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"We're never going to be able to solve the problem of terrorism unless we understand and try to deal with some of the reasons that turn particularly young, impressionable people to support extremist organizations."
Dame Stella Rimington -- Director-General: M15

See also: Authoritarianism, the political expression.

For the "authorities," click: Authoritarian Personality.

See Barbara Tuchman's "March of Folly" for what this personality can(not) produce when it substitutes its canons for wisdom. This book won a Pulitzer Prize.

If there is a cause for war in our genes, the authoritarian personality is its manifestation. The authoritarian personality is particularly vulnerable to radicalization. This personality type is expressed by rigidity of views, a strong desire to be told what to do, an equally strong desire to tell "lesser mortals" what to do, and to see all things in a black and white context. Most terrorists fit this mold closely. And so do many other people in all societies.

Most authoritarians are basically good people and lead productive lives in pursuits where their particular rigid styles are appropriate in professions such as accounting, the military, and medicine. As leaders, their narrow and often uncompromising views can not only miss the better solutions, but usually alienate their peers as well as those of different persuasions. With enough charisma and deceit, they can sway voters into giving them power even in the most advanced democracies. This happens because most voters themselves have a streak of authoritarianism in their personalities. We see this in our time: Mr. Bush is the most polarizing president ever to sit in the White house. He wears his rigid views as a badge of honor. He really seems to believe he can do no wrong, is never in error, and never entertains self-doubt. He apparently believes that, as the most powerful single person on earth, and by virtue of his office, he alone has the wisdom to see the war on terror in its most proper light. However, history is already writing chronicles stating otherwise. Most of it he could have prevented.

A German philosopher, Theodor Wiesengrund Adorno, was first to formally describe the authoritarian personality. Others, notably Adolf Hitler, made passing observations about these personality characteristics. Adorno and his colleagues discovered a connection between racism/fascism and the authoritarian parenting style. His studies led him to propose a personality framework that may be described as follows:

    "While finding comfort in the identification of submissive behavior towards authority, the authoritarian person directs his/her aggression towards other groups, often racial minorities. This is an attempt to relieve the feeling of personal weakness with a search for absolute answers and strengths in the outside world."

According to Adorno, the authoritarian personality is expressed essentially by:
  • Excessive conformity
  • Intolerance
  • Insecurity
  • Rigid, stereotyped thought patterns
  • Submissiveness to authority
  • Superstition

Adorno goes to some length to explain that the authoritarian personality is not a pure personality type. Only a relatively few individuals are so extreme. By the same token, very few of us are totally without any authoritarian expression. Most people are somewhere near the middle, between being all or nothing. That is, most of us will be afflicted with one and maybe up to four of the above traits. The folks in the "nothing extreme," are only extreme in the sense of their rarity, not in any other way. This feature has important ramifications for the American body politic in particular. See: The More Things Change.

A lot of lively productive people occupy the middle ground, between the extremes of all or nothing. For example, in many professions and human activity in general, conformity and standards are necessary for safety and the public welfare. Airline pilots, surgeons, accountants, all have vested interests in conformity. And who among us has not felt a little insecure at times? Nevertheless, the authoritarian syndrome provides a useful and readily understandable rational by means of which we can understand terrorism and its manifestations.

Bin Laden, the Fundamentalist Mullahs, and other terrorist leaders are submissive, if only to Allah. In this sense, they too are authentic authoritarian personalities.

Authoritarian personalities often develop from an upbringing of rigid discipline and conditional affection. Adorno identified the authoritarian personality type as having the following characteristics: "The authoritarian personality does not want to give orders; their personality type wants to take orders. People with this type of personality seek conformity, security, stability. They become anxious and insecure when events or circumstances upset their previously existing world view. They are very intolerant of any divergence from what they consider to be the normal (which is usually conceptualized in terms of their religion, race, history, nationality, culture, language, etc.) They tend to be very superstitious and lend credence to folk tales or interpretations of history that fit their pre-existing definitions of reality (thus the Founding Fathers of the US are conceptualized as supporters of white nationalism.) They think in extremely stereotyped ways about minorities, women, homosexuals, etc. They are thus very dualistic; the world is conceived in terms of absolute right (their way) Vs. absolute wrong (the "other" way whether African American, liberal, intellectual, feminist, etc.)"

Further study of this personality type has since shown that Authoritarians not only like to take orders but they love to give them and to have people they can look down upon. This, of course, amounts to prejudice in the forms of bigotry, racism, sexism, and the like. It also accounts for events such as Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, the My Lai massacre, and Kent State.

Two distinctive behavior patterns are submissiveness and aggressiveness. On the surface, these two patterns seem to be at odds, but in fact their coexistence in the same individual is a hallmark. The Authoritarian Personality wants to fit into a chain of command and to be told what to do (submissive to a superior), and by the same token, will countenance no flak when giving orders to those in the hierarchy below. At the same time s/he is aggressive towards others, especially those considered to be lesser in some way (e.g. of a different faith or ethnicity, or a different species). Racism and bigotry are common in the personality type. The Hitler Youth were prime examples of this. Authoritarians like to be herded like sheep even as they enjoy command. That mind-set exists across all political, economic, and religious spectra. And, it afflicts both genders. Authoritarians are distinguished by the degrees of which their behavior matches the bullets below.

  • Control and power
  • Cynicism and arrogance
  • Destructiveness
  • Fixed Ideas
  • Lack of introspection and insight
  • Narrow disciplined outlook
  • Never looking back
  • Paranoid if they think you do not believe as they do
  • Polarizing "either/or" thinking
  • Religious fundamentalism
  • Sexual intolerance

When a society comes under the authoritarian spell, it can become radicalized en masse. That is what Hitler accomplished in his Germany. Authoritarianism is what led the authoritarian German masses to follow Hitler fanatically. In fact, Hitler predated Adorno in defining the personality characteristics. Hitler was more than just an Authoritarian Personality --He was an original, a prototype of the most violent extreme. He attributed the personality in his memoir, Mein Kampf, to the Jews!

Researching the literature turns up others who recognized the essential features. Sigmund Freud was one. He saw leaders as great men who tapped into the the strong need of their people for a leader they can admire and submit to out of their need to have someone to look up to. Abraham Maslow was another. Malsow was famous for his work on the hierarchy in human motivation. We all have a hierarchy of needs. Most basic of course is the requirement to stay alive. Only when this need has been met, do most people feel a need to belong to a group, be esteemed for their work, or find rewards in other ways. There can be no doubting the personality type, just as there is no doubt the type itself is rarely expressed in its pure form--most extreme. The authoritarian personality comprises a half dozen traits, each of which can arise in the absence of any of the others. Most of us are likely to exhibit one or more of the key traits.

Authoritarianism is on display in the Middle-Eastern conflicts and terror, though more diffused than Hitler's Germany . The radical Mullahs, Wahhabi and Deobandi in particular, work at radicalizing susceptible young Muslims. Just as surely, the Zionists cast a similar spell on susceptible young Jews.

The authoritarian personality is part of the glue that holds Al Qa'ida so tightly together. Bin Laden is the figure deeply admired. Daily group prayers contribute to bonding groups together while providing the individual with an identity. And of course they all have the "Great Satan" to hate.

Islam, through the Qur'an, Hadith, and Shari'ah, in fact requires:

  • Conventionalism
  • Submission
  • Aggression

These are hallmarks of authoritarian personalities. We should not then be surprised that Islam produces more than its share of terrorists and suicide bombers. Islam does not encourage independent thinking; it values submission to Allah and obedience by and to those in the "chain of command."

Beyond that, the Qur'an, Hadith, and Shari'ah preach or permit violence while very rarely invoking love as an important human emotion to be developed and enjoyed. Women are explicitly made inferior to men. See Women. Fundamentalist Islam discourages questions and creativity. It rewards or punishes behavior in an authoritarian mode. Islam does not emphasize secular education.

Robert Bolton captured the essence:

"A belief is not merely an idea the mind possesses. It is an idea that possesses the mind."

The Bush Administration exhibits earmarks of authoritarianism, most obviously in its black-and-white thinking, tolerance for bigotry, and support for religious fundamentalism in its public pronouncements and actions. It was Mr. Bush himself who proclaimed to the world: "You are either with us or against us." He is not the first US president to exhibit authoritarian tendencies. He is just the first to try to make a virtue of it, like Hitler did.

The American experiences with the My Lai Massacre and the Kent State upheaval motivated Stanley Milgram to formally study the phenomenon by which people blindly follow orders. What Milgram found is as astonishing as it is arresting. Milgram's subjects were led to think they were experimenters in a teaching method that used pain via electrical shock to punish wrong answers. The teacher would give a short lecture to a student in the next room out of sight, then ask questions. After every wrong answer, the voltage was increased. Milgram's subjects were then asked by the lecturer to press a button to initiate the shocks the subjects were to receive. The shocks soon enough reached painful levels, or so the subjects thought. The "student" was in fact just a good actor who could emote pain realistically.

After Milgram:

"'No amount of screams and pleading brought this process of visiting violence upon another to a stop.' Milgram found, surprisingly, that 65% of his subjects, ordinary [male] residents of New Haven, were willing to give apparently harmful electric shocks--up to 450 volts--to a pitifully protesting victim, simply because a scientific authority commanded them to, and in spite of the fact that the victim did not do anything to deserve such punishment."

The authoritarian personality is part of most of us.

Milgram chose his group scientifically. He tested people for their willingness to follow orders issued by an "authority figure." Because they were told to by the "authoritarian" experimenter, most subjects punished supposed students simply at the urging of the experimenter in learning. Subsequent studies affirmed Milgram's discovery with percentages as high as 80%, even among females and children. All of this body of scientific evidence is entirely consistent with Adorno. It is our tendency to follow blindly in trust that concerns us most. It makes us susceptible to propaganda, to illogic, to bigotry, and, yes, to visiting violence upon the helpless in military prisons in Afghanistan, Iraq and Cuba. Not surprisingly, America is now viewed as a violent basher of helpless humans and the Qu'ran alike. For a dubious nickel of information, we motivate our sworn enemies who know well how to use our image we project in radicalizing their suicidal troops--marching on to war.

Authoritarian expression is not limited to Islam:

Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war, with the cross of Jesus going on before. Christ, the royal Master, leads against the foe; forward into battle see his banners go!

Text: Sabine Baring-Gould, 1834-1924
Music: Arthur S. Sullivan, 1842-1900

Between them, Milgram and Adorno explain both the Muslim and American responses to fundamental conflicts with other cultures. The upside is that the tendency toward authoritarianism can come under societal control. It is just more than a little out of control in our times.

Our nation, under Bush, is more polarized than at any time since the Vietnam War. Of course Bin Laden played a role, but he was only the trigger for what followed. Afghanistan had to happen, of course. But Iraq is an unrelated issue designed to support Mr. Bush's image of himself as the all-knowing, all-wise leader of the Western World. Authoritarian thoughts for sure.

That image began to clarify in September 2001. Bill Maher made a politically incorrect crack about Bush. So what? Comedians and cartoonists alike feed on such stuff, and so do their audiences and readers. But such behavior didn't sit well with the Administration. Its response the same month:

"There are reminders to all Americans that they need to watch what they say, watch what they do, and this is not the time for remarks like that."
Ari Fleischer
(Mr. Bush's press secretary)

In other words, freedom of speech is now on hold!

In another such flap over Maher, these comments were made by Bryan Zepp Jamieson

[Discussing Maher's TV show] "...someone called the people who hijacked those planes and crashed them 'cowards' and another guest pointed out that anyone willing to die in service to their cause was no coward, and Maher rejoined,

'We have been the cowards, lobbing cruise missiles from 2,000 miles away. That's cowardly.'

"Nobody could miss the fact that it was a reference to the Gulf War. And that's pretty much what we did: we stayed back, well out of harm's way, and used our technology to massacre hundreds of thousands [more like 158,000 Iraqis - Pub] of people, mostly civilians. Not only is this not a secret, but I've yet to encounter a single person who didn't understand that Maher was talking about the Gulf War. We killed people by remote control, at no greater risk to ourselves than playing a Gameboy might present."

The Administration and most Americans believe what Islam hates about America is its freedoms. Nevertheless, Ari Fleischer set the tone for what was to come. See Eroding Liberty for more on that story; Mr. Bush is eroding our very strength-- LIBERTY.

Iraq followed Afghanistan in true authoritarian fashion -- "You are either with us or you are against us." And when France and Germany did not join with us, they were excluded from the rebuilding efforts, even though their presence would lend further legitimacy to the rebuilding efforts.

Mr. Bush alienated friends for the sake of a principle, a principle with some validity perhaps when there are only two options, but not on the world stage where other options abound. He never looks back, but pays enough lip service to having made mistakes to keep his credibility among his authoritarian followers. And he never seems to regret a decision. More than 12,000 people have died in Iraq , some 900 of the alliance. Bush motivated others to join him on what are now known to be false pretenses that even his own analysts did not believe. This authoritarian man expects every American to be submissive and accept this result as a great victory instead of the political disaster it is coming to be. Ari Fleischer set a tone from which Mr. Bush has not deviated. See Eroding Liberty for more.

Authoritarians exhibit two seemingly contradictive behavior patterns-- submissiveness and aggressiveness . Superficially, these two behaviors are at odds, but in fact they usually do coexist in the same individual. Authoritarians want to fit into a chain of command and to be told what to do while commanding those in the hierarchy below in like manner. While they may treat their families in a kindly manner, authoritarians often act aggressively toward others, especially those considered to be lesser in some way, of a different faith or ethnicity, or a different species.

Our concern here, is that in the extreme, they are aggressive, destructive, and usually fundamental in religious outlook if not in practice. Authoritarians are often at odds with the realities of history and with the society main stream of their origin as in the case of Bin Laden. Mr. Bush fits in admirably with the folks who have blinders on, as the Germans did during the build-up to WW II.

As ghastly as terrorists have been and still are, we will err in our strategy against them if we do not account for their humanity and how they develop their inhumanity . There are books on terrorism detailed enough to understand something of the radicalization of practicing terrorists. Much of what follows is from one of the rare exceptions: Philip Meadows Taylor, Confessions of a Thug , (First published in 1839; World Classic 1916; Oxford paperback 1986.)

Over 40,000 killings per year were being accomplished by Thugs until they finally came under systematic attack by the government (British at the time). The Thugs are worthy of study, not only by students of terror, but also by citizens and statesmen alike. The British stomped the Thugs out of existence in 1838, after a decade of attacking them at their roots-- their "Thug society," including their families.

Below are some some passages extracted from Taylor's revealing book that put the Authoritarian aspect of the terrorist in stark relief a feature that helps drive terrorists today. Taylor's book is a must read by those who want to learn more about the inner workings of the terrorist mind as well as the networks of terrorist societies.

Ameer Ali , the most famous Thug, fit this mold and was among the last to be run down and captured. Offered a plea bargain for his life, he betrayed his remaining cohorts. Free of the gallows, he told his life story with candor, even relish, to his captors. Philip Meadows Taylor narrated Ali's story as a compelling novel in first person. (Ali's basic story line is believed to have inspired later writers of horror mysteries.)

Coming together after a week-long break in Ali's confessional interview, Taylor asked Ali to wait while he recorded his physical appearance on paper. Ali was suspicious and when Taylor had finished, he asked Taylor what he had written. Taylor read aloud his description. He had captured Ali's exact appearance in simple but dramatic words. Ali was "... small but powerful and striking in appearance... " Taylor 's description added up to a significant physical aura and presence.

Ali responded with immense pride in Taylor's artful description. Taylor chided Ali that his appearance, while prepossessing, was not what he feared. It was his heart that he feared. Ali responded:

"You think I my heart bad then Sahib?"

"Certainly I do."

"'But it is not so,' he continued. 'Have I not ever been a kind husband and a faithful friend? Did I not love my children and wife while He who is above spared them to me? And do I not even now bitterly mourn their deaths? Where is the man existing who can say a word against Ameer Ali's honour, which ever has been and ever will remain pure and unsullied? Have I ever broken a social tie? Ever been unfaithful or unkind to a comrade? Ever failed in my duty or in my trust? Ever neglected a rite of ceremony of my religion? I tell you Sahib, the man breathes not who could point his finger on any one of these points. And if you think on them, they are those which, if rigidly kept, gain for a man esteem and honour to the world.'"

Denial (self delusion) is operative here. Ali's denial is self evident. He betrayed his comrades still-free to the gallows. This was rationalization of the first order. He was not at all psychotic, despite his self deception. Ali was not born a Thug; he was brought up to be one , see Ameer Ali . He was "radicalized" early on as a teenager.

Taylor's narrative continues:

"But the seven hundred murders, Ameer Aliwhat can you say of them? They make a fearful imbalance against you on the other scale.

"'Ah! those are a different matter,' said the Thug laughing,'quite a different matter. I can never persuade you that I was fully authorized to commit them, and only a humble instrument in the hands of Alla. Did I kill one of those persons? No it was He. Had my roomal been a thousand times thrown about their necks and the strength of an elephant in my arms, could I have done aught, would they have diedwithout it was his will? I tell you Sahib, they would not, they could not; but as I shall never be able to persuade you to think otherwise and it is not respectful in me to bandy words with my lord, I think it is time for me to recommence my tale, if he is ready to listen, for I have much to relate.'"

Ameer Ali compartmentalized his feelings and thoughts in the extreme. As well as being in denial, he rationalized his actions as being the will of Allah. Otherwise he could not have lived with himself. These are hallmarks of the Authoritarian personality. (See chapter 25 of Taylor 's book for the above quote.)

Psychological mechanisms such as denial and rationalization have the effect of protecting their owners from fear or guilt feelings related to fear. Ali's defenses kept the basic contradiction of his murderous being out of his conscious mind. By this means, Ameer Ali could feel good about himself while never feeling conscious remorse until he landed in prison, separated from his family . In Taylor's chapter 27, Ali describes "another day at the office:"

"'You probed that rascal deeply by what you said,' said Peter Khan [a cohort] as we walked along; 'it is the very practice by which he gets his money; the fellow is as rich as a sahoukar by this means, and never omits to levy a contribution on every gang [of Thugs] which passes Saugor.

"'Then,' said I, 'my mind is made up as to his fate. Such a wretch is not fit to live--a personal rascal, who sits at his ease, runs no risk, undergoes no fatigue, and yet gets the largest share of anyone. He ought to die. What say you to putting him to death?'..."

"The body was taken away and buried..."

"Now did not that villain deserve his fate, Sahib? To my perception, his cold-blooded work was far worse than our legitimate proceedings; and as for his treachery, he paid the forfeit of it."

Ali's view that his profession was legitimate is shared by terrorists today, on different grounds, yet not so different. What is so similar is that in each case, one adheres to the subculture to which one belongs. In each case also their subcultures were/are at odds with society at large. Under these conditions, radicalization (picking up the sword) becomes an event waiting to happen.

Ali's primary method of operation was to befriend his victims, usually travelers who are strangers to the region, accompany them for a distance, then strangle them at the first opportune moment and rob the corpses. But he did not view that, to himself at least, as treachery or criminal. It was Allah's doing. In this way too, he was similar to many terrorists of our times, not to mention a certain US general who bragged his God was better than Hussein's.

In addition to rationalization and denial, something else was operative in Ali's confession, reaction formation . In reaction formation, a person plays a role opposite to what they really are. Like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the police chief who tenaciously pursues prostitutes publicly while privately enjoying their favors is an example. Well-known preachers, caught consorting with prostitutes in recent years, are similar examples. And an uncommon number of firemen are arsonists.

Ali's reaction formation mechanism was on display whenever he justified killing those he despised because they were like himself. (See Taylor's Chapter 27 in particular, but this theme appears again and again throughout his book.)

Ali repeatedly recounted his revulsion for those victims he knew to be as deviant as he was. At the same time he could exult in bringing down a great warrior and robbing those he or his gang killed. Only toward women and children did he ever mention any heart or regret, even as he was involved in their killing. In one such instance he was plagued by nightmares for days afterwards (Chapter 31).

Ali really was all those good things he thought he was; he was also the cold-blooded and heartless killer of hundreds. His tales of ceremonies, worship, omens, travels, murderous exploits, and encounters with women and children all have the ring of truth. One of history's most efficient killers was only human. And he surely hated himself.

For Ameer Ali and Bin Laden alike, society's laws are transcended by those of Allah (and/or Kali , Hindu Goddess of destruction, etc...) as interpreted by the mullahs in true Authoritarian spirit. (Christian or Jewish fundamentalists employ the same hierarchy.) Ali prayed to Allah daily according to his Muslim faith while obeying the rituals of Kali in the practice of his profession. He learned to look for omens from Kali before every "adventure." See also Muslim Mind. Bin Laden uses a parallel approach; he pays attention to omens, but finds no need for Kali. Like Ameer Ali, Bin Laden is a devout family man and terrorist all at once. Islam sees one side; we see the other. This is a most important issue and concept. It doesn't change the guilt factor. It just has bearing on the strategy needed to eliminate terror from the daily experience. Fewer guns and more psychology are what's needed.

As for Bin Laden's ethics, the following would be included on his human side:

Hadith: Volume 4, Book 52, Number 28
"Free the captives, feed the hungry, and pay a visit to the sick." This is according to Sahih Bukhari, editor of the English version.

Bin Laden channels money to the poor and disadvantaged. He does so for good reasons even as it provides him with a bevy of loyal supporters for his terrorist activities. Bin Laden's ethics toward his flock is what Islamic fundamentalists see.

It is important to realize that to the extreme Muslim mind, Bin Laden's pronouncements are rational and justified.

On a more global scale, in Pakistan , the mullahs established their own schools by the hundreds as the economy and state support and control collapsed in the latter half of the 20th century. Many mullahs, perhaps most, preached hatred for of infidels. In a very real sense the fundamentalist Mullahs were caring for their flock when the secular authorities could not or would not. The radical ones were radicalized in their own times and passed on their hatreds.

The mullahs have a lot of material to work with in their religion. For example:

Qur'an 25:52 "So do not follow the unbelievers, and strive against them a mighty striving with it."

Qur'an 61:11 "You shall believe in Allah and His Apostle, and struggle hard in Allah's way with your property and your lives; that is better for you, did you but know!"

Qur'an 66:9 "O Prophet! strive hard against the unbelievers and the hypocrites, and be hard against them; and their abode is hell; and evil is the resort."

For further expressions, see references dealing with fighting in the cause of Allah:

Qur'an 2:190-193, 216-218, 244-246

Qur'an 3:142 146
Qur'an 4:71-77, 95-96, 104
Qur'an 5:54
Qur'an 8:72
Qur'an 9:12-14, 19-20, 24-26, 29, 36, 38-39, 41-47, 73, 81, 86, 88, 111, 120-123
Qur'an 16:110
Qur'an 22:39-40, 78
Qur'an 47:4, 20
Qur'an 48:15-17
Qur'an 57:10
Qur'an 61:4
Qur'an 73:20

The Qur'an on warfare:

Qur'an 8:15-16, 45-47, 57-58, 60-61, 65, 70-72
Qur'an 9:5-6
Qur'an 49:9
Qur'an 59:5

The Qur'an on striving:

Qur'an 17:19 "And whoever desires the hereafter and strives for it as he ought to strive and he is a believer; (as for) these, their striving shall surely be accepted."

Qur'an 21:24
Qur'an 29:5-6, 69
Qur'an 47:31
Qur'an 53:39-41
Qur'an 76:22
Qur'an 88:9
Qur'an 92:4

Islamic fundamentalists also see how well Bin Laden adheres to these passages like Ali adhered to Allah and Kali, even if superficially. Islam is all about behavior, not personal creed. Many other terrorists of our times seem to share the hang-ups and illusions so evident in Ali's confessions.

Islamic Fundamentalism is a culture similar in several ways to that of the Thugs . Similarities include:

  • each preaches Allah is supreme;
  • each believes it is relieved of personal responsibility since all is Allah's will;
  • each exploits the need each person has for love and approval from his/her group; consistent behavior and loyalty result;
  • each actively uses rituals; these enhance and maintain the bonds individuals feel for the group;
  • each captures the impressionable young; extremist attitudes and behaviors develop.

Islamic Fundamentalism instills hatred of non-Muslims; it requires "surrender to Allah" and encourages Muslim parents to set that example. The hierarchy that Islam demands amounts to authoritarian behavior. Any natural tendency in that direction is reinforced by the culture.

Lack of secular education makes people particularly susceptible to the influence of fundamentalism. Wahhabism and Deobandi are leading examples of Islamic fundamentalism in our times.

A reformation of Islam may be the world's best hope for a "Pax Futura." Nevertheless, the rest of the world needs to reform quickly in order to accommodate a new order and cure some of its own ills. On all sides, these can only come slowly, over two or more generations perhaps.

Individually that will be a huge challenge. Many people would truly like to better understand themselves. But personality changes are really not possible unless the individual sincerely wants to change. Then it can happen through psychotherapy or equivalent means. Iron walls and refugee camps accomplish the opposite of their intent by fostering further radicalization. The takeover in Iraq is accomplishing the same thing.

The lightning bolts of Afghanistan and Iraq are steps up the long ladders of history for both East and West.

Opposite sides of a coin are at war,
And that coin is us.

For the East, it is writing on the wall. For the West, the times are equally dangerous. We pursued red herrings in Iraq while announced nuclear powers flex their totalitarian muscle. (See Nuclear Terror and links.)

In our times, it is not just the mullahs and Zionists at work here; there is also something wrong with the way the monotheisms manage themselves. (See Religion & Violence. )

For information on other factors:

Economic Gap
Terror Personality

Bigotry and all the things that underlie the Authoritarian Personality are so unnecessary in any society. (See Even A Child Can Do It.)

This issue can be dealt with effectively by education that teaches students how to think logically and gives them sufficient self-esteem to think for themselves, even in situations similar to what Milgram employed.

Gore Vidal provides historical insight.

"Most of the world today is governed by Caesar's Men and more and more treated as things. Torture is ubiquitous. And, as Sartre wrote in his preface to Henri Alleg's chilling book about Algeria, 'Anyone, at any time, may equally find himself victim or executioner.' Suetonius, in holding up a mirror to those Caesars of diverting legend, reflects not only them but ourselves: half-tempted creatures, whose great moral task it is to hold in balance the angel and the monster within - for we are both, and to ignore this duality is to invite disaster."

Whether it is war or terror being waged, the belief by the leadership seems to be that confidence equates to competence and morality. Like it or not, this is the way of the Authoritarian Personality. The authoritarian mindset arises from the pecking order of the jungle built into our genes. It truly spoils what is otherwise this paradise we live on called earth. That so many societies have coped successfully with this affliction gives us Hope that it can be done.

For more on this personality type, see:

Adolph Hitler
Adorno's Bibliography
Authoritarianism Bibliography
Politics of Authoritarian Personality
Prejudice--Psychology of
Rebecca Riehm
Recidivist Prisoners


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