The ultimate feat of projection: Leftist academics describe conservatives as being like Leftist academics
That's a bit hard to get your head around, isn't it? After years of reading and researching in political psychology, I have only just realized it fully myself. Projection consists of seeing your own faults in others and Leftists do it all the time. So it is interesting that the major academic Leftist account of what a bad lot conservatives are should list characteristics that are actually very prominent in Leftists themselves. And as Leftists the academics partake of those characteristics too.
It all started with a 1950 book under the lead-authorship of noted Marxist theoretician Theodor Adorno (born Theodor Wiesengrund), a Jewish refugee from Hitler's Germany. The book was called "The authoritarian personality" and had a theme only a Marxist could love: The claim that it was conservatives, not Leftists who were authoritarian.
And that claim was made just after the socialist Hitler had been defeated and the vast Soviet tyranny was straddling the Northern half of Eurasia -- a Communist empire that stretched from Leningrad on the Baltic to Vladivostok on the Pacific. That was a big blob of authoritarianism to overlook.
But in typical Leftist style, Adorno and his merry men (and one woman) were not concerned with actual on the ground reality. They were concerned with POTENTIAL or theoretical authoritarianism. And where would one look for that? To conservatives of course. To people who are skeptical of authority and who believe in democracy and the rule of law. Apparently that makes sense in some weird Freudian sort of way. And Adorno loved Freud nearly as much as he loved that great hater, Karl Marx.
When Adorno arrived in the USA he saw much that he thought was reminiscent of Hitler's Germany. There were a lot of rather tough-minded social attitudes about. He was right about that. America at the time was at the tail end of a long dominance by "Progressives", with eugenics being widely accepted and practiced and Jews being kept at arm's length and away from much that was desirable in America -- such as enrollment at Harvard. The Progressives and Hitler differed not so much in attitudes but in the fact that Hitler applied those attitudes with German thoroughness.
The idea of war as a purification of the human spirit and territorial conquest being a source of national glory had rather gone off the boil in America by that time but Hitler learnt those ideas off an American President who had been world-famous in Hitler's youth: Theodore Roosevelt, the man who was instrumental in the American conquest of Cuba, the Philippines and Puerto Rico. TR himself rather went off those ideas when one of his sons died in WWI but those ideas were still widely respected in America. TR was a great Progressive. He even founded a short-lived Progressive party and he personally remained widely respected and admired in America.
So you could see why Adorno feared a Nazi uprising in America. The ideology was there. But Adorno was a European. He didn't understand the Anglo-Saxon temperament, traditions or ideas about government. Franklin Delano Roosevelt had already gone as far as he could in enacting Progressivism in America and there was no chance that Americans would accept a Hitler-like regime. Shortly after the Adorno book was published, Americans elected the conservative "Ike" (Eisenhower) to the Presidency, with Richard Milhous Nixon as Vice president. Ike of course had made his name by playing a major role in the destruction of Nazism.
So how did Adorno & Co. put flesh on their naive fears about Americans? They resorted to their old friend Sigmund Freud. Freud had told a merry tale about how a stern father could psychologically ruin a son for life (In Freud's era a stern father was thought to be rather a good thing) and Adorno had the brilliant idea that a son's relationship with his father was a relationship with an authority figure. Therefore Freud's ideas told us all about our attitude to authoritarian governments. Despite much contrary evidence, that idea lives on to this day in the world of a-historical Leftist psychologists such as George Lakoff and Karen Stenner. See here for some of the research evidence that contradicts that neo-Freudian theorizing.
Anyway, from their Freudian ideas Adorno & Co deduced a whole series of personal characteristics that would be found in a pro-authority person. He would show conventionalism, authoritarian submission, authoritarian aggression, anti-intellectualism, anti-intraception, superstition and stereotypy, an admiration of power and "toughness", destructiveness and cynicism, projectivity, and exaggerated concerns over sex. Later authors would amplify that to say that the authoritarian would be rigid, closed minded and dogmatic in his beliefs, intolerant of ambiguity, not open to experience or novelty.
So there you have the typical conservative, a thoroughly bad egg! But is that true? No. Every one of those characterizations has been found unsupported in subsequent research. The first half of Altemeyer's 1981 book "Right-Wing Authoritarianism" gives a pretty thorough coverage of the contrary research. I see that a copy of that book is going for $499 on Amazon. I should sell my copy. Altemeyer's publisher, the University of Manitoba Press, sent me my copy for free.
Many of my academic publications also test and find wanting the Adorno theories.
So are there any real persons who fit the Adorno picture of villainy? Was Adorno's picture of the authoritarian based on any real group of people? I think it was. It was actually a picture of what leftist academics are like. Adorno and his merry men (and one woman) were making the classic mistake of judging other people by themselves. They thought others thought like they thought. Let me illustrate that by some contemporary examples.
Rigidity: Academics are amazingly rigid in their adherence to Leftist ideas. Particularly in the social sciences, a conservative is as rare as hen's teeth. You just don't get anywhere in academe unless you are a Leftist. And that lockstep Leftist ideology in academe also shows a conventionalism and a lack of openness to novelty and diversity.
Authoritarian submission: And how about subservience to authority? When those dreadful climate "deniers" (heretics) put forward facts that indicate that there is nothing out of the ordinary going on in the global climate, how do devotees of the climate cult respond? Do they question the facts or point to alternative facts? Almost never. They appeal to authority. They simply say that 97% of scientists accept global warming and that is good enough for them. They have an absurd respect for the current outpourings of scientists, quite oblivious of the 180 degree turns that scientific "wisdom" periodically undergoes. Whether or not dietary fat is good for you is a current example of that. They appeal to an authority with feet of clay
And they certainly overlook that the paper by Cook et al. from which the 97% claim originates in fact quite plainly said that only ONE THIRD of the scientific papers surveyed took any position on global warming. Two thirds of the papers did NOT give support to the global warming theory.
Cook et al. were rather peeved by that lack of support so sent out a questionnaire to the non-confirming scientists to see what they thought. Only 14% of the scientists surveyed even bothered to answer the questionnaire, however, so that tells its own story. It's all plainly there in the paper's abstract. Read it for yourself here.
Closed-mindedness: So there is much faith invested in the claim that "The science" supports global warming. The adherence by Leftist academics to the global warming theory is therefore a good instance of conventionalism, anti-intellectualism, closed-mindedness and dogmatism.
Power and toughness: And when it comes to an admiration of power and toughness, what could be a clearer example of that than their unwavering support of international Communism? They shilled for the Soviets until Ronald Reagan caused the regime to implode and to this day they have never ceased to find Fidel Castro admirable, a man who lived like an old-fashioned Spanish grandee while his people scraped by on minimal rations.
Destructiveness: And what could be more destructive than the chaos unleashed on American health insurance by Obamacare? Under the pretext of making health insurance more affordable, Obamacare has in fact made it unaffordable for many. Many employers have dropped health insurance for their workers as no longer affordable by them and skyrocketing deductibles have made many Americans effectively uninsured even if they are nominally covered. When your deductible is $10,000 you have for most instances no useful insurance cover whatsoever.
Cynicism: And there is certainly vast cynicism in the Leftist response to Mr Trump. Mr Trump is certainly a flawed character in some ways but we all are. Does the Left give any credence to the thought that Mr Trump might be on to something valuable and important? Roughly half of Americans think he is but the Left greet his ideas with uniform hostility. That he has brought American unemployment down to a near-record low (3.9%) and has proven to be a Prince of Peace in the Korean confrontation they can only greet with denial. There is no openness to new ideas in the Leftist response to President Trump, just unwavering cynicism and complete intolerance of ambiguity.
Authoritarian aggression: And how about authoritarian aggression? What do we call it when Leftists (students abetted and encouraged by their Leftist professors) use all means they can to chase conservative speakers off university campuses? They do a job not dissimilar to Hitler's brownshirts. As well as being thoroughly intolerant, rigid and doctrinaire it is thoroughly tyrannical and often explicitly violent.
Intolerance: And when it comes to tolerance and openness to different ideas, what do we make of the constant censorship of conservative speech on social media? It's a bit more sophisticated than book-burning but not by much.
I could go on but I think it is clear that the proto-Nazis in America today are Leftist academics, not conservatives.