Adorno's The Authoritarian Personality

Vials, Christopher
Date Written:  2017-03-01
Publisher:  Against the Current
Year Published:  2017
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX21539

Vials reexamines Adorno's Authoritarian Personality, F-scale, and their implications for a Trump America.



I have argued elsewhere that Donald Trump puts forth an essentially fascist rhetoric and appeals to fascist sensibilities, but he doesn't command a fascist party, and it's unclear whether he needs a fascist state to achieve his goals.

From what we have learned from Tony Schwartz - ghost writer of Art of the Deal - Trump simply doesn't read. With no functional knowledge of history to draw upon, his rediscovery of fascist rhetoric rather derives from his particular personality structure, and it appeals to others with the same. The United States may or may not develop a fascist regime after January 20, 2017, but having its institutions under the command of someone with this personality represents an unprecedented danger.

Like most postwar, left and liberal antifascist studies, The Authoritarian Personality assumed that the threat of fascism did not die in 1945, but remained a latent potential in all Western societies. The book appeared at a moment of great anxiety for the American left.

In the early 1950s, what people to the left read as "fascism" in the rise of Joseph McCarthy and the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) was an onslaught of xenophobia, conspiracy rhetoric and racism along with a very real erosion of civil liberties in the name of anticommunism.
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