Atheists, in my view, hold a deep seated prejudice against authoritarians.

Bob Altemeyer explains that authoritarians are “people who submit too much to the leaders they consider legitimate, trust them too much, and give them too much leeway to do whatever they want.” Authoritarians get their opinions from the authorities in their lives, seeking social validation from the like-minded, instead of making up their own minds by looking at both sides of issues. 

Why Do Trump’s Supporters Stand by Him, No Matter What?

The climate crisis just beginning to unfold will bring down organized human society well before a century has passed. Chris Hedges frames our challenge this way - climate change isn't a problem we must solve, it's a transition we must make, just as adolescence isn't a problem to be solved. "We’re going to have to evolve a new way of being a civilization, fundamentally."

It falls to Atheists to lead the remaking of civilization, because other progressives have their theistic authorities. Atheists are free enough to invent a catalyst, a prototype cooperative meta-culture, a framework within which theistic and nontheistic societies can stitch together mechanisms of conflict resolution. Such an approach has to be founded on genuine mutual respect, which we must demonstrate first.

Such a widespread personality trait as authoritarianism didn't pop out of nowhere, evolution favored it because it served an important social function. Can you imagine a long term stable society without genetically-inclined followers? Yes, like herding cats. Recognize the Atheist community? We've been complicit in Atheism's failure to grow, because we reject follower types. Atheists aren't just being closed minded, our conviction that those who look at both sides of issues are inherently superior to those who are satisfied by consensual validation is arrogant. Both cognitive styles are essential for a free standing society to prosper. 

It's my observation that this particular self-esteem-based-on-invidious-comparison isn't always conscious. I've observed it as a gut-level self defense. We respond as if chanting together, singing with fervor, clapping together, marching together, and rituals were cocaine. The attitude that consensual validation instead of rigorous self-examination of beliefs is wrong, and that people born or raised to need it are defective, is a barrier to transforming culture so humanity can avoid self-extermination. Though it's less obvious to ourselves, Atheist science lovers who fight climate denial are as complicit as Evangelical Trump supporters in our collective climate failure. We are as much in need of a meta-culture of mutual respect as theists of all stripes.

A Partnership-based inter-group platform introducing mechanisms of conflict resolution, to replace competition and blame between organizations over climate change, would add an essential moral framing, even if it's not based on international law. Such an over-arching moral platform can't be just cognitive, procedural, and unemotional. A moral force has to include self-dedication, confession and personal testimony, new ways to identify and validate human worth, lots of group cohesion building, and hugs.

image source, text mine

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Agree with your notions about authoritarianism. Lately i have been reading about abuse by Catholics and it strikes me just how mind-fucked (indoctrination leads to authoritarianism)  the indoctrinated are when the pervasive rape, and torture of Catholics by Catholics has been largely concealed. Exact opposite of the holocaust where everybody knew what was going Catholic orphanages and wherever Catholics operate their atrocities are or were largely unknown. 

But your notion concerning a movement lead by atheists seems to me idealistic and unrealistic. 

My proposal is that we kick start a conversation among people with expertise for crafting a set of guidelines and practices that would appeal to people in all kinds of societies, to acknowledge a higher authority (climate science based) specifically about climate change issues. Give people a framework for converting themselves and their societies for sustainability, and a common ground. Of course it embraces a new ideal, new values. In what ways would beginning this conversation this be unrealistic?

Humor break: occasionally, even cats can be herded. :)

Two cowboys, successfully herding hundreds of cats: “We’d never get these little dogies to Tucson without a laser pointer.”

It would be super if humans were reasonable. But an appeal to reason falls on deaf ears when the brainwashing comes first. It happens in political and religious ideology.  I read the rationalizations defending Trump and just shake my head. 

Of course reason fails "speak to" authoritarians, to change their minds or hearts. What's needed is a conversion experience. There must be a model meta-culture which shows people how to accept and celebrate a new kind of nonspiritual authority, which supersedes all authorities of all human groups, addressing our collective bottom line to not exterminate ourselves by degrading the planet. Such higher authority wouldn't ask people to wipe out their existing authority structures but to creatively adapt them. We must invent guidelines and practices to which the authority-oriented will be drawn. Religions have adapted to new circumstances and challenges, that's a worthy goal. "Preach" intra-group cooperation as a substitute for competition and mutual disrespect, just to have a future. If Atheists can't figure out how to be role models for intra-group cooperation, how can we expect theists to do it?

We must look beyond their rationalizations. Remember that collective validation trumps any kind of reasoning for authoritarians, the rationalizations come afterward. What they need is a shining, exciting, comforting, glorious, even ecstatic group bonding experience. That's their reassurance, not reasons or facts. Meeting their need will enable acceptance of facts and reasoning about them coherently. Scary climate change facts will no longer threaten their sanity or self worth.

Ruth, Bob Altemeyer wrote and made available for free download an article on authoritarianism. I found it well worth reading.

Please restate your minutes-ago post. Ask readers for support instead of using the language of authoritarianism: “must” and “cannot”.

Well i will concede that religion has demonstrated that many will believe or follow utterly unjustifiable lunacy. So it is possible. But religious authorities will attempt to undermine any threat to their authority. Twas ever thus. 

So Satan and demon is the kind of thing that will be behind the movement. And the followers will follow their own leader.  




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