Authoritarian Leadership

"Authoritarian, or dictator leadership. An authoritarian leader rules with total power. This style offers no opportunity for participant input; the leader makes all the decisions, critical knowledge is kept to themselves and they lay down the law. Examples of this leadership style are seen in the military, mafia or a street gang. Authoritarian leadership can also be present in situations where there is a “power clique” in which clique members see themselves as having a higher status than others and believe they must give orders to get things done."

Why voters might be choosing dominant, authoritarian leaders around...

  • Threat of economic uncertainty leads people to prefer leaders whom they see as decisive, authoritative and dominant, even if they are morally questionable, over other types of leaders who might be more respected, knowledgeable and admired.
  • When faced with a milieu of uncertainty and the resulting psychological lack of control, individuals favor a dominant/authoritarian leader who, they believe, has the capability to brave unfavorable winds and increase their future chances of success."

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It's sort of like fast food. We have become spoiled in America. We want a hamburger and we want it right now. We go to Mickey D's or Burger Doodle. Problem solved.

Then we have commercials about a structured settlement. We want that "right now." Cute commercials.

With 8 years of Obama and hysteria about jobs, our future, illegals, etc.  many wondered why Obama didn't do more to solve our ills. He did very well considering that nobody was working with him. That wasn't fast enough for the majority which also included the haters. Most of them don't realize that government doesn't work like fast food.

The solution seemed to be to elect a reality TV star as President.  A billionaire who was good at firing people and wants you to think he "gets things done." Cheeto came along and couldn't believe he is now president. (He and I share that belief.) America is in a tizzy because nobody wants to work with this man either. He's done nothing and tried to take all the credit of others. He signs executive orders and that doesn't work. (He thought it was maybe like a decree.) Neither him or his supporters know about government. Maybe they should take it in high school classes.

It must be about party, right? To make his Fascist style work again and bring about the Amerigod. We have to start trashing Dems and call them every name in the book. That should bring us together. Why won't people just let this man do what he was elected to do? You scare us up and convince us of what we need, but the majority still isn't buying the kingly Fascist. What's going on?

Are we great again yet?

Well, when you have an autocrat, who else do you really need?  I mean, isn't Drumpf supposed to snap his fingers and build the wall, bring jobs back to the US, shoo the terrorists out, and Make America Grate ... I mean GREAT Again?

And by all appearances, Drumpf has acted as though he can do the whole thing through executive orders.  By all accounts, he's done next to nothing by way of the Legislative branch, pretty much true to form for a dictator.  Unfortunately, as I stated in a related comment, because he is president, he is now subject to a supervisor – US – a state of affairs he is unused to and doubtless would prefer weren't the case.  He is also now under the intense scrutiny of the Fourth Estate, never mind the FBI and multiple investigative committees.

Drumpf wanted the hot seat, not realizing how hot it could get.

I'm waiting for him to snap his fingers and create a million jobs in the coal industry.  Considering that, at its peak, the coal industry was never a major source of employment.

Political Research Associates may be interesting to some.


Ahahaha, I thought this was going to be about past or present leaders of some freethought groups.

Josh Karpf, your remark suggests to me that you have experience with freethought groups that were in the process of splitting due to conflict between leadership factions.

Leadership is too complex a topic for treatment in only one study, even when done in four parts by Michigan State Extension.

Specifically, some studies see authoritarian leadership differing from dictatorship, such as that of A. Hitler, J. Stalin and others).

One study I found described how totalitarian leaders differ from authoritarian leaders.

Totalitarian leaders turn quickly to violence or imprisonment and use religion-like inducements, such as Hitler's Thousand Year Reich, Stalin's Dictatorship of the Prolitariat, or Japan's Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere.

Authoritarian leaders don't devise the religion-like inducements and turn less quickly to violence. Lacking these inducements, they are more easily stopped by early protest or non-violent resistance.

If during the long Cold War between the USA and the USSR you were paying attention to America's foreign policy, you might recall a remark by Jeanne Kirkpatrick circa 1981. She said America's economic and military assistance to Western governments depended more on their resistance to communism than on whether they were authoritarian or totalitarian.

Recent studies in the U.S. and Canada have shown that in general conservatives' brain patterns are more comfortable being led; liberals prefer to see evidence before deciding.  That's why in the 2016 election false statements attacking Clinton were passed along; similar postings against Trump were checked and stopped.

Some (me?) say that religious people have a pattern of believing false stories without question.  Some studies have, however, failed to confirm my belief.  Drat.

Adrian Furnham Ph.D. A Sideways View
Psychology Today
What is the nature of authoritarianism? Whence the origin of ethnocentrism?
Posted Feb 22, 2015

What is it like working for an authoritarian?  What does it mean to be an authoritarian?

What kind of people accepted Nazi ideology and took part in the holocaust?

After the Second World War a group of American based social scientists, led by Theodor Adorno, posed this question.  It resulted in a book called the Authoritarian Personality published in 1950

Their theory focused on the individual as a cause of social evils.  Parents, they argued, bring about authoritarianism by frequently and seriously punishing and shaming their children for even minor offences.   This makes them hostile to adults and all authority figures in power.  The child does not consciously acknowledge this aggression because it simply lead to more punishment.  Also they are dependent on their parents whom they are supposed to love, which can cause great tension.

Thus, so the theory goes, those exposed to authoritarian, rather than authoritative, parenting have their repressed antagonism displaced and projected onto weaker members of society.

Authoritarians are nearly always ethnocentric in that they have a certain, simple and unshakable belief in the superiority of their own racial, cultural and ethnic group with a powerful disclaim for all those in other groups.  This can easily lead to brutality, aggression and naked open prejudice.

Whilst the idea took hold it has been criticized both because many other factors lead to the development of authoritarian thinking and behaviour but also because prejudiced behaviour is shaped by others for powerful situational factors. Social psychologist reject the fundamental attribution error concept of authoritarianism explaining every day prejudice. They believe group and situational factors are much more important in the development and maintenance of discrimination and prejudice

Yet authoritarians have been shown to avoid situations that involve any sort of ambiguity or uncertainty, are reluctant to believe that ‘good people’ possess both good and bad attributes.  However they often appear less interested in political affairs, participate less in political and community activities, and tend to prefer strong leaders.

There are a number of well-established measures of authoritarianism; the best known (and hence the most widely used) is the California F Scale which attempts to measure prejudice, rigid thinking.  There are nine factors and statements reflecting each factor:

1. Conventionalism: rigid adherence to conventional middle-class values. (‘Obedience and respect for authority are the most important virtues children should learn.’)
2. Authoritarian submission: uncritical acceptance of authority. (‘Young people sometimes get rebellious ideas, but as they grow up they ought to get over them and settle down.’)
3. Authoritarian aggression: a tendency to condemn anyone who violates conventional norms.  (‘A person who has bad manners, habits and breeding can hardly expect to get along with decent people.’)
4. Anti-intraception: rejection of weakness or sentimentality.  (‘The businessman and the manufacturer are much more important to society than the artist and professor.’)
5. Superstition and stereotypy: belief in mystical determinants of action and rigid, categorical thinking. (‘Some day it will probably be shown that astrology can explain a lot of things.’)
6. Power and toughness: preoccupation with dominance over others.  (‘No weakness or difficulty can hold us back if we have enough willpower.’)
7. Destructiveness and cynicism: a generalized feeling of hostility and anger. (‘Human nature being what it is, there will always be war and conflict.’)
8. Projectivity: a tendency to project inner emotions and impulses outward. (‘Most people don’t realize how much our lives are controlled by plots hatched in secret places.’)
9. Sex: exaggerated concern for proper sexual conduct. (‘Homosexuals are hardly better than criminals and ought to be severely punished.’)

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