics that allow them to rise within investment banks, and even more so in a recession when people are fighting for their jobs, said Lubit.
According to Lubit, they are drawn to prominent positions and believe they are better than those around them. He has to believe he's better than everyone, or else he believes he's not better than anyone, Lubit said. "An authoritarian doesn't want to be surrounded by the best people, because they don't like to be challenged and need to be at the center of everything," he said.
Identifying an authoritarian boss is easy. Here are a few things to look out for.
Fragile Ego: Narcissistic authoritarians often have fragile egos that have to stay well-fed, Bell said. They will take no-holds-barred action against anyone who threatens their ego -- whether a peer or a subordinate -- through a variety of strategies, ranging from stealing credit to sabotage to open deceit. They may make an effort to hide or misrepresent an employee's accomplishments and take the credit themselves, particularly if they perceive that the employee is skilled enough at his or her job to threaten his position in the organization. "Some people say, 'I'm going to be honest with you.' These people don't last as long with an authoritarian boss," said O'Donnell.
Mr. Hyde: Another key characteristic of such types, Lubit said, is that they often have a Jekyll-and-Hyde personalities: They manage upwards well while they abuse, bully or ignore subordinates. Higher executives often remain unaware of what's happening. "There's a tremendous tendency to give credit to the manager of the group and blame underlings," Lubit said. "Companies are very bad at telling who's really good and who's a self-promoter."
- Subordinates: Under authoritarian bosses, employee turnover is higher than it is in an organization as a whole, and the people who leave are often highly skilled.
- Rule by fear: O'Donnell says to look for the basic Machiavellian mandate. "His reputation will precede him," and many in the organization will avoid working with him.
- Don't Expect Promotions: Authoritarians rarely share their skills or what they know -- at least, not on purpose, said Lubit. If they find someone good, they will want that person's work for the greater glory of their own group and thwart other managers from talking to or approaching them.
"Given the choice between the efficiency of the organization or getting glory of their group, they will always choose the latter," Lubit said. There are some exceptions: Authoritarians will sometimes take someone they recognize as a "baby shark" as a protégé, said Bell.
Mean Girls: Authoritarians, out of their own insecurities, create social systems that they can control. They are also invariably bullies, although their bullying may be done through derisive comments rather than loud pushing. Narcissistic authoritarians will always choose someone in their group as the designated doormat. Because the leader knows he is disliked, he will also favor someone else with a more ingratiating personality as the designated mole or informer whose job is to feed information about other group members back to the leader, mainly to discourage any coups. "It's not just the boss who's the saboteur; he's got people on the ground who are saboteurs as well," O'Donnell warns. "They do that by becoming the confidant of the boss and feeding him information." By destabilizing relationships among team members, the narcissistic authoritarian stays on top.
Dealing with Authoritarians
Most often, people who are working under such bosses throw up their hands and quit, noted the experts. But if people only want to get past the boss and not exit the organization all together, there are ways to deal with the situation, the experts say.
- Get perspective: The experts advise employees to think of working for the authoritarian as a temporary assignment, and to approach it with the attitude of learning something from the experience at all costs. "Treat it as a sociological experiment," Bell advises. "Reframe that experience: What is your takeaway from this, how can I learn from this person, how can I succeed like they're suceeding?" She encourages people to remember, "this is a time-sensitive assignment, not for the rest of your life."
- Don't be a doormat: Resist the bullying tactics often associated with narcissistic authoritarians. "They're looking for someone to put down, and if you show weakness, you will be their whipping boy," said Lubit. Don't be that person. If an authoritarian boss speaks to you disrespectfully, strongly signal politely that you won't accept that treatment. They'll move on to someone else. "You need to sit down with them and say, 'you can't do that.' Don't let them abuse you. If it's an authoritarian culture, you don't want to be eaten up and spit out," Bell says.
"You don't confront a grizzly bear," said Lubit. Authoritarians respond badly to authoritarian behavior, ironically. So, be polite but firm.
- Deliver: Bell, Lubit and O'Donnell stress that authoritarians see themselves as people who deliver the goods, and likewise respect people who can do the same. That is some measure of protection. "They will develop a baby shark. If you don't see yourself as a baby shark, you have to make sure you perform," said Bell.
- Hard Work Won't Save You: Surprisingly, Bell said, even though authoritarians respect hard work, it can also be the political undoing of their underlings. Someone who keeps their nose to the grindstone is likely to have a short tenure under an authoritarian, she said. "You have to have a constellation of support so that people know who you are and what you bring to the table," Bell said. "This is where you need to have relationships with other senior managers."
- Look for the No. 2: Many companies will try to avoid firing high-producing authoritarians by pairing them with someone who is kinder and who can run interference on people issues, notes O'Donnell. At Lehman Brothers, this was former president Joe Gregory. This person might be a good proxy with whom to bring up your concerns, but remember: they are not your friends. Don't tell them what you wouldn't want the authoritarian to know.
- Keep records: Bell encourages employees to keep a thorough file of all their accomplishments - at home, not in the office. The employee can present the files at review time, when the authoritarian is most likely to try to take away credit. The employee should also keep records of the authoritarian's lapses in behavior, and if they become numerous enough, try to find a sympathetic ear among higher management.
To companies, the toll of letting authoritarians run rampant is often "chaos," and costly departures of skilled people working under authoritarian bosses, according to Lubit.
"People get frustrated, they get burnt out, and their self-esteem drops because they keep asking 'what's wrong with me,'" said Bell. "The people in investment banking are extremely bright and competitive by nature. But after a while, it does make a difference and it does take its toll. People who don't have those personalities will leave."
Observe people's workplace habits and behavior toward those who work for them. Authoritarian personalities work tirelessly to achieve deadlines, have an unquestioning respect for company policies and objectives and expect the same level of hard work and discipline from others. Authoritarian personalities in management positions tend to reward workers who follow the rules and can become so focused on meeting deadlines that they fail to take account of the needs and problems of those beneath them. They take a practical approach toward tasks because they have difficulty understanding abstract or creative concepts and may be suspicious of people who think unconventionally.
- Study how someone interacts with friends and family. Authoritarian personalities are not naturally attuned to their own feelings or those of others. They have difficulty expressing affection, although they care deeply about those close to them and are extremely loyal toward friends and family. An authoritarian father, for example, may lay down strict rules and regulations for his children, while being a good provider and a responsible, caring parent. Friends and family members who have this personality type tend to express their affection through actions rather than words.
Engage someone you suspect has authoritarian personality in conversation. You can pick up a lot about someone's personality by what they say in everyday conversation. Look for clues that reveal respect for authority, a need for routine and a practical, logical worldview. Someone who says, for example, that he takes his clothes to the dry cleaner every Friday night and expresses suspicion of outlandish, fanciful theories might well have an authoritarian personality.
January 2, 2011 | ipsych
In the field of organizational psychology, this type of leader was first recognized in the 1950’s. You may find yourself working for or with this type of person, and yet no one else in authority seems to recognize it.
The KU/KD person is very charming and perhaps adored by those who are friends or equal-status colleagues. They go out of their way to compliment their peers or those they view as in higher positions. However, if you are a person who is seen as inferior or who has a lower position in a company or organization, watch out! You will be subject to a barrage of negativity and blame you may have never experienced before.
The KU/KD person was likely raised by an authoritarian parent, thus molding how they interact with fellow people in authority, and those who are under their authority. Unfortunately, the KU/KD person also gravitates towards positions of authority, thus spreading their influence.
Symptoms of this Personality
In my own person experience, I find this listing of symptoms of the KU/KD person right on target.
- Mistakes are concealed
- People are under constant stress
- Power is based on fear, not respect
- Information is withheld and distorted
- Information flow is primarily from top down
- Behavior is forced; does not come naturally
- Behavior is not consistent with true feelings, which adds to the stress
- Conflicts and problems are blamed on the dependent’s “poor attitudes” and “character flaws.”
(From the Authoritarian Personality study, 1950, UC-Berkley).
What can you do?
Unfortunately, this is a type of personality disorder, and there is little you can do when working for or with this type of person. If you are working for this person long term, you need to leave the organization or company as soon as possible. Their negativity will be extremely stressful and ultimately do damage to your career.
Do not think you can convince others in authority who are this person’s peers or supervisors that this person is negative and destructive. They are charismatic and have spent years developing the dedicated and “wonderful” persona.
Do not think you can talk to the person and ask them to consider changing. They do not allow anyone to challenge them, and they despise admitting mistakes. In fact, if you are questioning their decisions or behavior, they have already put a plan in motion to whisper about your own competency or value to the company or organization.
Dec 02, 2011 | Jesse's Café Américain
Anyone who has ever worked in a large corporation has seen the empty suits that seem to inexplicably rise to positions of power. They talk a great game, possessing extraordinary verbal acuity, and often with an amazing ability to rise quickly without significant accomplishments to positions of great personal power, and often using it ruthlessly once it is achieved.
Their ruthless obsession with power and its visible rewards rises above the general level of narcissism and sycophancy that often plagues large organizations, especially those with an established franchise where performance is not as much of an issue as collecting their rents.
And anyone who has been on the inside of the national political process knows this is certainly nothing exclusive to the corporate world.
Here is a paper recently published in the Journal of Business Ethics that hypothesizes along these lines. It is only a preliminary paper, lacking in full scholarship and a cycle of peer review.
But it raises a very important subject. Organizational theories such as the efficient markets hypothesis that assume rational behavior on the part of market participants tends to fall apart in the presence of the irrational and selfish short term focus of a significant minority of people who seek power, much less the top one percent of the psychologically ruthless.
Indeed, not only was previously unheard of behavior allowed, it became quite fashionable and desired in certain sections of American management where ruthless pursuit of profits at any cost was highly prized and rewarded. And if caught, well, only the little people must pay for their transgressions. The glass ceiling becomes a floor above which the ordinary rules do not apply.
If you wish to determine the character of a generation or a people, look to their heroes, leaders, and role models.
This is nothing new, but a lesson from history that has been unlearned. The entire system of checks and balances, of rule of law, of transparency in government, of accountability and personal honor, is based on the premise that one cannot always count on people to be naturally good and self-effacing. And further, that at times it seems that a relatively small group of corrupt people can rise to power, and harm the very fabric of a society.‘When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.’These things tend to go in cycles. It will be interesting to see how this line of analysis progresses. I am sure we all have a few candidates we would like to submit for testing. No one is perfect or even perfectly average. But systems that assume as much are more dangerous than standing armies, since like finds like, and dishonesty and fraud can become epidemic in an organization and a corporate culture, finally undermining the very law and principle of stewardship itself.
'And remember, where you have a concentration of power in a few hands, all too frequently men with the mentality of gangsters get control. History has proven that.'
Lord Acton'Our government...teaches the whole people by its example. If the government becomes the lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy.'MF Global, and the reaction to it thus far, is one of the better examples of shocking behaviour that lately seems to be tolerated, ignored, and all too often met with weak excuses and lame promises to do better next time, while continuing on as before.
Louis D. Brandeis"These corporate collapses have gathered pace in recent years, especially in the western world, and have culminated in the Global Financial Crisis that we are now in.
In watching these events unfold it often appears that the senior directors involved walk away with a clean conscience and huge amounts of money. Further, they seem to be unaffected by the corporate collapses they have created. They present themselves as glibly unbothered by the chaos around them, unconcerned about those who have lost their jobs, savings, and investments, and as lacking any regrets about what they have done.
They cheerfully lie about their involvement in events are very persuasive in blaming others for what has happened and have no doubts about their own continued worth and value. They are happy to walk away from the economic disaster that they have managed to bring about, with huge payoffs and with new roles advising governments how to prevent such economic disasters.
Many of these people display several of the characteristics of psychopaths and some of them are undoubtedly true psychopaths. Psychopaths are the 1% of people who have no conscience or empathy and who do not care for anyone other than themselves.
Some psychopaths are violent and end up in jail, others forge careers in corporations. The latter group who forge successful corporate careers is called Corporate Psychopaths...
Psychologists have argued that Corporate Psychopaths within organizations may be singled out for rapid promotion because of their polish, charm, and cool decisiveness. Expert commentators on the rise of Corporate Psychopaths within modern corporations have also hypothesized that they are more likely to be found at the top of current organisations than at the bottom.
Further, that if this is the case, then this phenomenon will have dire consequences for the organisations concerned and for the societies in which those organisations are based. Since this prediction of dire consequences was made the Global Financial Crisis has come about.
Research by Babiak and Hare in the USA, Board and Fritzon in the UK and in Australia has shown that psychopaths are indeed to be found at greater levels of incidence at senior levels of organisations than they are at junior levels (Boddy et al., 2010a). There is also some evidence that they may tend to join some types of organisations rather than others and that, for example, large financial organisations may be attractive to them because of the potential rewards on offer in these organizations."
Clive R. Boddy, The Corporate Psychopaths Theory of the Global Financial Crisis, Journal of Business Ethics, 2011
By Mark Ames, author of Going Postal: Rage, Murder and Rebellion from Reagan’s Workplaces to Clinton’s Columbine. Cross posted from The Exiled.
ScottA7:55 pm “This Mark Ames guy, whoever he is?”MontanaMaven
Dude, THIS is who Mark Ames is:
ie, he’s the guy who figured the deep, dark, secret reasons why bitter losers like you continue to vote against your own interests (and f*ck up American politics):
Millions of Americans, particularly white males, don’t vote for what’s in their so-called best interests. Thomas Frank recently attacked this riddle in his new book “What’s the Matter with Kansas?” but he fails to answer his own question. He can’t, in fact, because his is a flawed premise. Frank, who is at his best when he’s just vicious, still clings to the comforting theory that Middle Americans are being duped by an evil corporate-political machine that subtly but masterfully manipulates the psychological levers of cultural backlash, implying that if average Americans were left to their own devices, they would somehow make entirely rational, enlightened choices and elect sensible New Deal Democrats every time. This puts Frank in a bind he never quite gets out of. Like all lefties, he is incapable of taking his ruthless analysis beyond a certain point.
The reason is simple. The underlying major premise of humanist-leftist ideology states that people are intrinsically sympathetic. If people are defiantly mean and craven, the humanist-left structure falters.
“Why the f*ck should I bother fighting for Middle Americans,” they ask, “if they’re just as loathsome, in their own petty way, as their exploiters, with whom they actively collaborate?”
Rather than grapple with that dilemma, the left pretends it doesn’t exist. This is why they will forever struggle to understand the one overriding mystery of why so many working- and middle-class white males vote against their own best interests.
I CAN TELL YOU WHY. They do so out of spite. Put your ear to the ground in this country, and you’ll hear the toxic spite churning. It’s partly the result of commercial propaganda and sexual desperation – a desperation far more common than is admitted. If you didn’t know anything about how America’s propaganda worked, you’d think that every citizen here experienced four-dimensional multiple orgasms with beautiful, creative, equally satisfied partners, morning, noon and night.
The wretched truth is that America is an erogenous no man’s land. Most white males here (at least the straight ones) have either dismal sex lives or no sex lives at all. As bad as this hurts, the pain is compounded every time you expose yourself to the cultural lies that await you at every turn – that is, every waking hour and during deep REM sleep, when the subliminal messages kick in. This wretchedness leads to a desire for vengeance, to externalize the inner famine – it leads directly to the Republican camp.
Spite-voters also lack the sense that they have any stake in the future of the country. There is something proprietary implied in all of the didacticism and concern found in the left’s tone. The left struggles to understand why so many non-millionaire Americans vote Republican, and yet they rarely ask themselves why so many millionaires, particularly the most beautiful and privileged millionaires in Manhattan and Los Angeles, vote for the Democrats.
I can answer both. Rich, beautiful, coastal types are liberal precisely because their lives are so wonderful. They want to preserve their lives exactly as they are. If I were a rich movie star, I’d vote for peace and poverty relief. War and domestic insurrection are the greatest threats to their already-perfect lives – why mess with it? This rational fear of the peasantry is frequently misinterpreted as rich guilt, but that’s not the case. They just want to pay off all the have-nots to keep them from storming their manors and impaling them on stakes.
Republican elites don’t set off the spite glands in the same way, and it’s not only because of a sinister right-wing propaganda machine. Take a look at a photo of the late billionaire Sam Walton, a dried-out Calvinist in a baseball cap and business suit, and you’ll see why. If Republican billionaires enjoy their wealth, they sure as hell hide it well. As far as one can tell, Republican billionaires genuinely like working 18-hour days in offices. Their idea of having fun is a day on the golf green (a game as slow and frustrating as a day in the office) or attending conferences with other sleazy, cheerless Calvinist billionaires. If that’s what all their wealth got them, let ‘em have it – so says the spite bloc.
This explains why the Republican elite – the only true and all-powerful elite in America today – is not considered an “elitist” class in the spleens of the white male have-nots. Elitism as defined today is a synonym for “happy,” not “rich” or “powerful.” Happiness is the scarcest resource of all, not money. And the happy supply has been cornered by the beautiful, famous and wealthy coastal elite, the ones who never age, and who are just so damned concerned for the have-nots’ well-being. In that sense, you can see how the Republicans were able to successfully manipulate the meaning of “elitism” to suit their needs. They weren’t just selling dogshit to the credulous masses; they were selling pancreatic balm to the needy.
At the other end of the economic spectrum, non-millionaires who vote Republican, the so-called “Reagan Democrats,” know that the country is not theirs. They are mere wage-slave fodder, so their only hope is to vote for someone who makes the very happiest people’s lives a little less happy. If I’m an obese 40-something white male living in Ohio or Nevada, locked into a permanent struggle with foreclosure, child support payments and outsourcing threats, then I’m going to vote for the guy who delivers a big greasy portion of misery to the Sarandon-Robbins dining room table, then brags about it on FoxNews. Even if it means hurting myself in the process.
This explains the mystery of why Bush still has a chance of winning in November, even though most Americans acknowledge that his presidency is little more than a series of slapstick f*ck-ups with apocalyptic consequences. Inspector Clouseau meets the Book of Revelations. Close to half of this country will support Bush simply to spite that part of America that it sees as most threatened by the Iraq debacle. If the empire ends up collapsing into that filthy, sizzling hellhole in the desert, if more terrorists are created to help set off dirty bombs in Manhattan or Los Angeles, our spiteful voter has a real chance of finally achieving some empowerment.
It’s simple mathematics: Bring down the coastal elite and the single 40-something Ohio salesman might actually matter. And if they’re not brought down, but instead remain in a constant state of indigestion over policies that could ruin them at any time? Well, that’s still better than nothing.
This is why all the talk about “personal interests” is a sham. Spite voters don’t care solely about their own interests, nor are they bothered by how “the left talks as if they know what everyone’s best interests are,” an argument you often hear from the whiney right. What bothers spiters is that the left really does know what’s in their interests. If you’re miserable, you don’t want to be told what’s best for you by someone who’s correct – it’s sort of like being … occupied by a foreign army with good intentions. You’d rather fuck things up on your own, something you’re quite good at, and bring others down with you.
Spite voting is mostly a white male phenomenon, which is why a majority of white males vote Republican. It comes from a toxic mix of thwarted expectations, cowardice and anomie that is unique to the white American male experience.
Yeah. THAT’S who Mark Ames is. The guy who finally figured out why losers like you want everyone else to lose as well.Love Mark Ames, Yasha Levine from “Exiled”. Taibbi was with them for a time in Russia.
I had not read Ames “Spite The Vote” though. Stunningly right on the mark. “This is America, not Denmark. In this country, tens of millions of people choose to watch FoxNews not simply because Americans are credulous idiots or at the behest of some right-wing corporate cabal, but because average Americans respect viciousness. They are attracted to viciousness for a lot of reasons. In part, it reminds them of their bosses, whom they secretly adore.
Americans hate themselves for the way they behave in public, always smiling and nodding their heads with accompanying really?s and uh-huhs to show that they’re listening to the other person, never having the guts to say what they really feel. So they vicariously scream and bully others into submission through right-wing surrogate-brutes.
Spending time watching Sean Hannity is enough for your average American white male to feel less cowardly than he really is.
The left won’t accept this awful truth about the American soul, a beast that they believe they can fix “if only the people knew the Truth.” ”
This behavior is sometimes called “passive-aggressive”. Montana is the most passive aggressive place I have ever lived. Having lived in NYC where people are aggressive but rarely passive, I am always being told here that I’m “too blunt” i.e. truthful and that I shouldn’t “wear my heart on my sleeve”.
I should be more “politic” i.e. smile and lie a lot. (I was also told that when I worked in a large LA company).
Thanks for posting these thoughts by Mark Ames. We are not supposed to discuss our nation’s shadow, but Jung would call that a very unhealthy way to live.
Bob Hoskins (Elkhorn, WI USA): Authoritarianism is the focus, February 1, 2011T. ORourke (Pennsylvania Finally, an explanation!,
I just finished reading this one tonight and to be honest, it was a hard read. There comes a point of "numbness" where the information isn't sinking in anymore.
The book is basically about Authoritarian Conservatives and their traits which allow them to act without demonstrating conscience. Dean outlines the traits backed up with scientific studies and examples. Some of the traits include, no support for equality, personal gain comes first, amassing personal power, disregard for rules/laws, obsessive secrecy, intimidation, bullying etc..
Dean then goes onto describe "Double High" authoritarians. "Double high" refers to over achievers on the scoring scales used to measure authoritarianism. Maybe you can name one or two Republicans whilst reading this review?
All the likely suspects are named in the book: Pat Robertson, Tom Delay, Dick Cheney, Bush II and a couple of others. These players antics are detailed and outlined using the authoritarian scale to illustrate the traits mentioned.
It's a pretty good book but it left me feeling helpless somehow. Helpless insomuch as "What do we do about it?". Dean leaves us with words of warning about more and more authoritarian type conservatives coming into politics with strong religious faith and demonstrating all the traits of authoritarianism.
I'm glad I read it as, like so many, I'm appalled at the last administration's (Bush/Cheney) behavior which is what started me looking for books of this nature to help me understand what went on for 8 years. I more understand the mindset now and I can also recognize it so, for me, a worthy read.
January 11, 2011
I read the Kindle version of this book after serendipitously seeing Mr. Dean on Keith Olberman's show in a late rerun after a bowl game last week. I have heard Mr. Dean on TV before and found him to be a most reasonable man, so I thought it was worth the $13 to read what he had found, as actual research and science are at a minimum in the public debates currently. This book is fascinating. As a devout Catholic, I am personally conservative about some matters, but I also feel I have no right to force my beliefs on others. I have never been able to understand how so many of the people that I know, most of whom are enjoyable company, become completely irrational about politics and public policy and absolutely ignore or willfully misinterpret events and situations that run contrary to their viewpoints. They repeatedly conflate the facts to suit their narratives or ignore the facts, or what serves as the best information we have, in order to sustain what I feel is a delusion. That they are authoritarian puts a name to the problem which decreases my general discomfort with the situation (much like giving a person a diagnosis for a discomfort they are having relieves some of their anxiety, though doesn't necessarily relieve their illness - I am also a doctor) but it is not "cured".
Anyone with any insight into people will see how true all this rings as they read it. Of course, by rule, authoritarian readers (perhaps including the reviewer for Publishers Weekly) will not get it or will be made angry by its information and attack the messenger. My favorite parts are when he reviews the various Republican leaders of the last two to three decades in all their fallen glory. I especially enjoyed his total takedown of Cheney, who has surely been one of the worst human beings of the last 30 years. That someone finally had the guts to put in print Cheney's incompetence and poor judgment (has the man ever been correct about anything?) makes whatever else Mr. Dean had to go through to get to this point eminently worth it.
Still the conclusions are frightening, especially as we see with the recent violence in Tucson and the public reactions: these people will not change and have almost no insight into what the problem may be! I would love to send this book to all my friends who were and still are in lockstep with the Republicans on every issue no matter how foolish or hypocritical their position is, and who have no problem with the near treasonous abuse of their power and influence to keep almost anything from happening in order to make President Obama look ineffective, but I know they would never read it.
Clearly, three or four years later, the knowledge this book contains has not penetrated the public discourse, but those of you who read the book will know and maybe everyone of us can start to push back against these most pushy people and get our country headed in a better direction than fascism or fundamentalist theocracy (see also American Fascists by Chris Hedges).
I must also note the charts and graphs on my Kindle did not show the right side of the page, which mostly listed liberal, or at least non-authoritarian traits. I guess I could have shrunk the fonts? Still, well worth your time if you want to better understand why our country is going down the toilet.
whomper "speedball" (virginia):answers questions that others ignore or obfuscate, May 5, 2009 By -
this books is probably 4.5 stars but only because it left me wanting more info. but what was there was outstanding.
i never cared much for john dean, and seems like an afterthough as a current talking head on various cable news channels, but this book is still good. it is fully documented with endnotes, and is extremely insightful.
i recommend that everyone read this book, especially if you think you are a conservative or belong to the greatly obsolete party
as a big plus factor, this is the first and only book that really explains what the term conservative means. one chapter defines about a dozen different types. all too often the press lumps all conservatives into one bucket which badly distorts reality.
there may well be a few additional classes but seeing the distinctions of these various "conservative" groups and their characteristics is valuable.
in actuality there is NO ONE useful definition of conservative as the term has been claimed by many differing and incompatible groups which should all be defined with a preceding adjective to explain what they really are. eg neo-conservative, paleo-conservative, buchanan-conservative, jefferson-conservative, reagan-conservative, yada yada -- and these groups are often at odds with each otehr.
additionally the book covers a lot of psycho-social characteristics of some "conservatives" which is very useful in understanding how many of these groups (including baby bush and his neocon crew) must operate and why/how they can.
deans point is that many of the groups that are labelled conservative are bad news, and tells why, although not all of them share these flaws.
this psyco profiling was interesting but the meat is in the realisation that there are no real conservatives but only a collection of disparate groups that claim that moniker. and he tells what they are and their characteristics.
i got this book to have something to read while i ate at mcdonalds. i thought it would be done in 20 minutes along with my meal but this book fooled me by actually having the beef and kept me reading until i finished it.
if you care about the survival of the usa or politics in general you should read this book.
Jean E. Pouliot (Newburyport, MA United States): Cool, analytical and devastating, November 17, 2008
John Dean, the conscience of Watergate, continues to chronicle the strange turns the Republican party has taken since his days in power in the Nixon Administration. "Conservative Without Conscience" is not an indictment of all conservatives. Indeed, Dean is still fond of his days as a Goldwater Republican and his friendship with Barry Goldwater, godfather of what seems like a long-dead sector of that party. Dean turns his lawyerly, analytical mind to understand where his party has gone wrong. He provides a history of American conservatism, from the monarchial leanings of Alexander Hamilton to the more recent shenanigans of Newt Gingrich, Jack Abramoff and Pat Robertson. He distinguishes the various branches of conservatism -- from libertarian to cultural, social, economic and neocon conservatisms. Dean also goes to lengths to try to define conservatism, a surprisingly difficult task.
His most devastating and worrying chapters center on the work of social psychologist Robert Altemeyer, who has made a career studying authoritarian personalities. Altemeyer identifies people using two scales, classifying them as RWAs or SDOs. RWAs, or Right Wing Authoritarians, tend to be followers -- they are politically conservative and religious. People with a Social Domination Orientation (SDO) are the natural leaders that RWAs and others looks up to. SDOs seek personal power, are self-righteous and amoral, despite whatever religious affiliation they might have. God help us from the double high scorers, who are both RWAs and SDOs. Dean sees some of our more troubling conservatives -- Tom Delay, Dick Cheney, Gingrich, Robertson and Abramoff as exhibiting the traits of double highs. Neocons and religious conservative groups seems especially attractive to authoritarian personalities.
In spite of his wariness and bluntness about some of the right's leading lights, in "Conservatives without a Conscience" Dean seems to retain and even take pride in his conservative credentials. Dean hopes to bring a measure of reflection to a crowd not naturally good at it. Written just prior to the 2006 election, which resulted a slim majority of Democrats in Congress, it is a plea for Americans to be more careful about the leaders they pick. A fine book that helped this old liberal look at conservatives more clearly and even sympathetically.
Obi "Obi wan liberali" (SLC, UT): No Kid Glove Treatment for Authoritarian Conservatives, March 28, 2008
Former Watergate figure John Dean wrote a compelling critique of the conservative movement in the United States in his book "Conservatives Without Conscience". The author starts out explaining why the book was necessary and how it had been his hope to refrain from serious political commentary. He then discussed events where conservative hacks made attacks against him and his wife that were unfounded, and that he became the victim of slanders from former Nixon henchmen, G. Gordon Libby and Charles Colson. These events led him back into the public spotlight and convinced him that there had been a fundamental, and authoritarian change in conservatism from the Goldwater conservatism that had initially inspired John Dean. Dean also mentions that this book was inspired by Barry Goldwater and was intended to be a collaboration with him, had he lived.
In the book, John Dean looks at various efforts to define conservatism within the United States and the disparate ideologies that have somehow been embraced and coalesced into modern conservatism. Dean analysis the modern conservative movement and very pointedly takes aim at the authoritarian evolution of that movement and psychological efforts to understand both "authoritarian followers" and "social dominators" within conservative authoritarianism. He also defines different factions within the conservative movement and outlines their differences and their commonalities.
Dean pulls no punches in his examination of "social dominant authoritarians." Guys like Tom Delay, Newt Gingrich, Pat Robertson, and particularly, Dick Cheney are hammered with a searing white hot examination of their careers and characteristics. Cheney, as our nation's most dominant Vice President to a weak-minded and shallow President, is seen in the book as deliberately fundamentally changing the United States towards more central control within the Executive Branch.
Though Dean's book is a couple of years old, what he wrote makes sense of alot of what has happened since he first published it, and in this regard, Dean's analysis is helpful in predicting future administration actions and why they will engage in their behavior. The constant cries of "executive privilege" to hide administration misdeeds will not go away in an era dominated by "conservatives without conscience."
Authoritarians, driven by power, rather than principle, will do anything they can get away with to keep that power. Democrats and libertarian leaning Republicans should take heed and warning, that these authoritarians will not be going away any time soon. Even if they receive temporary setbacks, they see their role as permanent and fore-ordained.
If you could criticize Dean's book, it would be the harshness and anger that seethes under the surface in his analyses. However, Dean seems to have a real sense of just how dangerous, "conservatives without conscience" are to our Republic and seems to, through a bit of "shock and awe", trying to awaken us from our slumber, to let us know exactly what is at stake.
Sep 07, 2008 | Sott.net
In the US, authoritarians gravitate towards politically conservative groups. The religious right movement is a natural fit for them as it holds socially conservative views of fundamentalist religions - the highest traditional authority one can imagine. This is why the religious right tends to support, or reject, a potential leader based on his/her personal decisions and position on matters of personal choice (such as a right to abortion).
Sarah Palin projects herself as a real person with solid values, a super-mom and a successful politician - the very picture of a female leader for the conservative electorate. However, almost immediately after she appeared on the political scene, the image began to crack. Revelations about her teen daughter's pregnancy made a splash, and unsettling facts of her own biography continue to emerge.
One would expect the religious right's support of Palin to falter. Surely, if it were Hillary Clinton's teenage daughter who got pregnant, or if it were Barack Obama who once was a member of a separatist party, the public outcry would have been tremendous, wouldn't it? But, exactly the opposite happened - religious conservative blogs and organizations rallied behind Palin more than ever.
It appears that, when it comes to one of their own, the religious right can adjust, twist and fit anything into their set of values. If that fails, they just deny the facts and call them "a smear campaign". You would expect them to think Palin a "bad mom" for returning to work when her baby was only three days old, or for failing to instill the values she preaches into her daughter. But no, she is a "good mom" because she supports her daughter, and because abortion wasn't an option in their family. There are many other examples of such thinking. McCain had an affair with a lobbyist? Unsubstantiated rumors; this simply cannot be, and who cares anyway. George W. Bush used drugs and alcohol? He has found Jesus since then and is forgiven. Etc, etc.
These people, incidentally, are the ones claiming to have absolute moral values, unlike the "liberal" moral relativists.
This paradox shows once again that the rigid absolute moral values of the authoritarians are nothing more than "moral exo-skeletons", externally imposed moral structures that need to be enforced by laws or punishment. Inside of such an exo-skeleton, there are no self-chosen values, based on wisdom and empathy. Instead, there is a sort of amorphous lymph that takes the shape of its vessel, into which any new fact, or moral challenge, is dissolved when internalized.
It appears that authoritarian followers have only internal value, or rather an instinct: they view the world in terms of "us" (the good and virtuous "in-group" where they themselves belong) and "them" (the evil "out-group", on which negative stereotypes are projected). In a sense, they operate straight out of their reptilian brain, which is concerned with basic goals: survival, establishing home territory, and social dominance. This agrees with the ideas of psychologist Kazimierz Dabrowski, who linked the inability to develop an "authentic hierarchy of values" to a low level of emotional development.
To create and maintain a cohesive picture of "us" vs "them", the authoritarian personality is constantly molding the facts into its beliefs of what reality should be. This is highly subjective thinking.
Redefining terms and ideas, erecting straw men and knocking them off are all tools of the authoritarian subjectivity. As an example, consider the celebratory statement of "Concerned Women for America", a conservative organization, in response to Palin's nomination:For years the feminist movement has acknowledged for leadership only those women who embrace a radical agenda.[..] Take that feminists -- here is a woman of accomplishment who brings a fresh face to traditional values [..]."In a typical right-wing jargon, feminism is subtly redefined as a leftist radical movement of pro-abortionists, bent on destroying families. The real definition is quite different: feminism is a philosophical and political movement that advocates equality for women and women's rights. Feminism protects women's interests in both family and career pursuits. Barbara Ehreinreich, a veteran feminist, said it best: "[Feminism] is a moral stance and one that has always valued the stay-at-home mothers just as much as the corporate strivers."
The accomplishments of feminism have enriched the lives of virtually every woman living in the developed world today. Mrs. Palin, as a government official, is no exception: historically, only a short time ago, women couldn't vote, not to mention being the ones voted for. But, although Mrs. Palin's career relies on what feminism has achieved, she herself is no feminist, as "Concerned Women for America" rightly suggest. This, however, should not be a cause for celebration, if we look past the straw man (or is it a "straw woman"?) of a radical lefty feminist.
On contrary, it should be a cause for concern since Mrs. Palin clearly doesn't value all women equally. E.g., she slashed funding for a state program that helps teen mothers earlier this year. The attitude behind this decision, of course, doesn't apply to Mrs. Palin's own daughter. So, those other teen mothers are deemed sinful, justly poverty-stricken, and not deserving of any help, which is in obvious discord with Jesus's teachings; while the one who happened to be part of the "in-group" is a good girl who had a stroke of bad luck. Somehow, this picture makes sense to the authoritarians. That's hypocrisy, plain and simple.
The authoritarian mind doesn't simply adjust reality to its beliefs; subconsciously, it also adjusts ITSELF to the most apparent currents of the objective reality around it. Because of this, the authoritarians are conformists and conventional thinkers. This has been shown repeatedly in research, notably by Milgram. Following his thought, conformity can be linked to respect for the power of authority, including that of consensus. Robert Altmeyer made another profound observation. Since authoritarians have no genuine internal convictions, they simply lack basic individuality and sense of identity:[..] I also discovered that if you ask subjects to rank the importance of various values in life, authoritarian followers place "being normal" substantially higher than most people do. It's almost as though they want to disappear as individuals into the vast vat of Ordinaries. [..]Altmeyer also mentions that:
They are quite capable of adhering to the beliefs emphasized by their in-groups when these conflict with what is held by society as a whole. Nevertheless, they do get tugged by what they think everybody else is saying and doing. [..][T]hirty years ago the solid majority of high RWA students in my samples said premarital sexual intercourse was flat-out immoral. Now most say it is moral if the couple plans to get married.Now we understand why Sarah Palin has indicated specifically that her pregnant daughter plans to get married to the baby's father. This makes the situation acceptable to her authoritarian followers. They also see no conflict in Mrs. Palin parading her family as an appeal to home and child-centered conservative mothers, while strenuously pursuing her career. Recent surveys show that evangelicals "have wholeheartedly embraced the idea of women in the workplace"; somehow, this doesn't contradict their traditional Biblical values, at least as long it concerns someone from the "in-group."
Palin herself is quite adept at conforming and shape-shifting. In a recent incident worthy of mean girls in a high school cafeteria, she laughed alongside a radio-show host who threw outrageous insults at her political opponent Lyda Green. Then, she gauged the situation and decided she better put in a call to Senator Green to "apologize" and distance herself from what had happened. Or, her record indicates that she doesn't support sex-education programs, and she stated so on a one widely publicized occasion in 2006 - but in another public statement weeks later, she amended her views to include a vague pro-contraception statement. It remains to be seen how she will deal with her affiliation with a controversial and, by all accounts, extremist church. But, her drive to be normal, be average, be someone like your next-door neighbor, has been clear from the very beginning.
The authoritarian followers are easily swayed by psychopathic leaders - highly authoritarian dominant people, devoid of empathy. Newest data describes Palin as power-hungry, mean, vindictive, and ruthless. By the time her followers wake up to her true nature, it might be too late.
Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals
The Authoritarian Worldview
According to scholars who have studied the phenomenon, an authoritarian worldview is characterized by the following ideas (each is illustrated with a position popular in at least some quarters of the Orthodox community.)
The world is made up of "Us" and "Them."
The fractionalization of Orthodox groups creates smaller and more particularistic in-groups that place all other Jews in the out-group category. Freud referred to this type of phenomenon as "the narcissism of small differences."
Although the existence of multiple groups may superficially appear to represent diversity, in fact each group is authoritarian, requiring more and more conformity in order to fit in and carry its particular label. For example, Frumster, a dating website, asks its members to self-describe by choosing one of seven categories for Orthodox, four for the Orthodox-Conservative continuum, and one for everyone else.
"We" are good, and "They" are bad.
Many Orthodox people argue that we are a holy people-but non-Jews and their culture are at the root of most of the evil in the world; the rest is attributed to the rebellion of Conservative and Reform Jews.
We need to get them before they get us!
This is a defensive posture that perceives threats everywhere and leads to intolerance, hatred, and even violence. Furthermore, this stance leads to the interpretation of any action that we don't like as anti-Semitism.
The ends justify the means.
Since "our" values are right and true, we are justified in doing whatever we need to maintain our power and position. Financial fraud is accepted among some Ultra-Orthodox Rabbis, if they believe it is to the advantage of a worthy cause of theirs.
It is fine to have punitive attitudes toward the weak.
Authoritarians disdain those who are weak or of lesser status. Choosing conversion as an arena in which to exert power reflects this attitude-prospective converts are very low status; they are weak and vulnerable. Sexual exploitation of prospective converts and of children are crimes that demonstrate this attitude-they are two of the most vulnerable and powerless groups. Additionally, failure to resolve the institutional oppression of agunot reflects institutional indifference to these most powerless women.
Subservience toward authority is vital.
Authoritarians disdain those they view as below themselves and are very submissive toward those they see as being strong and above themselves. Rabbis in the Hareidi or Hassidic hierarchy defer to those with more (perceived) power-even if it means backtracking from a position that they had taken-even a public one-and they often claim that they had been "deceived" into taking the original position.
The Rabbinical Council of America's capitulation to the Israeli Rabbanut regarding conversion procedure and personnel credentialing is another sorry example. Despite widespread acknowledgment of the Rabbanut's deficiencies of integrity, competence, and reliability, the perceived power of the Rabbanut was sufficient reason for the RCA to overturn centuries of the Diaspora tradition of local rabbinical autonomy and leadership.
Authoritarianism and the abuse of power by rabbinic leaders are not the only sources of behavior and thought control in the Orthodox community. Groupthink exerts an additional set of pressures to conform to an increasingly narrow, exclusionist view of what it means to be a Torah committed Jew, and is perhaps even more nefarious since it arises from within the community membership. For those who are unfamiliar with the term, groupthink is a type of thinking that occurs in cohesive groups, where the desire to remain a member of the group and to maintain consensus, overrides critical thinking and leads to faulty group decisions. Irving Janis, who researched historical fiascos created by groupthink, defined it as "A mode of thinking that people engage in when they are deeply involved in a cohesive in-group, when the members' strivings for unanimity override their motivation to realistically appraise alternative courses of action." While group cohesion provides the foundation needed for groupthink to develop, Janis has suggested that insular, homogeneous groups that have directive leaders and that experience stress from external threats are particularly vulnerable to groupthink. We suggest that these are attributes of current Orthodox Judaism, and that our community displays all of the symptoms of groupthink described by Janis and his colleagues. The symptoms are listed below, followed by real-life examples from within the Orthodox community.
Symptoms of groupthink
- Illusions of invulnerability create excessive optimism and encourage risk-taking.
There is a widespread belief that social problems such as substance abuse, spousal or child abuse, and addictive gambling are less prevalent in the Orthodox community than elsewhere, even when there are no reliable statistics, or that the statistics indicate otherwise. When a scientific study by Rachel Yehuda, Ph.D., Michelle Friedman, M.D., Talli Y. Rosenbaum, P.T., Ellen Labinsky, Ph.D., and James Schmeidler, Ph.D., published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, found that the Orthodox women in their sample were sexually abused at about the same rates as other women, Avi Shafran, representative of Agudath Israel, sprang into action, claiming not only that the survey was biased, but also that "the Torah-observant population is greatly underrepresented in the realms of societal ills like rape, AIDS, prostitution and marital infidelity that affect their less repressed neighbors," while simultaneously admitting that he has no statistics to back up his claim. He just knows.
Other leaders within the Orthodox community dismissed the results of the survey by saying that "approximately 40 percent of the respondents were ba'alei teshuva, and therefore, their experiences are irrelevant to those raised in Orthodox homes."
- The group rationalizes warnings that might challenge the group's assumptions.
Consider the following explanation of the outrage over Rav Eliezer Melamed's endorsement of soldiers' refusal to obey orders to attack Jews: "Secular zionists, who by and large built Israel are accused of trying to dismantle Israel, because their motives for creating the State was not based in Torah. Only Torah Jews imbued with a nationalist impulse stand in their way. Those who built it-right and left-have been trying to dismantle it for well over a decade and a half-and only Torah Jews imbued with a nationalist impulse stand in their way."
Another example: Yitzhak Kakun, editor-in-chief of the Shas weekly Yom Le'Yom claimed that the arrests of members of the Syrian Jewish community of New Jersey and Brooklyn, on suspicion of money laundering was an anti-Semitic plot cooked up by the FBI.
- There is unquestioned belief in the morality of the group, causing members to ignore the consequences of their actions.
In offering an explanation of why leading Hareidi religious figures (and others) allowed Leib Tropper and EJF to control conversions, Rabbi Steven Pruzansky wrote that "Gedolei Torah-and most rabbis-are incapable of recognizing true evil and hypocrisy. Call it the ‘Yitzchak Avinu and Esav Syndrome.' I have been in the presence of Gedolim, and they live on a plane of purity and saintliness where such incidents-while theoretically possible; after all, the Tanakh is filled with stories of the foibles of great people-are not considered practical possibilities. Most never encounter salaciousness, degradation, and the dark side of man." (Pruzansky blog, Dec 23, 2009)
Another example of this willfully amoral mindlessness is the increasingly frequent reference to "Daas Torah is hefekh daas Baalei Batim," (Lay understanding is the opposite of Torah wisdom), a phrase that insulates rabbis ("Gedolim") from criticism and replaces serious, respectful dialogue with contempt for anyone else's perspective. (For a sensitive treatment of this issue, see Rabbi Yossi Ginzberg's December 29, 2009 post on the blog, "Emes Ve-Emunah.")
- The group promotes stereotyping of those who are opposed to the group as weak, evil, biased, spiteful, disfigured, impotent, or stupid.
Consider the following quotations:
"The Conservatives begin the process with a desired result in mind (abolishing the mehitza, permitting cohanim to marry divorcees, counting women in the minyan, etc.) They are quite adept at manipulating the halakha to achieve that result, twisting and turning the words of our sages until they are "saying" what the Conservatives want them to say." (Pruzansky blog, Dec 4, 2009)
"The feminist movement ravaged the American family." (Pruzansky blog, Nov 29, 2009)
As another example, When Nofrat Frankel and the "women of the wall" attempted to read from a Sefer Torah in the women's section at the Western Wall, they were accused of doing it solely for political purposes, and of "inverting every relevant fact in order to make [their] argument" (Yaakov Menken, "The right to disrupt your prayers" Cross currents, November 30, 2009). Commented one of the readers of this column: "Getting arrested for wearing a tallit makes this woman a martyr for egalitarian rights and for civil rights. This gives the small group of non-Orthodox Jews in Israel a way to be noticed. Otherwise, they are totally ignored."
A common theme is to accuse others of nefarious motives, even when they have stated benign or benevolent ones. How exactly is it that the in-group members know the motives of others so much better than the others know their own motives? Or are they accusing them of deception and trickery?
- Direct pressure (aka peer pressure) is used to conform placed on any member who questions the group, couched in terms of "disloyalty."
Rabbi Norman Eisenstein announced that no judge on a conversion court would be accepted if he believed the universe was more than 5,770 years old.
- The group self-censors ideas that deviate from the apparent group consensus.
For a clear and compelling example of this, think of the number of people who you know who have altered their publicly expressed opinions or behavior (or asked family members to change theirs) in order to not threaten the matchmaking options of their children. In cases we know personally, a young man was denied permission to go to college because of the danger it posed to his sisters' marriage opportunities, while middle-aged couples have stopped going to the movies (although they will watch the same films at home, in private) for the sake of their children's potential "shiddukhim."
- Illusions of unanimity among group members is promoted; silence is viewed as agreement.
Everyone might disagree, but everyone thinks that everyone else agrees:
You conform to a certain dress code in order to fit into the group-"I don't think there is anything wrong with wearing pants...but..."
8. The group has self-appointed mind guards, who shield the group from dissenting information. These can be group leaders who guide the flock and weed out dissenters, and who cultivate a negative attitude about talking to outsiders. These are often Hareidi journalists and columnists.
Forbidding Hareidim to use the internet, Rav Yisrael Hager, the son of the Vishnitzer Rebbe, called on the community to refrain from buying tefilin and mezuzoth from anyone connected to Hareidi websites. The Rav's comments came at the start of the Shovavim period (the period that begins with the reading of Parashat Shemot and ends with Parashat Mishpatim), a time that the Kabbalists teach is auspicious for repentance. The Rav added that children from families with internet connections should not be accepted to schools, and that rabbis and teachers who do not conform to this policy should not be employed as teachers.
Overall, groupthink encourages overestimation of the group's power and morality, closed-mindedness, and pressures toward uniformity, and leads to defective decision-making. Although some of these examples are from the Hareidi rather than the Centrist/Modern Orthodox community, not all are. The symptoms of groupthink are increasingly observable in C/MO groups as well. If we don't want critical decisions facing the Jewish community to be defective, we need to be more vigilant about preventing, or disrupting groupthink.
The best way to prevent or disrupt groupthink is to eliminate or avoid the conditions under which it occurs. Although it is not likely that we can remove the external threats to the continued existence of the Jewish people, we can address the three others:
1. Directive leadership is a "command-and-tell," military-style leadership, which is helpful in critical situations of imminent threat, but has been identified as a chief cause of defective group process and poor outcome for decision-making in groups. A good leader is capable of a variety of leadership styles, adjusting the style to suit the situation.
- Directive leadership
- Isolation of the group from outside sources of information and analysis
- Homogeneity of members ideology and social background
2. & 3. That openness to outside sources of information and analysis helps counteract the groupthink tendency is self-evident, but the advantages of diverse groups may need some explanation. The advantages of diversity are not just our ideological bent-there is a good deal of research on the advantages (and disadvantages, to be honest) of diverse groups in terms of organizational functioning:
Diverse groups tend to be more creative and are better at problem-solving than are homogenous groups. When groups include people with different types of education and experience, they have a richer deliberation about the best course of action. Diversity helps an organization become more adaptable and flexible in responding to a rapidly changing world, while attracting and retaining its best members. Diversity, though, does increase turnover within the group, making it less socially integrated than groups of people who are all alike. Nevertheless, suspicion and hostility toward diverse opinion and demographics cause long-term harm to the group.
Conclusion and Recommendations
Recently, a number of young, educated, sincerely religious Israeli couples decided to reject the Rabbanut system entirely and make independent wedding plans. They arranged their own halakhically correct marriages and were willing to be officially considered common-law husband and wife rather than participate with that disreputable institution. Will this become a trend? Let us hope there is still time for it to serve as an illustrative warning. This is what happens when leadership fails: the best and most capable will not stand for it.
Religious authority in Judaism is meant to be a force for affirmative growth, to help us on our way toward becoming a "nation of priests" and a "light unto the nations." Authoritarianism won't get us there.
Just as we accept that we are subject to invisible physical influences, such as gravity or bacteria, we need to understand at a deep level-both individual and communal, lay and clergy-the workings of psychological forces on our reasoning and judgment, opinions and behavior. We need to foster the humility to recognize our vulnerability to the easy temptations of authoritarianism and the pitfalls of groupthink. Since these forces operate outside our awareness, we recommend the following changes in organizational structure and process to help keep them at bay:
For Further Reading:
- Intentional organizational self-reflection. Self-reflection, or heshbon hanefesh, is a religious obligation for individuals and is a recommendation whenever national calamity strikes. The Orthodox, religious Zionist community undertook such self-reflection following the assassination of Yitzchak Rabin and, at least for a while, the community made changes. Today, the parade of scandals in the religious community is a calamity that calls for self-reflection, particularly for religious and lay leadership. As a first step, independent professional consultation should be engaged on a regular basis to meet with leadership for the express purpose of examining their thinking process and power relationships.
- Transparency and lay oversight. Since any individual or group with power, left unchecked, will tend to tip, however unintentionally, toward policies of self-interest, it is essential to be able to examine rabbinical decisions against standards of logic, fairness, and consequences for community concerns. This in no way threatens their halakhic expertise and authority. Rather, it refines and extends it.
- Make a conscious, declared decision to incorporate diversity as a hedge against the inroads of fundamentalism. For too long now, the Modern Orthodox/Centrist rabbinical leadership has been busy looking over its right shoulder, defensive about its authenticity in the face of attacks from the religious right. Nevertheless, we continue to affirm the value of secular study, while acknowledging that at times it may present a religious challenge; we accept the risk, based on our beliefs. Similarly, while it is true that diversity in organizations entails some risk, it is a better choice than paranoia, black-and-white thinking, and hypocrisy, which are characteristic of authoritarian organizations.
Altemeyer, Bob. The Authoritarian Specter. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1996.
Holzer, Rabbi David. The Rav: Thinking Aloud. New York: Holzer Publishing, 2009.
Janis, Irving Lester. Groupthink. Psychological Studies of Policy Decisions and Fiascoes. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1982.
Lammers, Joris, Stapel, Diederik A. and Galinsky, Adam. "Power Increases Hypocrisy: Moralizing in Reasoning, Immunity and Behavior." Psychological Science (in press).
Something sinister is happening in the contemporary Roman Catholic Church. It is not just that Pope Benedict XVI (like his predecessor Pope John Paul II) is theologically and institutionally old-fashioned. What is happening under Pope Benedict’s rule is the implementation of a pathological regression into a degenerative and destructive Roman Catholic authoritarianism.
Pope Benedict, and bishops around the world who have obediently succumbed to his authoritarian virus, are destroying a contemporary Catholic Church that, thanks to the theological impulse of the Second Vatican Council, had begun to value dialogue, service, critical thinking, and an openness to new human experiences and contemporary realities.>
The hallmarks of today’s Catholic Church are now becoming: arrogant episcopal power plays, an exaggerated medieval-style clericalism, institutional self-justification and hypocrisy, and a deceptive re-writing of Catholic belief and praxis that marches triumphantly beneath the banner of “the reform of the reform.”
For those who still really care to see a different kind of Catholic life, I invite you to reflect on the seven forms of pathological authoritarian behavior.
The pathological behavior of authoritarian leaders and followers:
1.Illogical Thinking : The lack of independent, critical thinking.
2. Highly Compartmentalized Minds : Authoritarians’ ideas are poorly integrated with one another.
3. Double Standards : When your ideas live independent lives from one another it is pretty easy to use double standards in your judgments. You simply call up the idea that will justify (afterwards) what you’ve decided to do.
4. Hypocrisy : The leaders of authoritarian movements sometimes accuse their opponents of being anti-democratic and anti-free speech when the latter protest
against various books, movies, speakers, teachers and so on.
5. Blindness To Themselves : self-righteousness.
6. A Profound Ethnocentrism : Ethnocentrism means dividing the world up into in-groups and out-groups…….in-groups are holy and good…out-groups are evil and Satanic.
7. Dogmatism: the Authoritarian’s Last Ditch Defense : By dogmatism I mean relatively unchangeable, unjustified certainty. Loyal followers obey without questions…..
Selected CommentsS. R. :
There’s another pathological behavior that’s even simpler than those on this list: flat-out lying.
I have lost count of the lies and half-truths I’ve heard about the new English version of the Roman Missal. And I imagine many are sick to death of the lies and half-truths surrounding clerical sex abuse.
True authority depends upon credibility, and these high-hatted gentlement are losing theirs.
Last week, British researchers released the results of a study suggesting intriguing differences in brain structure between liberals and conservatives. The study found that the anterior cingulate, the part of the brain dealing with complexity and uncertainty was larger in liberals than it was in conservatives. Conversely, the amygdala, the part of the brain associated with fear and raw emotion was larger in conservatives. One can't draw definitive conclusions from one study, of course. A slow trickle of evidence over the past few years appears to show brain-related differences between liberals and conservatives, but this kind of research is clearly in its infancy.
Nevertheless, these findings do track quite well with the book that Marc Hetherington and I wrote in 2009. In Authoritarianism and Polarization in American Politics, we adduced substantial evidence that the American political system has been increasingly sorting itself out along a basic personality dimension - the authoritarian personality. We argued that less authoritarian-minded individuals have been gravitating toward the Democratic Party and more authoritarian-minded ones toward the Republican Party and that this sorting process was having profound consequences for the nature of political conflict in the United States.
Stenner's failure to describe her procedures completely was troubling, especially with respect to the two surveys that embodied experimental manipulations. For example, was the authoritarian predisposition measure given before or after the fake news stories that were presumed to arouse either threat or reassurance? From what we know about priming effects, the order in which the stimuli are presented surely makes a difference. In some studies, participants apparently read both threatening and reassuring news stories. If so, it is not clear how one could untangle their separate and joint effects. Moreover, what were the actual texts of these news stories? Without such information, it would be difficult to replicate these experiments.
Because Stenner's focus is on majority prejudices, she uses only data from Caucasian participants. It would, however, be interesting to explore the correlates of authoritarianism in minority populations, as Hugh Forbes (1985) did with surprising results. Similarly, there is almost no mention of gender as a focus of authoritarian attitudes and prejudices (see Duncan, Peterson, and Winter 1997). Nor, apparently, were gender or class analyzed as possible moderator variables (requiring appropriate interaction terms, as opposed to being entered only as independent variables). Does Stenner's model really work the same for women and men, for working-class and middle-class people? Was this ever tested? Nor was there much discussion of authoritarianism's intimate links to hegemony and power.
Finally, Stenner's claim that authoritarian predisposition is an "innate" fixed personality entity, a "fundamentally and relatively immutable predisposition to intolerance of difference" (p. 329 and
passim), relies on a limited view of its antecedents (low openness to experience, high conscientiousness, and low cognitive capacity), an exaggerated interpretation of the actual heritability coefficients of those antecedents as "deep-seated and relatively immutable," and a superficial view of the complex relationships between genes, rearing, and environment. Even more distressing is the dubious, yet disturbing, conclusion that Stenner draws from this claim. She asserts that, because authoritarians are born that way and cannot be expected to change (Stenner tries to debunk the demonstrated authoritarianism-reduction effects of liberal education), the only way to preserve social peace (short of an alien invasion that might "bring us together") is by "parading, talking about, and applauding our sameness" (p. 330). Such a conclusion throws out the window such things as multicultural education and other celebrations of difference. These practices only expose "these characters to more difference than they are predisposed to tolerate, and more democracy than they are innately equipped to handle" (p. 335). Do we really need to burn down the village of diverse democracy in order to save it? And yet, lurking behind this conclusion is a delicious irony. Today's newspaper reports that "minorities" now make up almost exactly one-third of the US population, which means that white males-for authoritarians, the top of the hegemonic heap-are slightly less than one-third of the population. In coming years, then, to whose "sameness" will authoritarian white men be conforming?
Clarification Regarding "The Authoritarian Dynamic"
July 18, 2008 | Why Conservatives Can't Do Foreign Policy
In my Is There an Inborn Authoritarian Disposition? I wrote that Karen Stenner, author of The Authoritarian Dynamic, "doesn't really have much to say about the origins of authoritarianism, i.e., whether it is inborn temperament or not." Dr. Stenner has kindly corrected me on this stating:
I do in fact state explicitly and provide a good deal of empirical evidence (e.g., see Chapter 6!) that authoritarian predisposition is an "inborn temperament" (it is much like a personality disposition, and is in fact substantially related to lack of "openness to experience", one of the 'Big Five' personality factors). I argue and show that it is substantially genetically 'programmed', heritable, immutable. There are even studies of identical twins reared together or apart that provide pretty conclusive evidence on this point. So the predisposition sits there, latent, in a fair chunk of any country's population, and the key is that it can either remain quiescent and relatively innocuous, or else be activated and expressed openly in aggressive, racist and intolerant stances...
This is very interesting. Stenner presents data (see her pp. 91-2) supporting the interpretation that perhaps 59% of any national population could have an "authoritarian predisposition" while 39% could be predisposed to a libertarian stance. If I am reading this correctly it could give pseudo-conservative politicians an edge in working up the approximately 60% majority of authoritarians with their messages of fear and 'toughness'.
This, then, is the philosophy animating the current investigation, and it has a number of important consequences for my use of data, methods, models and literature. First, many of the analyses presented consist of repeated tests -- against data generated by different designs and instruments -- of one simple but apparently powerful model. This model, which I have labeled the "authoritarian dynamic", essentially consists of just two explanatory variables and their interaction, i.e. two major factors thought in union to produce manifest expressions of intolerance: authoritarian predisposition and conditions of threat (either naturally experienced, subjectively perceived or experimentally manipulated).
As for the critical endogenous variables ultimately accounted for by these factors, they are simply overall measures of intolerance in various domains -- racial, political, and moral intolerance and its corollary: punitiveness -- and summary measures of general intolerance across the different domains. Thus the racial intolerance indices typically contain diverse items variously reflecting negative sentiments regarding African Americans and, occasionally, affection for White supremacist movements, or seemingly excessive ingroup glorification. Likewise, the political intolerance scales might sum items tapping support for general principles of political tolerance, as well as for various 'lef-t' and 'rig-whting' targets exercising specific political freedoms such as making speeches and holding rallies, teaching in public schools and having literature in public libraries. The moral intolerance indices typically gauge a wide array of opinions regarding public regulation of private moral choices such as school prayer, abortion, censorship and prostitution, and perhaps feelings regarding homosexuals and/or opinions about their rights and protection. Summary measures of punitiveness might include attitudes toward the death penalty, opinions on whether courts deal harshly enough with criminals and, occasionally, views on the appropriate balance between the rights of criminals and victims. And finally, overall indices of general intolerance are formed simply by averaging these four components of intolerance.
The point being made throughout is that a simple dynamic -- a general mechanism consisting of just an enduring individual predisposition responding to changing conditions of threat -- can account for a good deal of the variation within, and a great deal of the variation across these different dimensions of intolerance. Thus to deem the analyses presented here ‘underspecified’ -- though surely true by the conventions of contemporary political psychology -- would amount to holding the model to an inappropriate standard. The task of maximizing the 'variance explained' within a certain domain is a vitally important part of our scholarly enterprise. But as noted, many others have dedicated themselves, and continue to dedicate themselves, to filling out the specifications with comprehensive accounts of all the ideas, interests, emotions and conditions influencing particular expressions of intolerance.
Another (sheesh, get off of the soapbox loser!) video about Dr. Bob Altemeyer’s research on right wing authoritarian personalities. I need to state again that this is not specifically right wing as in right wing Republican, but anyone who tends to bow towards strict authoritarianism. In the US these may be fundamentalist Christians who vote conservative Republicans, but might be a fundamentalist Moslem and vote Alliance of Builders of Islamic Iran if Iranian.
Altemeyer reports a series of test questions given participants where they are asked how they would react to several scenarios. Groups were randomly selected and given one of three scenarios:
1) A law is passed that public schools go back to teaching strict Christian values and theology.
2) You live in an Islamic country. A law is passed requiring strict Islamic teachings at the public school your child attends
3) A law is passed where from early on in public schools children would be taught that there are no gods, and that belief in such is illogical and against all science.
As would be expected, low RWA’s, including atheist, agnostics, and the vast majority of Christians opposed ALL three scenarios as bad laws because religious beliefs are one’s personal business and should be imposed nor negated in a public school. Fundamentalist Christians, on the other hand, answered differently.
Christian fundamentalists overwhelmingly believed scenario 1 was a good thing and said they would support it. When question about if this would interfere with other’s beliefs or lack of, they stated that we live in a Christian nation and the majority rules. If you do not like it send your kids to private school or leave.
Those fundies given scenario 2 strongly opposed it for the same reason that low RWA’s did (wrong to impose your belief on others). When questioned about the fact that this takes place in an Islamic nation, the common reply was that the rights of the minority have to be respected.
And, as no surprise, for scenario 3 the fundies were opposed for the same reasons given in #2. What might surprise some Christians, however, is that atheists overwhelming agreed. Atheists did not support opposing religion in a public school as it violated the rights of parents in raising children how they choose.
Civitas (Chapel Hill, NC United States): An important explanation of how political differences arise and persist, February 14, 2010
I can say for myself why this book is so important, but I will just quote form Nicholas Kristoff's recent column about the book:
The book establishes "a fascinating framework of the role of personality types in politics, explored in a recent book, "Authoritarianism and Polarization in American Politics," by two political scientists, Marc J. Hetherington of Vanderbilt University and Jonathan D. Weiler of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. They start by exploring data showing a remarkably strong correlation between state attitudes toward spanking children and voting patterns. Essentially, spanking states go Republican, while those with more timeouts go Democratic.
Professors Hetherington and Weiler contend that the differences stem from profound differences in cognitive styles. Spankers tend to see the world in stark, black-and-white terms, perceive the social order as vulnerable or under attack, tend to make strong distinctions between "us" and "them," and emphasize order and muscular responses to threats. Parents favoring timeouts feel more comfortable with ambiguities, sense less threat, embrace minority groups -- and are less prone to disgust when they see a man eating worms."
So we have worldviews about many things, which means that how we raise our children maps on to our political views. This is a very important explanation about the differences between red and blue states.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (Redirected from Right-wing Authoritarianism)> Right-wing authoritarianism (RWA) is a personality and ideological variable studied in political, social, and personality psychology. It is defined by three attitudinal and behavioral clusters which correlate together:
- Authoritarian submission — a high degree of submissiveness to the authorities who are perceived to be established and legitimate in the society in which one lives.
- Authoritarian aggression — a general aggressiveness directed against deviants, outgroups, and other people that are perceived to be targets according to established authorities.
- Conventionalism — a high degree of adherence to the traditions and social norms that are perceived to be endorsed by society and its established authorities.
The terminology of authoritarianism, right-wing authoritarianism, and authoritarian personality tend to be used interchangeably by psychologists, though inclusion of the term "personality" may indicate a psychodynamic interpretation consistent with the original formulation of the theory.
Four researchers who culled through 50 years of research literature about the psychology of conservatism report that at the core of political conservatism is the resistance to change and a tolerance for inequality, and that some of the common psychological factors linked to political conservatism include:
- Fear and aggression
- Dogmatism and intolerance of ambiguity
- Uncertainty avoidance
- Need for cognitive closure
- Terror management
Source(s):Authoritarianism, the tendency to be hierarchicaL conventional, and intolerant, has been implicated by research as an extreme feature of general right-wing ideology. The relationship between this ideological pattern and variables of personality and emotion was investigated in three studies. Studies I and 2 assessed personality traits in terms of the five-factor model, as well as right-wing authoritarianism, conservatism, and a battery of other political attitude measures. Study 3 examined the positive and negative affect of individuals with differing levels of authoritarianism. The results demonstrate that the authoritarian syndrome is primarily characterized by law openness to experience, and that it is unrelated to self-reported measures of emotion.
In other words they have a mental problem
Degrading: They ignore incompetence or promote incompetent people, undermining those who provide their paycheck, in order to buffer their own position.
Replicating toxicity: They build dynastic cadres of equally toxic adherents, promote them within the Toxie's own department or help them get promoted in other departments.
Immobilizing: They immobilize the careers of anyone who might help the organization because they view others' success as potentially competitive.
Illusion-casting: They consciously feed their followers' illusions that enhance the toxic leader's own power and impair the autonomy of their staff.
Wasting: They erode the quality of life and career prospects of others, by intimidating, seducing, demeaning, disenfranchising and especially undermining their work product or careers.
Violating: They violate the basic human rights of people who allow them to do it, even if those people are their own followers.
Stifling: They build a set of reinforcements that make questioning or even suggesting improvements in the toxic leader's ideas a career-threatening move.
Subverting accountability: They use the rules to constrain others' operational flexibility and work when it's convenient to reinforce their will but subvert the process whenever it's not.
Scapegoating: They invent scapegoats, torment them and seduce others into following their lead. Since they need scapegoats, they rarely act to fix a problem before it becomes one. To make this more effective, they are also constantly showing favoritism and shower certain people with temporary praise to give staff the illusion that there are safe spots close to the Toxie.
Booby-trapping: They design defensive arrangements structured so the costs of moving them aside will trigger the downfall of the organization. (Remember the Dynegy guy who told employees if they didn't lie for him, he'd make sure they went down first?)
March 1, 2011 | Sense and Goodness
Aggression occurs after two switches are turned. First, some bad feeling, like anger or envy, stirs up hostility. But, that by itself won’t lead to aggression. An angry individual who wants to attack someone may anticipate getting punished. Or, s/he may have moral restraints. So, s/he has to somehow overcome these restraints or set aside these inhibitions, and let the aggression erupt and flow.
- The Instigator. What sort of unpleasant feelings are likely to be burning away inside high RWAs that create an urge to attack? Fear. They tend to believe that society is about to collapse from depravity and decadence. Chaos and anarchy will soon erupt. The End is Near. So they are more fearful than most people.
They may have inherited genes that incline them to fret and tremble, but we know that they were raised by their parents to be afraid of others: homosexuals, atheists, kidnappers, bullies, drunks, etc. For high RWAs, gay marriage, stem cell research, abortion, euthanasia, etc, is not just immoral on religious grounds, but it is also one more sign that perversion is corrupting society. So did, in earlier times, women’s suffrage, the civil rights movement and sex education.
- The Releaser. What releases the aggressive impulse that comes from fear? What slides off the safety on the gun? Self-righteousness appears to release authoritarian aggression more than anything else. Most human beings think they are above average in ethics (theory) and morality (practice), but high RWAs generally think they are the best: they are the Holy Ones. Chronically frightened authoritarian followers are particularly likely to attack other people when they can find what they themselves think is a moral justification for their hostility.
Now, fear can increase submission as well as aggression. If people imagine that their country is undergoing an internal crisis, then RWA scale scores usually soar. Most people seem to become more right-wing authoritarian during crises. The only situation in which a crisis lowered RWA scores was a repressive government that assaulted nonviolent protestors (“the Gandhi trap”). Otherwise, when there’s trouble, people generally look to the authorities to fix things, and some authorities will gladly amass greater power in times of peril, whether they have any intention of fixing the problem or not.
Although Freud named Adler the president of the Viennese Analytic Society and the co-editor of the organization's newsletter, Adler didn't stop his criticism. A debate between Adler's supporters and Freud's was arranged, but it resulted in Adler, with nine other members of the organization, resigning to form the Society for Free Psychoanalysis in 1911. This organization became The Society for Individual Psychology in the following year.
During World War I, Adler served as a physician in the Austrian Army, first on the Russian front, and later in a children's hospital. He saw first hand the damage that war does, and his work turned increasingly to the concept of social interest. He felt that if humanity was to survive, it had to change its ways.
Adler's work has been largely absorbed into psychotherapeutic practice and contemporary thought without retaining a separate identity. Some of his terminology, such as "compensation" and "inferiority complex," are used in everyday language. Individual Psychology still has its own centers, schools and work groups, but Adler's influence has permeated other psychologies. His "aggression drive" reappeared in the Ego psychology of orthodox psychoanalysis; other Adlerian echoes are found in the work of Karen Horney, Harry Stack Sullivan, Franz Alexander and Ian Suttie. Those who try to see the backward child, the delinquent, the psychopath or the psychiatric patient as a whole person are sharing Adler's viewpoint.
Characteristics of a God Complex and authoritarianism:
No guarantee of civil liberties or tolerance for meaningful opposition;
Insist on the rule of men, not the rule of law;
Adorno and his colleagues regarded the fundamental basis of this presumed system of personality qualities and its linkage to certain attitudes according to a psychoanalytic viewpoint: experiences in early childhood and their internalization.
Freud's psychoanalytic theory suggests that men along with women and norms that are first represented in the person of the father are internalized in the course of the child's development. From these the first unconscious stage of the so-called superego develop. The grappling with an authoritarian, very strict father leads to the development of a very strong superego. Thereby, from the earliest childhood onward, unconscious desires and drives (e.g., power and sexual license) must be thrust down and remain unsatisfied.
The unconscious conflicts that are unleashed thereby are solved when the person projects the "forbidden" drives and aggressions of his superego onto other people. As a rule, ethnic, political or religious minorities are selected as a screen for these projections, because this way, there are no social sanctions to fear. Often, he can fall back on socially acceptable prejudices. Studies by Hans Eysenck, Milton Rokeach and many others go into this question.
Alfred Adler provided another perspective, linking the "will to power over others" as a central neurotic trait, usually emerging as aggressive over-compensation for felt and dreaded feelings of inferiority and insignificance. The authoritarian need to maintain control and prove superiority over others is rooted in a world view populated by enemies, empty of equality, empathy, and mutual benefit.
Alfred Adler provided another perspective, linking the "will to power over others" as a central neurotic trait, usually emerging as aggressive over-compensation for felt and dreaded feelings of inferiority and insignificance.
The authoritarian need to maintain control and prove superiority over others is rooted in a world view populated by enemies, empty of equality, empathy, and mutual benefit.
The yearning for power over others with its inevitable, destructive abuses, has reached epidemic proportions in several major contemporary arenas: corporations, church, and government. A rash of recent headlines reflects a disease out of control: CEO's, stock analysts, accountants, and bankers seeking excessive financial power over others; exploitive priests, supported by indifferent archbishops, seeking sexual power over others; and our president and his cabinet seeking oppressive military and political power over others. What further disasters will it take to sober us up from a dangerous orgy of power intoxication? Committing these excesses may be criminal, but allowing them to continue may be equivalent to becoming an accessory to these crimes.
Nearly a century ago, Alfred Adler and his associates alerted us to the psychological roots of power intoxication, as well as to the means of preventing it. Mass media headlines glorify exploitation and violence, satruating our culture with corrosive models of personal power. Video and film present crime as entertainment; computer games train children to view theft, domination, torture, and murder as playful pastimes.
Adler's teachings suggest that the most efficient remedies for many of the social, economic, political, and psychological disasters we now face are not simply tighter legislation, tougher enforcement, and harsher punishment, but the vigorous development of the feeling of community in everyone. For many, rehabilitation may be impractical or too late. However, it is never too late to invest in prevention. This would place substantial responsibility for preventing the power-virus in the laps of parents and teachers.
I recently viewed a re-run of the film Nuremberg. Trying to understand what could lead men to commit such atrocities, the American psychologist who spent time interviewing the Nazi war criminals concluded that evil appeared to be simply the absence of empathy. From an Adlerian perspective, all it takes to lead children and adults into a negative direction is indifference. If these assumptions are correct, we have a clear challenge ahead--to develop a genuine feeling of community in all levels of life--home, school, business, government, and the church. If we do not start now to invest all of our resources in the development of empathy, we may pay a shocking price for our present power epidemic.
Alfred Adler:"The striving for personal power is a disastrous delusion and poisons man's living together. Whoever desires the human community must renounce the striving for power over others."Alexander Mueller:
"To prevail through violence appears to many as an obvious thought. And we admit: the simplest way to attain everything that is good and promises happiness, or even only what is in the line of a continuous evolution seems to be by means of power. But where in the life of men or in the history of mankind has such an attempt ever succeeded? As far as we can see, even the use of mild violence awakens opposition everywhere, even where the welfare of the subjugated is obviously intended."
"It would be a gross deception to admit power intoxication only for the individual psyche. The mass also is guided by this goal and the effect of this is the more devastating as in the mass psyche the feeling of personal responsibility is essentially reduced."
"Modern psychology has shown us that the traits of craving for power, ambition, and striving for power over others, with their numerous ugly concomitants, are not innate and unalterable. Rather they are inoculated into the child at an early age; the child receives them involuntarily from an atmosphere saturated by the titillation of power. In our blood is still the desire for the intoxication with power, and our souls are playthings of the craving for power."
"One thing can save us: the mistrust of any form of predominance. Our strength lies in conviction, in organizing strength, in a world view, not in the violence of armament and not in emergency laws. With such means other strong forces before us have fought in vain for their existence."
"For us the way and tactics emerge from our highest goal: the nursing and strengthening of social feeling."
(From an article "The Psychology of Power," 1928, originally published in Franz Kobler(ed.)und Gewaltlosogkeit: Handbuch des activen Pazifismus," Zurich: Rotapfel-Verlag, in the AAAINW/ATP Archives.)"A modest striving for power can manifest itself in ambition. If the striving for achievement is called ambition then it is not only acceptable, but essential. Ambition that drives forward and challenges is legitimate; it becomes harmful only when it stands in our way and becomes an obstacle. When the desire and the striving for power, possession, ability, and knowledge become an end in themselves, or the measure of one's self-worth, there is no way to contain it. The constant tension that results also diminishes the ability to concentrate. Achievement becomes more difficult and is lessened. One wishes for too much but attains less than could have been gained without tension."
"Among the harmful effects of the striving for power on man's relationship with his fellow man, is its impact on the interaction between courage and social feeling, that is, the destructive effect on man's humanity to man".
"Whatever the most basic reasons for dominance and aggression might be, their most significant consequence is to make the other person into an object and not the subject. Gabriel Marcel as well as Martin Buber and Nicolay Berdyayev in particular have dealt with two forms of behavior toward others: one can experience another as a fellow man, a person, or one can see him as an object. In his book, The I and the World of Objects, Berdyayev tells how difficult it is today for us to see others as living persons, and not to confront them as objects. If they become objects for us, however, then we shall become lifeless ourselves: objects."
"Aggressive dominance makes us not only incapable of experiencing others in their totality as loving and creative beings, but our own 'self' cannot develop without experiencing another. Buber says: 'One's own 'I' is derived from the `you,' and Pestalozzi: 'The best qualities of a person die when he fails to love his brother.' These are consequences that go beyond the psychic and affect the essence in man. It causes man's failure to experience the unity of all that is himself, which is fundamental for genuine religiosity and affinity with the universe."
"The lust for power and the misuse of authority by a few harm partnerships, family life, education in the home, in school, and on the job, the climate in the work place, and relationships between and within groups of every type. The physical law that every force creates a counter-force applies also to psychology. Our modern life can easily become a struggle for some kind of real or imagined dominance. ..... One also should not overlook the many ways that dominance can be masked; repressing and dominating another is almost always 'for his own good.'"
"The close relationship between politics and power has always been recognized. In the world of politics, Lassalles' expression still has currency: 'Constitutional struggles are struggles for power.' ..... Masaryk's expression, 'There will be no peace in the world as long as individual ethics do not also apply to the state,' is as much a criticism of the present as a challenge for the future."
(From "The Principles of Individual Psychology," by Alexander Mueller, an unpublished manuscript om the AAINW/ATP archives.)
Managing the manager: Authoritative vs authoritarian
An essential part of being content in the workplace is to have some awareness of the underlying personal dynamics that govern the environment, especially of your managers.
One of the hardest management types for gifted and analytically savvy people to work for is the authoritarian. This is the person who replies: "Just do it!" when you ask for advice or suggest you need more resources. You sit there baffled, because it's precisely because you can't do it that you brought it to his or her attention in the first place.
There are less direct but still clear indications of the authoritarian manager. I remember interviewing a New York sales manager who’d hung a framed poster on his wall. It showed a subordinate being kicked in the backside by his boss. The caption read: 'Management isn't a democracy!'
These signs of the authoritarian should be regarded as warnings to you if you tend to respond to this style in a negative way. You'd better stay clear because to take a job with this person promises nothing but misery for both of you. And, if you are the subordinate, it's your backside that will eventually be kicked.
Most gifted people would be at risk in this environment. They are typically much too questioning and independent in their assessments and would therefore threaten the authoritarian type. They most thrive - and thus most benefit their employer - when their autonomy is respected.
However, there are many people for whom clear lines of authority and black and white thinking offer a sense of security. They can be most relaxed - and thus most effective - in an authoritarian environment which also offers unambiguous performance measures. For them, these signs of authoritarianism might be seen as positive.
Subjects scoring high on the California F Scale and those scoring low (N = 94) interacted with high- or equal-status target persons with and without instigation to aggression. Only the least overt aggression measure (pressure, but not shock intensity or duration) gave consistent results. The major finding was that low authoritarians were more hostile toward high-status targets relative to equal-status targets both under conditions of no instigation and instigation to aggress. Reference to contrasting authoritarian and equalitarian ideologies appears to provide a basis for understanding the results. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2010 APA, all rights reserved)
The relation between authoritarianism and social dominance orientation was analyzed, with authoritarianism measured using a three-dimensional scale. The implicit multidimensional structure (authoritarian submission, conventionalism, authoritarian aggression) of Altemeyer's (1981, 1988) conceptualization of authoritarianism is inconsistent with its one-dimensional methodological operationalization. The dimensionality of authoritarianism was investigated using confirmatory factor analysis in a sample of 713 university students. As hypothesized, the three-factor model fit the data significantly better than the one-factor model. Regression analyses revealed that only authoritarian aggression was related to social dominance orientation. That is, only intolerance of deviance was related to high social dominance, whereas submissiveness was not. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2010 APA, all rights reserved)
Authoritarian personality - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Authoritarian Personality (slides)
Amazon.com The Authoritarian Personality (Studies in Prejudice) Books Theodor W. Adorno,Else Frenkel-Brunswik,Daniel J. Levinson
Classical Adlerian Quotes The Yearning for Power - Alfred Adler Institutes of San Francisco and Northwestern WashingtonAuthoritarian Personality Test (The F Scale Final form)
Social dominance orientation - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
From The Authoritarian Personality Useful Concepts and Terms
The authoritarian personality is an influential theory of personality developed by University of California, Berkeley psychologists, Else Frenkel-Brunswik, Daniel Levinson, and Nevitt Sanford and the German emigre sociologist and philosopher Theodor W. Adorno, in their 1950 book of the same name. The personality type is defined by nine traits that were believed to cluster together as the result of psychodynamic, childhood experiences. These traits are conventionalism, authoritarian submission, authoritarian aggression, anti-intraception, superstition and stereotypy, power and "toughness," destructiveness and cynicism, projectivity, and exaggerated concerns over sexuality (sexual repression). In brief, the authoritarian is predisposed to follow the dictates of a strong leader and traditional, conventional values. ... more from Wikipedia on the book The Authoritarian Personality
Conservatives Without Conscience is a book written by John Dean, who served as White House Counsel under U.S. President Richard Nixon and then helped to break the Watergate scandal with his testimony before the United States Senate. The book analyzes the evolution of the Republican Party, and the different forms of conservatism, largely in terms of authoritarian personality. It was published in 2006 by Viking Press. ... more from Wikipedia on the book Conservatives Without Conscience
Right-wing authoritarianism (RWA) is a personality and ideological variable studied in political, social, and personality psychology. It is defined by three attitudinal and behavioral clusters which correlate together:
1. Authoritarian submission: a high degree of submissiveness to the authorities who are perceived
to be established and legitimate in the society in which one lives.
2. Authoritarian aggression: a general aggressiveness directed against deviants, outgroups, and other people that are perceived to be targets according to established authorities.
3. Conventionalism: a high degree of adherence to the traditions and social norms that are perceived to be endorsed by society and its established authorities, and a belief that others in one's society should also be required to adhere to these norms.
The terminology of authoritarianism, right-wing authoritarianism, and authoritarian personality tend to be used interchangeably by psychologists, though inclusion of the term "personality" may indicate a psychodynamic interpretation consistent with the original formulation of the theory. ... more from Wikipedia on the Rightwing Authoritarianism
Social dominance orientation (SDO) is a personality variable which predicts social and political attitudes. It is a widely applied Social Psychological scale. SDO is conceptualised as a measure of individual differences in levels of group-based discrimination and domination; that is, it is a measure of an individual's preference for hierarchy within any social system. The concept of SDO as a measurable individual difference is a product of Social Dominance Theory. ... more from Wikipedia on Social Dominance Orientation
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? author's preface. ... go to Altemeyer's academic homepage and The Authoritarians
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Vol 25, No.12 (December, 2013) Rational Fools vs. Efficient Crooks The efficient markets hypothesis : Political Skeptic Bulletin, 2013 : Unemployment Bulletin, 2010 : Vol 23, No.10 (October, 2011) An observation about corporate security departments : Slightly Skeptical Euromaydan Chronicles, June 2014 : Greenspan legacy bulletin, 2008 : Vol 25, No.10 (October, 2013) Cryptolocker Trojan (Win32/Crilock.A) : Vol 25, No.08 (August, 2013) Cloud providers as intelligence collection hubs : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2010 : Inequality Bulletin, 2009 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2008 : Copyleft Problems Bulletin, 2004 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2011 : Energy Bulletin, 2010 : Malware Protection Bulletin, 2010 : Vol 26, No.1 (January, 2013) Object-Oriented Cult : Political Skeptic Bulletin, 2011 : Vol 23, No.11 (November, 2011) Softpanorama classification of sysadmin horror stories : Vol 25, No.05 (May, 2013) Corporate bullshit as a communication method : Vol 25, No.06 (June, 2013) A Note on the Relationship of Brooks Law and Conway Law
Fifty glorious years (1950-2000): the triumph of the US computer engineering : Donald Knuth : TAoCP and its Influence of Computer Science : Richard Stallman : Linus Torvalds : Larry Wall : John K. Ousterhout : CTSS : Multix OS Unix History : Unix shell history : VI editor : History of pipes concept : Solaris : MS DOS : Programming Languages History : PL/1 : Simula 67 : C : History of GCC development : Scripting Languages : Perl history : OS History : Mail : DNS : SSH : CPU Instruction Sets : SPARC systems 1987-2006 : Norton Commander : Norton Utilities : Norton Ghost : Frontpage history : Malware Defense History : GNU Screen : OSS early history
The Peter Principle : Parkinson Law : 1984 : The Mythical Man-Month : How to Solve It by George Polya : The Art of Computer Programming : The Elements of Programming Style : The Unix Hater’s Handbook : The Jargon file : The True Believer : Programming Pearls : The Good Soldier Svejk : The Power Elite
Most popular humor pages:
Manifest of the Softpanorama IT Slacker Society : Ten Commandments of the IT Slackers Society : Computer Humor Collection : BSD Logo Story : The Cuckoo's Egg : IT Slang : C++ Humor : ARE YOU A BBS ADDICT? : The Perl Purity Test : Object oriented programmers of all nations : Financial Humor : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2008 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2010 : The Most Comprehensive Collection of Editor-related Humor : Programming Language Humor : Goldman Sachs related humor : Greenspan humor : C Humor : Scripting Humor : Real Programmers Humor : Web Humor : GPL-related Humor : OFM Humor : Politically Incorrect Humor : IDS Humor : "Linux Sucks" Humor : Russian Musical Humor : Best Russian Programmer Humor : Microsoft plans to buy Catholic Church : Richard Stallman Related Humor : Admin Humor : Perl-related Humor : Linus Torvalds Related humor : PseudoScience Related Humor : Networking Humor : Shell Humor : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2011 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2012 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2013 : Java Humor : Software Engineering Humor : Sun Solaris Related Humor : Education Humor : IBM Humor : Assembler-related Humor : VIM Humor : Computer Viruses Humor : Bright tomorrow is rescheduled to a day after tomorrow : Classic Computer Humor
The Last but not Least
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Last modified: March 20, 2016