our political nature and authoritar-ianism

well! i’m making progress on reading avi tuschman‘s very interesting Our Political Nature: The Evolutionary Origins of What Divides Us [see previous post] — ’bout halfway through now (on chapter 11 out of 23). it’s not actually a difficult book to read, it’s just that real life keeps getting in the way of my virtual one (d*mnit, i hate when that happens!).

tuschman is interested in finding out the personality and behavioral traits underlying liberal and conservative political orientations AND the evolutionary bases for those traits. i’m all for that!

while he does draw on all sorts of research into the differing personality/behavioral traits of liberals and conservatives — and those interested in hbd will be familiar with most of them, like for instance that conservatives tend to be more religious — the main framework that tuschman bases his ideas upon is robert altman’s bob altemeyer‘s “right-wing authoritarianism (RWA)” personality theory, a whole construct that, up until the other day, i knew nothing about. you can read all about the RWA scale on wikipedia.

here from tuschman [chapter 5 – my emphases]:

“Altemeyer’s test consists of thirty controversial statements. Figure 10 breaks down the content of these statements into six categories. Each bar represents one of these content categories and shows the percentage of the thirty statements that makes reference to it.

tuschman - figure 10

“The six content categories, in turn, can be lumped into three larger groups: the grey cluster, the black cluster, and the white cluster. The three categories within the grey cluster are ethnocentrism, religiosity/group morality, and sexual tolerance. These are the three elements that comprise the ‘tribalism‘ cluster of personality traits.

“The two categories in the black cluster measure tolerance of inequality: the first concerns attitudes toward inequality and authority in society, while the second category pertains to inequality and authority within the family.

“The white personality cluster has only one category, which measures perceptions of human nature.”

these three larger groups — tribalism, tolerance of inequality, and perceptions of human nature — are the foundations of tushman’s “personality argument”:

“Human political orientation across space and time has an underlying logic defined by three clusters of measurable personality traits. These three clusters consist of varying attitudes toward tribalism, inequality, and different perceptions of human nature.

“These three factors correspond, of course, to the grey, black, and white color groups in figure 10. To go into slightly greater detail:

– Tribalism. Tribalism breaks down into ethnocentrism (vs. the opposite force, xenophilia, which means an attraction to other groups), religiosity (vs. secularism), and different levels of tolerance toward nonreproductive sexuality.

– Tolerance of Inequality. There are two opposing moral worldviews toward inequality; one is based on the principle of egalitarianism, and the other is based on hierarchy.

– Perceptions of Human Nature. Some people see human nature as more cooperative, while others see it as more competitive.”

most of the book is devoted to looking in depth at these three factors and how their various facets correspond to either liberal or conservative personalities. tuschman’s approach is very systematic (i like it a lot!): one section (containing several chapters), for instance, deals with how the different feelings of tribalism play out in human societies, and then the following section (also containing several chapters) deals with the likely/possible evolutionary underpinnings of those feelings/behaviors. this format is repeated for all three factors.

i’ll probably discuss some of these factors — and what tuschman has to say about them — individually in later posts (don’t want to discuss them all, though — mustn’t give away the plot of the book! (~_^) ). but first i want to back up for a sec and discuss altemeyer’s right-wing authoritarianism stuff, since tuschman’s framework is primarily based upon that — although, as i said, he does draw a LOT of evidence from other sources as well.
_____

altemeyer’s RWA work (and this is just a hoot to read about!) is based upon the previous work of theodor adorno (frankfurt school), et al., who wanted to find out why some people became nazis (real nazis in wwii). they devised an “f(ascist)-scale” and everything. their work was later heavily criticized. (see also “The Authoritarian Personality.”)

anyway…

altemeyer’s new-and-improved authoritarianism scale — which, like its predecessor, only focuses on conservatives — apparently has three “clusters” of personality traits which are summarized thusly [chapter 4 — tuschman references altemeyer’s Enemies of Freedom: Understanding Right-Wing Authoritarianism]:

(1) Authoritarian Submission — a high degree of submission to the authorities who are perceived to be established and legitimate in the society in which one lives;

(2) Authoritarian Aggression — a general aggressiveness, directed against various persons, that is perceived to be sanctioned by established authorities; and

(3) Conventionalism — a high degree of adherence to the social conventions that are perceived to be endorsed by society and its established authorities.

heh! well, i’m sorry, but — and this, no doubt, reflects my own somewhat conservative personality and biases — but the first group of people that i thought of on reading that description was today’s politically correct liberals! the militant ones, i mean.

“high degree of submission to authorities who are perceived to be established/legitimate?” who? like st. stephen jay gould? or jared diamond? or richard dawkins? (pardon my focus on academics there, but that is the universe that i inhabit. well, one of them!)

“general aggressiveness, directed against various persons, perceived to be sanctioned by est. authorities?” what? like watsonings? or richwinings? or derbyshearings?

“high degree of adherence to the social conventions?” all of political correctness!

and if we are to think about authoritarianism and politics and the sorts of political regimes that are authoritarian in nature — and supported by the hordes — sure there are right-wing examples like nazi germany and franco’s spain, but what about stalin’s russia and mao’s china?! not to mention east germany (where the stasi chief even had an actual room 101!).

i’m sorry, but i can’t help but think that authoritarianism — including personality types that favor authoritarianism — also occurs on the left. a ten-second google search shows me that left-wing authoritarianism has both been researched and found to exist — something which tuschman, unfortunately, doesn’t mention in the book.

the authors of The Presence of Left-Wing Authoritarianism in Western Europe and Its Relationship with Conservative Ideology found authoritarian traits — measured by willingness to use violence (aggression) and needing to obey left-wing leaders (submission) — in extremist left-wingers in belgium (flemish belgium) in the country’s communist party, but especially in the country’s stalinist(!) party. (interestingly, the members of an anarchist movement in the nation who were studied were not authoritarian in nature.) from the paper:

“The present results suggest the presence of authoritarianism among Western European adherents of extreme left-wing parties. Particularly the adherents of the Stalinist party obtained high LWA scores. So, it seems that we achieved in finding ‘the Loch Ness Monster of political psychology.’ The LWA scale not only proved to be successful in distinguishing anarchists and extreme left-wingers from the other ideological groups (the authoritarian aggression facet is most fruitful for this purpose), but also in distinguishing extreme left-wingers from anarchists (the authoritarian submission facet is most fruitful for this purpose). The discriminatory power to distinguish between left-wing extremists, anarchists, and other ideological groups underscores the validity of the aggression and submission facet scales. However, these results also make it clear that the presence of LWA in Western societies seems to be limited to very specific political movements that do not elicit much support in the mass public.”

the presence of left-wing authoritarianism might be limited in western european societies, but you find much more of it in eastern europe! from Left-wing authoritarianism is not a myth, but a worrisome reality. Evidence from 13 Eastern European countries:

“Using representative samples the relationship between authoritarianism and political preferences was examined in 13 excommunist Eastern European countries. Employing six different indicators of left-wing/communist political orientations made clear that, despite cross-national differences, left-wing authoritarianism is definitely not a myth in Eastern Europe….

“Interesting is also the intra-regional variation regarding the relation between authoritarianism and political ideology.”

i feel a hajnal line map coming on. (~_^)

“In Bulgaria and Russia, for example, authoritarianism is consequently linked with communist/political left-wing preferences regardless of which indicator is used; while in a country like Hungary almost no evidence was found for left-wing authoritarianism. This is in line with Todosijevic and Enyedi’s (2008a) conclusion that leftist authoritarians do exist in Hungary, but they are few and their presence is overshadowed by the authoritarianism of the anticommunist right. Also Enyedi et al. (1997) conclude that the phenomenon of left-wing authoritarianism, though present in Hungary, is less significant than its rightist counterpart….

“[A]uthoritarians in Central and Eastern European countries embrace communist principles and that they hold negative attitudes towards democracy….

“The existence of left-wing authoritarianism has been debated for about six decades. Many authors believed that authoritarianism is essentially a right-wing phenomenon. Most of the evidence comes from studies conducted in Western countries; while the members of the American Communist Part have always been treated as highly deviant (Krugman, 1952). Also Altemeyer (1981) described radical leftists in countries like Canada and the United States as not submissive to established authorities and not conventional. Therefore we believe that the fact that thus far not a lot of evidence is found for left-wing authoritarianism is not due to nonexistence of left-wing authoritarianism, but is due to the fact that we have not looked at the right places.
_____

i’m not sure, yet, what the existence of left-wing authoritarianism — and the fact that tuschman didn’t include it in his book — means for tuschman’s model of our political natures. i need to finish reading the book first — and to think more about it all, too. one thing is certain: i’m more than a bit dubious about using the right-wing authoritarianism model as a basis for looking at the differences between liberals and conservatives. i fear too many things might be missing from that picture, as is evidenced by the two random studies on left-wing authoritarianism that i pulled off the internet.

previously: our political nature and human biodiversity and well this sounds familiar…

(note: comments do not require an email. the party which i self-identify with the most.)

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46 Comments

  1. Right on with the left wing authoritarianism! Tuchsman explains inbreeding-outbreeding-depression-dispersal well:) & compiled a vast array of research across a broad range of disciplines & tied it together nicely. Bonus: out of nowhere he sneaked in a wonderfully bawdy zinger discussing chimpanzee copulation (bravo!)

    sadly, his liberal views peek thru – e.g., he words conservative traits negatively & creates strawman arguments – bashing glenn beck & some KKK guy as if the most extreme (& least intellectual) voices are representative of a side. Of course, that makes the book fun to read for its intended audience (viz., leftists – the ones with the open minds – because conservatives only read the bible, silly!)

    Like all left wing authoriatarianists (!) when something agrees with his enlightened anointed view, suddenly he doesn’t require data – e.g., “10 to 20% of people have had an incestuous experience” – WTH?!? (during superbowl halftime I guess?)

    He mentions Haidt once (& “a team of U. of Virginia researchers” – code for haidt) can’t tell if they “hate” each other – but Haidt deserves more mention.

    No discussion of ‘g’ – but liberals are smarter:) but no notice that 50 years from now US liberals will be dumber, with a trimodal distribution – if he saw that, he would be as wide ranging & cross disciplined as he thinks). politics in countries with low IQs are discussed as if their IQs were equal to European or Asian countries. Still to come: will he say it’s rational to be xenophobic or worried about crime & rape around oh say statistically higher types – like family members (!) I jest – & refer to his odd incest stat – which he was told by some authority at some liberal university. So it’s true. Left wing authoritarianism strikes again!

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  2. The farther you go in the book, the more liberal he sounds. He has samples of questions based on attitudes such as you mentioned, “Authoritarian Submission — a high degree of submission to the authorities who are perceived to be established and legitimate in the society in which one lives”

    My first thought on the questions was “What authority? What laws?” How can someone say they believe one should follow the current authority and laws without knowing what they are?

    The questions seem to have been designed for a particular time, 1960’s, when conservatives held the power, and ANY dissent at all was assumed to be liberal.

    Not true in 2013!

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  3. Dear HBD Chick, Panjoomby, and friends,

    I’m happy to hear how you’re engaging with Our Political Nature. I’d also like to make a couple of clarifications:

    (1) The three components of RWA that Altemeyer came up with (including submission and aggression) are NOT the same ones that I use in my analysis, although I did mention his thinking in one place in Ch. 4 where I describe how he developed the test. My own breakdown of the content on his test (shown in the chart above, without the words “submission” or “aggression”) is a fresh analysis, and the clusters I’ve described are much more in-line with the underlying statistical factors that emerged from a meta-analysis of 88 studies on multiple political-orientation tests given around the world (including RWA). In sum, Altemeyer’s test is still the best cross-cultural predictor of left-right voting and party affiliation, even though our explanations of how it’s working may be different.

    (2) On the name of Altemeyer’s test (Right Wing Authoritarianism), I write on page 50 of Our Political Nature: “Unfortunately, the name of the test stuck—as did a couple of accusations of ideological bias. Instead of calling it the “Right-Wing Authoritarianism” scale, Altemeyer could have called it a conservatism scale. But let’s not throw out the baby with the bathwater. …” In other words, I don’t think the name is a good one for the reasons that you point out (it sounds biased, it pathologizes conservatism, as did its predecessor, and it makes it sound as if authoritarianism doesn’t exist on the left). Having said that, tolerance of inequality and authority does vary meaningfully with left-right views *in public opinion*.

    (3) There are many places in the book that discuss political extremism on the left. However, the chapter that describes what you’ve referred to as left-wing authoritarianism is Ch. 22, “The Altruism That Isn’t: Self-Deception
    among People and Politicians.” This chapter explains why extreme left-wing regimes have authoritarian properties. Although when I use the word authoritarian in this context, I’m referring to the structure of left-wing dictatorships. Explaining why these leaders and their regimes violate the egalitarian ideologies that they supposedly espouse is a fascinating question that deserves its own chapter. Leaders (especially dictators) can of course have different interests than followers, even when they ostensibly share an ideology. So measuring tolerance toward inequality in public opinion is different than explaining how dictators behave. Please be sure to read this chapter!

    Best wishes,

    Avi

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  4. “heh! well, i’m sorry, but — and this, no doubt, reflects my own somewhat conservative personality and biases — but the first group of people that i thought of on reading that description was today’s politically correct liberals! the militant ones, i mean.”

    An astute observation. Who would ever have thunk it until you stop and think about it.

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  5. ” one thing is certain: i’m more than a bit dubious about using the right-wing authoritarianism model as a basis for looking at the differences between liberals and conservatives.”

    Or as we used to say, extremes meet.

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  6. RWA is very problematic. Not only for the reason mentioned by Greying Wanderer and HBD Chick but also because it doesn’t even measure right-wing parties in Europe very well. In Holland, nationalist rallied behind the out-of-the-closet Pim Fortyun. When he was killed skinheads were rioting.Now the same movement is led by Geert Wilders, a man of partly Indonesian ancestry who colors his hair blonde. The are conservative in that they want to preserve Holland’s social liberalism by rejecting multiculturalism.

    In my own country of Sweden we only have one real conservative party, Sweden Democrats (SD) and they have been silenced in the media for years. Their members have exercised very little violence but been on the receiving end of it from the political left for many years. This fact is even acknowledged by the MSM these days.

    So who is the real Rigth-Wing Authoritarian? The secular and sexually tolerant nationalist in Holland or the violent and oppressive internationalist leftist in Sweden?

    Conservatism is about tribalism. But tribalism isn’t that much about sexuality and religion. It’s about blood and history – family, local community, nation and the culture, tradition and values that have been generated within these groups.

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  7. @ Staffan –

    You make a good point. Nowadays I can’t say for sure what actually constitutes a truly ‘conservative’ ideology or political party, at least here in the UK. The ‘Conservative’ Party, for instance, legalised same-sex marriage here. All 3 of our main politcal parties, Tories, Labour, and Liberal Democrats, despite their protestations to the contrary, are all essentially the same. (Socially, economically, politically, and morally liberal).
    Also, why is being ‘pro-business’ usually considered a conservative trait? In effect, support for free enterprise, free trade, etc. is a liberal trait, no? In theory, shouldn’t conservatives be more in favour of import tariffs, beggar-thy-neighbour economic policies, nationalision of major industries etc, ie the very opposite of economic liberalism (laissez-faire)? And yet the Republican Party in the US and the Conservative Party in the UK are considered ‘conservative’, yet both actually favour liberal policies economically.
    So it would help if we could clear up what we actually mean by ‘left wing’, ‘right wing’, ‘liberal’, ‘conservative’, etc.

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  8. chrisdavies09 makes some very good points. In fact this whole discussion of the authoritarian personality is so revelatory, so surprising — at least to me it was — that I can’t help thinking would make a very good essay in the mainstream press — if you could ever get it published.

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  9. good points by dr. tuchsman!
    “explaining why these leaders and their regimes violate the egalitarian ideologies that they supposedly espouse is a fascinating question that deserves its own chapter.”
    …possibly the thinking of these leaders is ‘the end justifies the means’

    in academia starting about 1990 impingement on free speech came from the left – dictating how things must be said due to ‘enlightened sensitivities’ & as haidt points out, that determines/enforces what hypotheses are allowed to be entertained in explaining research results.

    there are many surprisingly wonderful chapters in the book that could each be their own book – bonobos vs. chimpanzees, dispersal, kinship mating, even birth order (altho birth order research is pretty suspect – which means a book about that would probably sell even more!:)

    much about the book is stunning, groundbreaking & fascinating – & truly, it could be made into 10 separate books! (& 8 of them i would totally enjoy & agree with!:) the problem for me is i get grumpy when i feel slighted or offended – but that’s a fault of me, not of the book:) many of its disparate (yet ultimately tied together) parts are intriguing – especially when i have no dog in the fight/bone to pick:)

    final note: Tuchsman & Haidt would probably agree that both the left & right vote their moral interests rather than their economic interests, tho the left’s stronger belief in egalitarianism means they vote a bit more consistently with their economic interests.

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  10. @chrisdavies09

    I agree, there is something fishy about conservatives being pro-business (or perhaps pro-big business). At least if conservatism is based on knowledge of human nature. We have lived in small groups with a fair amount of social equality, since there hasn’t been much to divide until recently. Now we have this global charade in which the super rich are bullying everyone else around without any real authority. No true conservative should applaude that.

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  11. So keeping the phrasing “Right-Wing Authoritarianism” is justified despite subsequent disclaimers and exceptions, essentially because previous authorities in the social sciences got in first and we might as well submit to them, eh?

    Do you want to have another try at that reasoning, avi?

    Let me add in an unresearched personal observation of mine over 35 years of treating psychiatric emergencies (in America), and relating it to the news: Conservative nutcases tend to talk in terms of holing up somewhere with lots of weapons and daring someone to come make them do something; liberal nutcases tend to threaten (or commit) outward acts of aggression, and target those they believe are in power. There are exceptions (Oklahoma City and Norway come to mind), but the attackers of American candidates and party headquarters tend to come from the left, whichever party they attack, and violent rioting/protesting tends to come from Democratic constituencies: union, environmental, antiglobalist, ethnic/racial. This would indeed seem to loosely fit the dynamic of those who wish to preserve the status quo versus those who wish to change it.

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  12. Maybe ‘authoritarians’ are actually more likely to be left wingers. Stalin advocated ‘socialism in one country’; Trotskyism is effectively ‘international socialism’; Nazism was ‘national socialism’. The so-called ‘neoconservatives’ in the US who were most in favour of the Iraq war were in a number of cases originally trotskyites: http://www.rense.com/general39/meets.htm
    The authoritarian political-correctness-enforcing social democrat elites of today in the UK and Europe were often trotskyites and euro-communists in their younger years: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communism#Eurocommunism
    “The main theoretical foundation of Eurocommunism was Antonio Gramsci’s writing about Marxist theory which questioned the sectarianism of the Left and encouraged communist parties to develop social alliances to win hegemonic support for social reforms. Eurocommunist parties expressed their fidelity to democratic institutions more clearly than before and attempted to widen their appeal by embracing public sector middle-class workers, new social movements such as feminism and gay liberation and more publicly questioning the Soviet Union. Early inspirations can also be found in the Austromarxism and its seeking of a “third” democratic “way” to socialism.”

    So although we might think that ‘lefties’ and politically-correct types are soft and cuddly hippies, the reality is that authoritarianism comes naturally to those on the left of the political spectrum.

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  13. Egalitarianism = the belief in using force to make unequal men equal

    The base of leftist ideology is authoritarian in nature. I would be suspect of any scholarly work that misses this obvious point.

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  14. From ‘The Authoritarians’:
    High RWAs are earnest, hard-working, happy, charitable…

    Nothing to disagree with here. These kinds of people are a threat to Democracy and must be rooted out along with the institutions that foster these deviant bourgeois values.

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  15. If I take the test and I catch on where it’s going, and I change my answers to be more in line with what is socially acceptable and not be an evil authoritarian right-wing fascist, am I actually in fact being obedient to ‘established authority’ and eschewing non-conformity?

    Does the very act of censoring my answers to not seem like what is being presented as a socially-unacceptable ‘authoritarian personality’ demonstrate that I in-fact have this very same ‘authoritarian personality’ that I tried to avoid? Maybe that’s the real test.

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  16. @Wikipedia – ” Right-wing authoritarians are people who have a high degree of willingness to submit to authorities they perceive as established and legitimate, who adhere to societal conventions and norms, and who are hostile and punitive in their attitudes towards people who don’t adhere to them.”

    As hbd*chick noted, the same could be said of LWA. What strikes me is that the first two defining characteristics — willingness to submit to what they perceive as legitimate authority, and adherence to societal conventions and norms — are more or less the default setting of all human beings. It is really the last characteristic — punitive hostility towards those who disagree — that distinguishes the authoritarian personality. They are mobbers at heart and mainly assert themselves when they feel sure they have the majority behind them, even if it only in a small local environment (like academia).

    I might also mention Eric Hoffer’s book, The True Believer, if only because it is one which younger readers of this blog are unlikely to be familiar with. He comes at the problem from a different angel — in terms of inferiority complexes and the psychology of losers — which may or may not be consistent with the idea of the authoritarian personality. It’s been so long ago I can’t really remember.

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  17. @avi – The three components of RWA that Altemeyer came up with (including submission and aggression) are NOT the same ones that I use in my analysis, although I did mention his thinking in one place in Ch. 4 where I describe how he developed the test. My own breakdown of the content on his test (shown in the chart above, without the words ‘submission’ or ‘aggression’) is a fresh analysis….”

    yes, that is correct. and i understood that.

    my problem with your using the RWA at all as a basis for your liberal-conservative personality model — which is what you have done — is that, since it has been shown that the authoritarian personality is also found on the left-wing (and not just the ‘submission’ or ‘aggression’ elements — see the de regt et al. paper that i referenced in the post) — and, therefore, that the RWA fails in picking up the authoritarianism on the left-wing — it leaves me wondering if other elements of the RWA are wrong or slightly wrong as well. that is my concern.

    @avi – “…and the clusters I’ve described are much more in-line with the underlying statistical factors that emerged from a meta-analysis of 88 studies on multiple political-orientation tests given around the world (including RWA).”

    that meta-analysis — Political Conservatism as Motivated Social Cognition [pdf] — is certainly interesting, but it suffers from a few problems.

    first of all, the vast majority of the subjects appear to be w.e.i.r.d. individuals. the studies were conducted in the following countries [pg. 352]:

    Australia n=1,042
    Canada n=354
    England n=1,330
    Germany n=571
    Israel n=279
    Italy n=178
    New Zealand n=998
    Poland n=368
    Scotland n=58
    South Africa n=233
    Sweden n=326
    United States n=17,081

    most of the countries here are anglo nations and the vast majority of the participants/cases are from those anglo nations. the “most different” come from israel (the palestinians?) and south africa (how many blacks are included here?). w.e.i.r.d.

    then, the correlations that they found between the authoritarian personality traits and the different conservative/right-wing values were, frankly, not very strong! [from the abstract]:

    “A meta-analysis (88 samples, 12 countries, 22,818 cases) confirms that several psychological variables predict political conservatism: death anxiety (weighted mean r=.50); system instability (.47); dogmatism–intolerance of ambiguity (.34); openness to experience (–.32); uncertainty tolerance (–.27); needs for order, structure, and closure (.26); integrative complexity (–.20); fear of threat and loss (.18); and self-esteem (–.09).”

    i dunno. if it were me, i wouldn’t have put that much weight on this study.

    @avi – “In sum, Altemeyer’s test is still the best cross-cultural predictor of left-right voting and party affiliation, even though our explanations of how it’s working may be different.”

    no, i don’t think so. for the reasons given above in this comment and in the post. the paper which found left-wing authoritarianism in eastern europe also indicates that the RWA is not the best cross-cultural predictor of left-right voting patterns/party affiliation.

    the RWA is — perhaps — a good indicator of left-right voting patterns/party affiliation in western european nations (that includes the daughter anglo nations, of course), but it hasn’t at all been demonstrated that’s it’s a good cross-cultural predictor. it certainly isn’t of eastern european nations — they’ve got left-wing authoritarianism there — and, afaics, it hasn’t even been tested on other sorts of nations.

    as de regt, et al., said in the paper:

    “Therefore we believe that the fact that thus far not a lot of evidence is found for left-wing authoritarianism is not due to nonexistence of left-wing authoritarianism, but is due to the fact that we have not looked at the right places.“

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  18. @avi – “Having said that, tolerance of inequality and authority does vary meaningfully with left-right views *in public opinion*.”

    but it’s opposite in many eastern european countries (there are differences between the different countries) — there the people want authoritarian governments BUT equality (i.e. they don’t tolerate inequality).

    again, from Left-wing authoritarianism is not a myth, but a worrisome reality. Evidence from 13 Eastern European countries [pgs. 303-04]:

    “If we consider the role of the state, we see (Table 3) that in almost all Central and Eastern European countries authoritarian people seem to want high levels of state control and intervention. Only in Latvia, Poland, Hungary and Lithuania the effect of authoritarianism on government responsibility (vs. individual responsibility) is weaker or non-significant. If we look at the relationship between authoritarianism and the communist principles of equality we see that in all countries authoritarian people think that it is important to eliminate big inequalities in income between citizens. The relationship between ‘Guaranteeing that basic needs are met for all, in terms of food, housing, cloths, education, health’ and authoritarianism is less strong and non-significant in the Baltic States, Slovenia and Hungary. In the latter the effect is even positive, though not significantly, which might indicate a trend that authoritarian people in this country come to like instead of dislike inequality, more like we witness in Western European countries.

    “There are some small differences in the conclusion you might draw regarding left-wing authoritarianism in the individual countries depending on which variables you use. In Appendix B the countries are ranked for each of the six variables and a final country ranking is also displayed. It is shown that especially in Bulgaria, Belarus, Russia, Romania, and Ukraine authoritarianism is linked with left-wing/communist preferences. On the other hand this relation is less strong (and sometimes non-significant or even reversed) in countries like Hungary, Slovenia, Slovakia, Poland and the Baltic States.”

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  19. @avi – “There are many places in the book that discuss political extremism on the left. However, the chapter that describes what you’ve referred to as left-wing authoritarianism is Ch. 22, ‘The Altruism That Isn’t: Self-Deception among People and Politicians.’ This chapter explains why extreme left-wing regimes have authoritarian properties. Although when I use the word authoritarian in this context, I’m referring to the structure of left-wing dictatorships. Explaining why these leaders and their regimes violate the egalitarian ideologies that they supposedly espouse is a fascinating question that deserves its own chapter…. So measuring tolerance toward inequality in public opinion is different than explaining how dictators behave.”

    haven’t made it to chapter 22 yet, but i did just glance at it. as you say, in that chapter you attempt to explain why some left-wing regimes become authoritarian despite the fact that, as the RWA supposedly informs us, left-wingers as a rule are not attracted to authoritarianism.

    i think that you might be making the same mistake that de regt, et al., say that previous researchers made about american communists:

    “…the members of the American Communist Part have always been treated as highly deviant.”

    they were treated as highly deviant because they actually scored high on authoritarianism and, yet, all of the researchers believed that that couldn’t possibly be since the RWA showed that only right-wingers were attracted to authoritarianism. except that non-anglo populations with strong left-wing authoritarian tendencies (like you find in eastern europe) had never been studied.

    well, now they have. (^_^)

    i don’t think there’s any need for any “special” explanations for why some left-wing regimes are authoritarian — they’re probably found in populations where egalitarianism and authoritarianism actually go together — unlike in western european populations.

    in other words, you’ve overlooked this aspect of human biodiversity — the differences found between different ethnic groups. (^_^)

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  20. I assume everyone knows that The Authoritarian Personality was a famous and influential book written by some members of the Frankfurt School in the aftermath of WWII. I somehow associate it with the Boasian worldview of people like Ashley Montague as it was written into UNESCO publications during the same period. They were both perfectly understandable reactions to what had happened in Germany by people who justifiably felt they might be next in line.

    Never mind for the moment that equally bad crimes were being committed in Russia by people who were a lot more like them. Why should a homicidal maniac like Hitler be allowed to set the terms of debate on a serious scientific issue like human biodiversity and the unavoidable challenges it presents to societies like ours that want to maintain their liberal values and institutions? It’s like awarding him with a posthumous victory.

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  21. @luke – “Never mind for the moment that equally bad crimes were being committed in Russia by people who were a lot more like them.”

    well, and just any ethnic russian, too, who supported stalinism — left-wing authoritarians, the lot of them! and how about mao’s china?

    the thing is, altemeyer didn’t find any left-wing authoritarians in his canadian (american?) samples. and the first study i quoted in the post — the one from belgium — they, also, had a hard time finding any left-wing authoritarians among average folks in flemish belgium. they had to look in the far-left communist and stalinist parties of belgium. put that together with the fact that the previous researchers in the u.s. couldn’t find any left-wing authoritarians — except in the american communist party — and i think that what we’re seeing is that, yes, indeed, left-wing authoritarians are rare in western european (including their offshoots) societies. however, you do find left-wing authoritarians in greater frequencies — much greater frequencies — in eastern europe (when you bother to look).

    voila! human biodiversity! (prolly.)

    would be really interesting to see how east asians scored on the RWA and LWA.

    Reply

  22. What is happening in Greece now with the Golden Dawn ?
    (Despite finding that golden boys are not these jasmine flowers)
    Are the extremes of personality that is at stake and I believe that the most important factor here is tolerance , a kind of TQ , tolerance quotient , where neither narcissists – Stalinist nor ‘the children of Adolf Hitler’ take ”good behavior . Still, I think we got a paradox . If the perfect world would respect the individuality, why a group of atomized individuals would be able to create a unified culture and advance it ? … seen that throughout human history, the majority group (coletivism) was responsible for it ?
    With the division of people into different cultural niches (this process is already happening ) and even individual niches in evidence , an explosion of new cultures could occur , which would be fascinating .
    Genetically speaking the concept of culture is the domain of a bio-specific behavioral phenotype, either by coercion (currently in the Western world) or blackmail, which tend to suppress individual capacity, especially groups of outliers. This process tends to pathologize those who repel network altruism of interest, or go to church every Sunday and be accepted by society. As a friend of mine told me years ago, everything is based on interest, even friendship and altruism, even when you do one well to another, it comes with a reward (feeling of moral superiority for example).
    Hbd Chick, you believe in the ideal process, the next step of humanity would be individualism?

    Reply

  23. @ hbd*chick – ” yes, indeed, left-wing authoritarians are rare in western european (including their offshoots) societies”

    Except on campus and in left-wing media as you already pointed out.

    Reply

  24. @adolfo – “Are you a right-wing authoritarian? Take the test today!”

    i took that test last week out of curiosity. i made sure to take it before i read the chapter(s) re. right-wing authoritarianism — didn’t want to bias myself. i’ll post my results. (^_^)

    Reply

  25. @panjoomby – “sadly, his liberal views peek thru – e.g., he words conservative traits negatively & creates strawman arguments – bashing glenn beck & some KKK guy as if the most extreme (& least intellectual) voices are representative of a side.”

    i feel i can’t throw (too m)any stones over letting one’s personal political views/biases come through in one’s work/writings, because i think my (mild?) conservatism probably peeks through — shines glaringly though! — a lot here on the blog. it’s hard to overcome one’s biases — impossible to do it 100% really — although i do think one can work at it. i try to, but it ain’t easy.

    having said that, i think it’s pretty plain that tuschman is a liberal (not that there’s anything wrong with that! (~_^) ) — and it biased his presentation in his book A LOT (principally i don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, either…but pretending it hasn’t, or being in denial that it has…that’s not cool.)

    like you say, all the examples of extreme political viewpoints in the book come from the right-wing — and an awful lot of them are TOTAL nutcases who look forward to things like the other races being wiped out by aids or whatever. very interesting and important to notice and explain those sorts of people, but they’re hardly representative of the right-wing or of all extremists.

    where are the examples of left-wing extremists/authoritarians? what about (staffan should be able to speak to this better than me) the case a couple of years ago of the sweden democrats couple who were attacked and beaten up in their home by left-wingers? what about all the violent “anti-fascist” groups in europe that are always being arrested for attacking edl members? what about the recent drive-by murder of two golden dawn members in greece by left-wingers? (well, i guess that couldn’t have been included in the book, ’cause it just happened.) what about the BOMB THREATS from leftists to the hotel that was slated to host an american renaissance conference a couple of years ago which ultimately shut down that conference?

    i know it’s probably difficult to find out about these sorts of left-wing extremist attacks since the msm is so biased, but anyone should be able to come up with the examples that i just gave (off the top of my head) after a little bit of googling. (it’s called research!)

    Reply

  26. @frau katze – “The questions seem to have been designed for a particular time, 1960′s, when conservatives held the power, and ANY dissent at all was assumed to be liberal. Not true in 2013!”

    exactly! altemeyer seems to be stuck in 1968.

    (btw, i’ve pointed out your comment to folks on twitter several times over the last couple of days, because it was so right on target! (^_^) )

    Reply

  27. @grey – “the ‘authoritarian personality’ thing was 1960s cultural marxism designed to demonize political opponents and advance leftwing authoritarianism.”

    well, certainly altemeyer et al.’s version of it seems to be! =/

    Reply

  28. @staffan – “In my own country of Sweden we only have one real conservative party, Sweden Democrats (SD) and they have been silenced in the media for years.”

    yes. and i’m sure that the sweden democrats would be considered to be leftists by most americans! (~_^) plenty of redistributive policies in the sd platform (not that there’s anything wrong with that…in sweden! (^_^) )

    Reply

  29. @chris – “Also, why is being ‘pro-business’ usually considered a conservative trait? In effect, support for free enterprise, free trade, etc. is a liberal trait, no? In theory, shouldn’t conservatives be more in favour of import tariffs, beggar-thy-neighbour economic policies, nationalision of major industries etc, ie the very opposite of economic liberalism (laissez-faire)? And yet the Republican Party in the US and the Conservative Party in the UK are considered ‘conservative’, yet both actually favour liberal policies economically. So it would help if we could clear up what we actually mean by ‘left wing’, ‘right wing’, ‘liberal’, ‘conservative’, etc.”

    yes. support for free trade is a Liberal trait, definitely. when did the meaning of the word get all convoluted?

    and why don’t so-called conservative politicians care about the interests of their nation’s businesses? especially small businesses? (i suppose so much — too much — business is global now…. and i suppose greed is prolly the answer. =/ )

    Reply

  30. @assistant village idiot – “…liberal nutcases tend to threaten (or commit) outward acts of aggression, and target those they believe are in power. There are exceptions (Oklahoma City and Norway come to mind), but the attackers of American candidates and party headquarters tend to come from the left, whichever party they attack, and violent rioting/protesting tends to come from Democratic constituencies: union, environmental, antiglobalist, ethnic/racial. This would indeed seem to loosely fit the dynamic of those who wish to preserve the status quo versus those who wish to change it.”

    interesting. thanks!

    Reply

  31. @chris – “Maybe ‘authoritarians’ are actually more likely to be left wingers.”

    de regt, et al., definitely found left-wing authoritarians in parts of eastern europe. plenty of it. in regular society.

    van hiel, et al., otoh, had a hard time finding it in regular society in flemish belgium. they did find left-wing authoritarians, but in the extreme leftist communist and stalinist(!) parties.

    meanwhile, back in north america, altemeyer couldn’t find any left-wing authoritarians — but, apparently, he only looked in regular society. he didn’t check any extreme leftist parties.

    de regt, et al., too, mention how the results from the american communist party — presumably finding authoritarians there — have always been considered as “highly deviant.”

    putting that all together, i wonder if left-wing authoritarianism isn’t more common in eastern europe than in western europe (and north america), but it is also present in western europe all the way over on the left of the political spectrum.

    that’s the conclusion i’m drawing, anyway. and if this is right, then tuschman’s conclusion that the results from RWA testing done to date can be applied cross-culturally is incorrect. certainly there’s enough doubt to question his conclusions — the one’s that are based on the RWA.

    Reply

  32. @luke – “What strikes me is that the first two defining characteristics — willingness to submit to what they perceive as legitimate authority, and adherence to societal conventions and norms — are more or less the default setting of all human beings.”

    yes. (except for us contrarians. (~_^) man, do i HATE authority!)

    @luke – “It is really the last characteristic — punitive hostility towards those who disagree — that distinguishes the authoritarian personality. They are mobbers at heart and mainly assert themselves when they feel sure they have the majority behind them, even if it only in a small local environment (like academia).”

    yeah, i have the impression that most of the political correct leftist mobbers of today are not physically violent, but they have no compunctions about wrecking reputations and careers! all of that certainly feels awfully authoritarian to me!

    Reply

  33. @gottlieb – “Hbd Chick, you believe in the ideal process, the next step of humanity would be individualism?”

    i happen to be very fond of individualistic societies that are also very collectivist-minded. i certainly wouldn’t like a society full of strictly selfish individuals.

    i don’t think that outbreeding will automatically get you to an individualism-collectivism society. it takes (a LOT) of other special circumstances acting as selection pressures on the population. but the outbreeding is necessary.

    Reply

  34. Hbd Chick ”i happen to be very fond of individualistic societies that are also very collectivist-minded. i certainly wouldn’t like a society full of strictly selfish individuals.

    i don’t think that outbreeding will automatically get you to an individualism-collectivism society. it takes (a LOT) of other special circumstances acting as selection pressures on the population. but the outbreeding is necessary.”

    What I have noticed is that most people tend to be very extreme in their thinking , in other words, they tend to neglect the details and incongruities that usually appear in the bigger picture and can easily go from one extreme to another thought. When they do not , they tend to internalize the ideology they believe. I think that genetics and brain morphology can explain it but to another text .
    The nature of most human beings is dogmatic , they can understand the bigger picture, but not the details of the same image and act on that account. I do not know exactly how to explain it , but it’s what I see .
    There are very strong trends in most human societies prefer collectivism and hence any individuality is soon seen as a threat to tribal cohesion . The ones that are far more apt to individualism , ie , Europeans are committing precisely the errors highlighted . I do not believe that even after so many possible and plausible evidence for liberals to accept that some of their dogmas are not entirely true , they still continue to believe in them for free will , their genetic speak louder for sure.
    Here in Brazil there is an expression that many people like to say
    ” I’m either 8 or 80”.
    Especially with the atomization of the current policy, most good people believe that you must choose one or the other group and never get between the two.
    As a result, the liberal leftists for example, not only want individuality, but also extreme it. There is no balance and wisdom when it comes to tribal behavior, the very idea of ​​tribe also has a dogmatic side.

    Reply

  35. @hbd Chick – “yes. support for free trade is a Liberal trait, definitely. when did the meaning of the word get all convoluted?

    and why don’t so-called conservative politicians care about the interests of their nation’s businesses? especially small businesses? (i suppose so much — too much — business is global now…. and i suppose greed is prolly the answer. =/ )”

    Conservatism is about preserving existing cultural norms and social structures, where as Liberalism is about being free to defy them. It’s only convoluted when taken out of it’s cultural context. Remember that the U.S. is composed of multiple cultures.

    Many so-called Liberals in the U.S. are actually Conservative in the sense of promoting their cultures, typically the cultures of egalitarianism (Yankeedom), or social tolerance (New Netherlands, Left Coast).

    Most Liberals who are economically Liberal (in the classical sense) are “Neo-Liberals” based in the New Netherlands or the Left Coast.

    The popular image of American Conservatism’s economics (anti-tax, pro-free trade, pro-big business) is Conservative within the context of the Deep South. The DS was founded to generate profits for a small number of people at the expense of the majority and to engage in international trade. It’s also Conservative with in the context of the Far West, which was largely founded and developed by big businesses (rail roads, mining companies).

    By contrast a pro-trade, big business economic agenda, isn’t really Conservative in the more populist region of Greater Appalachia and the Mid-Lands, which is why Conservative politicians nationally have to talk up “small business owners” in their rhetoric. It’s also why so many Conservatives opposed the Wall St. bailouts, helping big business at tax payer expense doesn’t sit well with populists (and helping New York bankers didn’t sit well with Southerners).

    In America, Liberals are only considered Liberals to the extent that they challenge Conservatives’ Cultural norms, regardless of the fact that by doing so they are usually just championing their own cultural norms. Conservatives, on the other hand, are largely considered so to the extent that they assert the economic norms of the Deep South, and the social norms of Greater Appalachia.

    Reply

  36. Got your tweet, and yes, it seems I’m not the only one noticing this, always good to see. Been crazy busy, I still haven’t finished the book. Decided to treat myself to a…novel!

    Back to the book!

    Reply

  37. […] Indeed, the attitude towards sex, marriage, and family are defining traits that distinguish liberals and conservatives today, conservatives being more child- and family- centric. In the past, this difference may not have had the consequences for fertility that it does for the two groups in today’s world (where it is possible to delay fertility). Avi Tuschman wrote a book, Our Political Nature: The Evolutionary Origins of What Divides Us  (which I have yet to read) detailing these inherent political dispositions and possible explanations for why they are so (see his Atlantic article, as well as HBD Chick on his work, also here). […]

    Reply

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