The Authoritarians

The Authoritarians is a freely available book that describes the mindset of right-wing authoritarian followers and leaders. You can obtain the book from the following site:

The book is written by a social scientist and is supported by social science research. Moreover, the author takes pains to avoid injecting their own bias and to let the evidence speak for itself.

The book presents the following synopsis of the right-wing authoritarian personality, which has:

  1. a high degree of submission to the established, legitimate authorities in their society;

  2. high levels of aggression in the name of their authorities; and

  3. a high level of conventionalism.

You should read the book if you are interested in understanding some of their more surprising behaviors such as:

  • despising certain groups of people when they are otherwise mild mannered
  • holding authority figures to a lower moral standard than themselves
  • engaging in mental gymnastics to support inconsistent beliefs

The book also presents some long-term solutions for mitigating authoritarian tendencies, including:

  • Civically engage with them on common ground

    Don’t just talk, though; do volunteer work side-by-side with them. According to the book, this helps build trust with them, and if they work alongside enough non-authoritarian people their desire to be more “normal” will kick in and tamper down their authoritarian leanings.

  • Make minorities more visible

    Evidence shows that nothing improves their attitudes towards the “out group” more than knowing them first-hand instead of via the news or social media.

  • Higher education

    … which exposes them to a more diverse group of people, further reinforcing the previous effect.

  • Anti-discrimination laws with enforcement

    Authoritarians are highly submissive to legal boundaries that are strictly enforced. Laws can also give authoritarians with doubts about their beliefs an excuse to defy their peers.

  • Modeling good behavior and leadership

    Authoritarians tend to follow the crowd, even when they have their doubts, but one leader breaking from the crowd can give authoritarian followers the excuse they need to follow their private conviction.

  • Non-violent protest

    Violent protest triggers the authoritarian defense mechanism to punish the “out group” in order to protect the “in group”.