Authoritarians are very intolerant of those who question established beliefs and practices of the dominant culture. They are very submissive to those who have power over them and treat people below them very badly. This is commonly referred to as “kiss up” and “kick down.” Differences make them nervous, so they devalue those of a different color or who speak a different language.
Insecurity is another trait of the authoritarian. They are afraid of their own shadow, hence their obsession with guns. They see everyone as a potential enemy who wants to take what they have, even though they may not have anything worth taking. Machismo is common to authoritarians because it hides their unmet dependency needs and their fear of abandonment. They can’t stand mystery or uncertainty so they have more answers than questions. They follow the principle of certainty whereby they create the most ludicrous explanations to complex issues.
Authoritarians twist religion to suit their own beliefs. It is easy to understand why colleges and professors are a special target for authoritarians, who cringe at the idea of open dialogue and questioning of cultural myths. When authoritarians do find themselves in the university, they stifle discussion, primarily use the lecture method, and keep a distance from students.
Authoritarians also are very superstitious, which tends to support their feelings of insecurity and makes them more rigidly adhere to dogmatic belief systems. Rigid and stereotyped thought patterns are commonly found among authoritarians. They have trouble seeing gray. Black-and-white (polarized) thinking provides them with security and comfort while “both/and” thinking creates anxiety in them because it shows the existence of contradiction. Thus, for the authoritarian, people are good or evil with nothing in between. Often they point to a famous liberal who has some faults and then exaggerate those faults to the point that it wipes out all the good works done by the person in question.
Authoritarians also tend to see things out of context. Authoritarians also tend to have a particular dislike for cultural diversity, democracy, human rights, educated people, the commons, public education and even those with disabilities.
Other traits authoritarians have include the need to be in control, aggressiveness, nationalism, bigotry, the quest for power, limited imagination, cynicism, arrogance, missing sense of humor, lack of introspection and insight, narrowness of perspective and paranoia.
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