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  • Sunday, November 05, 2006


    True Believers, Authoritarianism, and Incivility

    I caught most of a segment on Book TV with John Dean and Gore Vidal in Beverly Hills, CA. Gore Vidal* was quite funny. I can't remember ever having heard him speak before.

    Dean was discussing his most recent book, Conservatives Without Conscience, and talked of sociological theories about Authoritarian Personalities and the radical Right today. Dean, a conservative of the old school (i.e., Goldwater and probably pre-Reagan), thinks this explains a great deal about how the radical Right behave today.

    I was particularly gratified to hear him distinctly draw a line between Fascism of the Mussolini and Hitler type and what we have in the US today. Dean clearly thinks we may be going down the road to Fascism but feels the term is not accurate or descriptive of what is actually in place. I've also maintained that using the term shuts down debate and discourages clearly evaluating the current political state. Although I have to admit when I look at the Fourteen Defining Characteristics Of Fascism by Dr. Lawrence Britt, I certainly see the parallels.

    *As a total aside, I remember reading a Gore Vidal book in 8th or 9th grade. Another student at the school, Christopher Buckley, asked how I could read that crap. Had he read it? No, but his father (William F. Buckley, Jr.) had some sort of long term grudge disagreement with Vidal. I didn't really understand what this vitriolic fight was all about, my political I.Q. being quite low at the time. Of course, now I know that Buckley and Vidal are almost as far apart politically as you can get in Washington terms. And then there was that little TV debate in 1968 where Vidal called Buckley a "crypto-Nazi" and Buckley called Vidal a "queer".

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