Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Authoritarianism and Adolescence on the Left

Dr. Helen writes today about the inverse authoritarian personality:
I have spent some interesting hours reading [in Roots of Radicalism: Jews, Christians, and the Left] about studies done with Jewish and Christian leftist radicals in the 1970's and 80's. Please bear the age of these studies in mind when I talk about some of the information I gleaned from the book. Yes, this is old stuff but I think in discussing some of the traits of radicals on the left, much of it still holds true. I do not believe these traits are necessarily pathological--but they are descriptive in helping to understand those who follow extreme left-leaning thought. . . .

The authors of the book, Stanley Rothman & S. Robert Lichter spend chapters discussing how the same conflicts that underlie the authoritarian can be turned inside out. "The traditional authoritarian deflects his hidden hostilities onto outsiders and outgroups. The inverse (my italics) authoritarian unleashes his anger directly against the powers that be while taking the side of the world's 'victims' and 'outcasts.'" The authors ask an important question about the inverse authoritarian: "Was it not possible that the 'liberated generation' was bound to potentially dangerous unconscious personality dynamics no less than its forebears?" . . .

Without going into too much detail, here are a few other things they found. Conservatives--particularly Jewish Conservatives--were found to be lowest on the need to feel powerful, followed by liberals but the need to feel powerful rose sharply among the New Left radical group--it was especially high in the Jewish radicals. Jewish conservatives, liberals, and radicals were all more affiliative (defined as a concern to establish, maintain and restore positive emotional relationships) than their non-Jewish counterparts.

What I carried away from the book is that there is no difference in the rigidity between fighting against outsiders or outgroups and fighting against the establishment---both are a form of rebellion that is based not on what is right, but on how one chooses to rebel. Basing politics and policy on how they fullfill our need for power, affiliation or hostility cannot be the best way of deciding what is right for our country.
Dr. Helen is a Ph.D. psychologist. I'm a mere observer of the human condition, which led me to write this some months ago:
Persons of the Left simply are simply unthinking, selfish adolescents who want what they want, regardless of the consequences for others. The Left's stance on abortion should be viewed as just one more adolescent tantrum in a vast repertoire of tantrums.