Atlas Shrugged: The Mocking

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Authoritarian Good Little Boys and Girls

K-Lo lauds Important Catholic WTFuckley. Apparently, What Would Jesus Do includes bigotry against the poor and black. K-Lo's religious beliefs are so shallow that she thinks praising God is the same as following His Word. Yet she is just following the religion of her parents.

Jonah Goldberg does a radio interview in which he admits that "there is some spite" in his motivation for writing "Liberal Fascism." A major source of his anger at liberals is that they have called his father and others like him fascist. He also admitted that his father wouldn't have praised him for having a best-selling book. "I can hear what he would say, "Eh, it's better than not being number one." If my child got on the New York Times best seller list, I would definitely tell her I was proud of her. It wouldn't occur to me to belittle her accomplishment. I don't know whether to feel sorry for authoritarian conservatives or be angry with their blindness. They are constantly seeking approval withheld from them by their parents. And constantly angry that they'll never get it.

We can see a similar phenomenon with Rod Dreher. A transsexual is pregnant, and Dreher is disgusted by the "freakish" person.

Beatie wants to be a man, and sees no reason why he shouldn't be. Modern technology and modern legal mechanisms help him achieve that goal. But he also
wants to be a mother. In the consumerist utopia that we've built and are building, the individual's desires are God. Nothing is more important in this world than what Thomas Beatie wants. Thomas Beatie creates his own reality, heedless of the things that are. And we bless this tyrannization of nature as liberation.

How dare a person go against God, as interpreted by Dreher. The person's needs don't matter, only God's. This is utterly typical of the Authoritarian, who was forced to submit to his parents' authority throughout his childhood. Only his parents' wants and needs matter, not little Rod's. Thus the child is taught to deny himself to conform to his parents' ideals, which were probably the result of their parents' ideals.

When you are forced to give up who you are to keep your parents' approval (and, implicitly, love), you become enraged when others do what you dare not do. Freedom is a threat to the Authoritarian. It shows that everything is a choice, and we must all make those choices for ourselves. Authoritarians have been forced to give up their own right to choose, and accept their parents' choices. Nothing is worse than being told you can't be who you are. So feminists and gays etc. are evil and wrong for choosing their own sexual roles instead of adhering to traditional roles handed down by Authority. And Dreher finds ever-smaller boxes to shut himself into, bouncing from one restrictive religion to another even more restrictive religion, to eliminate any choice at all from his life. The only fun he has is berating others for not living up to the impossible goals he's accepted for himself.


aimai said...

susan of texas,
just dropping by to say that I think you've put together three important things in this post--or rather three unimportant things (klo, jonah, and dreher) in an important way. I really think the most valuable book I've read in the last few years was altemeyer's book on authoritarian personalities. Before that I had no way of figuring out what the subtext was to all the right wing cultural handwringing that seems to occupy so much of their time. Your post perfectly captures the timid, angry, ressentiment that underlies these writer's writings like coral reefs underlying an atoll. Once you grasp how the coral gets built you are no longer surprised that a whole island can appear on top of something so tiny.


Susan of Texas said...

Thanks, aimai. Altemeyer's text is very helpful in describing the authoritarian mindset, especially its comprehensiveness.He doesn't really go into the reasons people have this quality, though; I think he felt people were just born that way.

Alice Miller showed that authoritarianism is instilled in children by their parents. I think Miller, Zimbard and Milgram proved that this attitude is far more widespread than thought, and authoritarianism is a deeply disturbing and dangerous mindset.

I think I will put up another post on this soon.