AUTHORITARIANS AT THE GATE
"Religion is the universal compulsive neurosis of mankind" (Victor Frankl. (1975). The Unconscious God: Psychology and Theology. New York : Simon and Schuster.
With this one statement we begin to see the structure of modern society as neurotic and dysfunctional. For a great many of the world population are feed a constant stream of religious dogma with a mandate to spread the beliefs and values among their fellow men. But in a country like the United States, where we believe ourselves democratic, with a representative government, the forced feeding of religious values upon those who would choose to think for themselves establishes a cognitive dissonance with the basic tenets of Democracy. In Theocratic countries, like Iran, dogma suppresses free-thought with severe consequences for disobedience, establishing Totalitarian (religious-based) rule. In a Monarchy, religion grants leadership privilege to a few while disempowering the masses. Some in Islamic countries use religion as a call to arms with "death to the infidels". Yet not all authoritarians are leaders of countries, leaders of churches, synagogues or other pillars of strength. Some are just plain folks trying to get through life like the rest of us.
Authoritarianism is the "dis-ease" of authority. To understand Authoritarians, we must understand their beginnings. Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) believed that the first years of a child's life set in place unconscious values and beliefs which stay with the child, unchallenged, the rest of their lives. These are introjected from the parent's, as the child takes them on as their own before they have obtained the age of reason and the ability to use logic. Freud believed that if a child was born into a religious family, they naturally follow the religious, cultural and social values which surround them; their parents, schools, churches, social encounters, grandparents and others. B. F. Skinner (1904-1990) agreed with Freud, believing that all personality is the result of conditioning. Infant Determinism (ID) is established in years 1-3 of a child's life and lasts a lifetime if a person never really questions their values and beliefs. People tend to grow up, using these borrowed values, and look for leadership and advice from others as adults. Freud identified these introjected values as residing in the Super-Conscious; a resource of what is right and what is wrong which would drive our decisions into the future. It is that little voice in the back of our minds we all have, that reminds us of our parents, and their instructions on how to behave.
There are other psychologists, such as Alfred Adler (1870-1937) and Erik Fromm (1900-1980) who oppose Freud, Horney, and Skinner about Infant Determinism and believe that a person develops their personality as reaction to their environment and conflicts; people choose how they wish to behave. Somewhere between these opposing viewpoints, we live our lives, sometimes making our own decisions, sometimes following the directions of others. What is most interesting to observe is when a person who is known as an honest individual, good and wholesome, a contributor to society adhering the highest level of ethics and morality suddenly falls through the trap-door of their Super-Consciousness and engage in the heavily suppressed evil tendencies which they have fought against all their lives.
Of course, one of the main themes of religious dogma is to never question. When a child is born into a religion-following family, chances are that they remain followers of that religion all their lives and never investigate their own values and beliefs honestly.
Dana Baumrind developed a template in which she describes four basic parenting styles. She bases these according to the demands made on the child and how the parents respond to the child's needs and concerns. Baumrind suggests that parents are either responsive, unresponsive, indulgent, or authoritarian towards their children. Of course each of these styles can be stretched into combinations with overshadowing dysfunctions. Parents can rule by fear, using conditional love to keep children doing what is demanded of them. They may be narcissistic and destructive to the child's wellbeing. They may micro-manage a child's life, be excessively punitive, abusive, strict or perfectionist. All of these values are absorbed by the child who takes them on as their own values. Sometimes parents can be supportive and allow the child to develop at their own speed; they can be democratic about their demands on the child, sharing with them the reasons why rules must be obeyed. Of course, being democratic and supportive are not commonly found among those which follow the authoritarian tenets of the Moral-Majority, the Religious-Right, the Christian-Right or the Family-Values followers, since submission to authority is their main method of parenting.
To understand the actions of leaders and followers in real-time Authoritarianism, consider the teachings and writings of the Dr. James Dobson (raised in the strict Church of the Nazarene) who started Focus On The Family (FOTF) in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Dodson, at one time a practicing child psychologist, has written many books about child rearing, marriage, and parenting. In 2003, he wrote and self-published: "Bringing Up Boys: Practical Advice and Encouragement for Those Shaping the Next Generation of Men". But it was his 1977 book, read by millions: "Dare to Discipline" (Bantam Books) which encouraged parents to spank their children with belts or switches and to leave such items on the child's dresser to remind them of the consequences of challenging authority, which raised much concern in light of Dr. Benjamin Spock's more humane and permissive treatment of children.
The book had a second edition released in 1996 by Tyndale House, a publishing company established for the release of "The Living Bible". Most of Dodson's later books are published by Tyndale , which specializes in Christian fiction, nonfiction, children's books and "Bibles of the New Living Translation". In other words, they publish the Bible as they see it, not as it exists in antiquity. Dodson and Tyndale House Publishing represent what is known as Double-Highs' in John Dean's seminole book on authoritarianism; "Conservatives Without Conscience." They do not only represent authoritarian Leaders, but act aggressive on behalf of authority, dominating over others, opposing equality and desirous of personal power.
Dodson opposes Church-State separation and has become very outspoken in partisan politics, supporting conservative candidates from his bully-pulpit while mysteriously remaining a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization. It is Dodson's "American evangelical conservative Christian non-profit organization which organizes, coordinates and presides over Evangelical Christian religious observance each year on the National Day of Prayer." held in Washington. (Wikipedia)
As a 501(c)(3) corporation, Focus on the Family is not permitted to advocate any individual political candidate. However, in its radio broadcast, it often discusses political issues and current events, usually through a Christian conservative point of view. Dobson is among the Christian conservative leaders who met with and advised former President George W. Bush . Focus on the Family's magazine Citizen is exclusively devoted to politics. The FOTF also has an affiliated group, Focus on the Family Action (a.k.a. Focus Action), though the two groups are legally separate. As a 501(c)(4) social welfare group, Focus Action has fewer political lobbying restrictions. FoTF's revenue in 2005 was USD $142M, and that of FoTF Action was $14.7M (Wikipedia).
With an annual revenue, today of over $150M, Dodson's Focus On The Family empire has it's own broadcasting network being heard on over 5,000 stations in over 155 countries, and its own publishing house. FOTF reaches 238 million people every day advocating authoritarian discipline. Embracing a literal interpretation of the Bible, selectively , Dodson opposes abortion, homosexuality, gay rights, same-sex marriages and women's reproductive choice, dignity and tolerance, under the umbrella of selective biblical interpretations. The principles of Democracy are negated through his pseudo-authority, granted him by a figment of his imagination and supported strongly by those who wish to bring religion into politics.
Fundamentalism is not only a religious movement, but also a political and social force. Essentially, Fundamentalism is an attitude of intolerance towards anyone one who does not support the ideas of a hierarchical and authoritarian world view. Fundamentalists believe in a "jealous god" who demands loyalty and praise as the highest authority on earth and beyond. Failure to follow God's laws will result in eternal condemnation (in a Hell created by man's imagination), suffering the pains of damnation forever. Fear is the emotion used to control the masses by the Evangelicals; as they train their followers to hate, mistrust and fear all who are different; other races, other religions, other cultures and especially governments. Fundamentalists believe that they alone have the Truth, the unchanging Truth (which is adjusted according to the Fundamentalist's current needs), granted them from a higher power which must never be questioned. Evangelicals teach their following that it is their duty to impose their beliefs and values upon non-believers whether they want it or not. It is based on Authoritarian principals of Leaders, beyond reproach, and Followers who do their bidding.
According to Fundamentalists, people are born into different social groups and should stay there, doing their jobs in order to maintain a working society. Man is untrustworthy and must be controlled by those in power. Through tactics which destroy the self-esteem of the masses; fear of eternal damnation; the withholding love, approval and acceptance; rewards & punishment granted by the Leadership; polarized thinking; fear of the future; and mental, emotional & physical abuse, they control the population. Fundamentalism is a pre-cursor to Fascism, and destroys any sense of an egalitarian Democracy.