I am still on strike, but it is St. John’s Day, one of the best days. This post was written over a month ago and thus predates some recently published revelations. It is anachronistic in that way. The reading, however, has permanent relevance, as it is an academic article on Adorno.
Adorno’s concept of the authoritarian personality can be easily Googled, although I am not doing it because I am on strike. Key in the theory, however, is the idea that there are attitudes surrounding authority common to both liberal democracy and fascism.
Both here and on Facebook I have spoken at some length about Reeducation and the Christian world view, which is a specific construction of the universe and the self whether it is made explicitly religious or not.
It is also worth considering Reeducation in relation to the authoritarian personality. It is as though Reeducands were expected to have this personality structure and to wish to BE the authority, and the purpose of Reeducation were to teach them to SUBMIT to authority.
In this way, Reeducation was intended merely to shift peoples’ positions in a small spectrum. It billed itself as revolutionary and life changing because its expected subjects were in fact very stubborn, very rigid, very authoritarian people. That was why they were constantly being told to relinquish their illusions of power and submit to other powers.
They really were little authoritarians, and they really were frustrating themselves because they did not have dictatorial powers, and they really would be happier relinquishing the desire to dictate. That is all well and fine. The problem is that they/we were also were not actually being shown broader vistas of life, but rather pushed to shift authority — within the same authoritarian world view — from ourselves to someone else.
That was also why exhortations on how any change is always good were so often repeated (yes — like pancreatic cancer, there’s a change for you, I said sarcastically — a comment which was not understood, but which I made because I really did not understand why we were expected to relinquish all discernment).
And that was why I did not understand what was meant by “change” — because I am all about change, and was accused of “taking risks” (moving across the country to a new job, things like this) and of being “bossy” by not agreeing that ALL change was always good.
They, meanwhile, kept saying change was good but they really meant changing their hair and giving away their personal power — the power they held appropriately as well as any delusions of inappropriate power — to someone else.