Saturday, January 30, 2010

Authoritarian Set Theory

Posted in an inadvertently hilarious thread about Tony Abbott's sexual morality which he insists on bringing up publicly to the embarrassment of his family. My theme is Authoritarian Set Theory (AST) which I have evolved from my understanding of Robert Altermeyer's work.

AST is strictly a simplification of Bob's research for the purposes of analysing blog posts and comments by the self-identified authoritarian follower. Let's recap some key aspects of the authoritarian follower:
  1. Illogical thinking
  2. Highly compartmentalized minds
  3. Double standards
  4. Hypocrisy
  5. Blindness to themselves
  6. Profound Ethnocentrism
  7. Dogmatism
These aspects result in some typical behaviours:
  • Dependence on an in-group for maintenence of beliefs (3,4,5,6,7)
  • Highly repetitive behaviours (1,2,7)
  • Inability to make cogent arguments at all (1,2,4,5,7)
  • Only susceptible to arguments from within the in-group (1-7)
To illustrate, here is the canonical AST Venn diagram:

As you can see, it's a simple world for the authoritarian follower, and their arguments follow this logic:
  1. Attack anything or anyone representing Bad Stuff
  2. Reaffirm anything or anyone representing Approved Stuff
Note the keyword representing here: authoritarian followers are influenced by a worldview consistent with some form of organized hierarchy which makes heavy use of symbolism. This makes it much harder for the AF to avoid framing their experiences outside that symbolism (if they had the independence of mind to wish to), and tends to reinforce the safety of living within the AST Venn. Most cultures include this symbolic programming; it is typically the AF and their leaders who actively maintain and defend it.

For blogging purposes, AST is useful in a. recognizing an AF and b. reacting to the AF. The internet has introduced some historically dangerous elements to the AF environment; elements that in the past have resulted in sheer horror. Depending on whether or not you accept the thesis of situational morality, this may not surprise you.
Organizing mechanism
The AF's strong groupthink drive makes the internet a paradise for finding like minds. This is particularly important given their self-definition by common enemy. It only accentuates the problems AFs experience in the real world.
Broadcast medium
An isolated fearful community cannot match a worldwide fearful community. The internet provides this feeling of comradeship and renewed opportunities to further the internal aims of AF in-groups. Most importantly, it promotes evangelism.
Reduced inhibitions
Allows the AF to send email death threats, mass-attack a blog, online stalking, and other reprehensible behaviours. Given their belief system, the AF feels licensed to attack in any form possible and feel safe from retribution
In summary, AST affords an analytic mechanism to identify and classify the internet AF. Forewarned is forearmed: be aware of the limited reach of the AF mind and act accordingly.

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