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July 20, 2006

Paranoia: Always in style

Posted by Phil on July 20, 2006 7:09 AM

Sidney Blumenthal (sub req) on John Dean's new book, Conservatives Without Conscience:

Conservatism, as Dean sees it, has been transformed into authoritarianism. In his book, he revives an analysis of the social psychology of the right that its ideologues spent decades trying to deflect and discourage. [...]

"During the past half century," he writes, "our understanding of authoritarianism has been significantly refined and advanced." In particular, he cites the work of Bob Altemeyer, a social psychologist at the University of Manitoba, whose studies have plumbed the depths of those he calls "right-wing authoritarians." They are submissive toward authority, fundamentalist in orientation, dogmatic, socially isolated and insular, fearful of people different from themselves, hostile to minorities, uncritical toward dominating authority figures, prone to a constant sense of besiegement and panic, and punitive and self-righteous. Altemeyer estimates that between 20 and 25 percent of Americans might be categorized as right-wing authoritarians.

According to Dean's assessment, "Nixon, for all his faults, had more of a conscience than Bush and Cheney ... Our government has become largely authoritarian ... run by an array of authoritarian personalities," who flourish "because the growth of contemporary conservatism has generated countless millions of authoritarian followers, people who will not question such actions."

But it is Bush's own actions that have produced a political crisis for Republican one-party rule. In their campaign to retain Congress, Republicans are staking their chips on the fear generated by the war on terror and the culture war, doubling and tripling their bets on the paranoid style.

To that end, House Republicans have unveiled what they call the "American Values Agenda." Despite the defeat of key parts of the program--constitutional amendments against gay marriage and flag burning--and the congressional approval of embryonic stem cell research, the Republicans hope that these expected setbacks will only inflame the conservative base. Their strategy is to remind their followers that enemies surround them and that the president is always right.

Funny how Dean and Cheney came out of the Nixon administration with such different notions.

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Paranoia, part II from PuddingTime!
I suppose that last post just sounds like a bunch of name-calling unless I point out that the Republicans' inflating and exploiting of their base's paranoia is all style, no substance. It's laughable to watch the president surround himself with "snowfl... [Read More]

Tracked on July 20, 2006 12:27 PM