Atlas Shrugged: The Mocking

Monday, May 5, 2008

The Authoritarian leadership is out of control.

Do conservatives hate their fellow Americans and America in general? They are constantly complaining about them. Women are spoiled, blacks are resentful, Hispanics are leeches on the system, teenagers are disrespectful and violent, everyone persecutes Christians. And when conservatives see a problem they have one solution: more control.

They need someone-something-anything else to come along and make them feel secure. Security, to them, is gained through control. More laws, more priests, more guns, more guards controlling more Americans. One might begin to think that the goal is controlling others out of mindless fear, not protecting the US, which incidentally happens to be the richest* and most powerful nation on earth, in this or any other time. If women aren't controlled men will no longer be needed. If blacks aren't controlled they'll rape your women and riot in your cities. If Hispanics aren't controlled they'll take the Southwest back. If Arabs aren't controlled they'll invade your country, kill your leaders, and convert you to Islam.

Why are conservatives filled with so much mindless fear? Why do they turn to control to deal with problems? Because it is what they know. It's what they were taught from birth. Authoritarian parents demand obedience in return for love. They might do this unconsciously and in response to how they were raised, but they do it all the same. The core of authoritarianism, the rag-and-bone shop of its heart, is the need each one of us has to be loved for ourselves. Just as we are, not prettier, smarter, more religious or more obedient. Loved for our faults as well as our good points, loved the way open and giving babies and little children love, with all their hearts and minds and souls. We give it to our parents and they are either able to love this way in return, or they are not. Authoritarian parents are not able to love their children unequivocally.

They demand obedience instead of seeing the child as an equal. The child's preference are unimportant, it is what the parent wants that counts. The child can't have different opinions, especially in areas of authority such as family, religion and government. And the child grows angry and frustrated, but doesn't dare let himself feel these emotions. If he does, his parents will be angry with him and that means they don't love him. So the child denies his feelings, and soon all feelings. And he grows up, and has children of his own.

We can no longer afford to indulge the authoritarian mindset. Popes and pundits, Bushes and McCains, Democrats who vow to bomb Iran. They are dangerous, and time is running out. There is also the strange catagory of people who choose authoritarianism, some liberals who still have authoritarian tendencies in religion, for example, or fearful people who did not grow up in an authoritarian family but crave control all the same. But most authoritarians, I think, are conservative, and it's long past time everyone starting pointing out this fundamental flaw.

*Once. Now, not so much.


aimai said...

great post, susan. I have thought the same since reading Dean's conservatives without conscience and getting on to bob altemeyer's work on the internet.


Susan of Texas said...

So what do we do with this knowledge? People don't throw off authoritarianism until they accept its core truth, and most people would rather die than do that. The only thing I can think of is to continue to talk about how we make decisions, and what these decisions are based on. (Often unconsciously held fears.)

M. Bouffant said...

Also on the subject:

When one American turns to another and says or insinuates, “I am more American than you are; I love my country more deeply than you do,” he is paradoxically expressing a revulsion for this nation. For he sees in it on the one side, greater Americans, and on the other side, lesser Americans. The Americanness to which he holds so fast, has embedded within it a contempt for those fellow Americans who do not see their own identity wrapped up in a flag. How can this square with the principle of equality upon which America was founded?

From, a fine site I just discovered.

Susan of Texas said...

Of course it doesn't square with equality. How can we keep saying we were built on equality whe most people weren't equal, whether poor or female or of another race?

It is strange to be called a traitor by imbiciles, when I spent years as a small child on military bases and my father was an Air Force captain who was killed in Vietnam. Conservatives never understand why someone like me is antiwar, although it seems very clear to me.

Anonymous said...

My grandfather died in WWII, which is not as immediate as the pain you feel, Susan, but makes me staunchly anti-war, as well.

m.bouffant? Where the hell you been?

zeppo said...

Fear isn't the only thing. I also think that many people just kind of get their rocks off in abusing people different than they are. I forgot which famous study, I think it was at Stanford, which concluded that you could find more than enough people in the U.S. right now to to staff any number of Nazi-style concentration camps, including gas chambers. I think many people just enjoy being sadists, and they are mad that normal society won't let them. Now, these normal restraints have been ripped apart by all sorts of heaving gasbags that are on national TV and radio. Anything that is on your mind, you can now say and even do. Everything is allowed, if it advances their particular agenda. I think many people in this country would revel in being part of an SS style organization.

Personally, I call people like that pyschopaths. I can't believe fear is the only motivation.