I was surprised to discover that Wikipedia’s entry on Right Wing Authoritarianism had been edited to remove some passages that I consider important, so I’m going to include them here.

The reason for this diary entry is twofold — one, to preserve the information related Right Wing Authoritarianism; the second is to show how Right Wing Authoritarian attitudes dovetail with Modern/Symbolic Racism, which is a subject I’ve been planning to post on for some time but was only motivated today by a posting advocating raping and murdering illegal immigrants.

I hadn’t planned on writing an extensive post at this point but I’ll include some information below and reply to this topic in future posts.
Robert Altemeyer has written an online book that can be downloaded for free at this link:

The Authoritarians: http://home.cc.umanitoba.ca/~altemey/

Larry Allen Brown has condensed some main points of Altemeyer’s, et al, work on Right Wing Authoritarianism, and I’ll include both a link and excerpt below.


Right Wing Authoritarianism
What Is the Allure in Being a Follower?
© Larry Allen Brown
Jul 31, 2008

The right wing authoritarian personality has less to do with a political view than it does with a psychological personality structure.

Yale social psychologist Stanley Milgram defined obedience as the ” the psychological mechanism that links individual action to political purposes”, and called it “the dispositional cement that binds men to systems of authority.” A decade before Milgram produced his findings, which dealt with the conflict arising between obedience to authority and moral conscience, a study on the “Authoritarian Personality” was undertaken at UC Berkeley as part of a an effort by leading social scientists to understand how, in a culture of law, order and reason…”a vast majority of people could and actually did tolerate the mass extermination of fellow citizens.” That question had some urgency after the horrors of World War II.

During the past half century, this understanding of authoritarianism has been greatly increased through the effforts of social psychologist Bob Altemeyer of the University of Manitoba. Altemeyer found authoritarianism to be consistantly associated with right wing rather then left wing ideology. It refers to people that overtly submit to the established authorities in their lives, who could be of any political stripe. They are the people that march in “lock-step” as opposed to those that march to “the beat of a different drummer”.

My Way or the Highway

According to John Dean, who wrote in Conservatives Without Conscience, “Many conservatives, particularly those who are clearly authoritarians, are not aware of their illogical, contradictory, and hypocritical thinking. If made cognizant of it, they either rationalize it away, neglect to care, or attack those who reveal their human weaknesses. Because such thinking seems to be a reality of contemporary conservatism, anyone operating from a logical mind or has the inclination toward a reasoned judgment will have a problem with this.” Dean adds that right-wing authoritarianism reveals itself in three ways:

Authoritarian submission — a high degree of submissiveness to the authorities who are perceived to be established and legitimate in the society in which one lives.

Authoritarian aggression — a general aggressiveness directed against deviants, outgroups, and other people that are perceived to be targets according to established authorities.

Conventionalism — a high degree of adherence to the traditions and social norms that are perceived to be endorsed by society and its established authorities.

In North America these traits are seen more readily in those with conservative political leanings. To break this down even further, one can examine the following symptoms that reveal the authoritarian personality organized into four distinct categories.

1: Faulty Reasoning — Right-wing authoritarians (RWAs) are more likely to:

Make many incorrect inferences from evidence.

Hold contradictory ideas that result from a cognitive attribute known as compartmentalized thinking, as illustrated by Orwellian doublethink.

Uncritically accept that many problems are `our most serious problem.’

Uncritically accept insufficient evidence that supports their beliefs.

Uncritically trust people who tell them what they want to hear.

Use many double standards in their thinking and judgments.

2: Hostility Toward Outgroups — RWAs are more likely to:

Weaken constitutional guarantees of liberty such as a Bill of Rights

Severely punish `common’ criminals in a role-playing situation.

Admit they obtain personal pleasure from punishing such people.

Be prejudiced against and hostile towards racial, ethnic, national, sexual, and linguistic minorities.

Volunteer to help the government persecute almost anyone.

Be mean-spirited toward those who have made mistakes and suffered.

3: Profound Character Attributes — RWAs are more likely to:

Be dogmatic.

Be zealots.

Be hypocrites.

Be absolutists

Be bullies when they have power over others.

Help cause and inflame intergroup conflict.

Seek dominance over others by being competitive and destructive in situations requiring cooperation.

4: Blindness To One’s Own Failings And To The Failings Of Authority Figures Whom They Respect— RWAs are more likely to:

Believe they have no personal failings.

Avoid learning about their personal failings.

Be highly self-righteous.

Use religion to erase guilt over their acts and to maintain their self-righteousness.

These are the hallmarks of Right-wing Authoritarianism. Recognizing them and the degree to which a political party promotes them is a matter for the individual to determine.


Stanley Milgram; Obedience to Authority; Obedience and Individual Responsibility

Bob Altemeyer; The Authoritarians, University of Manitoba; The Authoritarian Spector, Harvard University

John Dean; Conservatives Without Conscience

George Orwell; “doublethink”. 1984

0 0 votes
Article Rating