Protests and Authoritarianism
I’m trying to get myself on a more sane schedule than normal, but I actually couldn’t sleep too well last night. Part of it is because I’ve been staying up late for a long time, and part of it is because I’m so used to shift-work I need to reorient myself into waking and retiring early, but my curiosity got the better of me last night as I was checking about the Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Boston protests, especially the arrests of the protestors. I can’t help but worry about the future. The economy looks like it’s going back into the toilet, and whatever means are being tried to stop this trend are being held back by people who don’t want the wealthy to pay the tiniest bit more tax, even if it would save countless more from devastation.
Even though I’m in Canada, I follow American politics like a hawk these days. The way the right has decided to let their loudest, shrillest members dictate the direction of the Republican Party would especially fascinating if it weren’t so scary. When the debate audiences were cheering executions, applauding the death of a hypothetical uninsured accident victim and booing an openly gay soldier, you have to wonder what they would be capable of if a candidate with a more hateful agenda were to somehow catch their attention. Not that I don’t hear a lot of people on that side talking about exterminating all Muslims and that gay people are going to destroy other peoples’ families by getting married…
I’m getting tired of it all. There’s a meanness I see in the right wing that outdoes anything the left throws at them (for the most part). Herman Cain telling the out of work people protesting on Wall Street that it’s their own fault they’re out of work. Scorn and mockery instead of compassion for the sick and the poor (just listen to any of Rush Limbaugh’s broadcasts). When anti-bullying legislation is introduced, they cry “radical gay agenda!”. I also take issue with their bizarre marriage of fundamentalist Christianity and Ayn Rand’s Mammon-worshiping “Fuck you, I’ve got mine!” philosophy. I’ve seen many attempts to reconcile the two but I still believe you can’t actually do it without compromising key portions of either. The Frankenstein monster that usually results tends to resemble callous dickishness with a smug moral superiority.
I recommend everyone, regardless of political agenda, check out Robert Altemeyer’s book The Authoritarians. Altemeyer really nails explaining what Right-Wing Authoritarianism is all about, including the hypocrisy, the hostility, the dogmatism and the manipulation. (For the record, Altemeyer includes Soviet Communism as an example of Right-Wing Authoritarianism even though politically it is far left. He explains why).