Monday, March 05, 2007

What is Right-wing Authoritarianism?

This is a cluster of beliefs involving supporting the authorities, following traditional conventions and aggressiveness toward outsiders perceived as threatening the status quo.
High scorers on the RWA scale (High RWAs) tend to have a rigid, often fundamentally religious, view of morality tending toward homophobic, racist and patriarchal beliefs. It is not an ideological measure, but a social psychological one that, in spite of its name, is not necessarily associated with right-wing political views. The nature of the RWA scale leads to predictions that High RWAs will tend to support the current political authority, regardless of the ideology expounded by those in power. For example, it was predicted, and confirmed that in the old Soviet Union, high RWAs were supporters of the Communist Party because it represented the established authority.
The RWA theory is a later development of the Authoritarian Personality theories that were developed and extensively studied in the 40's to the 70's.

John Dean's Conservatives Without Conscience uses the RWA research to attack the current Bush-Cheney administration and the dangerous personalities leading the Republican Party today. As a far left critic writes:
The mere fact that Dean and other traditional conservatives such as the late Sen. Goldwater would now find themselves to the left of center in the present Republican Party speaks volumes to the degree to which that party has shifted. The author concludes writing, “I am not sure which is more frightening: another major terror attack or the response of authoritarian conservatives to that attack. Both are alarming prospects.”
The professor who developed the RWA scale and whom John Dean relied on for his book discussing the problems with the modern GOP is Robert Altemeyer. In one part of his summation, Altemeyer wrote that RWAs are more likely to: "Be conservative/Reform party (Canada) or Republican Party (United States) lawmakers who (1) have a conservative economic philosophy; (2) believe in social dominance; (3) are ethnocentric; (4) are highly nationalistic; (5) oppose abortion; (6) support capital punishment; (7) oppose gun-control legislation; (8) say they value freedom but actually want to undermine the Bill of Rights; (9) do not value equality very highly and oppose measures to increase it; (10) are not likely to rise in the Democratic party, but do so among Republicans."

Dr. Altemeyer has just placed his latest book on The Authoritarians available for free on the Internet.

Jimmyjackearl was turned on to Bob Altemeyer.

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