To understand the American authoritarian spirit, turn to evangelical Christianity
Michelle Goldberg is a superlative Time journalist. In my opinion, she is a quintessential Liberal. I mean this in a positive and a negative way. Positive in that she is a warrior for freedom, morality and self-government. Negative in that Goldberg does not, and probably cannot, understand the authoritarian spirit, nor its perpetual threat to us. The Liberals are right to have sympathy for the devil. But there is too much.
In his last column, Goldberg spoke about his experience reading Michael Bender’s book on the 2020 presidential election, Frankly We Won This Election: The Inside Story Of Trump’s Loss. Bender, who is a journalist for the the Wall Street newspaper, tells not only “the dismay of the White House and the terrifying impulses of Trump,” writes Goldberg, but “the people who followed Trump from rally to rally as authoritarian Deadheads.”
Bender’s description of these Trump superfans, who called themselves “frontline Joes,” is likable but not sentimental. Most of all, he captures their pre-Trump loneliness. … There are many causes of the overlapping dysfunctions that make contemporary American life so dystopian, but loneliness is important.
Goldberg strongly suggests that loneliness could be the cause of America’s current drift towards authoritarianism. she quotes The week‘s Damon Linker, who quotes Hannah Arendt: “Lonely people are drawn to totalitarian ideologies.” “The main characteristic of the mass man is not brutality and backwardness, but his isolation and lack of normal social relations,” Arendt said in The origins of totalitarianism, describing those who have engaged in universal mass movements. “
I love Arendt, but she’s wrong here. She’s got things upside down. I don’t know if the main characteristic of the mass man is brutality and backwardness, but I do know that loneliness is the result of brutality and backwardness. In other words, authoritarianism provokes alienation, not the opposite. Democracy does not and cannot constitute “normal social relations” to authoritarian thought, for democracy, to authoritarian way of thinking, is a moral perversion of the natural order of things, that is, say “normal social relations”: God over Man, men over women, black over white, etc. Democracy always goes against the grain of the “law of God.” The authoritarian is always already alienated – from her nation but above all from herself.
Goldberg quotes Daniel Cox of the American Enterprise Institute, who found a link between loneliness and support for the disgraced former president. The “share of Americans who are more socially disconnected from society is increasing,” Cox said. “And these voters disproportionately support Trump.” His survey found that “17% of Americans said they did not have a single person in their ‘basic social network'”. He added that these “socially disconnected voters were much more likely to view Trump positively and support his re-election than those in more robust personal networks.”
As I said, Michelle Goldberg is a quintessential Liberal. She reads Cox’s findings like loneliness provoking authoritarianism. However, it is the reverse. How can I be so sure? If loneliness cause authoritarianism, what are the possible solutions? Among them, there would be more social networks, more community, more human links, etc., right?
Guess what? White Evangelical Protestants are very social, very communal, and very much bound by religion and belief. God over man, men over women, black over white, etc. – the law of God is the basis of their “normal social relations”. White Evangelical Protestants are further united in their collective authoritarian belief that they have been chosen by God to rule America in the name of God for the purpose of hastening the end times, so that whatever is justified as long as it serves it. In other words, nothing matters but authority and power. There are a lot of lonely people in this world, but making them less lonely won’t make many of them less fascist.
How can the authoritarian alienate himself from his nation but above all from himself while seem to find the connection in communities like White Evangelical Protestants? That’s a very good question ! This gets to the heart of the real problem. The authoritarian mind learns never to never draw their own conclusions about the world. The truth is everything the dear boss says, not what your eyes and ears tell you. This “education” begins before birth and lasts a lifetime. Therefore, independent thought does not exist. Freedom of choice does not exist. In the collective, there is nothing like you. As a result, you will always be alone. Large gatherings may seem common, but they are illusory. You are filling a hole that cannot be filled.
Goldberg again quoted Hannah Arendt who “described the shaken people of any defined place in the world as being both deeply selfish and indifferent to their own well-being:” So self-centeredness went hand in hand with a decisive weakening of the self-preservation instinct. ‘”Goldberg said the pandemic did it. It shook people from” any defined place in the world. “No, it’s not the The covid, confinements, isolation, all of these affected authoritarian minds like all other minds. The difference, however, is that the authoritarian mind was already shaken from its final place. And their anxiety still already present. rose to more and more feverish heights as democracy prepared to overthrow their führer. We should not appease this spirit with sympathy. We should smash it with more democracy.
Again, it is the other way around. Being “shaken from any defined place in the world” does not necessarily make you “deeply selfish and indifferent to their own well-being.” Not if you’re already there. If so, already being “deeply selfish and indifferent to your own well-being” is what causes you to lose “any definite place in the world.” Indeed, you are not so selfish as disinterested in the most literal sense, because there is no daylight between you and the collective. You have no sense of self-preservation because you never developed a self preserve. This makes it very easy for bossy people to sacrifice their lives for the leader. And that’s what Michael Bender’s report shows.
“Towards the end of Bender’s book, Saundra reappears,” Goldberg writes, referring to a Trump supporter mentioned earlier. “She had just been on Capitol Hill for the Jan. 6 uprising and seemed ready for more. ‘Tell us where we need to be, and we drop everything and off we go,’ she said. Nobody cares about anything.’1 If you make sense of people’s lives, they’ll give you everything. “I don’t know why we should read this in a way that’s not literal. Saundra says she doesn’t care about anything. , because it does not. Sympathy will change nothing.
The thing about quintessential liberals like Michelle Goldberg is that they do not imagine, probably because they cannot imagine, human relations totally devoid of the principle of political equality between and among individuals. They cannot imagine being unsure of who they are in the absence of authority. When you don’t or can’t imagine such a life, the bossy mind can seem so baffling that you are looking for a concrete reason for its suicidal behavior. For the liberal, loneliness seems to be the rational cause of authoritarianism. The truth, however, is much uglier, more frightening, and more dangerous to democracy than most people, not just liberals, seem to know. Nothing provokes authoritarianism. He’s always been here. It will always be here.
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