Authoritarianism

I’ve just finished reading “The Authoritarians” by Robert Altemeyer of the University of Manitoba. He has spent a lifetime researching authoritarian personalities, of which he finds two types. I want to emphasize that his work is evidence-driven, based on a number of different surveys.

  • Right-Wing Authoritarian followers (RWA, and he is not using right-wing in a political sense) exhibit a high degree of submission to the established, legitimate authorities in their society, high levels of aggression in the name of their authorities, and a high level of conventionalism.
  • Authoritarian leaders strive to manipulate others, and are dishonest, two-faced, treacherous, and amoral.

Altemeyer discusses the influence of these two types in religion and politics, and it’s a work that connects the dots very well. He is speaking out here whereas he previously “laid low, sticking to academic outlets”, and his prognostications are unsettling. Nevertheless, he has a light, witty style that makes it enjoyable. Read it. The book is available online as a PDF file.

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