Guardian: The Long Read

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Chris Degnen

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May 19, 2016, 5:45:04 PM5/19/16
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I didn’t expect much from this article, but it turned out to really nail our subject matter.

http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/may/19/welcome-to-the-age-of-trump

The big quote:

This is more than a rejection of the current Democrat-Republican gridlock. This is a contempt for the very notion of constitutional democracy. And if Trump is pushing it, it may be because he knows there is a ready audience for just such a message.

The World Values Survey of 2011 included a stunning figure. It found that 34% of Americans approved of “having a strong leader who doesn’t have to bother with Congress or elections”, the figure rising to 42% among those with no education beyond high school. It’s worth reading that again, to let it sink in. It means that one in three US voters would prefer a dictator to democracy. Those Americans are not repudiating this or that government, but abandoning the very idea of democracy itself.

These figures reinforce a pattern revealed by recent academic research that shows a body of US opinionpredisposed toward liberal democracy’s polar opposite: authoritarianism.

Usually that sentiment lies dormant. Understandably, voters are reluctant to admit to such feelings openly. When asked, they intuitively know that to admit to authoritarian leanings is to give the wrong answer. Political scientist Stanley Feldman found that the easiest way to break through that barrier was to ask four questions apparently not about politics but about raising children. Which is more important for a child to have: independence or respect for elders? Obedience or self-reliance? A tendency to be considerate or well-behaved? Curiosity or good manners? How you answer those four questions reveals all researchers need to know about how highly you prize conformity and order over other values.

Strikingly, the research revealed some 44% of white Americans presenting as authoritarian, with 19% registering “very high” on the authoritarian scale. And those feelings are not new: they have been picked up by surveys since Feldman first started asking those questions in the 1990s. Mostly, these “authoritarian” sentiments remain snoozing below the surface. But scholars find they become “activated” when authoritarian-leaning voters are under stress, especially when the social order or hierarchy that they value is threatened by change. That change could be a shift to greater ethnic diversity, it could be same-sex marriage, it could be stagnant wages – anything that seems to endanger the status quo that once offered those voters a secure place in society.

Besides, researchers found, when that threat is combined with a perceived external or physical menace – such as Isis – not only do the feelings of authoritarians become even more activated, those who ordinarily would give non-authoritarian answers to the four child-raising questions can shift, out of fear, towards the authoritarian camp. In the words of Vox’s Amanda Taub, these insights combine to suggest “one terrifying theory: if social change and physical threats coincided at the same time, it could awaken a potentially enormous population of American authoritarians, who would demand a strongman leader and the extreme policies necessary, in their view, to meet the rising threats.”

rosenhw

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May 20, 2016, 4:56:17 PM5/20/16
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Chris
Unfortunately I think this has been the case for a long time--since WWII anyway.
A number of researchers have confirmed our authoritarianism tendencies as a
people.

See http://roadtopeace.org/index.php?query=zimbardo&amount=0&blogid=1

for more...

These studies span a long period of time. So I must conclude
authoritarianism is part of our nature. Given our evolutionary origins, it can
be an adaptive survival trait--in contests over food that were surely there in
jungle and savanna times for example.
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Mycos

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Apr 26, 2018, 2:36:14 AM4/26/18
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Yes. No surprise here. It's long been a given among social scientists that an individual's personality (both liberal and conservative) or cognitive "style" becomes more authoritarian and/or conservative in proportion to the amount of fear or stress they're under.  Which is why fear-mongering is so popular among self-serving albeit "populist" politicians aka DJ Trump.

GDWIlliams

Blue Pilgrim

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Apr 26, 2018, 11:49:16 AM4/26/18
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On 4/26/2018 6:36 AM, Mycos wrote:
Yes. No surprise here. It's long been a given among social scientists that an individual's personality (both liberal and conservative) or cognitive "style" becomes more authoritarian and/or conservative in proportion to the amount of fear or stress they're under.  Which is why fear-mongering is so popular among self-serving albeit "populist" politicians aka DJ Trump.

GDWIlliams

On Thursday, May 19, 2016 at 2:45:04 PM UTC-7, Chris wrote:
I didn’t expect much from this article, but it turned out to really nail our subject matter.

http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/may/19/welcome-to-the-age-of-trump

...


Usually that sentiment lies dormant. Understandably, voters are reluctant to admit to such feelings openly. When asked, they intuitively know that to admit to authoritarian leanings is to give the wrong answer. Political scientist Stanley Feldman found that the easiest way to break through that barrier was to ask four questions apparently not about politics but about raising children. Which is more important for a child to have: independence or respect for elders? Obedience or self-reliance? A tendency to be considerate or well-behaved? Curiosity or good manners? How you answer those four questions reveals all researchers need to know about how highly you prize conformity and order over other values.
...

I dropped out of school some 55 years ago, when I bagan to understand that the lesson of the system was not in the texts, but 'sit down, shut up, and do what you are told'. Church was much different, and that same lesson ran through the entire culture, including the workplace, of course. This is what the ruling class wanted in the populace.

Of course when kids are trained like this and the culture runs on this, people are bad at self-determination, critical thinking, and solving problems on their own or in self-organized groups. This has been the norm since the founding of the US and is embedded in the constitution (written by an elite group in secret) -- and which, BTW, was not so different from the values imported from the European wealthy aristocracy. The fictional myths of 'democracy' that was plastered over the fundamental structures and capitalistic economic system matters little in terms of who has the real power, except to help maintain that elitist system by the propaganda of distraction and diversion.

The Guardian, as the other corporate state media in the West, is part of that authoritarian system of disinformation and control, and furthering the current fascist political agendas, despite occasional articles seeming to oppose the established power.
(See  https://nexusnewsfeed.com/article/human-rights/ridiculous-guardian-smear-piece-results-in-epic-satire/ and https://bsnews.info/guardian-white-helmets-silenced-comment/ for instance)

Blue Pilgrim

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Apr 26, 2018, 12:05:18 PM4/26/18
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BTW -- here's another link from offguardian https://off-guardian.org/
which chronicals the Guardian's nonsense -- and keep in mind that the
Guardian was, at least until recently, one of the better papers.

https://off-guardian.org/2018/04/20/the-guardian-russian-bots-and-the-dehumanisation-of-dissent/
The Guardian, “Russian bots” and the dehumanisation of dissent

...
"This is modern media in a nutshell. This new take on the meaning of
“journalism” has hurt the world in general and press in the specific.
Refusal to abide by its rules has pushed important voices out of the
mainstream – the careers of many decent people of principle – John
Pilger and Seymour Hersh for example – are forced out into alternate
sources.
Kowtowing to the government line has its own cost though – the
unquestioning acceptance of government authority has a price – and very
often it’s looking incredibly foolish."
...

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