Authoritarian Alert

Authoritarianism: The political science that explains Trump…

 


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Christian Crock: The Chain of Pain…

 
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From Captain Cassidy

It’s more important than ever to peel away Christians’ undeserved authoritarian privilege and power, so we can maybe save the next generation a lot of grief…

Sometimes when I see some enraged, wildly-gesturing, belligerent Christian blustering about whatever’s bugging them right then, I suddenly get this mental image of that person as a young child. The picture I see in my mind reminds me that they weren’t always like they are now–and that I may be dealing with someone who is seriously damaged from stuff that happened to them long ago. If the reports from ex-Christians are anything to go by, this damage is far more common than Christian leaders would like to admit, and it seems to be getting worse as Christians rush to embrace even more punitive and restrictive childrearing philosophies.

Obviously one can’t generalize too much. Christianity’s too big a religion to consider monolithic in any way. But people tend to use the tactics on others that they suspect would work on themselves if they were in that other person’s shoes. Do you imagine that it’s some weird coincidence that it seems like Christians are getting more interested in controlling, shaming, and humiliating the people they’ve identified as their enemies? Does it seem like some weird fluke that the number of Christians acting in condescending, hateful, vengeful, and cruel ways seems to be on the rise?

It might not be a fluke or coincidence, or some trick of our own perceptions, but rather an actual trend that’s happening to a religion whose right-wing fringes have gotten considerably more polarizedpoliticized, and extremist over the years.

As the religion becomes more and more extremist and polarized, we’ll be seeing more and more people damaged by it. Christianity’s leaders have managed to put into place one of the cruelest and most heartless deceptions imaginable, and those adherents’ young people are the ones paying the price.

Down the Rabbit Hole.

Pat Boone Wants To Nail Blasphemers To The Cross…

 

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From PoliticusUSA

Boone says “there should be regulations that prohibit blasphemy” because SNL made fun of Christians pretending to be persecuted. Fuck you, Pat… and the white bucks you rode in on…]

Pat Boone, citing a “vitriol” against believers like himself, told Alan Colmes Thursday that “there should be regulations that prohibit blasphemy” after Saturday Night Live, in a movie parody poked fun at Christianity’s persecution complex – you know, because it’s genuinely funny that the world’s largest religion thinks it’s being persecuted.

“Vitriol,” of course, used in the conservative sense, is a code word for people who don’t think a few people like Boone ought to tell us what we can and cannot do or say. For Boone and Colmes, it is absolutely not vitriol to condemn people who chose not to abide by their rules. An example of this is Boone telling Glenn Beck that the SNL crew are going to hell for their movie parody.

Asked by Colmes if he would “regulate restrictions” on what was said, Boone first said no before saying yes, so when Colmes asked Boone,

“Would you “like the FCC to declare that a show like Saturday Night Live or any other show can’t do that kind of humor?” Boone answered, “You cannot do blasphemy, yes.”

Really? Keep in mind, you can’t blaspheme Boone’s god, but you can blaspheme other gods. Say, Allah, for example. Because Pat Boone’s Bible.

In The Age of Reason, Thomas Paine wrote that on the contrary, it is the Bible that is “a book of lies, wickedness, and blasphemy.”

What Will a Trump Presidency Look Like? The Rise of the Nazis Is a Pretty Good Guide…

 

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From Thom Hartmann
Alternet

Milton Mayer’s book presents an upsettingly familiar formula to fascism and explains how It could happen here, too. 
Editor’s Note: This essay is adapted from Thom Hartmann’s review of They Thought They Were Free by Milton Mayer.

After watching the rise of Donald Trump and the inevitable protests against his hateful rhetoric, many of us can’t help but recall the warnings we’ve read and heard from those who knew from personal experience what such an authoritarian could do to a great nation.

They Thought They Were Free: The Germans 1933-’45 is an intensely personal book for me. Although I was born after Hitler was five years dead, the horrible dance between fascism and democracy has fascinated me since childhood. Through a series of odd coincidences, my adult life has been heavily intertwined with those of both Hitler’s Nazis and their victims.

I’ve had several close friends who lost family members in the Holocaust. I’ve spent a lot of time in Israel, sobbed at Yad Vashem, and my wife Louise and I played a role when two of our closest friends, Hal and Shelley Cohen, started Orr Shalom, which is now one of the largest Jewish (and non-Jewish) programs for abused children in Israel. Before I learned English I was speaking Yiddish, learned from our Holocaust-survivor neighbors in Detroit who cared for me when my parents worked, and today I can recite Hebrew prayers and speak German with accents and inflections more characteristic of a first than a second language.

On the other side of the coin, I think back to the days I spent with an old and dear friend, Armin Lehmann, who is no longer alive to witness the rise of Donald Trump and speak out. At the age of 16, Armin was the Hitler Youth courier who handed to Adolf Hitler the papers that caused Hitler to commit suicide two days later. Armin was there when the suicide happened. He was there when Joseph and Magda Goebbels poisoned their six children and then committed suicide. He watched it all. If you see the movie Downfall, you’ll see a teenage actor depicting my friend Armin.

Christian Crock: Why Are Evangelical Christians Supporting Donald Trump?

 

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From Hemant Mehta

In a political season that’s defied every expectation, one of the questions I still can’t quite wrap my head around is why evangelicals — who for so long have pushed the conservative line on social issues — are supporting someone like Donald Trump. Trump doesn’t have an anti-gay background (though he’s playing the part now), he praises Planned Parenthood (while condemning abortions), he says he doesn’t ask for forgiveness, he clearly doesn’t know the Bible, etc.

But evangelicals like the guy in significant numbers. 34% of them supported Trump in South Carolina, 28% felt the same in New Hampshire, and 22% agreed in Iowa.

What’s going on here?

Would We Have Drugged Up Einstein? How Anti-Authoritarianism Is Deemed a Mental Health Problem…

 

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From Alternet

We are increasingly marketing drugs that essentially “cure” anti-authoritarians.

In my career as a psychologist, I have talked with hundreds of people previously diagnosed by other professionals with oppositional defiant disorder, attention deficit hyperactive disorder, anxiety disorder and other psychiatric illnesses, and I am struck by 1) how many of those diagnosed are essentially anti-authoritarians; and 2) how those professionals who have diagnosed them are not.

Anti-authoritarians question whether an authority is a legitimate one before taking that authority seriously. Evaluating the legitimacy of authorities includes assessing whether or not authorities actually know what they are talking about, are honest, and care about those people who are respecting their authority. And when anti-authoritarians assess an authority to be illegitimate, they challenge and resist that authority—sometimes aggressively and sometimes passive-aggressively, sometimes wisely and sometimes not.

Some activists lament how few anti-authoritarians there appear to be in the United States. One reason could be that many natural anti-authoritarians are now psychopathologized and medicated before they achieve political consciousness of society’s most oppressive authorities.

Why Mental Health Professionals Diagnose Anti-Authoritarians with Mental Illness

Life Under Islam…

 

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Trump and his Supporters — Authoritarians…

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From Politico

If I asked you what most defines Donald Trump supporters, what would you say? They’re white? They’re poor? They’re uneducated?

You’d be wrong.

In fact, I’ve found a single statistically significant variable predicts whether a voter supports Trump—and it’s not race, income or education levels: It’s authoritarianism.

That’s right, Trump’s electoral strength—and his staying power—have been buoyed, above all, by Americans with authoritarian inclinations. And because of the prevalence of authoritarians in the American electorate, among Democrats as well as Republicans, it’s very possible that Trump’s fan base will continue to grow.

My finding is the result of a national poll I conducted in the last five days of December under the auspices of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, sampling 1,800 registered voters across the country and the political spectrum. Running a standard statistical analysis, I found that education, income, gender, age, ideology and religiosity had no significant bearing on a Republican voter’s preferred candidate. Only two of the variables I looked at were statistically significant: authoritarianism, followed by fear of terrorism, though the former was far more significant than the latter.

Authoritarianism is not a new, untested concept in the American electorate. Since the rise of Nazi Germany, it has been one of the most widely studied ideas in social science. While its causes are still debated, the political behavior of authoritarians is not. Authoritarians obey. They rally to and follow strong leaders. And they respond aggressively to outsiders, especially when they feel threatened. From pledging to “make America great again” by building a wall on the border to promising to close mosques and ban Muslims from visiting the United States, Trump is playing directly to authoritarian inclinations.

Donald Trump and the Politics of Resentment…

 

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From John Michael Greer

Of all the predictions I made for the new year in my post two weeks ago, the one that seems to have stirred up the most distress and derision is my suggestion that the most likely person to be standing up there with his hand on a Bible next January, taking the oath of office as the next president of the United States, is Donald Trump. That prediction wasn’t made to annoy people, entertaining as that can be from time to time; nor is it merely a reaction to Trump’s meteoric rise in the polls and the abject failure of any of his forgettable Republican rivals even to slow him down.

The rise of Donald Trump, rather, marks the arrival of a turning point I’ve discussed more than once in these essays already. Like the other turning points whose impending appearance on the stage of the future has been outlined here, it’s not the end of the world; it’s thus a source of amusement to me to recall all those Republicans who insisted they were going to flee the country if Obama won reelection, and are still here, when I hear Democrats saying they’ll do the same thing if Trump wins. Still, there’s a difference of some importance between the two, because in terms of the historical trajectory of the United States, Trump is a far more significant figure than Barack Obama will ever be.

Despite the empty rhetoric about hope and change that surrounded his 2008 campaign, after all, Obama continued the policies of his predecessor George W. Bush so unswervingly that we may as well call those policies—the conventional wisdom or, rather, the conventional folly of early 21st-century American politics—the Dubyobama consensus. Trump’s candidacy, and in some ways that of his Democratic rival Bernard Sanders as well, marks the point at which the blowback from those policies has become a massive political fact. That this blowback isn’t taking the form desired by many people on the leftward end of things is hardly surprising; it was never going to do so, because the things about the Dubyobama consensus that made blowback inevitable are not the things to which the left objects.

My Conservative Christian Nightmare: I Spent 16 Years in an Abusive Religious Cult…

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From Vyckie Garrison
AlterNet

“The victim is given every assurance that God loves her and wants only the best for her and will supernaturally intervene on her behalf.”

If you have not heard of the Quiverfull movement, I’ll sum it up by saying that Quiverfull is an all-encompassing vision of a big, happy, godly family which affects every aspect of a so-called True Believer’s life. Probably the most recognizable Quiverfull family in America is reality TV’s Duggar family of 19 Kids and Counting fame.

You’ll find Quiverfull families in nearly all types of churches in every community. Quiverfull is simply the “pro-life” idea that truly godly families will “trust the Lord” with their family planning. Children are viewed as unmitigated blessings (“As arrows in the hand of the mighty man, so are the children of ones youth, happy is the man who hath hisquiver full of them:” Psalm 123), so couples are willing to have as many children as the Lord chooses. All methods of conception control are considered a lack of trust in God to provide for the “children of the righteous.”

Patriarchy is killing our planet — women alone can save her…

wWomen from all over Côte d’Ivoire gather to celebrate International Women’s Day at the Palais de la Culture in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.

From The Ecologist

The global epidemic of violence against women and their systematic exclusion from the power structures that rule us are integral to man’s violent exploitation of Earth and her resources, writes Nafeez Ahmed. The fight to save the Earth must begin with the empowerment of women – and that means ending our complicity in their oppression, and servitude.

The systemic marginalization and repression of women is not an accidental feature of our civilizational crisis. It is inherently bound up with our male-dominated system of violence toward the natural world as a whole.

[…] The systemic marginalization of women is integral to what I call the ‘crisis of civilization.’

Efforts by the UN and other agencies to highlight the centrality of women to the fight against climate change are laudable, but they simply don’t go far enough in addressing the extent to which male-dominated global institutions and structures are directly responsible for the disempowerment of women.

The twisted morality of climate denial: How religion and American exceptionalism are undermining our future…

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From Salon

Despite overwhelming scientific consensus, Americans remain split on climate change. Here’s why …

James Inhofe, the senior Republican senator from Oklahoma and author of “The Great Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future,” has recently become chairman of the Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee. As a result, we can expect his committee, and perhaps the Senate as a whole, to proceed on the basis that human-induced climate change is nothing but a twisted fantasy concocted by misguided intellectuals.

As conspiracy theories go, this one is a dilly. The overwhelming majority of American earth and weather scientists, working in hundreds of private universities and in public universities funded and supervised by all 50 states (red as well as blue), have apparently decided to risk their personal credibility and endanger their careers to tell a complex, well-coordinated lie for no apparent reason. Thousands of other scientists in countries ranging from Australia to Ireland to China, in a remarkable display of cooperation with the U.S., have subjected themselves to similar risks, with a similar lack of possible rewards.

It’s Not Me, It’s You: Children of Christian Narcissists…

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From Godless In Dixie

[…]People with character impairments are unskilled in practicing empathy.  Granted, while many of them likely have zero empathy for others, they are often quite practiced in appearing as if they do.  Some have empathy for those whom they consider to be like them, a part of their tribe, but none for anyone they consider to be “the other.”  Some of them become aware that their self-absorbed behavior is negatively affecting their relationships and then begin to practice the skill of empathy in order to make positive changes.  I think we see this when people change their opinions on homosexuality because someone they love “comes out” to them.  Others who are deeply entrenched in their personality will never be able to change, or even see that their behavior is harmful.  We see this in the people who abandon the people they pretend to love, because they are not living up to their (God’s) expectations.  What they fail to grasp is that no one feels the love when their parents abandon them in the hope that this emotional manipulation will draw them back to God.  Love usually feels like love, and this feels like exactly what it is:  It is hate masquerading as love.

Americans Are Leaving Religion Behind and It Scares the Hell Out of the Christian Right…

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From AlterNet
Conservatives are getting more frantic and repressive by the minute, in response to America’s growing secularism.

There’s been a lot of ink spilled about the increasing political polarization in America,  which is at historically high levels. There are a lot of reasons for it, including changing demographics, women’s growing empowerment, the internet, the economy and cable news. But religion and religious belief plays an important role as well. There’s no way around it: America is quickly becoming two nations, one ruled over by fundamentalist Christians and their supporters and one that is becoming all the more secular over time, looking more and more like western Europe in its relative indifference to religion. And caught in between are a group of liberal Christians that are culturally aligned with secularists and are increasingly and dismayingly seeing the concept of “faith” aligned with a narrow and conservative political worldview.

How Fundamentalist Christians Are Infiltrating State and Federal Government…


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From RHRealityCheck

Imagine that a little-known but increasingly powerful group of ideologues had hatched a plan to transform the United States into a Christian theocracy harkening back to the Dark Ages of Europe, a time when society was governed by the laws and officials of the Catholic Church.

Suppose further that this plan had a scary simple strategy: Recruit bright, young law students; put them through an intensive indoctrination program; place them in plum internships across the country; and watch as they swim upstream until they reach the top of the legal system, where they can create, enforce, and interpret laws according to a legal philosophy infused with fundament-alist Christian theology

It’s All Too Easy to Relate To The Documentary ‘The Brainwashing of My Dad’…


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From PoliticusUSA

How many liberals have politically noxious relatives who were once reasonable people until they turned on Rush Limbaugh for their commute to work or ran across Fox as they flipped through their cable channels? Robert Sobel, writing for the Examiner, asked the question, “Why do Americans vote against their own interests?” He concluded that too many Americans are caught in the right wing misinformation echo chamber, whether it is listening to right wing radio, watching Fox News, or reading the conservative blogosphere. Recently, an upcoming documentary, “The Brainwashing of My Dad,” has been gaining attention. For this documentary, Jen Senko traces the history of her father’s transformation from mild-mannered Democrat to angry, racist Republican. As one might guess, this metamorphosis occurred following a change in his routine where he ended up having a long commute to work and tuned into Rush Limbaugh. His seething, bitter personality change only worsened as he dove deeper into right wing media. In her documentary, when it is completed, she intends to show her efforts to “de-program” her father. No doubt everyone will be curious to see how that works out.

Personally, in my family, the worst offenders in terms of personality deterioration following heavy doses of the right wing propaganda mill have been my grandfather and uncle.

5 billionaire authoritarians who are making life miserable for ordinary Americans…


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From Salon

Here is how it works these days: You start hearing about a big, national problem and then it becomes a drumbeat. First there are a few articles and columns mentioning that such-and-such is a problem. Then a number of articles appear, then a “study” from a “think tank” confirms the problem and sounds the alarm about how terrible it is, and then just as the issue seems to be the only thing you are hearing about a solution is presented. Of course, the solution always involves taking something away from you and giving it to some company or industry standing in front of a billionaire or three. The right question to start asking when you hear about these “problems” is which billionaire is driving this.

Here are five-plus examples of billionaires who use their money to try to get us to think what they want us to think in order to enact a right-wing economic agenda.

1) Pete Peterson’s deficit/debt scare campaign and his ongoing effort to gut Social Security and other entitlements.Leading every list of billionaires pushing an issue is billionaire Pete Peterson and his forever war on government doing things to make our lives better, especially Social Security. Peterson leads the list because of reports of his pledge to spend $1 billion on his pet issue.

Have you ever heard anywhere that the budget deficit and national debt are a problem?

Christie is the caricature of a Third World despot…


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From CHRIS HEDGES
AlterNet

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has been Wall Street’s anointed son for the presidency. He is backed by the most ruthless and corrupt figures in New Jersey politics, including the New Jersey multimillionaire and hard-line Democratic boss George Norcross III. Among his other supporters are many hedge fund managers and corporate executives and some of the nation’s most retrograde billionaires, including the Koch brothers. The brewing scandal over the closing of traffic lanes on the George Washington Bridge apparently in retaliation for the Fort Lee mayor’s refusal to support the governor’s 2013 re-election is a window into how federal agencies and the security and surveillance apparatus would be routinely employed in a Christie presidency to punish anyone who challenged this tiny cabal’s grip on power.

Christie is the caricature of a Third World despot. He has a vicious temper, a propensity to bully and belittle those weaker than himself, an insatiable thirst for revenge against real or perceived enemies, and little respect for the law and, as recent events have made clear, for the truth. He is gripped by a bottomless hedonism that includes a demand for private jets, huge entourages, exclusive hotels and lavish meals.

Anti-Authoritarianism in the Age of the Internet…


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From New Republic

Athough I am not an enthusiastic user of the Internet, I recognize that its emergence has notably expanded free expression around the world and inflicted an almost-mortal blow to the censorship regimes that authoritarian governments rely upon to control information and thwart opponents. Emily Parker, a former journalist at the Wall Street Journal and New York Times, has convinced me of this in her upcoming book that reviews what the Internet and social media revolutions have meant for China, Cuba and Russia.

Parker’s book, Now I Know Who My Comrades Are: Voices from the Internet Underground, is a rigorously researched and reported account that reads like a thriller. Parker, who speaks Mandarin and Spanish, knows and has interviewed the majority of influential bloggers in the countries she covers. She gracefully navigates the catacombs these bloggers tend to inhabit, from which they connect with the outside world and from which they are giving their compatriots—formerly paralyzed by apathy, fear and pessimism—a renewed hope in progress and democratic change. It’s been a while since I have read a book that is so entertaining, not to mention one so encouraging for the culture of liberty.

This isn’t to say that Parker excessively romanticizes all the protagonists of her book, presenting them as tireless, disinterested idealists ready to go to jail and give their lives in their struggle against oppression.

The Return of Authoritarianism in the Age of the Shutdown…


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From Truthout

In the aftermath of the reign of Nazi terror in the 1940s, the philosopher Theodor Adorno wrote:

National Socialism lives on, and even today we still do not know whether it is merely the ghost of what was so monstrous that it lingers on after its own death, or whether it has not yet died at all, whether the willingness to commit the unspeakable survives in people as well as in the conditions that enclose them.

Adorno’s words are as relevant today as they were when he first wrote them. The threat of authoritarianism to citizen-based democracy is alive and well in the United States, and its presence can be felt in the historical conditions leading up to the partial government shutdown and the refusal on the part of the new extremists to raise the debt ceiling. Adorno believed that while the specific features and horrors of mid-century fascism such as the concentration camps and the control of governments by a political elite and the gestapo would not be reproduced in the same way, democracy as a political ideal and as a working proposition would be under assault once again by new anti-democratic forces all too willing to impose totalitarian systems on their adversaries.

For Adorno, the conditions for fascism would more than likely crystallize into new forms. For instance

What Is Conservatism and What Is Wrong with It?


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Philip E. Agre
August 2004

Liberals in the United States have been losing political debates to conservatives for a quarter century. In order to start winning again, liberals must answer two simple questions: what is conservatism, and what is wrong with it? As it happens, the answers to these questions are also simple:

Q: What is conservatism?
A: Conservatism is the domination of society by an aristocracy.
Q: What is wrong with conservatism?
A: Conservatism is incompatible with democracy, prosperity, and civilization in general. It is a destructive system of inequality and prejudice that is founded on deception and has no place in the modern world.

These ideas are not new. Indeed they were common sense until recently. Nowadays, though, most of the people who call themselves “conservatives” have little notion of what conservatism even is. They have been deceived by one of the great public relations campaigns of human history. Only by analyzing this deception will it become possible to revive democracy in the United States.

Can We Prevent America from Evolving into a Full-Blown Police State?


From ALTERNET

It’s our duty to save democracy from the authoritarianism emerging from the Executive Branch.

“Knowledge (of) the scale of our capability would raise public awareness generating unwelcome publicity for us and our political masters.” — Classified UK NSA document

“To approve such a program, the Court must have every confidence that the government is doing its utmost to ensure that those responsible for implementation fully comply with the Court’s orders. The Court no longer has such confidence.” — U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Order, p. 12, 3-9-2009

For those alarmed by the steady growth of lawless, violent and authoritarian U.S. Executive power for the last 50 years, the events of the past few months have been exciting. The emergence of a de facto coalition of progressives and conservatives opposing the National Defense Authorization Act law giving the Executive the right to unilaterally detain or execute American citizens without a trial

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