All Episodes

May 8, 2024 24 mins

Andrew and James discuss authoritarian followers and what traits might make people more likely to follow an authoritarian leader.

See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Mark as Played
Transcript

Episode Transcript

Available transcripts are automatically generated. Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.
Speaker 1 (00:01):
All media.

Speaker 2 (00:08):
Welcome, TA could happen here? I'm Andrew Sage of the
YouTube channel Andraism, and I'm here with James.

Speaker 1 (00:15):
Yeah, it's me and Andrew again.

Speaker 2 (00:16):
Yes, once again. So I recently dropped a video on states,
or more pointedly, a video that sought to define the
state and its functions, synthesize its critique by anarchists, and
basically understand the ways that states fail both society and nature,
so we can let go of status inevitability and think
outside of it to realize the freedom and power of

(00:38):
all the people. Most people aren't anarchists, unfortunately, but I've
noticed that generally speaking, some folks are more receptive to
anarchist ideas and others just seem to shut down without
engaging with it earnestly or meaningfully. You get a mix
of those reactions in my comments, so overwhelmingly toward the

(00:58):
receptive side, because I mean, that's the kind of intellectual
curiosity I tried to attract my space, But the more
hostile reactions had me thinking about a book that I
read many years ago, and their video on years after
that was called The Authoritarians by Bob Altemeyer. So, once
taking another look at the ideas in that book, because

(01:19):
even though Ultimid doesn't land and any truly radical conclusions,
his scholarship, in my opinion, gets us closer to understanding
the psychology of both authoritarian followers and authoritarian leaders. Also
Rest in Peace. I found out that he died when
I was preparing this just this year in February. But yeah,
that aside. We'll be talking about the former first, and

(01:42):
that is what's up with authoritarian followers. Let's get into
it first. We need some context. So in the wake
of wil Wards, two social scientists sought an explanation for
the evils perpetuated by the Nazi government during the war.
Theodore W. A'dno Els, Frankel Brunswick, Daniel Evanson, and Nevit
Sandford published The Authoritarian Personality in nineteen fifty, proposing a

(02:05):
personality type for the fascist follower ranked on an F scale.
They particularly concentrated on prejudice within the psychoanalytic and psychosocial
frameworks of Freudian and Fromian theories. Their work was highly critiqued,
but it was also highly influential in laying the groundwork
forile understanding of authoritarian personalities. In the aftermath of Adorno

(02:28):
and Company's book, Social scientists will continue to tweak, develop
and expand our understanding of authoritarian psychology. Most notably, the
concept will be refined by Bob Altemeyer, a Canadian American
psychology professor, proposed the right wing authoritarian personality in nineteen
eighty one. After numerous studies, Oltimin presented his findings in
his free book The Authoritarians in two thousand and six.

(02:51):
I had to clarify, though right wing here is not
being used in the context of the political spectrum, which
is a concept that its own scrutiny. In this context,
Ultimate uses the word right in the sense of the
old English writ, an adjective for lawful and proper. Ultimate
defines authoritarianism as quote, something authoritarian followers and authoritarian leaders
cook up between themselves. It happens when the followers submit

(03:15):
too much to the leaders, trust them too much, and
give them too much leeway to do whatever they want,
which often is something undemocratic, tyrannical, and brutal unquote. I
find this definition of authoritarianism lacking, but am anarchist, so
of course I would to me if authority is defined
as the recognized right above others in a social relationship

(03:37):
to give commands, make decisions, and enforce obedience. Then I
would define authoritarianism as a matter of degree to which
you uphold the principle of authority. I think many people
are at least authoritarian light because that's the status go unfortunately.
But more specifically, I think the people we call authoritarians
are those which are especially invested in the enforcement or

(04:00):
advocacy of strict obedience to authority at the expense of
freedom and plurality. So right wing authority and followers or
r WA's are those which overwhelmingly support the established authorities
in their society, like government officials, arms of the state,
and traditional religious leaders. In North America and elsewhere, r
WA's tend to be or other I should say high

(04:23):
r was because the RWA thing is a scale, but
the high r was tend to be political conservatives. However,
that doesn't mean the authority and personality is exclusive to conservatives,
not as exclusive to North America, but the scale is
definitely tailored to a North American and English speaking audience
lend into its documented issues that translate into other regions.

(04:46):
But with effort, I could definitely see it being adapted
to other cultural contexts as well, and as also my argues,
the concept of the right wing authoritarian could equally apply
to society with the established authorities claim to be represent
in the left. So what defines the right wing authorityian personality?
Psychologically speaking? They feature three primary traits or attitudes. For one,

(05:11):
a high degree of submission to authorities we perceived to
be established and legitimate in the society in which one lives.
Two a general aggressiveness directed against various persons that is
perceived to be sanctioned by established authorities, And three a
high degree of adherence to the social conventions that are
perceived to be endorsed by society and its established authorities.

(05:36):
These traits are measured with the right Wing Authoritarianism Scale
or r A scale for short. It's readily accessible online,
so I'm not going to go through the entire scale
point by point, but basically includes a mixed series of
statements that folks can indicate their level of agreement or
disagreement with statements like our country will be great if
we on other ways of our forefathers. Do the authorities

(05:58):
tell us to do? And get rid of the naples
who are ruining everything, or what our country really needs
is a strong, determined leader who will crush evil and
take us back to our true path. And just to
mix things up. A woman's place should be wherever she
wants to be. The days when women were submissive to
their husbands and social conventions belong strictly in the past.

(06:19):
As you could imagine, the degree to which you agree
or discree these statements would place you somewhere along the scale.
The lowest total possible score and ultimized version of the
test would be twenty and the highest one hundred and eighty,
but most people will hit either extreme. A sample of
one thousand Americans in two thousand and five found that
the average score was ninety. Technically speaking, high RWAs are

(06:42):
just people who score higher than the average population, so
it's really a relative to Also another disclaimer, in the
context of psychological studies, personality tests can definitely make mistakes
about individuals, so it's not a diagnostic tool for individuals
to determine if they'd make a good storm trooper. However,
the scale can reliably identify levels of authoritarianism in groups. Also,

(07:07):
keep in mind that stuff like the interpretation of wording
and fore knowledge of what the test is trying to
measure can definitely influence results. Still, this tool has been
used for most of Altemeier's research authoritarianism, so it's good
to be familiar with it. So now you may be
wondering how well does the RWA skill's measurement of submission, aggression,
and conventionalism map onto people's reality. So for submission, higher

(07:31):
RWs tend to believe that people should submit authority in
almost all circumstances, So they put a lot of trust
in the law and the authorities. Maybe not all authorities
in every single circumstance, but they definitely brought into the
concept itself. For the types who trusted Nixon during and
even after the War to Gaate crisis, likely the ones

(07:51):
in Germany in nineteen forty five who refuse to believe
that Hitler was responsible for the Holocaust, the type to
rapidly support anti terrorist initiatives, no matter to how invasive.
Throughout his research, Altimore found that higheres are far more
likely to tolerate police burglaries, drug rades without warrants, police
crackdowns on peaceful protests. Subversion via Ajan's provocateurs and so on.

(08:15):
As far as they're concerned, Father knows best. Their favorite
authorities are above the law, But like I said, they
don't always submit. Their blind support can be trumped by
other concerns. But most times they're not big fans of
holding officials accountable for their actions. They really don't care
if a cop kills someone in broad daylight or someone

(08:36):
drives through a crowd of protesters on the street. In
terms of aggression, higher wees aggress when they believe right
and might on their side. Right meaning their hostility is
authority approved might meaning they have a physical, tactical, or
numerical advantage over their target. They don't fight far, and

(08:57):
just like they go easier on authorities who commit crimes,
they go easier on anyone who attacks people they're prejudiced against.
But they definitely don't go easy on the people they hate.
They seek to sentence criminals to longer terms and average
And there's some of the loudest supporters of capital punishment.
And if they hate one group, bet your bottom dollar
they probably hate other groups too. You could call them

(09:20):
equal opportunity bigots. Chances are if they hate immigrants or
trans people, those are not going to be the only
targets of their ire. Their prejudice has more to do
with their own personality and their targets actual attributes. Still,
they don't always aggress when they think the proper authorities approve,
just like they don't always submit. They are always more

(09:42):
factors that play in any given situation, including a fair
of counter aggression or consequences that may hold their hostilities.
Regarding conventionalism, higher was believe that everyone should live by
the norms that their authorities have decreed. Multiculturalism, plurality, diversity,
those things clash with what they consider correct and what

(10:04):
they consider wrong. They usually get their ideas from fundamentalists religions,
so you'll find that higher WA's are strong advocates for
the traditional family structure, with patriarchal husbands, submissive wives, and
obedient children. They're also far more likely to support their
governments patriotic version of various historical narratives. Most interestingly, their

(10:24):
conventionalism even influences their response to the high RW test itself.
If they were totally average response for a statement on
the test, they were far more likely to adjust their
answers to the mean than most When asked what they
would like their own RWA score to be. Low, rbs
said they would like to be low. RWs middle or

(10:45):
W said they'd like to be low w's, but higher
ws said they want to be middles, not lows or highs.
Why because they tend to rank being normal very highly
in values tests. Also, just because they were to be
normal does means they don't want to be richer or
smarter than others not doesn't mean they're necessarily going to
drop their prejudices. They may get tugged slightly, like with

(11:09):
the somewhat decrease in prejudice against gay people after the
legalization of gay marriage. But their normal is often a
measure of what's normal in their in group. So if
it's still normal in their in group to be violently homophobic,
more than likely they will still be violently homophobic.

Speaker 1 (11:27):
The conformity is the value rather than specific bigotry or
what have you. Yeah, talking of conformity, Andrew, we have
to conform to the needs of sponsors of this show
right now, and we're back.

Speaker 3 (11:45):
Yeah.

Speaker 2 (11:45):
So, Alse my husband lightly critiqued for rendering r W
as the dominant psychological account of authoritarianism. Of course, it
makes sense that our has been the focus, considering the
study of authoritarian personality was born out of post World
War two study of fascists. Right wing authoritarians often fever
established absolutist forms of government and weaponize that presently dominates

(12:08):
in hierarchy to facilitate said absolutism. But there are authoritarians
who also fever absolutist forms of government with slight differences
believe n that the presently dominates in hierarchy should be
overthrown and replaced with their own. These have potentially been
called left wing authoritarians, even though the right and right

(12:31):
wing authoritarians didn't have anything to do with the political spectrum.
Let's keep pushing. In chapter nine of The Authoritarian Inspector,
Altemaier conceptualizes left wing authoritarianism or LWA, as also composed
of submission, aggression, and conventionalism, So essentially LWA is a

(12:51):
subcategory of RWAs. He's also quick to point out not
all leftists are lws, but as he describes them, l
ws are revolutionaries who one submit to movement leaders who
must be obeyed aka submission. Two have enemies who must
be ruined from capitalists to counter revolutionaries aka aggression, and

(13:16):
three have rules and party discipline that must be followed
aka conventionalism. In essence, authoritarianism is psychological r ways support
the established authorities elders oppose them in favor of their own,
but the underlying dispositional core is still authoritarianism. But the

(13:38):
focus is on ar debas in general. Here concerning these
trade submission, aggression, conventionalism, it's clear that people with right
wing authoritarian and personalities are rather dangerous. They find it
easier to bully, harass, punish, mame, torture, eliminate, and exterminate
their victims than most people do. They're more willing to
join mobs and militias, more likely to blame victims for

(14:00):
their misfortune, and more likely to condemn common criminals to
long brutal sentences in jail. They seem to have a
lot of hostility boiling away inside them that their authorities
can easily unleash. So we have to ask what causes this?
Why are they like this? According to Albert Bandura's social

(14:21):
learning theory of aggression, aggression occurs after two conditions are met. Firstly,
some feelings like anger or envy meet us to a hostility. Secondly,
inhibitions or contextual restraints against release in that hostility would
have to be overcome. Only then can the aggression erupt
and flow. So let's discuss the instigator and releaser of

(14:45):
authoritarian aggression. High days are highly motivated by fear like
they have an extra dose of fair response in their
genes more than most people. They probably learn to be
fearful from their parents about all kinds of things you know, radicals, atheists, kidnappers,
queer people, et cetera, et cetera. They grew up in

(15:06):
a scarier world than modes, which is probably why they
tend to score so highly on the Dangerous World scale.
That scale, like previous scales, provides statements and measures levels
of agreement or disagreement with stuff like quote. If our
society keeps degenerating the way it has been lately, it's
liable to collapse like a rotten dog, and everything will
be chaos and quote any d now, chaos and anarchy

(15:30):
could erupt around us. All the signs are pointing to it,
and code everything to them is a sign of the times.
A perversion corrupt in society in peaceful times and in
generally dangerous ones. Hired luys feel threatened. But what releases
that aggressive impulse to act? Also, I have found, more

(15:50):
than anything else self righteousness. Of course, almost everyone thinks
they're a bit more moral than average, but higher luys
they tend to think they're the holy ones, the chosen,
the righteous. That empowers them to isolate, segregate, humiliate, persecute, harass,
beat and kill. That self righteousness, combine with their high

(16:13):
scores on the dangerous world scale, is what empowers their prejudice,
their heavy handedness, their means spiritedness, and their eagerness to
crusade against the other. So how do high ars become
high ws? Are they born that way? Possibly? Do their
parents make them that way? Somewhat but not completely? See

(16:37):
no one's a complete cobon copy of their parents. It's
what determines a person's position on the art of wa experience.
Our life experiences teach us lessons that our parents and
payers may not. Our experiences with authorities shape or perception

(16:58):
of authority. Especially when someone hits adolescence, they tend to
chafe against authority, even if they submitted to authority as children.
Those hormonal urges, desires for astronomy and new experiences could
shake up their early lessons completely. Experiences could either end
up reinforcing their authorities teachings or contradicting them entirely. Naturally,

(17:22):
it's easier for kids from authoritarian homes to remain authoritarian
and vice versa, but ultimately experiences do most of the shape.
Middle r was have some mix of experiences and upbringing
that keeps them in the middle. When it comes to
Higher was, their experiences were probably very controlled. Authoritarian followers

(17:42):
usually live in a homogeneous bubble of patriotic traditional people,
an echo chamber apart from the evils of the world,
safely kept on a short leash for most of their lives.
But there's hope yet. Otomi's research has shown that higher
was can change if they have some life experiences. That's
why university can be such a game change of people.

(18:05):
It's just meeting new people, leaving that small, enclosed world
and developing relationships with people of different walks of life,
and that makes a big difference. There are a couple
of traits that make Higher Ways such good followers for
would be dictators. In short, those traits are illogical thinking,

(18:29):
highly compartmentalized, minds, double standards, hypocrisy, a lack of self awareness, ethnocentrism,
dogmatism in long will consider syllogism. All fish live in
the sea, sharks live in the sea. Therefore sharks are fish.

(18:49):
Logically speaking, the conclusion doesn't follow. Even if sharks are fish,
and they are the premises don't support the conclusion. But
if higher w were asked if the reasoning was correct,
they were more likely than most to say that it was.
When asked why, they'd answer because sharks are fish, in essence,

(19:11):
because they agreed with the conclusion they assumed for reasoning
was right. That simple test shows that if authority and
followers like the conclusion, the logic involved is fairly irrelevant.
Reasoning is what should justify the conclusion, but as far
as they're concerned, the conclusion validates the reasoning. Of course,

(19:33):
let me not overstate a lot of people have trouble
with logistic reasoning. Higher was just happened to be slightly
more likely to make such mistakes, But higher WA's generally
have more trouble than most people do realize in a
conclusion as false. They have a harder time determine whether
empirical evidence proves or doesn't prove something. They more easily

(19:53):
fill gaps in science with supernatural forces, and they have
trouble being critical of anything unless they already gotten their
talking points from their authorities. Regarding the highly compartmentalized minds,
I mean, we all have some inconsistencies not thinking, but
their minds as be like oil and water. One second

(20:13):
they say in free speech, next they say in ban
critical race theory. One moment they're talking about individual freedom,
and next their basically throat in the boots of the state.
They don't merge files in their brain to really see
what fits. They centily just pick up whatever their demogogues
are saying. And if your mind is such a massive contradiction,
so you're going to end up with a lot of

(20:34):
double standards easily justify for whatever idea you hold, it's
most convenient in the moment. Principles are really irrelevant. Keep
in mind the excuses they make for those in power
and how hard they are in victims. Classic example is
the difference between how they treat a prisoner who beats
up another prisoner versus a police officer who beats up
a prisoner. The d de B is usually don't have

(20:56):
such stark double standards hypocrisy. I'm going to keep using
this example because you know it's still somewhat topical critical
race theory. As much as authoritarians accuse the left of
being anti free speech politically correct types, RBA is a
far more likely to report a desire to censor ideas
they don't like. This is also because they tend to

(21:18):
lack basic self awareness. If presented with a list of
things right between, authoritarians are likely to do like be
prejudiced to conform us, et cetera, and then ask how
true it is of themselves compared to most other people.
They really have no idea how different they actually are,
and that's partially because of the bubble they tend to
exist in. Us versus them is a very hard line

(21:40):
in the sand for authoritarians. Humans as a whole do
have a tendency sometimes to fall into tribal patterns of thinking,
but authoritarians see the world far more sharply in terms
of their in groups and our groups. And most we
do tend to associate with people who agree with us
in many issues, but authoritarians really do stick to their
bubble and ethnocentric reinforcement. That's why they don't realize how presudiced,

(22:05):
or aggressive or submissive they are to compare to most people.
By avoiding challenges to their beliefs and holding faster their authorities,
they remain stuck in a circular logic of I'm right
because the people I agree with say I'm right. Finally,
in terms of dogmatism, higher was holds a unchangeable, unjustified certainty,

(22:26):
righteousness beyond a shadow of a doubt. They're more likely
than most people to agree with statements like the things
I believe in are so completely true, I could never
doubt them, and there are no discoveries or facts that
could possibly make me change my mind about the things
that matter most in life. I am absolutely certain that
ideas about the fundamental issues in life are correct. Meanwhile,

(22:49):
they're more likely than most people to disagree with statements
like it's best to be open to all possibilities and
ready to re evaluate all your beliefs. And flexibility is
a real virtual and thinking since you may very well
be wrong when you receive or absorb rather than contemplate
your beliefs, you have no basis upon which SHO determine

(23:09):
whether or not they're true. So you avoid challenges by
staying in the bubble as much as possible. When that
can't be avoided, threaton out whatever talking points you got
from wherever, and if that dialogue tree fails, you can
always fall back in your group's assurance that you are right. Now,
you could challenge your beliefs, or you could insist you're

(23:30):
right and retreat. What option do you think higher was tend.

Speaker 1 (23:34):
To choose, Yeah, the double down exactly.

Speaker 2 (23:37):
Dogmatism is by far the best fallback defense, but it's
also the most blatant, that giveaway that the person doesn't
know why they believe what they believe. Alas hired was,
are only one side of the authoritarian coin, then nothing
without their leaders. So next time we'll be talking about

(23:58):
those leaders, those social dominators. Until then, all power to
all the people peace.

Speaker 3 (24:07):
Yes, I knew it could happen here as a production
of cool Zone Media. For more podcasts from cool Zone Media,
visit our website cool Zonemedia dot com, or check us
out on the iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you
listen to podcasts. You can find sources for It could
Happen Here, updated monthly at cool zonemedia, dot com, slash sources,
thanks for listening.

It Could Happen Here News

Advertise With Us

Follow Us On

Host

Robert Evans

Robert Evans

Show Links

About

Popular Podcasts

The Nikki Glaser Podcast

The Nikki Glaser Podcast

Every week comedian and infamous roaster Nikki Glaser provides a fun, fast-paced, and brutally honest look into current pop-culture and her own personal life.

Stuff You Should Know

Stuff You Should Know

If you've ever wanted to know about champagne, satanism, the Stonewall Uprising, chaos theory, LSD, El Nino, true crime and Rosa Parks, then look no further. Josh and Chuck have you covered.

Music, radio and podcasts, all free. Listen online or download the iHeart App.

Connect

© 2024 iHeartMedia, Inc.