What is Authoritarianism?

There has been a fair amount of talk about authoritarianism in American politics. But as philosophers like to ask, what exactly do we mean?

Listen to these two episodes to find out.

Read background at Vox and the Atlantic.
See also our primer for definitions of bad types of government.

Part I – Are you an Authoritarian?

Justin and Zach discuss what it means to have an authoritarian personality. The topic is not strong men who lead governments but the sort of people who are inclined to support them. How do political scientists detect authoritarian personalities? Why have authoritarians sorted themselves into the Republican party?


Part II – Can there be a Left-wing Authoritarianism?

Justin and Zach reunite to consider the question of whether there an be a left-wing authoritarianism. In the previous episode, they discussed what it means to have an authoritarian personality, to be someone inclined to support authoritarian candidates. And it is a fact of the research that authoritarians are sorting themselves into the Republican party. But must that be the case? Justin and Zach consider two possible questions:

  1. Could there be just as many authoritarians in the Democratic party?
  2. Could history have worked out differently such that the liberal party was the one full of authoritarians?


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