Saturday, May 02, 2009

The Authoritarians!

This is what I get making a simple observation about the tea baggers:

The weirdest disconnect in the whole right-wing-anti-government movement is their relative silence on the torture issue. This is just me, but I would think that if your issue is to supposed to be protecting freedom against tyranny (from your own government), then preventing your government from being authorized to torture people at will, without trial woud be a very big issue.

As a helpful explanation, Jonathan Blake suggested reading the (free e-book) The Authoritarians. Thanks Jonathan -- it is an absolutely fascinating read! I couldn't put it down! (...even though I had a bunch of other stuff I was supposed to do yesterday... grumble, thanks a lot Jonathan...)

As a bonus, it also explains (((billy)))'s riddle posted recently:

Please, Christian religious right: MAKE UP YOUR MIND!!!!! Either Christians are a persecuted minority, isolated and persecuted by the courts, the government, the schools, the publishing industry, the music industry, basically, just about everyone, or Christians are the majority who get to make the rules. Either one. It cannot be both.

Note that when the author researches "Right Wing Authoritarians," he has defined "right" as supporting "the established authorities in their society, such as government officials and traditional religious leaders" -- not the standard left/right political spectrum. Still, in North America the group he describes lines up pretty well with the Religious Right. Since his findings aren't very flattering to them (and you all know how much I love the Religious Right), I'll bet many of you are thinking "Confirmation bias!!!" (Yep, I've been playing Internet long enough to anticipate your next move.) But, seriously, the book is not long, and it's really quite readable -- go ahead and download it and read it. If you think this is just my bias talking, then I'd be very curious to have your reaction to the book itself, and discuss some of the author's points with you.

After that, we can all play a friendly round of the Global Change Game!!

p.s. to those who have already read this book: Were you thinking "Wow, that Global Change Game sounds like fun!" or is it just me?

p.s. to Bloggernaclers: You should suggest the "Global Change Game" for your next ward activity night. Seriously. It would be way better than that Plane crash object lesson.


Anonymous said...

You may get your revenge. Even though I recommended it, I didn't retain as much as I would like from the book. It seems important enough (given current U.S. politics) to be familiar.

Early on, the author mentions that there are such things as Left Wing Authoritarians, just there weren't enough specimens in North America to study. :)

Anonymous said...

I meant to say that I would be rereading it pretty soon.

Matt said...

Thanks, Chanson. Thanks, Jonathan.

I'll take that "Authoritarian" challenge. Right up my alley.

I don't know why. I've always been a weird combo of usually timid, sometimes cheerleading follower and anti-authoritarian anarchist. It's part of my bi-polar charm I guess.

The part of me that I love, though, is the anti-authoritarian. I think this may mean it's the authentic part. The other part was socialized into me, I guess.

Thanks again for raising the gauntlet.

Matt said...

Read the intro to The Authoritarians and already have a blog response for you:

Members are the Problem

Andrew S said...

Their families will say it was Satan. But we thought, after interviewing dozens of “amazing apostates,” that (most ironically) their religious training had made them leave. Their church had told them it was God’s true religion. That’s what made it so right, so much better than all the others. It had the truth, it spoke the truth, it was The Truth. But that emphasis can create in some people a tremendous valuing of truth per se, especially among highly intelligent youth who have been rewarded all their lives for getting “the right answer.” So if the religion itself begins making less and less sense, it fails by the very criterion that it set up to show its superiority. From Chapter 4...this is rather familiar.

Also, perhaps in the claim that many ex-Mormons, when they deconvert, go all the way to atheism...could this be a plausible explanation (even though I guess the data still hasn't been collected to even say how reliable that claim is)

C. L. Hanson said...

Hey Jonathan!!!

Seriously, thanks for the tip -- it was worth the read.

Hey Matt!!!

Thanks for taking up the challenge and opening the discussion with an interesting new post! :D

Hey Andrew!!!

That paragraph really reminded me of things I've read in Outer Blogness. Specifically, the idea that Mormonism teaches people to value having a true (accurate, correct) picture of how the universe works. Some find that "Mormon truth" doesn't qualify.

I don't remember the exact reference, but it may have been one of Jonathan's posts.

C. L. Hanson said...

Aha, I found it! It's here, especially in the comments.

Andrew S said...

raagh @ your addicting book recommendations. So, yesterday, when I should've been studying for finals, I just had to read The Authoritarians all the way through.

(really, I needed something to get away from those finals, haha).

The global change game does indeed seem interesting, but it also seems like it would take an INCREDIBLE amount of time to set up and make it work, someone would have to do research on all those global issues and train the facilitators to present them just right.

C. L. Hanson said...

Hey Andrew!!!

lol, that's exactly what Jonathan did to me! Well, except that I'm not studying for finals, but I've got my own stuff to procrastinate.

It's true that "The Global Change Game" -- fun as it would be -- isn't something where you can just buy it ready-made in a box...

Anonymous said...

I just reread my post that you linked to. Boy! I had a lot to say back in the day.

My final is tomorrow morning, so I can't afford to procrastinate any longer. :) I'll read it after my brain has recovered.

t.n. trap said...

Ugh, in one of our youth activities we did that airplane thing—the Global Change Game sounds sooo much better.

Wow, I was totally sucked into The Authoritarians. I was never comfortable with how tight religious groups had become with the Republican party and now I am very not comfortable with it. (Looking at my fellow Mormons, I wonder, who leads this church,Thomas Monson or Sean Hannity?)

Altemeyer gets a bit alarmist near the end, but that threat has passed and I think the unholy alliance of the Republican Party with right-wing religion will soon implode. The younger generations are less socially conservative and the country as a whole has made a shift to Democrat. I’m betting that soon it is going to become very acceptable for everyone to make fun of very right-wing religions—and these groups will become a sort of scapegoat as conservatives, the Republican party and other religions seek acceptance by drawing a line between themselves and the extreme religious right. As far as Mormons are concerned, which side of that line do they (we) want to be on? Time is running out!

C. L. Hanson said...

Hey Jonathan!!!

Hope you did well on your final!!! :D

Hey T. N. Trap!!!

Wow, you did the airplane object lesson? As creepy as it is, I almost wish my ward had done it -- I imagine it's a unique experience. However, I'd much rather play the Global Change Game.

You may be right about the alarmism at the end. The current batch of right-wing extremists in the U.S. have discredited themselves by going completely off the deep end with the strategy of "screw reality, let's just keep repeating our preferred ideology." Unfortunately for them, reality isn't up for popular vote, and it has a way of catching up with you.

As you point out, one consequence is that the popular opinion pendulum has swung. And (as Altemeyer himself showed) the authoritarian followers' own opinions are strongly influenced by popular opinion. Thus, the unholy alliance diminishes in power and influence.