As we move forward in this new era of Trumpism, it will be important to keep in mind what the challenges ahead are likely as authoritarianism gains increasing legitimacy at all levels (for example, Trump's demand to force children to salute the flag…and much worse…).
Because many students I’ve had did not understand the authoritarian streak that exists within political conservatism – and to a lesser extent within mainstream liberalism – and what is actually meant by “authoritarianism,” I share this outline of characteristics of authoritarianism with them as posted below:
Authoritarian: “A person who favors obedience to authority as opposed to personal liberty” (source: Oxford English Dictionary)
An authoritarianism political system generally implies different kinds of arbitrary rule and political repression through the use of violence as necessary.
An authoritarianism political system’s major characteristics:
- limited political pluralism or diversity
- restrictions on the activities of interest groups and political parties
- initially popular participation
- a limited or narrow political culture
- usually a strong attachment to a charismatic, appealing personality in the form of political leadership
Authoritarian political party systems are distinguished according to their degree of competitiveness, ranging from one-party states without any competitive elements through semi-competitive single-party systems and restricted multi-party systems.
The scope of control can range from limited control to totalitarianism.
The more that political power is consolidated into a strong executive, the more authoritarian the system becomes. Lack of an independent judicial branch would be an example.
In nearly all cases, the military and police power are privileged under a regime of authoritarianism.
Ideological characteristics of people who are attracted to authoritarianism:
Conventional Values: Rigid adherence to mainstream conformist values
Authoritarian Aggression: the tendency to be on the lookout for, condemn, reject, and punish people who violate conventional values
Authoritarian Submission: Uncritical attitude toward people in authority
In our current era, non-authoritarian people across the political spectrum who are worried about a threat of terrorism tend to respond to a threat by behaving more like authoritarians.
On moving forward: During the coming four years or more, it will be critical to challenge any Trump administration “reform” in relation to how authoritarianism is further advanced.