Authoritarianism: Left and Right
In a prepublication discussion of The Authoritarian Personality (Adorno, Frenkel-Brunswik, Levinson, & Sanford, 1950) research, Edward Shils (1948) was liberal in his praise. The researchers, he then believed, had “succeeded in isolating the set of personality and attitudinal characteristics which make for receptivity to anti-Semitic ideas. The relevance of psychoanalytic categories and hypotheses, flexibly used, in the understanding of social cleavages is better demonstrated in this study than anywhere else” (Shils, 1948, p. 29). The preliminary report that Shils cited was on the anti-Semitic personality; he did not mention the equation of this personality with prefascist leanings. About the time Shils was making this assessment, the concerns of United States policy and public opinion makers were refocusing. Fascism had been defeated; the new enemy was communism. The name of Joseph McCarthy was coming to be synonymous with irresponsible attacks on people in government, academia, and the arts who had left-wing sympathies. By 1950, anticommunism had come to the fore as the engine of U.S. foreign policy.
KeywordsCentrist Bias Casual Observation Authoritarian Personality Extremism Theory Extreme Conservative
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