Authoritarian Personality

Rising Political Violence: Authoritarians, Mass Psychosis, and Waves of Terror Make More Violence Inevitable

Headlines from the news recently include these stories:

The Dallas Morning News

Texas women attack NYC restaurant hostess over vaccine status request

Three women from outside Houston attack a restaurant hostess because she was doing her job. They committed physical violence because a low-level low-wage frontline employee who has no policy-making authority whatsoever was doing her job as her management and state law demand.

US News and World Report

Police: Man Assaulted Walmart Worker Over Mask Request

Throughout 2020 and into 2021, we were frequently treated to headlines like this one from April when a man in Rhodes Island assaulted a 16 year-old low-level low-wage frontline employee who has no policy-making authority whatsoever was doing his job as management directed and asked him to put a mask on his child. Real physical violence against committed by one everyday American against another.

All the while, GQP “leaders” keep ratcheting up the violent rhetoric extorting their constituents greater feats.

The Hill

Stefanik in ad says Democrats want ‘permanent election insurrection’

Elise Stefanik, no less, the once moderate GQP representative from Podunk, New York who was reluctant to say Trump’s name in the 2016 election and voted for immigration reform, is now accusing the Democrats of creating a permanent election insurrection — whatever the fuck that is, but it sure sounds threatening, doesn’t it? — by allowing “illegal” immigrants into the country who are going to vote for Democrats in gratitude, I guess?


Capitol Police Are Bracing Themselves Ahead Of Far-Right ‘Justice For J6’ Rally

Now, the same insurrectionists who escaped capture from their escapades during the 6 January Insurrection or who were disappointed that they didn’t attend are back for round two hoping against hope that this time that Antifa, the police, and the National Guard will play their role right and oppress them so they can justify the exercising of their Second Amendment fantasies of using an assault rifle to murder people.

The point is that the deluge of lies, disinformation, gaslighting, and groupthink has caused MAGA Nation to twist its psyche into such a tight pretzel of a Gordian knot that mass psychosis has erupted. The state GQP governors have created waves of terror by promulgating the #COVID19 pandemic and continuing to demagogue immigrants and Black crime. The results of which are creating a base that will, literally, believe ANYTHING, like take horse dewormer instead of the vaccine, and commit real acts of violence and atrocities.

Let’s break it down into its component parts:

(1) Purging the party. The GQP is slowly squeezing its more traditional members out like one might if one were a bit constipated and finally seeing a bit of success while straining on the pot. So, we see people like Representative Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio declining to run for re-election because serving in a legislative caucus alongside Stefanik, Maddog Greene, Loaded Boebert, and McCarthy and all the rest just loses its appeal after a while. Or, we see moderates like Stefanik going full MAGA authoritarian because the only thing keeping us from being sucked into a black hole or something is her being a representative in the House.

(2) The rise of the psychopaths. The resulting vacancies will get filled with people who clearly have dark tetrad personality characteristics who care only about their own advancement and are willing to sacrifice the lives of the rank and vile to get the finer things in life.

(3) Mass psychosis. The continuous lying, gaslighting, and groupthink has resulted in the aforementioned cognitive dissonance which leads to mass psychosis. The confusion and continuous anger that is produced by fear mongering politicians and mass media outlets literally pickles their brains with stress hormones and stops them from thinking.

(4) Waves of Terror. Once the base is properly pickled and put up in their mason jars in the root cellar, they can be further radicalized by ratcheting up the stress using waves of terror. Usually, politicians and mass media outlets have to gin up the waves of terror, but god has smiled upon the GQP and provided them with two naturally occurring waves of terror based on extreme weather events resulting from climate change and the pandemic, which should be over, but is being purposefully prolonged by GQP governors.

(5) Violence and atrocities. Everyday citizens who would never have dreamed that they would commit acts of violence like attacking frontline employees or sacking the capitol are now willing to do so. They’ve been stewing in fear and anxiety for so long, they want to use the Second Amendment remedies that they’ve been fantasizing about for decades. The left is coming for your freedoms! Defend yourselves. Assault the restaurant hostess and Walmart greeter!

The authoritarian personality. All of it is predicated on the authoritarian personality. These are the major traits of authoritarians with notes about differences between right-wing and left-wing authoritarians. If this all sounds familiar, it is because we used this same study in explaining the Texas anti-abortion law three weeks ago.

  • Aggression and the established hierarchy. The tighty righties aggressively defend the establishment while the looney lefties aggressively attack it. Either way, their solution is aggression. Anyone who has dealt with MAGA or Bernie Bros knows the truth about how aggressive verbally, emotionally, or physically they can be.
  • Similarity and dissimilarity. Both seek uniformity, especially in behaviors and beliefs of the group. Everyone has to be acting in the same ways and believing in the same things, or neither side of the spectrum feels safe. Both sides are suspicious of and will attack dissenters. Anyone violating party line — Can you say groupthink and its increasingly immoral and ill-advised decisions? — is silenced. Kinda like the dissenters, Reps. Gonzalez and Stefanik, were both silenced. Either you shut up and conform, at least outwardly, or you leave.
  • Submissive and domineering. When there is a stronger personality or a person with more authority around, they are submissive. They will practically worship that person. The Congressional GQP leadership to Trump; Trump to Putin. ‘Nuf said. When they are in positions of authority, though, they will seek to dominate any and all around them forcing conformity to their views. Obedience and conformity are the key ingredients here. Groupthink written in spades.
  • Power. Authoritarians want to exercise their power to enforce their will upon others. Look at the religious right doggedly seeking “religious freedom” to discriminate against anyone who doesn’t love Jeebus in the right way and pursuing anti-abortion laws. Look at the scoffing and condescending Bernie Bros when anyone has the temerity of suggesting that Clinton’s, Obama’s, and, now, Biden’s presidencies were qualitatively different from Reagan’s, the Bush’s, and Trump’s, and that a Hillary Clinton presidency probably would’ve been similarly different. They want nothing of that. They justify their opposition to those figures by clinging to the delusion that they’re all the same.
  • Political violence. Authoritarians from both ends of the spectrum have a predilection for violence. The respondents to their surveys who scored at the top end of the authoritarian scale were two to three times more likely to cop to having participated in political violence and that is after social desirability bias curbs their answers. The instances of actually participating in political violence was rare among their sample, but a third of them said that they wouldn’t mind an assassination or two as long as it were the right person assassinated.

It is precisely that kind of Machiavellianism that says we can break the rules as long as it benefits us, we can forego democracy as long as it is our side benefitting that makes our time so perilous. The radicalization of MAGA Nation, the normalizing of white supremacy, the promotion of the militias, and the demonizing of Antifa and all opponents is making it very likely that we will have widespread violence in our society. We will have citizens attacking each other over differences in political beliefs.

Worse, the Republican Party is relying on MAGA Nation becoming violent and exercising their Second Amendment options. Make no mistake, they want violence. They want the social chaos that it will generate. They want us all to be afraid. Not only are they attracted to it because they tend to be authoritarian dark tetrad personality clusters, but they see it as politically advantageous if MAGA Nation assaults average citizens and dies of #COVID19. It gives them the pretext for appointing their candidates for office through the state legislatures rather than certifying Democratic winners. It makes it imperative that you call your Senators and demand that they end the filibuster to pass voting rights legislation and other vital laws.

The outcome of these trends in our politics is depressingly predictable, but if you like this kind of analysis and prediction, then do one or all of the following:

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Image Attribution

“Sarah Palin poster enrage them with fear until they feel justified in their violence by Eddie Colla 37” by Steve Rhodes is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

25 replies »

  1. I received an email solicitation today “When the shit hits the fan, have the right shit! Coming in fresh off the boat from Turkey, this 115gr 9mm reloadable BRASS ammo comes in INDIVIDUALLY sleeved 250rd battle packs. 4 of those battle packs are loaded into a beautiful Pine Mill Ammo Crate and shipped directly to your front door!

    Best Part Is, these ammo crates are great for holding all your other crap, when you’ve run outta ammo!”

    Sadly, the fear-mongering has stoked up a sizable number of Yahoos who are itching for a civil war.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Howdy Carol!

      What a great example and a frightening solicitation. It just sends chills down your spine to think that such an advertisement actually resonates with some people. But, it is also the problem with capitalism, isn’t it? In fact you could describe capitalism as being part of the dark tetrad. It is very Machiavellian, narcissistic, and psychopathic. Businesses are concerned only with their own welfare and profits. When the choice is between making a profit and social responsibilities, many will choose profits, especially with regards to advertising. Essentially, your guns and ammo solicitor is encouraging civil war and open violence. It’s incredibly irresponsible.


      Liked by 2 people

  2. Meanwhile, here we are in September with the end of the Fiscal Year looming (10 days to go) and brinkmanship between the parties over a No-Budget-Government-Shutdown AND No-Increase-In-The-Borrowing-Limit-Default the issues almost nobody is speaking about above a whisper except Janet Yellen, and that by way of an OpEd in the WSJ. The GOP can’t yell about it because it is too complicated for the base, but want to later claim that the Democrats are (as usual) bankrupting the nation. If the Dems had been doing that for as long and as completely as the Repubs claim, the Dollar would have been even less valuable than the currencies of Lebanon and Zimbabwe decades ago. And, the Dems are busy trying to wrangle their rogue “moderates” to get the 3.5 T budget bill passed without it getting cut down and gutted.

    And the ICUs are full, the dying continues, and the floods and fires and droughts continue. There is some hope that some intense work and creativity just might be able to save the life of the biggest tree on the planet.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Howdy Bob!

      When you’re entire political platform is predicated on appealing to the lowest common denominator of human existence and lowering the common denominator of critical thinking and reflection to the lowest point possible, then you’re going to get threats to destroy the full credit of the country and attempts to use it politically.

      If the inception of the moment was a light triad moment, we are definitely living through a dark tetrad one. The self-serving nature and open and raw manipulation of it all is just appalling, especially given the magnitude of what is at stake. It makes it unconscionable that senators are fighting against the measures that must be taken to slow climate change, especially after voting for trillion dollar tax breaks for the rich and funding the useless wars in the Middle East without so much as blinking an eye.


      Liked by 2 people

      • It is one thing to appeal to the lowest common denominator, which is bad, but it is far worse to have been doing that for so long and exclusively that you are no longer manipulating and are stuck cognitively at that level yourself, when the lowest common denominator has become your own “common sense”. That is where the GOP now is, and they have made it even worse by defining themselves only by what they are against and afraid of.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Howdy Bob!

          One of the saddest parts of what has happened to the GOP is that it was all predictable. The cognitive sciences have determined the likely outcomes of such insular behavior: poor and immoral decisions. It happens with such regularity in that exact situation that there is no excuse for not knowing that is what you’re doing and heading towards. We know what groupthink leads to. We know what it looks like. This is probably one of the worst disasters to ever come out of groupthink.


          Liked by 1 person

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