The Pathos of Politics (76-5) Authoritarianism


There is a tradition within conservatism that has favoured authoritarian rule, especially in continental Europe. ~ Andrew Heywood

Authoritarians express much deeper fears than the rest of the electorate. They seek the imposition of order where they perceive dangerous change, and desire a strong leader who will defeat those fears with force. ~ American attorney and journalist Amanda Taub

With the world a menacing place, many conservatives feel a strongman is needed as a leader. This is a primal impulse.

A deep tone of voice appeals to conservative voters. More generally, conservative voters seem to have a preference for politicians who look physically strong and masculine, while liberal voters prefer those who have less dominant features and seem more accommodating, perhaps even slightly feminine. ~ Lasse Lausten

In the 21st century, the streak of authoritarianism is stronger in the US than in Europe: 33% of the European Union electorate have an authoritarian bent, whereas 45% of American voters do. The more close-minded and fearful of change a person is, the more inclined to authoritarianism.

Authoritarianism is now deeply bound up with partisan identities. It has become part and parcel of Republican identity among non-Hispanic white Americans. ~ American political psychologist Christopher Federico et al

The authoritarian streak in many conservatives holds an inherent paradox. They want the state to have power over people, but do not want it to care for people: in essence, authority without responsibility. This inconsistency is sociopathic and morally bankrupt.