From John Ray's shorter notes

October 07, 2017

A puzzle solved: Leftist denial of authoritarianism

During my 20 year career doing survey research, the topic I looked at most often was authoritarianism -- or something allegedly related to it.  As a libertarian, authoritarianism is anathema to me and I wanted to know why authoritarians are like that. See here.

It was of course obvious to anyone with an awareness of history that Leftism was by far the chief source of authoritarianism in our society. Leftists never stop telling other people what to do and the authoritarian governments of the 20th centuty all had socialist inspirations, with THE great authoritarian regime of the 20th century -- the Soviet Union -- being undisputably Leftist.

The most frequent authoritarian regimes were however Fascist, regimes that combined socialism with some form of nationalism -- Hitler, Mussolini, Franco, Peron etc.  Even the South American military dictatorships were Bolivarist, which was an early form of Fascism. Bolivar believed that the masses need to be "educated" and generally dominated by a self-chosen elite.  Bolivarism emphasizes the common good over the individual. And the remaining explicitly Bolivarist regime -- Venezuela today -- is virtually and disastrously Communist.

So with the obvious leaning towards authoritarianism among Leftists, one would have expected that in their answers to my questionnaires Leftist would have heartily endorsed statements praising authority and authoritarianism.  But they did not.  They were mostly middle of the road in their responses about authoritarianism.

That is no surprise to any psychologist.  The attitude/behaviour gap is very well known among psychologists. And I think we all know of people who say one thing and do another.

But what was the mental process behind that sort of thing?  HOW do people manage to say one thing and do another?  Psychologists would normally suspect social desirability responding or "faking good".  Authoritarianism has a bad name so people would be reluctant to endorse it.  It is a conscious avoidance of sounding bad.

But psychologists can detect that.  They have sets of questions that normally reveal that social desirability responding is going on.  And I of course included such questions in my surveys.  So did the Leftists show high levels of social desirability responding?  They did not. It looked like they were expressing an honest opinion.  But their behaviour reveals what they actually think so how come?

I used to explain it by saying that they know that their real thoughts are so dismal that they dare not admit them -- but it was still a puzzle that they scored normal on the social desirability measures.  I now think I know why.

It goes back to the nature of Leftism.  The are ALWAYS acting a part.  They are always claiming compassionate and tolerant values while boiling with hate inside.  They have to do that in order to get any kind of support.  Hate is not attractive to most people. But that hate does overflow into view at times.  The abuse and punitiveness directed towards politically incorrect people is a major case in point.  And the most politically incorrect person on the planet is undoubtedly President Trump.  And the incessant and seething rage directed towards him is now a wonder.  It reveals the Left as very worrying people.  And they never cease looking for ways in which they might unseat him.

So presenting as kind and compassionate what is in fact rage-motivated is a pretty tough requirement and it is only by a lifetime of pretence that it can be to some extent achieved.  And that habit of self presentation extends easily into answering political questionnaires.  What they are doing in answering the questionnaires is normal for them and is probably perceived as virtuous.  It requires no special pretence or effort. It is normal. It is a habit to them to misrepresent their aims and thoughts.

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