Autocratic Personality and Other Odds

Reading about conservatism and personality is like watching a slow motion car crash. You wish it could be stopped or would just end, but instead it goes on endlessly.

More evidence of this appears in a recent series of essays by Sara Robinson at Orcinus, Dave Neiwert’s blog hangout. Neiwert has been a longtime observer of far right wing political groups and an astute commenter on rightwing eliminationist rhetoric. Robinson’s series is a summary of the psychology of authoritarianism in part 1, some personal stories about people who escaped authoritarian cultures in part 2, and suggestions for reaching out to authoritarians to ‘bring them over the wall’ in part 3. All of them are worth reading and thinking about.

Another blogger who has done a lot on this topic is Arthur Silber. His essays on Alice Miller are especially worthwhile.

Today I ran across a recent article by Rick Perlstein trying to define conservative culture. He sums it up as all about being on the defensive, to feel secure because you think liberals are persecuting you for your beliefs.

I’m reminded of a paper I wrote for a college course about social movements back in the early 1990s. I wanted to understand how people could be stridently anti-abortion and pro death penalty at the same time. I still haven’t been able to rationalize that one for myself, but plenty of people still believe it.