Why Evil Lurks in Some of The Nicest People

Authoritarian ConservativeThe reason so many Americans are willing to bask in blissful ignorance, practice self-destructive politics and parrot irrational arguments is clearly explained by Conservative Authoritarianism; the research that came out of trying to understand Nazi Germany. The zoological basis of Authoritarianism is tribalism.

I’ve written about this before and I’m writing about it again because it keeps coming up over and over again in conversation.

This single interview was a my epiphany in the quest to understand why so many people are so willing to accept at face value, whatever they are told by people on TV or YouTube or church and willing to vote against their self-interest. Today those same people are the ones who have been unwilling or unable to grasp the evidence and reality that Bush, the neocon movement, his administration, have been feeding us a pack of lies in the most criminal fashion.

John Dean, Republican adviser to Richard Nixon has written a deeply disturbing book about the conservative right’s growing move toward authoritarianism and blind loyalty. Its an old concept. It worked for Hitler and others. It is at work today.

This interview with Keith Olbermann gives us a frightening new perspective on the use of fear to gain and keep power.

General obedience in not always a bad thing. Blind obedience however is possibly responsible for all the most horrific acts ever perpetrated on this planet by our species. The research Dean refers to in the book is largely the life work of Robert Altemeyer who is himself writing an online book called The Authoritarians.
Dean’s book is called Conservatives Without Conscience.

Video at C&L.

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  1. #1 by Outraged [former] Repug on June 10, 2007 - 8:24 pm

    Hey! Dean is an Outraged former Repug just like me. Authoritarians are our Achilles heal, hippies are yours.

  2. #2 by Larry Bergan on June 11, 2007 - 12:21 am

    Outraged [former] Repug:

    Hippies are a myth created by the main stream media and war profiteers. The largest group of people who want something for nothing are called inside traders.

  3. #3 by Caveat on June 11, 2007 - 5:13 am

    You’ll bow to the Hippie ‘code of correctness’. Amen

  4. #4 by lamonte on June 11, 2007 - 5:29 am

    What do you think it is that creates so much apathy about this subject? I’m guilty of it and so are most Americans. We can write our thoughts on blogs such as this but where does that get us? Both sides of the aisle in Congress and the Senate happily passed the Patriot Act because of their fear of another terrorist attack and yet the terrorists have already achieved much of their goal without any more violence. We have fewer rights and less security – from our own government – today than we’ve had in my lifetime and most of it is of our own doing. The Patriot Act showed up on Capital Hill within two weeks of 9/11. Do you really think anybody wrote 343 pages of legislation in two weeks? Hell no! That deceitful document was in the works long before 9/11. We should all be afraid of those who are promoting this idea of authoritarianism but we should be more afraid of our own apathy.

  5. #5 by Frank Staheli on June 11, 2007 - 1:15 pm

    I agree with you that there are a plethora of conservatives who either don’t think or let their ill-conceived “devotion” think for them, but when is someone going to write the book called “Liberals without Conscience”, because they exist, too. I trust the man or woman most who is willing to call a spade a spade, no matter whether it is uncomfortable.

    This is what dismays me about Al Gore’s latest book, “Assault on Reason” which in its representation of good political principle is actually an OUTSTANDING book. (I wrote here that I was pleasantly surprised in my initial reading). But when it comes to practical application of those principles, it becomes an anti-Bush diatribe.

    In essence, Gore should have named his book “Assault on Bush”, because in its wide panoramic sweep he avoids mentioning the inadequacies of anyone but the Republicans (at least in the first 100 pages).

  6. #6 by Richard Warnick on June 11, 2007 - 2:12 pm

    If I had to guess, I would say Dean’s title Conservatives Without Conscience (which I haven’t read) is in reference to Barry Goldwater’s classic Conscience of a Conservative (which I read long ago, in a less cynical time– for me anyway!).

    I wonder if I’ll need to read Gore’s book, probably any of us could write it by now. The point of criticizing the Republicans is that they have had all the power from 2001 until this year. There have been a lot of Democratic inadequacies, but these have to do with being an ineffective opposition party and not with running the country.

    Just one example– only six(!) senators ever read the classified version of the 2002 Iraq NIE. We know this because it was kept in a secure room and senators had to go there to read it. I think it’s disgraceful that so many Democrats failed to read the report, and thereby discover that the Bush administration was lying about Saddam’s WMDs. Maybe they would have voted not to authorize the use of military force to invade Iraq. But their votes didn’t count anyway, because the Republicans were united in support of Bush.

  7. #7 by Caveat on June 11, 2007 - 5:29 pm

    Shite was coming thru the fan fairly hot and heavy at that time, but it is a fact that it is thier job to be cognizant of the minutea of our laws as they are presented for approval. A no vote is appropriate if there doesn’t seem to be enough time to digest the information. It is here that they failed. They are in effect legislative terrorists by virture of the work they have done (rather not done), in injuring our form of governance.

  8. #8 by Larry Bergan on June 11, 2007 - 6:06 pm

    What amazes me is that Gordon Liddy hasn’t turned John Dean into a pencil neck. In this case, meaning a pencil THROUGH John Dean’s neck. Liddy used to brag about such abilities and doesn’t deserve a radio show any more then Ted Bundy.

    Dean has a lot of guts.

  9. #9 by Frank Staheli on May 1, 2010 - 11:03 am

    The quote from the above interview that I have come to appreciate more in the intervening 3 years is this one: “under ever-increasing threats of terrorism, they have no hesitation in pursuing policies that can provoke potential terrorists throughout the world.” This can without doubt be said of George W Bush and the neo-cons, but what of Obama and the Establishmentarians on the left, who has not brought troops home from Iraq or Afghanistan, still has Guantanamo open, and attacks Pakistan with bombs from remote piloted airplanes?

  10. #10 by Richard Warnick on May 1, 2010 - 11:29 am


    I fear that President Obama is going along with the Pentagon because he is afraid of the political consequences of dissing them. BTW Obama is not “on the left.” You and I are probably left of Obama.

    Following an unprecedented public lobbying campaign by General McChrystal, Obama ordered a Vietnam-like escalation in Afghanistan (which isn’t working, if you follow the news from Marjah). The Iraq redeployment is following the Bush administration’s plan, and it remains to be seen if all U.S. forces will really leave.

    Congress has been unhelpful, shall we say, in the closing of Guantanamo. If Obama were the dictator that the Tea Partyers seem to think he is, he could have ordered all the Gitmo inmates to be put on a C-5A to Leavenworth on January 20, 2009. What I would have done. After all, President Bush never asked Congress if he could set up a Geneva-free zone in Cuba.

    The Predator attacks in Pakistan seem to be working in the short term, not because they are decapitating the Taliban and al-Qaeda but because they have spurred the Pakistanis to mount some decisive ground operations.

    OTOH the Obama administration wants to do more of these attacks in places like Yemen. The whole world isn’t a war zone, and air strikes tend to be viewed as terrorism by non-Americans.

  11. #11 by Stupid is as Stupid does. on May 2, 2010 - 8:51 am

    The origin of the word “nice” comes from the Latin “nescicus”, which means ignorant or stupid, 13th century origin.

    To call someone “nice” is about as accurate a description of an idiot as can be made without actually coming out and openly declaring so.

    Example: This is a hellava nice administration, even nicer, but only in outward appearance, than the last.

  12. #12 by Bubba V. on May 2, 2010 - 7:16 pm

    The authoritarian personality? The person who blindly follows the authoritarian personality? Who and where are they? Lutking in our own reptilian brain, each and every one of us.
    Yep, Democrats, and Republicans, etc. We,ve all met them (or been them?). Oh yeah, you’ll find them on the left and the right- Mao, Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini. So what do you do about it?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dNqqAPlgi4k (crazy but I like it)

  13. #13 by steve on December 26, 2010 - 6:56 am

    Every time a proven point about the Gop or the right is pointed out. The right side says well the liberals do it to or they did this or that. In this case I don’t think you are going to find many people on the left that are like these people. I have friends like this it is disturbing to say the least.

  14. #14 by Cliff on July 11, 2011 - 9:38 am

    It so weird how Bill Maher always nails it.

  15. #15 by Wyoming Cowboy on October 6, 2011 - 2:27 pm

    It’s working quite well on both sides of the political spectrum. Fear is keeping Obama in support as much as any republican. The dialectic at work.

    Thanks for pointing out the obvious, old news in describing human nature.

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