" OK, what’s this book about? It’s about what happened to the American government after "conservatives" gained control of Congress in the 1990s and the White House in 2000. It’s about the disastrous decisions that government made, which have created the enormous problems we face now. 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.

“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 known this all along.” Why should a conservative, moderate, or liberal bother with this book? Why should any Republican, Independent, or Democrat click the “Introduction” link on this page?

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

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

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

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

If, on the other hand, you’re way ahead of me, and believe the extreme right-wing elements in America are still working to take over the country despite the recent election--nay because of it--I think you can still get a lot from this book. The authoritarians aren’t going away.

The studies explain so much about these people. Yes, the research shows they are very aggressive, but why are they so hostile? Yes, experiments show they are almost totally uninfluenced by reasoning and evidence, but why are they so dogmatic? Yes, studies show the Religious Right has more than its fair share of hypocrites, from top to bottom; but why are they two-faced, and how come one face never notices the other? Yes, their leaders can give the flimsiest of excuses and even outright lies about things they’ve done wrong, but why do the rank-and-file believe them? What happens when authoritarian followers find the authoritarian leaders they crave and start marching together?

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

You think I’m pulling your leg? Push the button."

I'm posting this in a blog because I'd like to get other opinions on this book and because I think the author makes some very good points and offers some explanations for irrational behavior and the authoritarian mindset.

Views: 22

Comment by Reggie on August 30, 2009 at 2:59pm
@ Natalie - Why are you so convinced that Christians are going to kill us in our sleep? This is the type of paranoid stereotyping that I would expect from certain Christians. You say you are a realist, but I have serious doubts that your claim is true. By what mechanism will Christians eliminate us all? Who will do it? The Baptists? The Lutherans? Is there a secret cabal made up of the thousands of sects of Christianity planning this as we chat idly on Think Atheist? Will they kill only atheists but spare self described agnostics? What of Muslims, Jews, and followers of other belief systems. Are they also in mortal danger?

Furthermore, your call to arms is laughable. I apologize that there is not a more polite way to put that. Are you suggesting an "Atheist Army"? How will you accomplish such a thing and to what effect do you think it would have other than making the term "militant atheist" something other than hyperbole?

While I find religion to be an outmoded, and at times, dangerous system of belief, I also find your level of alarmist rhetoric as something equal to that of religion's.
Comment by Wesley on August 31, 2009 at 12:36am
I'm a humanist before anything else. So are many christians and religious people in general. It sounds weird but its true. My father was a minister for over 40 years and loved people regardless of faith or lack of it. He would be first to protect any person because of their religious beliefs or lack.

This book isn't alarmist but goes a ways towards explaining the authoritarian mindset and how difficult it is to break through the 'barriers'.

It does offer hope... because if you read the book, studies show that exposure to alternative viewpoints and mindsets have a way of breaking through the authoritarian boundaries..and almost all who have had a lot of exposure to alternative views score lower on the RWA scale than they did before they had such exposure.
Comment by Wesley on August 31, 2009 at 12:41am
That is.. if they can get out on their own....(like at college) and get away from their authoritarian controlling influences. One of the main things about authoritarianism is the exposure to and control and interpretation of information.


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