The Frankfurt School of Social Research and the Pathologization of Gentile Group Allegiances
THE POLITICAL AGENDA OF THE FRANKFURT SCHOOL OF SOCIAL RESEARCH
Hatred and [the] spirit of sacrifice . . . are nourished by the image of enslaved ancestors rather than that of liberated grandchildren. (Illuminations, Walter Benjamin 1968, 262)
To write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric. (T. W. Adorno 1967, 34)
Chapters 2–4 reviewed several strands of theory and research by Jewish social scientists that appear to have been influenced by specifically Jewish political interests. This theme is continued in the present chapter with a review of The Authoritarian Personality. This classic work in social psychology was sponsored by the Department of Scientific Research of the American Jewish Committee (hereafter, AJCommittee) in a series entitled Studies in Prejudice. Studies in Prejudice was closely connected with the so-called Frankfort School of predominantly Jewish intellectuals associated with the Institute for Social Research originating during the Weimar period in Germany. The first generation of the Frankfurt School were all Jews by ethnic background and the Institute of Social Research itself was funded by a Jewish millionaire, Felix Weil (Wiggershaus 1994, 13). Weil’s efforts as a “patron of the left” were extraordinarily successful: By the early 1930s the University of Frankfurt had became a bastion of the academic left and “the place where all the thinking of interest in the area of social theory was concentrated” (Wiggershaus 1994, 112). During this period sociology was referred to as a “Jewish science,” and the Nazis came to view Frankfurt itself as a “New Jerusalem on the Franconian Jordan” (Wiggershaus 1994, 112–113).
The Nazis perceived the Institute of Social Research as a communist organization and closed it within six weeks of Hitler’s ascent to power because it had “encouraged activities hostile to the state” (in Wiggershaus 1994, 128). Even after the emigration of the Institute to the United States, it was widely perceived as a communist front organization with a dogmatic and biased Marxist perspective, and there was a constant balancing act to attempt not to betray the left “while simultaneously defending themselves against corresponding suspicions” (Wiggershaus 1994, 251; see also p. 255).1
Gershom Scholem, the Israeli theologian and religious historian, termed the Frankfort School a “Jewish sect,” and there is good evidence for very strong Jewish identifications of many members of the school (Marcus & Tar 1986, 344). Studies in Prejudice was under the general editorship of Max Horkheimer, a director of the Institute. Horkheimer was a highly charismatic “‘managerial scholar’ who constantly reminded his associates of the fact that they belonged to a chosen few in whose hands the further development of ‘Theory’ lay” (Wiggershaus 1994, 2). Horkheimer had a strong Jewish identity that became increasingly apparent in his later writings (Tar 1977, 6; Jay 1980). However, Horkheimer’s commitment to Judaism, as evidenced by the presence of specifically Jewish religious themes, was apparent even in his writings as an adolescent and as a young adult (Maier 1984, 51). At the end of his life Horkheimer completely accepted his Jewish identification and achieved a grand synthesis between Judaism and Critical Theory (Carlebach 1978, 254–257). (Critical Theory is the name applied to the theoretical perspective of the Frankfurt School.) As an indication of his profound sense of Jewish identity, Horkheimer (1947, 161) stated that the goal of philosophy must to be vindicate Jewish history: “The anonymous martyrs of the concentration camps are the symbols of humanity that is striving to be born. The task of philosophy is to translate what they have done into language that will be heard, even though their finite voices have been silenced by tyranny.”
Tar (1977, 60) describes Horkheimer’s inspiration as deriving from his attempt to leave behind Judaism while nevertheless remaining tied to the faith of his fathers. Not surprisingly, there is an alienation and estrangement from German culture:
Had I just arrived from my homeland of Palestine, and in an amazingly short time mastered the rudiments of writing in German, this essay could not have been more difficult to write. The style here does not bear the mark of a facile genius. I tried to communicate with the help of what I read and heard, subconsciously assembling fragments of a language that springs from a strange mentality. What else can a stranger do? But my strong will prevailed because my message deserves to be said regardless of its stylistic shortcomings. (Horkheimer, My Political Confession; in Tar 1977, 60)
T. W. Adorno, first author of the famous Berkeley studies of authoritarian personality reviewed here, was also a director of the Institute, and he had a very close professional relationship with Horkheimer to the point that Horkheimer wrote of their work, “It would be difficult to say which of the ideas originated in his mind and which in my own; our philosophy is one” (Horkheimer 1947, vii). Jewish themes became increasingly prominent in Adorno’s writings beginning in 1940 as a reaction to Nazi anti-Semitism. Indeed, much of Adorno’s later work may be viewed as a reaction to the Holocaust, as typified by his famous comment that “to write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric” (Adorno 1967, 34) and his question “whether after Auschwitz you can go on living—especially whether one who escaped by accident, one who by rights should have been killed” (Adorno 1973, 363). Tar (1977, 158) notes that the point of the former comment is that “no study of sociology could be possible without reflecting on Auschwitz and without concerning oneself with preventing new Auschwitzes.”“The experience of Auschwitz was turned into an absolute historical and sociological category” (Tar 1977, 165). Clearly there was an intense Jewish consciousness and commitment to Judaism among those most responsible for these studies.
In Chapter 1 it was noted that since the Enlightenment many Jewish intellectuals have participated in the radical criticism of gentile culture. Horkheimer very self-consciously perceived an intimate link between Jewish assimilation and the criticism of gentile society, stating on one occasion that “assimilation and criticism are but two moments in the same process of emancipation” (Horkheimer 1974, 108). A consistent theme of Horkheimer and Adorno’s Critical Theory was the transformation of society according to moral principles (Tar 1977). From the beginning there was a rejection of value-free social science research (“the fetishism of facts”) in favor of the fundamental priority of a moral perspective in which present societies, including capitalist, fascist, and eventually Stalinist societies, were to be transformed into utopias of cultural pluralism.
Indeed, long before Studies in Prejudice Critical Theory developed the idea that positivistic (i.e., empirically oriented) social science was an aspect of domination and oppression. Horkheimer wrote in 1937 that “if science as a whole follows the lead of empiricism and the intellect renounces its insistent and confident probing of the tangled brush of observations in order to unearth more about the world than even our well-meaning daily press, it will be participating passively in the maintenance of universal injustice” (in Wiggershaus 1994, 184). The social scientist must therefore be a critic of culture and adopt an attitude of resistance toward contemporary societies.
The unscientific nature of the enterprise can also be seen in its handling of dissent within the ranks of the Institute. Writing approvingly of Walter Benjamin’s work, Adorno stated, “I have come to be convinced that his work will contain nothing which could not be defended from the point of view of dialectical materialism” (in Wiggershaus 1994, 161; italics in text). Erich Fromm was excised from the movement in the 1930s because his leftist humanism (which indicted the authoritarian nature of the psychoanalyst-patient relationship) was not compatible with the leftist authoritarianism that was an integral part of the current Horkheimer-Adorno line: “[Fromm] takes the easy way out with the concept of authority, without which, after all, neither Lenin’s avant-garde nor dictatorship can be conceived of. I would strongly advise him to read Lenin. . . . I must tell you that I see a real threat in this article to the line which the journal takes” (Adorno, in Wiggershaus 1994, 266).
Fromm was excised from the Institute despite the fact that his position was among the most radically leftist to emerge from the psychoanalytic camp. Throughout his career, Fromm remained the embodiment of the psychoanalytic left and its view that bourgeois-capitalist society and fascism resulted from (and reliably reproduced) gross distortions of human nature (see Ch. 4). Similarly, Herbert Marcuse was excluded when his orthodox Marxist views began to diverge from the evolving ideology of Adorno and Horkheimer (see Wiggershaus 1994, 391–392).2
These exclusionary trends are also apparent in the aborted plans to reinstitute the Institute’s journal in the 1950s. It was decided that there were too few contributors with the Horkheimer-Adorno line to support a journal and the plans foundered (Wiggershaus 1994, 471). Throughout its history, to be a member of the Institute was to adopt a certain view and to submit to heavy editing and even censorship of one’s works to ensure conformity to a clearly articulated ideological position.
As might be expected from a highly authoritarian political movement, the result was a speculative, philosophical body of work that ultimately had no influence on empirically oriented sociology, although, as indicated below, it has had a profound influence on theory in the humanities. (The Authoritarian Personality is not included in this statement; it was very influential but had an empirical basis of sorts.) This body of work does not qualify as science because of its rejection of experimentation, quantification, and verification, and because of the priority of moral and political concerns over the investigation of the nature of human social psychology.
The priority of the moral and political agenda of Critical Theory is essential to understanding the Frankfurt School and its influence. Horkheimer and Adorno eventually rejected the classical Marxist perspective on the importance of class struggle for the development of fascism in favor of a perspective in which both fascism and capitalism were fundamentally conceptualized as involving domination and authoritarianism. Further, they developed the theory that disturbed parent-child relations involving the suppression of human nature were a necessary condition for domination and authoritarianism.
Obviously, this is a perspective that is highly compatible with psychoanalytic theory, and indeed psychoanalysis was a basic influence on their thinking. Virtually from the beginning, psychoanalysis had a respected position within the Institute for Social Research, particularly under the influence of Erich Fromm. Fromm held positions at the Frankfurt Psychoanalytic Institute as well as at the Institute for Social Research, and along with other “left-Freudians” such as Wilhelm Reich and eventually Marcuse, he developed theories that incorporated both Marxism and psychoanalysis essentially by developing a theoretical link between the repression of instincts in the context of family relationships (or, as in the case of Fromm, the development of sadomasochistic and anal personality traits within the family) and the development of oppressive social and economic structures.
It is interesting that although the Horkheimer group developed a very strong hostility to empirical science and the positivistic philosophy of science, they felt no need to abandon psychoanalysis. Indeed, psychoanalysis was “a central factor in giving Horkheimer and the most important of his fellow theoreticians the sense that important insights could also be achieved—or even better achieved—by skipping over the specialized disciplines” (Wiggershaus 1994, 186). We shall see that psychoanalysis as a nonempirically based hermeneutic structure (which nevertheless masqueraded as a science) turned out to be an infinitely plastic tool in the hands of those constructing a theory aimed at achieving purely political objectives.
For Horkheimer and Adorno, the fundamental shift from the sociological to the psychological level that occurred during the 1940s was motivated by the fact that in Germany the proletariat had succumbed to fascism and in the Soviet Union socialism had not prevented the development of an authoritarian government that failed to guarantee individual autonomy or Jewish group interests (Tar 1977, 80; Wiggershaus 1994, 137ff, 391ff). Within the new perspective, authoritarianism was viewed as the fundamental problem, its origin traceable to family interactions and ultimately to the suppression of human nature (Tar 1977, 87–88). Nevertheless, the formal outline of the theory can be seen in philosophical form in the earlier work Studies on Authority and the Family of 1936, a work that presented Fromm’s psychoanalytic theory of authoritarian “sadomasochistic” family relationships and their putative linkages with bourgeois capitalism and fascism.
This philosophical-speculative approach to anti-Semitism was refined in the chapter on anti-Semitism in Horkheimer and Adorno’s (1944/1990) Dialectic of Enlightenment.3 In addition to being highly abstract and written in what might be termed a Hegelian manner, the style of writing is assertional: Statements about anti-Semitism are simply asserted with no attempt to provide any empirical justification.4 As Jacob Katz (1983, 40) notes, the Frankfurt School has “not been notable for the accuracy of its evaluation of the Jewish situation either before the advent of Nazism or afterward.” However, many of the ideas simply asserted there in a philosophical, speculative manner are identical to the theories of anti-Semitism contained in The Authoritarian Personality. Indeed, the authors viewed the chapter on anti-Semitism as a theoretical study for their anticipated empirical study of anti-Semitism (Wiggershaus 1994, 324). The Authoritarian Personality may thus be viewed as an attempt to provide these philosophical theories of anti-Semitism with empirical support, but the theory itself was fundamentally an a priori philosophical theory and was not viewed by its authors as subject to either verification or falsification:
Horkheimer seemed to consider the dialectics project and the anti-Semitism project as two distinct items relating to one another in the way that an abstract theory relates to its application to a concrete topic, or in the way that Hegel’s logic relates to the Hegelian philosophies of history, law or aesthetics. Was this not turning a distinction within the theoretical and empirical research process into a distinction which silently gave the theory the dignity of speculation and made it independent of the empiricism appropriate to science? And was empirical research not thus being denied its status as a dimension of reflected experience, and degraded into a means of illustrating the theory? . . . A further open question was whether their enthusiasm for the theory, and their contemptuous remarks about research in specific scientific disciplines, in fact represented more than mere evidence of personal values and moods; whether these did not have an influence on the way in which their scholarly work was carried out and on its results— particularly when external influences were forcing them to take both dimensions seriously. (Wiggershaus 1994, 320; see also Jay 1973, 240, 251)
The non-empirical nature of the theory of anti-Semitism was quite clear to Adorno as well: “[W]e never regarded the theory simply as a set of hypotheses but as in some sense standing on its own feet, and therefore did not intend to prove or disprove the theory through our findings but only to derive from it concrete questions for investigation, which must then be judged on their own merit and demonstrate certain prevalent socio-psychological structures” (Adorno 1969a, 363). The findings do indeed have to be judged on their own merit, and as indicated below, there is reason to suppose that the procedures used to verify the theory went well beyond the bounds of normal scientific practice.
Fundamentally The Authoritarian Personality studies resulted from a felt need to develop an empirical program of research that would support a politically and intellectually satisfying a priori theory of anti-Semitism in order to influence an American academic audience. As Horkheimer stated in 1943, “When we became aware that a few of our American friends expected of an Institute of Social Sciences that it engage in studies on pertinent social problems, fieldwork, and other empirical investigations, we tried to satisfy these demands as well as we could, but our heart was set on individual studies in the sense of Geisteswissenschaften [i.e., the humanities] and the philosophical analysis of culture” (in Wiggershaus 1994, 252).
Indeed, the goal of producing political propaganda by using the methods of social science was self-consciously articulated by Horkheimer. Thus Horkheimer reacted with enthusiasm to the idea of including criminals in the study: “Research would be able here to transform itself directly into propaganda, i.e., if it could be reliably established that a particularly high percentage of criminals were extreme anti-Semites, the result would as such already be propaganda. I would also like to try to examine psychopaths in mental hospitals” (in Wiggershaus 1994, 375; italics in text). Both groups were eventually included in the study.
A general theme in Dialectic of Enlightenment is that anti-Semitism is the result of “the will to destroy born of a false social order” (p. 168). The ideology that Jews possess a variety of negative traits is simply a projection resulting in a self-portrait of the anti-Semite: Anti-Semites accuse the Jews of wanting power, but in reality the anti-Semites “long for total possession and unlimited power, at any price. They transfer their guilt for this to the Jews” (p. 169).
There is a recognition that anti-Semitism is associated with gentile movements for national cohesiveness (pp. 169–170). The anti-Semitism arising along with such movements is interpreted as resulting from the “urge to destroy” carried out by “covetous mobs” that are ultimately manipulated by ruling gentile elites to conceal their own economic domination. Anti-Semitism is without function except to serve as a means of discharging the anger of those who are frustrated economically and sexually (p. 171).
Horkheimer and Adorno propose that modern fascism is basically the same as traditional Christianity because both involve opposition to and subjugation of nature. While Judaism remained a “natural religion” concerned with national life and self-preservation, Christianity turned toward domination and a rejection of all that is natural. In an argument reminiscent of Freud’s argument in Moses and Monotheism (see Ch. 4), religious anti-Semitism then arises because of hatred of those “who did not make the dull sacrifice of reason. . . . The adherents of the religion of the Father are hated by those who support the religion of the Son—hated as those who know better” (p. 179).
This tendency to interpret anti-Semitism as fundamentally deriving from suppressing nature is central to Studies in Prejudice, and particularly The Authoritarian Personality.5 Suppression of nature results in projection of qualities of self onto the environment and particularly onto the Jews. “Impulses which the subject will not admit as his own even though they are most assuredly so, are attributed to the object—the prospective victim” (p. 187). Particularly important for this projection process are sexual impulses: “The same sexual impulses which the human species suppressed have survived and prevailed—in individuals and in nations—by way of the mental conversion of the ambient world into a diabolical system” (p. 187). Christian self-denial and, in particular, the suppression of sex result in evil and anti-Semitism via projection.6
Psychoanalytic theory is invoked as an explanation of this process in a manner that, in its emphasis on suppressed hatred for the father, also anticipates the theory utilized in The Authoritarian Personality. Aggressive urges originating in the id are projected onto the external world by actions of the superego. “The forbidden action which is converted into aggression is generally homosexual in nature. Through fear of castration, obedience to the father is taken to the extreme of an anticipation of castration in conscious emotional approximation to the nature of a small girl, and actual hatred to the father is suppressed” (p. 192).
Forbidden actions underlain by powerful instincts are thus turned into aggression, which is then projected onto victims in the external world, with the result that “he attacks other individuals in envy or persecution just as the repressed bestialist hunts or torments an animal” (p. 192). A later passage decries the “suppression of animal nature into scientific methods of controlling nature” (p. 193). Domination of nature, viewed as central to Christianity and fascism, thus derives ultimately from suppressing our animal nature.
Horkheimer and Adorno then attempt to explain the role of conformity in fascism. They argue that cohesive gentile group strategies are fundamentally based on a distortion of human nature—a central theme of The Authoritarian Personality. They posit a natural, nonconforming, reflective self in opposition to society that has been corrupted by capitalism or fascism. The development of large industrial interests and the culture industry of late capitalism have destroyed in most people the inner-directed, reflective power that can produce “self-comprehending guilt” (p. 198), which could oppose the forces leading to anti-Semitism. This inner directed reflection was “emancipated” from society and even directed against society (p. 198), but under the above-mentioned forces, it conforms blindly to the values of the external society.
Thus humans are portrayed as naturally opposed to the conformity demanded by a highly cohesive society. As indicated below, a consistent theme of The Authoritarian Personality is the idea that gentile participation in cohesive groups with high levels of social conformity is pathological, whereas similar behavior of Jews with respect to the group cohesiveness characteristic of Judaism is ignored: Indeed, we have seen that Judaism is portrayed in The Dialectic of Enlightenment as morally superior to Christianity.
The gentile elite is then said to take advantage of the situation by directing the projected hostility of the masses into anti-Semitism. Jews are an ideal target for this projected hostility because they represent all that is antithetical to totalitarianism: “Happiness without power, wages without work, a home without frontiers, religion without myth. These characteristics are hated by the rulers because the ruled secretly long to possess them. The rulers are only safe as long as the people they rule turn their longed-for goals into hated forms of evil” (p. 199).
The conclusion is that if the rulers in fact allowed the ruled to be like the Jews, there would be a fundamental turning point of history:
By overcoming that sickness of the mind which thrives on the ground of self-assertion untainted by reflective thought, mankind would develop from a set of opposing races to the species which, even in nature, is more than mere nature. Individual and social emancipation from domination is the countermovement to false projection, and no Jew would then resemble the senseless evil visited upon him as upon all persecuted beings, be they animals or men. (p. 200)
The end of anti-Semitism is thus viewed as a precondition for the development of a utopian society and the liberation of humanity—perhaps the closest that the Frankfurt School ever came to defining utopia.7 The envisioned utopian society is one in which Judaism can continue as a cohesive group but in which cohesive, nationalistic, corporate gentile groups based on conformity to group norms have been abolished as manifestations of psychopathology.
Horkheimer and Adorno developed the view that the unique role of Judaism in world history was to vindicate the concept of difference against the homogenizing forces thought to represent the essence of Western civilization: “The Jews became the metaphoric equivalent of that remnant of society preserving negation and the non-identical” (Jay 1980, 148). Judaism thus represents the antithesis of Western universalism. The continuation and acceptance of Jewish particularism becomes a precondition for the development of a utopian society of the future.
Within this perspective, the roots of anti-Semitism are therefore to be sought in individual psychopathology, not in the behavior of Jews. Nevertheless, there is some acknowledgment that the actual characteristics of Jews may be involved in historical anti-Semitism, but Horkheimer and Adorno theorize that the Jewish characteristics that have led to anti-Semitism were forced on Jews. Jews are said to have incurred the wrath of the lower classes because Jews were the originators of capitalism: “For the sake of economic progress which is now proving their downfall, the Jews were always a thorn in the side of the craftsmen and peasants who were declassed by capitalism. They are now experiencing to their own cost the exclusive, particularist character of capitalism” (p. 175). However, this Jewish role is viewed as forced on the Jews who were completely dependent on gentile elites for their rights even into the nineteenth century. Under these circumstances, “Commerce is not their vocation, it is their fate” (p. 175). The success of the Jews then constituted a trauma to the gentile bourgeoisie, “who had to pretend to be creative” (p. 175); their anti-Semitism is thus “self-hatred, the bad conscience of the parasite” (p. 176).
There are indications that the original anti-Semitism project envisioned a more elaborate discussion of “Jewish character traits” that led to anti-Semitism along with suggested methods for overcoming them. However, “The topic never became part of the Institute’s programme, perhaps partly out of consideration for the sensitivity of most Jews towards this topic, and partly to avoid exposing the Institute to the accusation that it was turning the problem of anti-Semitism into a Jewish problem” (Wiggershaus 1994, 366). Indeed, the Institute was well aware of a 1945 Jewish Labor Committee survey of working-class Americans in which the latter complained of Jewish behaviors related to the types of actual dealings working-class individuals would be likely to have with Jews (see SAID, p. 50). Adorno appears to have believed that these attitudes were “less irrational” than the anti-Semitism of other classes (see Wiggershaus 1994, 369).
I have noted that a powerful tendency in both radical politics and psychoanalysis has been a thoroughgoing critique of gentile society. An important theme here is that Studies in Prejudice and, especially, The Authoritarian Personality attempt to show that gentile group affiliations, and particularly membership in Christian religious sects, gentile nationalism, and close family relationships, are an indication of psychiatric disorder. At a deep level the work of the Frankfurt School is addressed to altering Western societies in an attempt to make them resistant to anti-Semitism by pathologizing gentile group affiliations. And because this effort ultimately eschews the leftist solutions that have attracted so many twentieth-century Jewish intellectuals, it is an effort that remains highly relevant to the current post-Communist intellectual and political context.
The opposition of Jewish intellectuals to cohesive gentile groups and a homogeneous gentile culture has perhaps not been sufficiently emphasized. I have noted in Chapter 1 that the Conversos were vastly overrepresented among the humanist thinkers in fifteenth-and sixteenth-century Spain who opposed the corporate nature of Spanish society centered around the Christian religion. I have also noted that a central thrust of Freud’s work was to continue to strongly identify as a Jew while at the same time developing a theory of Christian religious affiliation in which the latter is conceptualized as fulfilling infantile needs.
Similarly, another way of conceptualizing the Jewish advocacy of radical political movements consistent with the material in Chapter 3 is that these political movements may be understood as simultaneously undermining gentile intrasocietal group affiliations, such as Christianity and nationalism, at the same time allowing for the continuation of Jewish identification. For example, Jewish Communists consistently opposed Polish nationalist aspirations, and after they came to power in the post–World War II era they liquidated Polish nationalists and undermined the role of the Catholic Church while simultaneously establishing secular Jewish economic and social structures.
It is of some historical interest to note that an important feature of the rhetoric of German anti-Semites (e.g., Paul Lagarde [see Stern 1961, 60, 65]) throughout the nineteenth century into the Weimar period was that Jews advocated political forms such as liberalism, which opposed structuring society as a highly cohesive group, at the same time they themselves retained an extraordinary group cohesiveness that enabled them to dominate Germans. During the Weimar period the Nazi propagandist Alfred Rosenberg complained that Jews advocated a completely atomized society while at the same time exempting themselves from this process. Whereas the rest of society was to be prevented from participating in highly cohesive groups, the Jews “would retain their international cohesiveness, blood ties, and spiritual unity” (Aschheim 1985, 239). In Mein Kampf, Hitler clearly believed that Jewish advocacy of liberal attitudes was a deception overlaying a commitment to racialism and a highly cohesive group strategy: “While he [the Jew] seems to overflow with ‘enlightenment,’ ‘progress,’ ‘freedom,’ ‘humanity,’ etc., he himself practices the severest segregation of his race” (p. 315). The conflict between Jewish advocacy of Enlightenment ideals and actual Jewish behavior was noted by Klein (1981, 146): “Annoyed by the parochial attachments of other people, and unreceptive to the idea of a pluralistic state, many non-Jews interpreted the Jewish assertion of pride as a subversion of the ‘enlightened’ or egalitarian state. The Jewish stress on national or racial pride reinforced the non-Jewish perception of the Jew as a disruptive social force.”
Ringer (1983, 7) also notes that a common component of anti-Semitism among academics during the Weimar period was a perception that Jews attempted to undermine patriotic commitment and social cohesion of society. Indeed, the perception that Jewish critical analysis of gentile society was aimed at dissolving the bonds of cohesiveness within the society was common among educated gentile Germans, including university professors (Ringer 1983, 7). One academic referred to the Jews as “the classic party of national decomposition” (in Ringer 1983, 7).
In the event, National Socialism developed as a cohesive gentile group strategy in opposition to Judaism, a strategy that completely rejected the Enlightenment ideal of an atomized society based on individual rights in opposition to the state. As I have argued in SAID (Ch. 5), in this regard National Socialism was very much like Judaism, which has been throughout its history fundamentally a group phenomenon in which the rights of the individual have been submerged in the interests of the group.
As evident in the material reviewed here and in the previous chapters, at least some influential Jewish social scientists and intellectuals have attempted to undermine gentile group strategies while leaving open the possibility that Judaism continue as a highly cohesive group strategy. This theme is highly compatible with the Frankfurt School’s consistent rejection of all forms of nationalism (Tar 1977, 20). The result is that in the end the ideology of the Frankfurt School may be described as a form of radical individualism that nevertheless despised capitalism—an individualism in which all forms of gentile collectivism are condemned as an indication of social or individual pathology.8 Thus in Horkheimer’s essay on German Jews (see Horkheimer 1974), the true enemy of the Jews is gentile collectivities of any kind, and especially nationalism. Although no mention is made of the collectivist nature of Judaism, Zionism, or Israeli nationalism, the collectivist tendencies of modern gentile society are deplored, especially fascism and communism. The prescription for gentile society is radical individualism and the acceptance of pluralism. People have an inherent right to be different from others and to be accepted by others as different. Indeed, to become differentiated from others is to achieve the highest level of humanity. The result is that “no party and no movement, neither the Old Left nor the New, indeed no collectivity of any sort was on the side of truth. . . . [T]he residue of the forces of true change was located in the critical individual alone” (Maier 1984, 45).
As a corollary of this thesis, Adorno adopted the idea that the basic role of philosophy is the negative role of resisting attempts to endow the world with any “universality,” “objectivity,” or “totality,” that is, with a single organizing principle for society that would homogenize society because it applied to all humans (see especially Adorno’s Negative Dialectics [Adorno 1973]; see also the review of Adorno’s ideas on this concept in Jay [1984, 241–275]). In Negative Dialectics the main example attacked by Adorno is Hegel’s idea of universal history (also a stalking horse for Jacques Derrida; see below), but a similar argument applies to any ideology, such as nationalism that results in a sense of national or pan-human universality. For example, the principle of exchange characteristic of capitalism is rejected because through it all humans become commensurable and thus lose their unique particularity. Science too is condemned because of its tendency to seek universal principles of reality (including human nature) and its tendency to look for quantitative, commensurable differences between humans rather than qualitative differences. Each object “should be respected in its ungeneralized historical uniqueness” (Landmann 1984, 123). Or, as Adorno (1974, 17) himself noted in Minima Moralia: “In the face of the totalitarian unison with which the eradication of difference is proclaimed as a purpose in itself, even part of the social force of liberation may have temporarily withdrawn to the individual sphere.” In the end, the only criterion for a better society was that it be one in which “one can be different without fear” (p. 131). The former communist had become an advocate of radical individualism, at least for the gentiles. As discussed in Chapter 4, Erich Fromm (1941), another member of the Frankfurt School until he was excluded, also recognized the utility of individualism as a prescription for gentile society while nevertheless remaining strongly identified as a Jew.
Congruent with this stress on individualism and the glorification of difference, Adorno embraced a radical form of philosophical skepticism which is completely incompatible with the entire social science enterprise of The Authoritarian Personality. Indeed, Adorno rejected even the possibility of ontology (“reification”) because he viewed the contrary positions as ultimately supporting totalitarianism. Given Adorno’s preoccupation with Jewish issues and strong Jewish identity, it is reasonable to suppose that these ideological structures are intended to serve as a justification of Jewish particularism. In this view, Judaism, like any other historically particular entity, must remain beyond the reach of science, forever incomprehensible in its uniqueness and ever in opposition to all attempts to develop homogeneous social structures in the society as a whole. However, its continued existence is guaranteed as an a priori moral imperative.
The prescription that gentile society adopt a social organization based on radical individualism would indeed be an excellent strategy for the continuation of Judaism as a cohesive, collectivist group strategy. Research summarized by Triandis (1990, 1991) on cross-cultural differences in individualism and collectivism indicates that anti-Semitism would be lowest in individualist societies rather than societies that are collectivist and homogeneous apart from Jews. A theme of PTSDA (Ch. 8) is that European societies (with the notable exceptions of the National Socialist era in Germany and the medieval period of Christian religious hegemony—both periods of intense anti-Semitism) have been unique among the economically advanced traditional and modern cultures of the world in their commitment to individualism. As I have argued in SAID (Chs. 3–5), the presence of Judaism as a highly successful and salient group strategy provokes anti-individualist responses from gentile societies.
Collectivist cultures (and Triandis [1990, 57] explicitly includes Judaism in this category) place a much greater emphasis on the goals and needs of the ingroup rather than on individual rights and interests. Collectivist cultures develop an “unquestioned attachment” to the ingroup, including “the perception that ingroup norms are universally valid (a form of ethnocentrism), automatic obedience to ingroup authorities, and willingness to fight and die for the ingroup. These characteristics are usually associated with distrust of and unwillingness to cooperate with outgroups” (p. 55). In collectivist cultures morality is conceptualized as that which benefits the group, and aggression and exploitation of outgroups are acceptable (Triandis 1990, 90).
People in individualist cultures, in contrast, show little emotional attachment to ingroups. Personal goals are paramount, and socialization emphasizes the importance of self-reliance, independence, individual responsibility, and “finding yourself” (Triandis 1991, 82). Individualists have more positive attitudes toward strangers and outgroup members and are more likely to behave in a prosocial, altruistic manner to strangers. Because they are less aware of ingroup-outgroup boundaries, people in individualist cultures are less likely to have negative attitudes toward outgroup members (1991, 80). They often disagree with ingroup policy, show little emotional commitment or loyalty to ingroups, and do not have a sense of common fate with other ingroup members. Opposition to outgroups occurs in individualist societies, but the opposition is more “rational” in the sense that there is less of a tendency to suppose that all of the outgroup members are culpable for the misdeeds of a few. Individualists form mild attachments to many groups, whereas collectivists have an intense attachment and identification to a few ingroups (1990, 61).
The expectation is that individualists will tend to be less predisposed to anti-Semitism and more likely to blame any offensive Jewish behavior as resulting from transgressions by individual Jews rather than stereotypically true of all Jews. However Jews, as members of a collectivist subculture living in an individualistic society, are themselves more likely to view the Jewish-gentile distinction as extremely salient and to develop stereotypically negative views about gentiles.
In Triandis’s terms, then, the fundamental intellectual difficulty presented by The Authoritarian Personality is that Judaism itself is a highly collectivist subculture in which authoritarianism and obedience to ingroup norms and the suppression of individual interests for the common good have been of vital importance throughout its history (PTSDA, Chs. 6, 8). Such attributes in gentiles tend to result in anti-Semitism because of social identity processes. Jews may, as a result, perceive themselves to have a vital interest in advocating a highly individualist, atomized gentile culture while simultaneously maintaining their own highly elaborated collectivist subculture. This is the perspective developed by the Frankfurt School and apparent throughout Studies in Prejudice.
However, we shall see that The Authoritarian Personality extends beyond the attempt to pathologize cohesive gentile groups to pathologize adaptive gentile behavior in general. The principal intellectual difficulty is that behavior that is critical to Judaism as a successful group evolutionary strategy is conceptualized as pathological in gentiles.
REVIEW OF THE AUTHORITARIAN PERSONALITY
The Authoritarian Personality (Adorno, Frenkel-Brunswik, Levinson & Sanford 1950) is a true classic of research in social psychology. It has generated thousands of studies, and references continue to appear in textbooks, although in recent years there has been increasing criticism and rejection of the personality approach to intergroup prejudice and hostility. Nathan Glazer (1954, 290) noted, “No volume published since the war in the field of social psychology has had a greater impact on the direction of the actual empirical work being carried on in the universities today.” Despite its influence, from the beginning it has been common to point out technical problems with the construction of the scales and the conduct and interpretation of the interviews (see Altemeyer 1981, 33–51; 1988, 52–54; Billings, Guastello & Rieke 1993; R. Brown 1965, 509ff; Collier, Minton & Reynolds 1991, 196; Hyman & Sheatsley 1954). The result is that The Authoritarian Personality has become something of a textbook on how not to do social science research.
Nevertheless, despite technical problems with the original scale construction, there is no question that there is such a thing as psychological authoritarianism, in the sense that it is possible to construct a reliable psychometric scale that measures such a construct. Whereas the F-scale from the original Authoritarian Personality studies is plagued with an acquiescent response set bias, more recent versions of the scale have managed to avoid this difficulty while retaining substantially the same correlates with other scales. However, the validity of the scale in measuring actual authoritarian behavior, as opposed to having a high score on an authoritarianism scale, continues to be controversial (see Billings et al. 1993).
In any case, my treatment will emphasize two aspects of The Authoritarian Personality that are central to the political program of the Frankfurt School: (1) I will emphasize the double standard in which gentile behavior inferred from high scores on the F-scale or the Ethnocentrism Scales is viewed as an indication of psychopathology, whereas precisely the same behavior is central to Judaism as a group evolutionary strategy; (2) I will also criticize the psychodynamic mechanisms involving disturbed parent-child relationships proposed to underlie authoritarianism. These proposed psychodynamic mechanisms are responsible for the highly subversive nature of the book considered as political propaganda; not coincidentally, it is this strand of the project that has often struck commentators as highly questionable. Thus Altemeyer (1988, 53) notes that despite the “unconvincing” nature of the scientific evidence supporting it, the basic idea that anti-Semitism is the result of disturbed parent-child relationships has “spread so widely through our culture that it has become a stereotype.” Moreover, much of the incredible success of the Authoritarian Personality studies occurred because of the book’s widespread acceptance among Jewish social scientists, who by the 1950s had assumed a prominent role in the American academic community and were very concerned with anti-Semitism (Higham 1984, 154; see also below).
The politicized nature of The Authoritarian Personality has long been apparent to mainstream psychologists. Roger Brown noted, “The study called The Authoritarian Personality has affected American life: the theory of prejudice it propounded has become a part of popular culture and a force against racial discrimination. Is it also true? You must be the judge. . . . The Berkeley study of authoritarian personality does not leave many people indifferent. Cool objectivity has not been the hallmark of this tradition. Most of those who have participated have cared deeply about the social issues involved” (Brown 1965, 479, 544). The last part of Brown’s comment reflects the feeling one has in reading the book, namely, that the beliefs of the authors were important in conceptualizing and interpreting the research.
A good example of such a reader is Christopher Lasch (1991, 445ff), who noted “The purpose and design of Studies in Prejudice dictated the conclusion that prejudice, a psychological disorder rooted in ‘authoritarian’ personality structure, could be eradicated only by subjecting the American people to what amounted to collective psychotherapy—by treating them as inmates of an insane asylum.” From the beginning, this was social science with a political agenda: “By identifying the ‘liberal personality’ as the antithesis of the authoritarian personality, they equated mental health with an approved political position. They defended liberalism . . . on the grounds that other positions had their roots in personal pathology” (Lasch 1991, 453).
The Authoritarian Personality begins by acknowledging Freud as a general influence, and especially his role in making the intellectual world “more aware of the suppression of children (both within the home and outside) and society’s usually naive ignorance of the psychological dynamics of the life of the child and the adult alike” (p. x). In congruence with this general perspective, Adorno and his colleagues “in common with most social scientists, hold the view that anti-Semitism is based more largely upon factors in the subject and in his total situation than upon actual characteristics of Jews” (p. 2). The roots of anti-Semitism are therefore to be sought in individual psychopathology— “the deep-lying needs of the personality” (p. 9)—and not in the behavior of Jews.
Chapter II (by R. Nevitt Sanford) consists of interview material from two individuals, one high on anti-Semitism (Mack), the other low on anti-Semitism (Larry). Mack is quite ethnocentric and tends to see people in terms of ingroup-outgroup relationships in which the outgroup is characterized in a stereotypically negative manner. As predicted for such a person on the basis of social identity theory (Hogg & Abrams 1987), his own group, the Irish, has approved traits, and outgroups are seen as homogeneous and threatening. Whereas Mack is strongly conscious of groups as a unit of social categorization, Larry does not think in terms of groups at all.
Although Mack’s ethnocentrism is clearly viewed as pathological, there is no thought given to the possibility that Jews also have analogously ethnocentric thought processes as a result of the extreme salience of ingroup-outgroup relationships as an aspect of Jewish socialization. Indeed, in SAID (Ch. 1) I noted that Jews would be more likely than gentiles to have negative stereo-types about outgroups and to view the world as composed fundamentally of homogeneous, competing, threatening, and negatively stereotyped outgroups. Moreover, there is excellent evidence, summarized throughout this volume, that Jews have often held negative views of gentile (i.e., outgroup) culture. Nevertheless, as we shall see, the agenda of The Authoritarian Personality is that similar ethnocentric attitudes among gentiles are traceable to pathological early influences on personality.
Further, a consistent theme in Chapters 2–4 is that a major thrust of Jewish intellectual movements since the nineteenth century has been to devise theories that minimize the importance of the social category Jew-gentile while allowing for the continuation of a very strong sense of Jewish identity. Larry’s tendency not to see the social environment in terms of groups is linked with an absence of anti-Semitism, whereas Mack’s anti-Semitism is necessarily linked to the importance of groups as a social category.
These themes and their influence on scale construction can be seen in Chapters III and IV (by Daniel J. Levinson). Levinson notes that anti-Semites tend to see Jews as members of groups rather than as individuals, and he suggests that the effectiveness of individual experience with Jews “would seem to depend in large part on the individual’s capacity for individuated experiences” (p. 95; italics in text).9 Levinson also notes that individuals who themselves belong to groups with a strong ingroup ideology, such as sororities, are more likely to be anti-Semitic (p. 104). Again, the implication is that strong ingroup ideologies should be reserved for Jews and are dangerous in others. These findings fit well with the discussion of individualist versus collectivist societies at the beginning of this chapter: Jews, as a highly cohesive group, have an interest in advocating a completely atomistic, individualistic society in which ingroup-outgroup distinctions are not salient to gentiles.
The Ethnocentrism Scale has three subscales, one involving attitudes toward African Americans, one involving attitudes toward minorities in general, and one involving patriotism. Although the presentation of the Ethnocentrism Scale leads one to believe that the researchers are studying ethnocentrism in general, in fact the scale items are exclusively concerned with ethnocentrism among the Caucasian Christian population. Those high in ethnocentrism according to this scale have negative attitudes toward African Americans and Jews and positive attitudes toward white, Christian dominance. For example, one item on the Ethnocentrism Scale is “In view of the present national emergency [World War II], it is highly important to limit responsible government jobs to native, white, Christian Americans.” The result of including such items is that a strongly identified Jew, for whom the ingroup-outgroup distinction is salient, would have a low score on Levinson’s ethnocentrism scale.
Items on the Anti-Semitism Scale appear to imply that an aspect of anti-Semitism is the gentile view that Jews constitute a distinctive group. For example, one of the items is “The trouble with letting Jews into a nice neighborhood is that they gradually give it a typical Jewish atmosphere.” Brown (1965, 483) comments, “How could it be otherwise? Surely Jews will produce a Jewish atmosphere. They will at any rate do so if one thinks of Jews as ‘categorically different from non-Jews.’ However, it is just this saliency of ‘Jewishness’ which the authors consider the beginning of anti-Semitism.” Here the implicit assumption is that the salience of the Jewish-gentile social categorization signals anti-Semitism in gentiles and therefore indicates disturbed parent-child relations. Nevertheless, among Jews such a social categorization process is critical for the continuation of Judaism as a group evolutionary strategy.
Similarly ironic as an aspect of the Anti-Semitism Scale is the inclusion of the items “I can hardly imagine myself marrying a Jew” and “It is wrong for Jews and Gentiles to intermarry.” Such attitudes apparently result from disturbed parent-child relationships among gentiles and the suppression of human nature, yet the rejection of intermarriage has been common among Jews. Indeed, the “threat” of intermarriage has recently produced a crisis within the Jewish community and has resulted in intensive efforts to persuade Jews to marry other Jews (see SAID, Ch. 8).
Other items reflecting aspects of Judaism as a group evolutionary strategy in fact have substantial empirical support. For example, several items are concerned with perceptions of Jewish clannishness and its effect on residential patterns and business practices.10 Other items are concerned with perceptions that Jews engage in cultural separatism and with perceptions that Jews have power, money and influence out of proportion to their numbers in the population. There is an item that reflects the overrepresentation of Jews in leftist and radical political causes: “There seems to be some revolutionary streak in the Jewish make-up as shown by the fact that there are so many Jewish Communists and agitators.” However, data reviewed in this volume, SAID, and PTSDA indicate that in fact there is considerable truth in all these generalizations. Being high on the Anti-Semitism Scale may therefore simply mean that one has access to more information rather than a sign of a disturbed childhood.
Particularly interesting is the patriotism scale, designed to tap attitudes involving “blind attachment to certain national cultural values, uncritical conformity with the prevailing group ways, and rejection of other nations as outgroups” (p. 107). Again, strong attachment to group interests among the majority group is considered pathology, whereas no mention is made of analogous group attachments among Jews. An advocacy of strong discipline and conformity within the majority group is an important indicator of this pathology: One scale item reads, “Minor forms of military training, obedience, and discipline, such as drill, marching, and simple commands, should be made a part of the elementary school educational program.” However, no mention is made of discipline, conformity, and the socialization of group cohesiveness as important ideals within minority group strategies. As indicated in PTSDA (Ch. 7), traditional Jewish socialization practices have placed strong emphasis on discipline within the group and psychological acceptance of group goals (i.e., conformity).
These results are of interest because an important aspect of this entire effort is to pathologize positive attitudes toward creating a highly cohesive, well-disciplined group strategy among gentiles, but nevertheless failing to censure such attitudes among Jews. Individuals high on the Ethnocentrism Scale as well as the Anti-Semitism Scale are undoubtedly people who are very group-conscious. They see themselves as members of cohesive groups, including, in some cases, their own ethnic group and, at the highest level, the nation; and they view negatively outgroup individuals and individuals who deviate from group goals and group norms. In Chapter III Levinson states that anti-Semites want power for their own groups and value clannishness in their own groups while condemning similar Jewish behavior (p. 97). Conversely, the data reviewed in this volume are highly compatible with the proposition that many Jews want power for their own group and value clannishness in their own group but condemn such behavior in gentiles. Indeed, the discussion at the beginning of this chapter indicates that this is precisely the ideology of the Frankfurt School responsible for these studies.
From the standpoint of the authors of The Authoritarian Personality, group consciousness in the majority is viewed as pathological because it tends necessarily to be opposed to Jews as a cohesive, unassimilated, and unassimilable minority group. Viewed from this perspective, the central agenda of The Authoritarian Personality is to pathologize gentile group strategies while nevertheless leaving open the possibility of Judaism as a minority group strategy.
In his discussion, Levinson views ethnocentrism as fundamentally concerned with ingroup-outgroup perceptions, a perspective that is congruent with social identity theory that I have proposed as the best candidate for developing a theory of anti-Semitism. Levinson concludes, “Ethnocentrism is based on a pervasive and rigid ingroup-outgroup distinction; it involves stereotyped negative imagery and hostile attitudes regarding outgroups, stereotyped positive imagery and submissive attitudes regarding ingroups, and a hierarchical, authoritarian view of group interaction in which ingroups are rightly dominant, outgroups subordinate” (p. 150; italics in text).
Further, Levinson notes “The ethnocentric ‘need for an outgroup’ prevents that identification with humanity as a whole which is found in anti-ethnocentrism” (p. 148). Levinson clearly believes that ethnocentrism is a sign of psychiatric disorder and that identification with humanity is the epitome of mental health, but he never draws the obvious inference that Jews themselves are unlikely to identify with humanity, given the importance of ingroup-outgroup distinctions so central to Judaism. Moreover, Levinson describes the anti-Semite Mack’s demand that Jews assimilate as a demand that Jews “liquidate themselves, that they lose entirely their cultural identity and adhere instead to the prevailing cultural ways” (p. 97). Levinson sees the demand that Jews assimilate, and thus abandon rigid ingroup-outgroup social categorization processes, as an aspect Mack’s anti-Semitic psychopathology; at the same time Levinson is perfectly willing to advocate that the anti-Semite identify with humanity and abandon ingroup-outgroup social categorization processes. Clearly ethnocentrism and its concomitant salience of ingroup-outgroup social categorization is to be reserved for Jews and pathologized as an aspect of gentile behavior.
The material reviewed throughout this volume indicates that a major thrust of Jewish intellectual activity has been to promote liberal-radical political beliefs in gentiles. Here Levinson links ethnocentrism with conservative economic and political views, with the implication that these attitudes are part of a pervasive social pathology stemming ultimately from disturbed parent-child relationships. Levinson finds an association among political conservatism, economic conservatism (support of prevailing politicoeconomic ideology and authority), and ethnocentrism (stigmatization of outgroups).11 However, “The further development of liberal-radical views is ordinarily based on imagery and attitudes identical to those underlying anti-ethnocentric ideology: opposition to hierarchy and to dominance-submission, removal of class and group barriers, emphasis on equalitarian interaction, and so on” (p. 181).
Here the ethical superiority of the removal of group barriers is advocated in an official publication of the AJCommittee, an organization dedicated to a way of life in which de facto group barriers and the discouraging of intermarriage have been and continue to be critical and the subject of intense feelings among Jewish activists.12 Given the overwhelming evidence that Jews support leftist-liberal political programs and continue to have a strong Jewish identification (see Ch. 3), one can only conclude that the results are another confirmation of the analysis presented there: Leftism among Jews has functioned as a means of de-emphasizing the importance of the Jewish-gentile distinction among gentiles while nevertheless allowing for its continuation among Jews.
Levinson then proceeds to a section of the analysis with large repercussions. Levinson provides data showing that individuals with different political party preferences than their fathers have lower ethnocentrism scores. He then proposes that rebelling against the father is an important predictor of lack of ethnocentrism: “Ethnocentrists tend to be submissive to ingroup authority, anti-ethnocentrists to be critical and rebellious, and . . . the family is the first and prototypic ingroup” (p. 192).
Levinson asks the reader to consider a two-generation situation in which the first generation tends to be relatively high on ethnocentrism and political conservatism; that is, they identify with their ethnic group and its perceived economic and political interests. Prediction of whether children will similarly identify with their ethnic group and its perceived interests depends on whether children rebel against their fathers. The conclusion of this syllogism, given the values implicit in the study, is that rebelling against parental values is psychologically healthy because it results in lower ethnocentrism scores. Conversely, lack of rebellion against the parent is implicitly viewed as pathological. These ideas are expanded in later sections of The Authoritarian Personality and indeed constitute a central aspect of the entire project.
One wonders if these social scientists would similarly advocate that Jewish children should reject their families as the prototypical ingroup. The transmission of Judaism over the generations has required that children accept parental values. In Chapter 3 it was noted that during the 1960s radical Jewish students, but not radical gentile students, identified strongly with their parents and with Judaism. I have also discussed extensive socialization practices whereby Jewish children were socialized to accept community interests over individual interests. These practices function to produce strong ingroup loyalty among Jews (see PTSDA, Chs. 7, 8). Again, there is an implicit double standard: Rebellion against parents and the complete abandonment of all ingroup designations is the epitome of mental health for gentiles, whereas Jews are implicitly allowed to continue with a strong sense of ingroup identity and follow in their parents’ footsteps.
Similarly with regard to religious affiliation, R. Nevitt Sanford (Chapter VI) finds that affiliation with various Christian religious sects is associated with ethnocentrism, and that individuals who have rebelled against their parents and adopted another religion or no religion are lower on ethnocentrism. These relationships are explained as due to the fact that acceptance of a Christian religion is associated with “conformity, conventionalism, authoritarian submission, determination by external pressures, thinking in ingroup-outgroup terms and the like vs. nonconformity, independence, internalization of values, and so forth” (p. 220). Again, individuals identifying strongly with the ideology of a majority group are viewed as suffering from psychopathology, yet Judaism as a viable religion would necessarily be associated with these same psychological processes. Indeed, Sirkin and Grellong (1988) found that rebellion and negative parent-child relationships during adolescence were associated with Jewish young people’s abandoning Judaism to join religious cults. Negative parent-child relationships predict lack of acceptance of parents’ religious group membership, whatever the religion involved.
Part II of The Authoritarian Personality consists of five chapters by Else Frenkel-Brunswik presenting interview data from a subset of the subjects studied in Part I. Although there are pervasive methodological difficulties with these data, they provide a fairly consistent, theoretically intelligible contrast in the family relationships between high scorers and low scorers on the Ethnocentrism Scale.13 However, the picture presented is quite different from that which the authors of The Authoritarian Personality intend to convey. In conjunction with the material from the projective questions in Chapter XV, the data strongly suggest that high scorers on the Ethnocentrism Scale tend to come from very functional, adaptive, competent, and concerned families. These individuals identify with their families as a prototypical ingroup and appear intent on replicating that family structure in their own lives. Low scorers appear to have ambivalent, rebellious relationships with their families and identify minimally with their family as an ingroup.
Frenkel-Brunswik first discusses differences in attitudes toward parents and conceptions of the family. Prejudiced individuals “glorify” their parents and view their family as an ingroup.14 Low-scoring individuals, in contrast, are said to have an “objective” view of their parents combined with genuine affection. To make these claims plausible, Frenkel-Brunswik must show that the very positive attitudes shown by high scorers are not genuine affection but are simply masks for repressed hostility. However, as Altemeyer (1981, 43) notes, “It is at least possible . . . that [the parents of the high scorers] really were a little better than most, and that the small relationships found have a perfectly factual, nonpsychodynamic explanation.” I would go further than Altemeyer and claim that the parents and families of the high scorers were almost certainly quite a bit “better” than the parents and families of the low scorers.
Frenkel-Brunswik’s only example of genuine affection on the part of a low scorer involves a female subject who recounted her despair at being abandoned by her father. (It would appear from data discussed below that abandonment and ambivalence are generally more common among the low scorers.) This subject, F63, makes the following comment: “But I remember when my father left, [my mother] came to my room and said ‘You’ll never see your Daddy again.’ Those were her exact words. I was crazy with grief and felt it was her fault. I threw things, emptied drawers out of the window, pulled the spreads off the bed, then threw things at the wall” (p. 346). The example does indeed show a strong attachment between father and daughter, but the point clearly is that the relationship is one of abandonment, not affection. Moreover, Frenkel-Brunswik mentions that some of the low scorers appear to have “blocked affect” regarding their parents; that is, the low scorers have no emotional response at all toward them. One wonders, then, in what sense the low scorers can be said to have genuinely positive emotional relationships with their parents. As we shall see, the data as a whole indicate very high levels of hostility and ambivalence among the low scorers.
In contrast, high scoring women are said to perceive themselves as “victimized” by their parents. The word “victimized” has negative connotations, and my own reading of the published interview material suggests that the subjects are expressing negative feelings toward parental discipline or unfairness within the context of an overall positive relationship. Parent-child relationships, like any relationship, may be viewed as consisting of positive and negative attributes from the standpoint of the child—much like an account ledger. Relationships in general are not likely to be perfect from the standpoint of all parties because people’s interests conflict. The result is that a perfect relationship from one person’s standpoint may seem like exploitation to the other person in the relationship. So it is in parent-child relationships (MacDonald 1988a, 166–169). A perfect relationship from the standpoint of the child would be unbalanced and would undoubtedly be highly unbalanced against the parent—what is usually termed a permissive or indulgent parent-child relationship.
My interpretation of the research on parent-child interaction (and this is a mainstream point of view) is that children will accept high levels of parental control if the relationship with the parents is positive overall (MacDonald 1988a, 1992a, 1997). Developmental psychologists use the term “authoritative parenting” to refer to parenting in which the child accepts parental control within the context of a generally positive relationship (Baumrind 1971; Maccoby & Martin 1983). Although children of authoritative parents undoubtedly may not always enjoy parental discipline and restrictions, this style of parenting is associated with well-adjusted children.
A child may therefore resent some activities of the parent within the context of an overall positive relationship, and there is no psychological difficulty with supposing that the child could accept having to perform unpleasant work or even being discriminated against as a female while nevertheless having a very positive overall view of the parent-child relationship. Frenkel-Brunswik’s examples of girls who have very positive views of their parents but also complain about situations in which they were made to do housework or were treated less well than their brothers need not be interpreted as indicating suppressed hostility.
Frenkel-Brunswik states that these resentments are not “ego-accepted” by the girls, a comment I interpret as indicating that the girls did not view the resentment as completely compromising the relationship. Her example of such non-ego-accepted resentment is as follows: F39: Mother was “terribly strict with me about learning to keep house. . . . I am glad now, but I resented it then.” It is only by accepting a psychodynamic interpretation in which normal resentments about being required to work are a sign of powerful suppressed hostilities and rigid defense mechanisms that we can view these women as in any sense pathological.15 It is ultimately the proposed repressed hostility engendered by parental discipline that results in anti-Semitism: “The displacement of a repressed antagonism toward authority may be one of the sources, and perhaps the principal source, of . . . antagonism toward outgroups” (p. 482).
Whereas the negative feelings high scorers had toward their parents tend to derive from parental efforts to discipline the child or get the child to do household chores, the negative feelings of the low scorers are the result of feelings of desertion and loss of affection (p. 349). However, in the case of the low scorers, Frenkel-Brunswik emphasizes that the desertions and loss of love are frankly accepted, and this acceptance, in her view, precludes psychopathology. I have already discussed F63, whose father abandoned her; another low scoring subject, M55, states, “For example, he would take a delicacy like candy, pretend to offer us some and then eat it himself and laugh uproariously. . . . Makes him seem sort of a monster, though he’s not really” (p. 350). It is not surprising that such egregious examples of parental insensitivity are vividly recalled by the subject. However, in the upside-down world of The Authoritarian Personality, their being recalled is viewed as a sign of mental health in the subjects, whereas the overtly positive relationships of the high scorers are a sign of deep, unconscious layers of psychopathology.
Contemporary developmental research on authoritative parenting and parent-child warmth also indicates that authoritative parents are more successful in transmitting cultural values to their children (e.g., MacDonald 1988a, 1992, 1997a). In reading the interview material, one is struck by the fact that low scorers have rather negative views of their parents, whereas high scorers have quite positive views. It is reasonable to suppose that the low scorers would be more rebelliousness against parental values, and this indeed occurs.
Part of the deception of The Authoritarian Personality, however, is that low scorers’ resentment directed toward their parents is interpreted as a sign that parental discipline is not overpowering. “Since typical low scorers do not really see their parents as any too overpowering or frightening, they can afford to express their feelings of resentment more readily” (p. 346). The meager signs of affection in the children of low scorers and the obvious signs of resentment are thus interpreted by Frenkel-Brunswik as genuine affection, whereas the very positive perceptions of their parents held by the high scorers are viewed as the result of extreme parental authoritarianism resulting in repressions and denial of parental faults.
These results are an excellent example of the ideological biases characteristic of this entire project. A developmental psychologist looking at these data is impressed by the fact that the parents of the high scorers manage to inculcate a very positive perception of family life in their children while managing to discipline them nonetheless. As indicated above, contemporary researchers label this type of parent as authoritative, and the research supports the general proposal that children of such parents will accept adult values. Children from such families have close relationships with their parents, and they accept parental values and group identifications. Thus if the parents accept religious identifications, the child from such a family is more likely to accept them as well. And if parents hold up education as a value, the children are also likely to accept the importance of doing well in school. These authoritative parents set standards for their children’s behavior and monitor compliance with these standards. The warmth of the parent-child relationship motivates the child to conform to these standards and to monitor his or her behavior in a manner that avoids violating ingroup (i.e., family) norms of behavior.
The deeply subversive agenda of The Authoritarian Personality is to pathologize this type of family among gentiles. However, since parental affection is viewed positively according to the theory, evidence for parental affection among the high scorers must be interpreted as a mask for parental hostility; and the low scorers had to be interpreted as having affectionate parents despite surface appearances to the contrary. Rebellion against parents by the low scorers is then conceptualized as the normal outcome of affectionate child rearing—a ridiculous view at best.16
Fundamentally, then, the political agenda of The Authoritarian Personality is to undercut gentile family structure, but the ultimate aim is to subvert the entire social categorization scheme underlying gentile society. The authors of The Authoritarian Personality are studying a society in which variation in families can be seen as ranging from families that essentially replicate current social structure to families that produce rebellion and change in social structure. The former families are highly cohesive, and children within these families have a strong sense of ingroup feeling toward their families. The children also fundamentally accept the social categorization structure of their parents as the social categories expand to include church, community, and nation.
This relatively strong sense of ingroup thinking then tends, as expected by social identity research, to result in negative attitudes to individuals from different religions, communities, and nations. From the standpoint of the authors of The Authoritarian Personality, this type of family must be established as pathological, despite the fact that this is exactly the type of family necessary for the continuation of a strong sense of Jewish identity: Jewish children must accept the social categorization system of their parents. They must view their families as ingroups and ultimately accept the ingroup represented by Judaism. Again, the fundamental intellectual difficulty that runs throughout the entire book is that its agenda must inevitably pathologize in gentiles what is critical to the maintenance of Judaism.
The success of the families of high scorers in transmitting parental values is illustrated by the fact that children of the high scorers feel a sense of obligation and duty toward their parents. Note particularly the response of F78, about whom it was said, “Her parents definitely approve of the engagement. Subject wouldn’t even go with anyone if they didn’t like him” (p. 351). Here a woman who intends to marry someone approved by her parents and who takes account of the views of her parents in dating is viewed as having a psychiatric disorder. One wonders if Frenkel-Brunswik would similarly analyze such a response in a Jewish subject.
Another indication of the overwhelmingly positive family experiences of the high scorers is that they often comment that their parents were very solicitous toward them. Within Frenkel-Brunswik’s worldview, this is another sign of pathology among the high scorers that is variously labeled “ego alien dependence” (p. 353) and “blatant opportunism” (p. 354).
Consider, for example, the following response from a high scorer, F79: “I always say my mother is still taking care of me. You should see my closets— stacked with fruits, jams, pickles. . . . She just loves to do things for people” (p. 354).17 To categorize such an expression of parental solicitude as part of a pathological syndrome is truly astonishing. Similarly, Frenkel-Brunswik terms the following comment by a high-scoring woman as illustrative of the blatant opportunism characteristic of high scorers: “Father was extremely devoted to family—will work his fingers to the bone for them—never has done any drinking” (p. 365). Another high scorer (F24), in describing how “wonderful” her father is, says, “He is always willing to do anything for you” (p. 365).
An evolutionist would interpret these comments as indicating that the parents of high scorers invest greatly in their families and make the welfare of their families their first priority. They insist on appropriate behavior from their children and are not reticent about using physical punishment to control children’s behavior. Data summarized in PTSDA (Ch. 7) indicate that this is exactly the type of parenting characteristic of Jews in traditional Eastern European shtetl societies. In these societies high-investment parenting and conformity to parental practices, especially religious belief, were very important. Jewish mothers in these communities are said to be characterized by an “unremitting solicitude” regarding their children (Zborowski & Herzog 1952, 193). They engage in “boundless suffering and sacrifice. Parents ‘kill themselves’ for the sake of their children” (p. 294). At the same time there is a strong sense of parental control over children, including anger directed at the child and considerable use of physical punishment performed in anger (pp. 336–337). Patterns of highly intrusive, solicitous, dependency-producing, and authoritarian parenting continue among contemporary Hasidic Jews (Mintz 1992, 176ff).
This style of high-investment parenting in which high levels of solicitude are combined with powerful controls over children’s behavior is effective in getting children to identify with parental values in traditional Jewish societies. Supreme among these values is accepting parents’ religion and the necessity of choosing a marriage partner suitable to the parents and especially to avoid marrying a gentile. To have a child marry a gentile is a horrifying, catastrophic event that indicates that “something must be wrong with the parents” (Zborowski & Herzog 1952, 231). For Frenkel-Brunswik, however, parental solicitude, accepting parental values, and parental influence on marriage decisions are a sign of pathology—a forerunner of fascism. For gentiles, but apparently not for Jews, rebellion against parental values is the epitome of mental health.
The interview data on the family as an ingroup are particularly interesting in this regard. High-scoring subjects are proud of their families, their accomplishments, and their traditions. With typical rhetorical chutzpah, Frenkel-Brunswik calls these expressions of family pride “a setting off of a homogeneous totalitarian family against the rest of the world” (p. 356). For example, a high scorer, F68, states of her father, “His folks were pioneers—gold settlers and quite wealthy. Everyone knows the ———’s of ——— County up that way” (p. 357). Pride in oneself and one’s family is an indicator of psychiatric disorder.
Further evidence that the family relationships of high scorers are more positive comes from the data on parental conflict. The following comment is described as typical by the high-scoring men as a response to being asked how their parents got along together. M41: “Fine, never did hear no quarreling.”18 In contrast, rather severe parental conflict is quite apparent in the records of the low scorers. M59: “Well, just the usual family quarrels. Maybe raise her voice a bit. (What bones of contention?) Well, the fact that in the first ten years of my mother’s married life, my dad used to get drunk quite often and he would beat her physically and later on, as the children were growing up, she resented my father’s influence, though he contributed to our support. . . . He used to come about twice a week, sometimes oftener” (p. 369).19
This picture of conflict in the families of low scorers receives the following interpretation by Frenkel-Brunswik: “The foregoing records illustrate the frankness and the greater insight into the marital conflicts of the parents” (p. 369). The assumption seems to be that all families are characterized by alcoholism, desertion, physical abuse, quarreling, and narcissistic preoccupation with one’s own pleasures rather than family needs. Mental health in the low scorers is indicated by their being aware of familial psychopathology, whereas the pathological high scorers simply fail to recognize these phenomena in their families and persist in their delusions that their parents are self-sacrificing, loving disciplinarians.
This is a good example of the usefulness of psychodynamic theory in creating a politically effective “reality.” Behavior that conflicts with one’s theory can be ascribed to repression of deep conflicts, and truly pathological behavior becomes the essence of sanity because the subject recognizes it as such. Frenkel-Brunswik invents the term “denial of conflict” as a description of the “pathology” of the high-scoring families (p. 369), a term that is reminiscent of “ego–alien dependence” and “victimization” mentioned earlier. My reading of these protocols would lead me to label the relationships as “lack of conflict,” but in the upside-down world of The Authoritarian Personality, lack of apparent conflict is a sure sign of the denial of extremely severe conflict.20
The same picture is presented in sibling relationships. Sibling relationships described in very positive terms by high-scoring subjects are pathologized as “conventional idealization” or “glorification,” whereas the very negative relationships of low scorers are described as “objective appraisal.” The following description of a brother from a high scorer illustrates how Frenkel-Brunswik manages to pathologize highly cohesive, self-sacrificing family life among gentiles: M52: “Well, he’s a wonderful kid. . . . Has been wonderful to my parents. . . . Now 21. Always lived at home. . . . Gives most of his earnings to my parents” (p. 378). The assumption seems to be that this description could not conceivably be accurate and is therefore an example of pathological “glorification of siblings.”
Frenkel-Brunswik also attempts to pathologize gentile concern with social class and upward social mobility. High scorers are portrayed as “status concerned” and therefore pathological for such statements as the following: M57, on being asked why his parents disciplined him, replies, “Well, they didn’t want me to run with some kind of people—slummy women—always wanted me to associate with the higher class of people” (p. 383).21
A concern with social status is thus viewed as pathological. An evolutionary perspective, in contrast to Frenkel-Brunswik’s view, emphasizes the adaptive significance of social class status. An evolutionist would find the behavior of the parents to be quite adaptive, since they want their son to be concerned about upward social mobility and want a respectable woman for a daughter-in-law. The parents are concerned about social status, and an evolutionist would note that such a concern has been of critical evolutionary importance in stratified societies over historical time (See PTSDA, Ch. 7).
The other example of concern with social status presented by Frenkel-Brunswik is an individual who is concerned with having biological heirs. A high scorer says, “I want a home and I want to get married, not because I want a wife, but because I want a child. I want the child because I want someone to pass my things on to—I suddenly have become very conscious of my background that I forget about. (How do you mean?) Family background” (p. 383). Again, biologically adaptive gentile behavior is pathologized, and one wonders if the authors would consider the official, religiously based concern with reproductive success, biological relatedness, and control of resources among Jews as similarly pathological.
In her summary and discussion of the family interview data, Frenkel-Brunswik (pp. 384–389) then chooses to ignore the obvious signs of conflict, hostility, and ambivalence in the families of low scorers and characterizes them as “nurturant-loving” (p. 388) and as exhibiting “free-flowing affection” (p. 386). These families produce children with a “greater richness and liberation of emotional life” (p. 388), and the children exhibit a successful “sublimation of instinctual tendencies” (p. 388). Obvious signs of cohesiveness, affection, harmony, discipline, and successful transmission of family values in the families of high scorers are interpreted as “an orientation of power and contempt for the allegedly inferior” (p. 387). These families are characterized by “fearful subservience to the demands of the parents and by an early suppression of impulses” (p. 385).
This inversion of reality continues in the chapter entitled “Sex, People, and Self as Seen through Interviews.” High-scoring males appear as more sexually successful and as having high self-conceptions of masculinity; high-scoring females are described as popular with boys. Low-scoring males appear as sexually inadequate and low-scoring females as uninterested in men or unable to attract men. The low-scoring pattern is then interpreted as “open admission” of sexual inadequacy and therefore a sign of psychological health, and the high-scoring pattern is labeled as “concerned with social status” and therefore pathological. The assumption is that psychopathology is indicated by overt social adjustment and feelings of self-esteem; while mental health is indicated by feelings of inadequacy and admissions of “insufficiency” (p. 389).
Frenkel-Brunswik then attempts to show that high scorers are characterized by “anti-Id moralism.” The protocols indicate that the men are attracted to women and fall in love with women who are not particularly interested in sex. For example, M45: “We didn’t get on too good sexually because she was kind of on the frigid line, but still in all I was in love with her and I still am. I’d like nothing more than to go back to her” (p. 396). High-scoring males appear to value sexual decorum in females they intend to marry: M20: “Yes, I went through high school with one girl. . . . Very religious. . . . She was more or less what I was looking for. Very religious.”22
An evolutionist looking at these protocols is impressed by the fact that the high-scoring males appear as individuals who wish to enter a marriage in which they have a high degree of paternity confidence. They want a woman with high moral standards who is unlikely to be sexually attracted to other males, and they seek women with conventional moral values. High-scoring females seem intent on being exactly this sort of woman. They project the image of having very high standards of sexual decorum and wish to maintain a reputation as nonpromiscuous.
Further, the high-scoring females want males who are “hardworking, ‘go-getting’ and energetic, ‘a good personality,’ (conventionally) moral, ‘clean-cut,’ deferent toward women” (p. 401).23 An evolutionist would expect that this type of sexual behavior and discrimination of marriage partners to be characteristic of those entering “high-investment” marriages characterized by sexual fidelity by the female and by high levels of paternal involvement. This highly adaptive tendency of high-scoring females to seek investment from males Frenkel-Brunswik labels “opportunistic” (p. 401).
Conventional attitudes toward marriage are also an aspect of the “pathological” attitudes of high scorers. High scorers “tend to place a great deal of emphasis on socioeconomic status, church membership, and conformity with conventional values” (p. 402). For example, F74: “(Desirable traits?) Boyfriend should be about the same socioeconomic status. They should enjoy doing the same things and get along without too many quarrels.”24 This woman is highly discriminating in her choice of mate. She is very concerned to marry someone who is responsible, reliable, and will invest in a long-term relationship. For Frenkel-Brunswik, however, these attitudes are a sign of opportunistic behavior. Despite obvious signs of strong affection in F78 (see note 24) and the clear indication that F74 desires a relationship characterized by harmony and mutual attraction and interests, Frenkel-Brunswik summarizes the results as indicating a “lack of individuation and of real object relationship” (p. 404) and a “paucity of affection” (p. 404).
Again, psychodynamic theory allows the author to ascribe surface admiration and affection to underlying hostility, whereas the surface problems of the low scorers are a sign of mental health: “Some of the records of low-scoring subjects refer rather frankly to their inadequacies, inhibitions, and failures in sex adjustment. There also is evidence of ambivalence toward one’s own sex role and toward the opposite sex although this ambivalence is of a different, more internalized kind from the combination of overt admiration and underlying disrespect characteristic of high scorers” (p. 405). We may not see this underlying disrespect and thus have no evidence for its existence. But psychodynamic theory allows Frenkel-Brunswik to infer its existence nonetheless.
The tendency to pathologize behaviors related to adaptive functioning can also be seen in the discussion of self-concept. High scorers are found to have a very positive self-image, whereas low scorers are filled with insecurity, self-condemnation, and even “morbid” self-accusations (p. 423ff)—results interpreted as due to the repressions of the high-scorers and the objectivity of the low scorers.25
In a later section (“Conformity of Self and Ideal”), Frenkel-Brunswik finds that for high scorers there is little gap between present self and ideal self. Thus high-scoring men describe themselves in a “pseudomasculine” manner, and idealize this type of behavior. Part of their supposed pathology is to have famous American heroes whom they admire and wish to emulate, such as Douglas MacArthur, Andrew Carnegie, and George Patton. Low scorers, however, perceive a gap between their present and ideal selves—a gap Frenkel-Brunswik interprets thus: “Being basically more secure, it seems, they can more easily afford to see a discrepancy between ego-ideal and actual reality” (p. 431). “As adults, low scorers often continue to manifest open anxieties and feelings of depression, due perhaps at least in part to their greater capacity of facing insecurity and conflict” (p. 441).
Again, psychodynamic theory comes to the rescue. Low-scoring subjects appear on the surface as deeply insecure and self-abnegating, and they are unsatisfied with their present selves. But this behavior is interpreted as a sign of greater security than that of the high scorers, who on the surface appear to be self-confident and proud of themselves. In another inversion of reality, Frenkel-Brunswik summarizes her data on self-concept as indicating that “unprejudiced individuals seem to be on better terms with themselves, due perhaps to the fact that they have been more loved and accepted by their parents. Thus they are more ready to admit falling short of their ideals and of the roles they are expected to play by our culture” (p. 441).
Gentiles’ striving after success is also pathologized. In addition to being more likely to seek higher social status and have highly successful American heroes as role models, high scorers appear to want material resources (p. 433ff). Whereas low scorers describe themselves as isolates as children, high scorers are socially popular, hold offices in schools and social organizations, and have many friends. The latter attributes are termed “gang-sociability” by Frenkel-Brunswik (p. 439)—another rhetorical flourish intended to pathologize the behavior of socially successful gentiles.
In fact one might infer that a prominent aspect of this material is the attempt to pathologize adaptive gentile behavior in general. Gentiles who value high-investment marital relationships and cohesive families, who are upwardly mobile and seek material resources, who are proud of their families and identify with their parents, who have high self-concepts, who believe that Christianity is a positive moral force (p. 408) and a spiritual consolation (p. 450), who strongly identify as males or females (but not both!), and who are socially successful and wish to emulate paragons of social success (e.g., American heroes) are viewed as having a psychiatric disorder.
It is highly ironic that a publication of a major Jewish organization would include a concern with social status and material resources, high-investment parenting, identifying with parents, and having pride in one’s family among the signs of psychiatric disorder in gentiles given the extent to which all these attributes characterize Jews. Indeed, the authors make the remarkable conclusion: “We are led to suspect, on the basis of results in numerous areas, that upward class mobility and identification with the status quo correlate positively with ethnocentrism, and that downward class mobility and identification go with anti-ethnocentrism” (p. 204).
Again, the proposed indicators of gentile pathology have been and continue to be critical to the success of Judaism as a group evolutionary strategy. There has always been intense social pressure for upward mobility and resource acquisition in the Jewish community emanating partly from parents, and Jews have in fact been extraordinarily upwardly mobile. Indeed, Herz and Rosen (1982, 368) note, “Success is so vitally important to the Jewish family ethos that we can hardly overemphasize it. . . . We cannot hope to understand the Jewish family without understanding the place that success for men (and recently women) plays in the system.” And in PTSDA (Ch. 7) it was noted that social class status has been strongly linked with reproductive success in Jewish communities in traditional societies.
Yet, gentiles who are socially isolated, who have negative and rebellious attitudes toward their families, who are ambivalent and insecure in their sexual identities, who have low self-esteem and are filled with debilitating insecurities and conflicts (including insecurities regarding parental affection), who are moving downward in social status, and who have negative attitudes toward high social status and acquisition of material resources are viewed as the epitome of psychological health.26
In all this material much is made of the fact that low scorers often seem to seek affection in their relationships. A reasonable interpretation of the findings on affection-striving is that the low scorers have had much more rejecting, ambivalent parent-child relationships compared to the high scorers, with the result that they seek such warm, affectionate relationships in others. There is much evidence in the interview material that the actual parent-child relationships of the low scorers were ambivalent and hostile, and often characterized by desertion and even abuse (see above). The expected consequence of such a situation is that the child will be rebellious against the parents, not identify with the family or larger social categories accepted by the family, and be preoccupied with seeking affection (MacDonald 1992a, 1997a).
The positive family experiences of the high scorers, in contrast, provide them with a powerful sense of emotional security in their personal relationships, with the result that in the projective testing they are “externally oriented” (pp. 563, 565) and concentrate to a much greater extent on instrumental values important in attaining social status and accomplishing other socially approved tasks, such as accumulating resources—“work—ambition—activity” (p. 575). Levinson pathologizes this external orientation by saying that “individuals giving these responses seem afraid to look inward at all, for fear of what they will find” (p. 565). Their worries center around failing and letting down the group, especially the family. They seem intensely motivated to succeed and to make their families proud.
However, this does not mean that the high scorers are unable to develop affectional relationships or that love and affection are unimportant to them. We have already seen that high scorers are attracted to high-investment relationships in which sex is a relatively minor concern, and these individuals appear to accept the primacy of other qualities, including love and common interests, as the basis of marriage. For the high scorers the achievement of emotional security does not become a “holy grail” quest; they do not look for it everywhere. The low scorers, though, seem to be engaged in a rather pathetic search for love that was presumably missing from their early relationships. As Frenkel-Brunswik comments in summarizing the interview data on sexual orientation, “Ambivalence toward the other sex seems in low scorers often to be the consequence of an overly intense search for love that is not easily satisfied” (p. 405).
Like securely attached children in the presence of an attachment object, high scorers are free to explore the world and engage in adaptive, externally directed behavior without constantly worrying about the status of their attachment with their mothers (Ainsworth, Blehar, Waters & S. Wall 1978). Low scorers, in contrast, like insecurely attached children, seem preoccupied with security and affection needs. Since these needs have not been met within their families, they seek affection in all their relationships; at the same time they are preoccupied with their own failures, have diffuse hostility toward others, and are rebellious against anything their parents valued.
The perspective developed here thus inverts the psychodynamic perspective of The Authoritarian Personality because it essentially accepts the data at their face value. Because of their fundamentally political program of indicting gentile culture and especially gentiles who represent the most successful and culturally approved members of their society, the authors of The Authoritarian Personality were forced to adopt a psychodynamic perspective in which all of the relationships were inverted. Surface insecurity becomes a sign of deep-felt security and a realistic perspective on life. Surface security and self-confidence become signs of deep insecurities and unresolved hostilities symptomatic of a fear of “looking inside.”
Another fundamental mistake is to suppose that any inhibition of children’s desires produces hostility and submerged aggression toward the parent. That the parents of the high scorers discipline their children but their children still admire them and, indeed, “glorify” them is thus, from the intellectual perspective of The Authoritarian Personality, ipso facto evidence that there is suppressed hostility and aggression toward the parents (see especially p. 357).
It should be apparent from the above discussion, however, that the “victimization” and the underlying hostility are entirely inferred. They are theoretical constructs for which there is not a shred of evidence. There is no reason whatever to suppose that disciplining children leads to suppressed hostility when it is done in the context of a generally positive relationship.
Psychoanalysis was obviously an ideal vehicle for creating this upside-down world. Both Brown (1965) and especially Altemeyer (1988) note the arbitrariness of the psychodynamic explanations found in The Authoritarian Personality. Thus Altemeyer (1988, 54) notes that statements of praise for one’s parents in high scorers are a sign of “over-glorification” and repression of aggression, whereas statements of hostility are taken at face value. Statements alluding to both praise and hostility are taken as a combination of overglorification and accurate recollection.
Psychoanalysis essentially allowed the authors to make up any story they wanted. If the family relationships of high scorers were very positive on the surface, one could propose that the surface happiness and affection masked deep, unconscious hostilities. Any shred of negative feelings high scorers felt toward their parents then became a lever to be used to create an imaginary world of suppressed hostility masked by surface affection. Yet when, in another volume of Studies in Prejudice Bettelheim and Janowitz (1950) found that anti-Semites described poor relationships with their parents, the results were taken at face value. The result was not science, but it was effective in achieving its political goals.
It is noteworthy that all five volumes of the Studies in Prejudice utilize psychoanalysis to produce theories in which anti-Semitism is attributed to intra-psychic conflict, sexual repressions, and troubled parent-child relationships while also denying the importance of cultural separatism and the reality of group-based competition for resources (other examples, including the theory of Freud in Moses and Monotheism, are reviewed in Ch. 4.) Psychoanalytic interpretations of anti-Semitism continue to appear (e.g., Ostow 1995). There is a sort of family resemblance to the theories in that much use is made of projections and the development of complicated psychodynamic formulations, although the actual dynamics are not at all identical. At times, as in another volume in the Studies in Prejudice series (Anti-Semitism and Emotional Disorder [Ackerman & Jahoda 1950]), there seems to be no comprehensible general theory of anti-Semitism but, rather, a set of ad hoc psychodynamic proposals whose only similarity is that anti-Semitism involves the projection of some sort of intrapsychic conflict. So far as I know, there has been no attempt to subject these different psychodynamic theories to empirical tests that would distinguish among them.
It may appear disturbing to accept the alternative picture developed here. I am essentially saying that the families of the high scorers were adaptive. They combined warmth and affection with a sense of responsibility and discipline, and the children appear to have been ambitious and interested in upholding the values of family and country. The family functioned as an ingroup, as Frenkel-Brunswik and Levinson propose, and the successful transmission of cultural values may well have included negative attributions toward individuals from other groups of which the family was not a member. The high scorers then accepted the ingroup-outgroup biases of their parents, just as they accepted many other parental values. High scorers are thus socially connected and feel a responsibility to ingroup (family) norms. In Triandis’s (1990, 55) terms, these individuals are “allocentric” people living in an individualist society; that is, they are people who are socially integrated and receive high levels of social support. They identify strongly with ingroup (family) norms.
The perspective developed here emphasizes identificatory processes as underlying the transmission of family attitudes (MacDonald 1992a, 1997a). As Aronson (1992, 320–321) notes, all of the studies connecting prejudice with parent-child relationships inspired by The Authoritarian Personality are correlational, and the results can equally well be explained as due to identificatory processes. Similarly, Billig (1976, 116–117)) argues that competent families may be prejudiced, and that prejudices may be transmitted within families in the same manner as any number of other beliefs are transmitted. Thus Pettigrew (1958) found high levels of anti-black prejudice among South African whites, but their personalities were rather normal and they were not high on the F-scale measuring authoritarianism.
The high scorers studied in The Authoritarian Personality accept the ingroup-outgroup biases of their parents and other parental values, but this does not explain the origins of parental values themselves. The data provided here show how competent families can be instrumental in transmitting such values between generations. Contemporary developmental psychology provides no reason to suppose that competent, affectionate families would necessarily produce children with no negative attributions regarding outgroups.
Another major theme here is that whereas allegiance to ingroups indicates psychopathology in gentiles, the epitome of psychological health for the authors of The Authoritarian Personality is the individualist who is completely detached from all ingroups, including his or her family. As indicated above, research on individualism-collectivism indicates that such individualists would be less prone to anti-Semitism. It is interesting that for Adorno the most laudable type of low scorer is “The Genuine Liberal,” whose “views regarding minorities are guided by the idea of the individual” (p. 782).27 The exemplar of a genuine liberal discussed in the text (F515) believes that anti-Semitism is due to jealousy because Jews are smarter. This person is quite willing to allow completely free competition between Jews and gentiles: “We don’t want any competition. If they [Jews] want it they should have it. I don’t know if they are more intelligent, but if they are they should have it” (p. 782).28
According to Adorno, then, psychologically healthy gentiles are unconcerned about being outcompeted by Jews and declining in social status. They are complete individualists with a strong sense of personal autonomy and independence, and they conceptualize Jews as individuals completely independent of their group affiliation. While gentiles are censured for not being individualists, Adorno does not censure Jews who identify strongly with a group that historically has functioned to facilitate resource competition with gentiles (PTSDA, Chs. 5, 6) and remains a powerful influence in several highly contentious areas of public policy, including immigration, church-state separation, abortion rights, and civil liberties (Goldberg 1996, 5). Indeed, social identity theory predicts that Jews would be more likely to have stereotyped, negative conceptualizations of gentiles than the reverse (SAID, Ch. 1).
The personality approach to outgroup prejudice has been criticized in the years since the publication of The Authoritarian Personality. Social identity research suggests that variation in outgroup hostility is independent of variation in personality or in parent-child relationships. This research indicates that although there are individual differences in attraction to ingroups (and, indeed, Jews are very high on ethnocentrism), attitudes toward outgroups reflect universal adaptations (see SAID, Ch. 1). Within the social identity perspective, much of the variation in outgroup hostility can be explained by situational variables such as the perceived permeability of the outgroup and whether the ingroup and outgroup are engaged in resource competition.
Consistent with this perspective, Billig (1976, 119–120) notes that the exclusive focus on personality (i.e., the unchanging traits of individuals) fails to take into account the role of self-interest in ethnic conflict. Moreover, studies such as that of Pettigrew (1958) indicate that one can easily be a racist without having an authoritarian personality; these studies also suggest a role for local norms which may themselves be influenced by perceived resource competition between groups.
Conversely, Altemeyer (1981, 28) notes that fascist, authoritarian governments are not necessarily hostile toward minorities, as in the case of fascist Italy. Indeed, the role of traditional norms is well-illustrated by this example. Jews were prominent members of early Italian fascist governments and active thereafter (Johnson 1988, 501). Italian society during the period was, however, highly authoritarian, and there was a corporate, highly cohesive group structure to the society as a whole. The government was highly popular, but anti-Semitism was not important until Hitler forced the issue. Because anti-Semitism was not an official component of the Italian fascist group strategy, authoritarianism occurred without anti-Semitism.
Altemeyer (1981, 238–239) also reports finding much lower correlations between authoritarianism and ethnic prejudice in his studies than were found by Adorno et al. Moreover, Altemeyer notes that the data are consistent with the proposal that authoritarian individuals are ethnocentric only to the extent that other ethnic groups are conventional targets of discrimination by groups with which the authoritarian individual identifies. Similarly, “intrinsically” religious people tend to be hostile toward outgroups only where the religion itself does not proscribe such hostility (Batson & Burris 1994). The defining feature of authoritarian individuals in this view is simply their adoption of the social conventions and norms of the group, some of which may involve negative attitudes toward outgroups. This proposal is highly compatible with the present approach to group identification and group conflict.
In addition, Billig (1976) found that many fascists failed to conform to the rigid, inhibited stereotype portrayed by the authors of The Authoritarian Personality. Such a portrayal is implicit in the psychoanalytic theory that liberation of sexual urges would lead to an end to anti-Semitism, but these fascists were uninhibited, violent, and anti-authoritarian.29 Personality trait theory also fails to explain short-term changes in hatred toward Jews, such as found by Massing (1949), which could not possibly have been caused by changes in parent-child relationships or patterns of sexual repression. One might also mention the very rapid changes in American attitudes toward the Japanese before, during, and after World War II, or the rapid decline in anti-Semitism in the United States following World War II.
A prominent aspect of The Authoritarian Personality program of research was the conflation of two rather separate concepts, hostility toward other ethnic groups and authoritarianism. It is interesting in this regard that authoritarianism in personality would appear to involve susceptibility to engaging in group strategies, and that engaging in group strategies may be only tangentially related to hostility toward other ethnic groups. Altemeyer (1988, 2) defines “right-wing authoritarianism” as involving three central attributes: submission to legitimate social authority; aggression toward individuals that is sanctioned by the authorities; adherence to social conventions.
Clearly, individuals high on these traits would be ideal members of cohesive human group evolutionary strategies. Indeed, such attributes would define the ideal Jew in traditional societies: submissive to the kehilla authorities, strongly adherent to within-group social conventions such as the observance of Jewish religious law, and characterized by negative attitudes toward gentile society and culture seen as manifestations of an outgroup. Consistent with this formulation, high scorers on the Right-Wing Authoritarianism Scale (RWA) tend to be highly religious; they tend to be the most orthodox and committed members of their denomination; they believe in group cohesiveness, group loyalty, and identify strongly with ingroups (Altemeyer 1994, 134; 1996, 84). Without question, traditional Jewish society and contemporary Jewish Orthodox and fundamentalist groups are highly authoritarian by any measure. Indeed, Rubenstein (1996) found that Orthodox Jews were higher on RWA than “traditional Jews,” and both of these groups were higher than secular Jews.
A primary motivation of the Berkeley group can then be seen as an attempt to pathologize this powerful sense of group orientation among gentiles partly by forging a largely illusory (or at least highly contingent) link between these “group-cohesiveness” promoting traits and anti-Semitism. The Berkeley group succeeded in disseminating the ideology that there was a “deep,” structural connection between anti-Semitism and this powerful sense of group orientation. By providing a unitary account of authoritarianism and hostility toward outgroups and by locating the origins of this syndrome in disturbed parent-child relations, the Berkeley group had effectively developed a powerful weapon in the war against anti-Semitism.
The present theoretical perspective is compatible with the research results indicating that ethnic hostility and anti-Semitism are only tangentially related to authoritarianism. It has been noted that authoritarianism refers to a set of traits that predispose individuals to strongly identify with highly cohesive groups that impose uniform standards of behavior on group members. Since authoritarian individuals are highly prone to submerging themselves within the group, conforming to group conventions, and accepting group goals, there will indeed be a tendency toward anti-Semitism when the ingroup itself is anti-Semitic; there will also be a tendency toward ethnocentrism when the group membership itself is based on ethnicity.
This is essentially the position of Altemeyer (1981, 238), since he proposes that the fairly weak associations usually found between authoritarianism and hostility toward outgroups reflect conventional hostility toward outgroups. From this perspective, these concepts may be empirically associated in particular samples, but there is no structural connection between them. The association simply reflects the authoritarian tendency to adopt social conventions and norms of the group, including the negative attitudes toward particular outgroups. This perspective would account for the significant but modest correlations (.30–.50) Altemeyer (1994) finds between authoritarianism and ethno-centrism.
Moreover, from the standpoint of social identity research, there is no empirical or logical requirement that powerful, cohesive groups need necessarily be based on ethnicity as an organizing principle. As argued in SAID, whether the group itself is anti-Semitic seems to depend crucially on whether Jews are perceived as a highly salient, impermeable group within the larger society and whether they are perceived as having conflicts of interest with gentiles. There is a great deal of evidence that perceptions of group competition with Jews have often not been illusory. Social identity theory proposes that as between-group competition becomes more salient, there will be an increasing tendency for people to join cohesive, authoritarian groups arrayed against perceived outgroups.
In conclusion, I have no doubt that the results of studies on authoritarianism, including The Authoritarian Personality, can be integrated with contemporary psychological data. However, I would suggest that developing a body of scientific knowledge was never an important consideration in these studies. The agenda is to develop an ideology of anti-Semitism that rallies ingroup loyalties to Judaism and attempts to alter gentile culture in a manner that benefits Judaism by portraying gentile group loyalties (including nationalism, Christian religious affiliation, close family relationships, high-investment parenting, and concern with social and material success) as indicators of psychiatric disorder. Within these writings the nature of Judaism is completely irrelevant to anti-Semitism; Judaism is conceptualized, as Ackerman and Jahoda (1950, 74) suggest in another volume of Studies in Prejudice, as a Rorschach inkblot in which the pathology of anti-Semites is revealed. These theories serve the same functions that Jewish religious ideology has always served: the rationalization of the continuation of Judaism both to ingroup members and to gentiles combined with very negative views of gentile culture.
As in the case of psychoanalysis generally, the results of scientific investigation appear to be largely unrelated to the dissemination and persistence of the idea that authoritarianism or certain types of parent-child relationships are linked to hostility toward other groups. A consistent thread of Altemeyer’s (1981) review of The Authoritarian Personality literature is that these ideas persist within the wider culture and even within textbooks in college psychology courses in the absence of scientific support: 30
The reader familiar with the matter knows that most these criticisms are over 25 years old, and now they might be considered little more than flaying a dead horse. Unfortunately the flaying is necessary, for the horse is not dead, but still trotting around—in various introductory psychology and developmental psychology textbooks, for example. Methodological criticisms seem to travel a shorter circuit and die a much quicker death than “scientific breakthroughs.” In conclusion then, no matter how often it is stated that the Berkeley investigators [i.e., Adorno et al.] discovered the childhood origins of authoritarianism, the facts of the matter are anything but convincing. (Altemeyer 1988, 38)31
In this regard it is interesting that in addition to the failure to replicate the Berkeley group’s central empirical finding of a strong association between authoritarianism and hostility toward other ethnic groups, The Authoritarian Personality also suffers from severe methodological shortcomings, some of which suggest conscious attempts at deception. Besides the “response set” difficulty pervading the construction of all the scales, perhaps simply reflecting naïveté in scale construction, Altemeyer (1981, 27–28) notes that the F-scale measuring authoritarianism was constructed by retaining items that correlated well with anti-Semitism. Altemeyer notes, for example, that the item “Books and movies ought not to deal so much with the sordid and seamy side of life; they ought to concentrate on themes that are entertaining and uplifting” appeared on earlier versions of the F-scale and was highly discriminating. However, it did not correlate highly with the Anti-Semitism Scale and was dropped from later versions. Altemeyer notes, “Despite the statement . . . that the most discriminating items on the initial form were carried over to the next model ‘in the same or slightly revised form,’ the ‘books and movies’ item simply disappeared, forever. It is not hard to construct a scale which will correlate highly with another if you eliminate items that are insufficiently related with the target” (pp. 27–28).
The suggestion is that highly discriminating items were dropped if they did not correlate with anti-Semitism, despite assurances to the contrary. In fact, Wiggershaus (1994, 372ff) shows quite clearly that Adorno placed a high priority on developing the F-scale as an indirect means of measuring anti-Semitism, that he was little concerned about following normal scientific procedures in achieving this goal, and that his procedure was exactly as Altemeyer describes:
In Berkeley, we then developed the F-scale with a freedom which differed considerably from the idea of a pedantic science which has to justify each of its steps. The reason for this was probably what, over there, might have been termed the “psychoanalytic background” of the four of us who were leading the project, particularly our familiarity with the method of free association. I emphasize this because a work like The Authoritarian Personality . . . was produced in a manner which does not correspond at all to the usual image of positivism in social science. . . . We spent hours waiting for ideas to occur to us, not just for entire dimensions, “variables” and syndromes, but also for individual items for the questionnaire. The less their relation to the main topic was visible, the prouder we were of them, while we expected for theoretical reasons to find correlations between ethnocentrism, anti-Semitism and reactionary views in the political and economic sphere. We then checked these items in constant “pre-tests,” using these both to restrict the questionnaire to a reasonable size, which was technically necessary, and to exclude those items which proved not to be sufficiently selective. (Adorno; in Wiggershaus 1994, 373)
It is not difficult to suppose that the entire program of research of The Authoritarian Personality involved deception from beginning to end. This is suggested by the authors’ clear political agenda and the pervasive double standard in which gentile ethnocentrism and gentile adherence to cohesive groups are seen as symptoms of psychopathology whereas Jews are simply viewed as victims of irrational gentile pathologies and no mention is made of Jewish ethnocentrism or allegiance to cohesive groups. There was also a double standard in which left-wing authoritarianism was completely ignored whereas right-wing authoritarianism was “found” to be a psychiatric disorder.32 As indicated above, deception is also suggested by the fact that the basic theory of the role of parent-child relations in producing ethnocentrism and hostility toward outgroups was developed as a philosophical theory conceptualized by the authors as not subject to empirical verification or falsification. Indeed, the entire thrust of the Frankfurt School’s view of science rejects the idea that science should attempt to understand reality in favor of the ideology that science ought to serve moral (i.e., political) interests. Further, it is suggested by the fact that the anti-democratic leanings of Adorno and Horkheimer and their radical critique of the mass culture of capitalism were not apparent in this work intended for an American audience (Jay 1973, 248). (Similarly, Horkheimer tended to portray Critical Theory as a form of radicalism to his “Marxist friends” while representing it “as a form of faithfulness to the European tradition in the humanities and philosophy” when discussing it with “official university people” [Wiggershaus 1994, 252].)
Finally, there were a host of well-recognized methodological difficulties, including the use of unrepresentative subjects in the interview data, the very incomplete and misleading information on the reliability of the measures, and the discussion of insignificant relationships as if they were significant (Altemeyer 1981). I have also pointed out the extremely strained, ad hoc, and counterintuitive interpretations that characterize the study (see also Lasch 1991, 453). Particularly egregious is the consistent use of psychodynamic thinking to produce any desired interpretive outcome.
Of course, deception may not be as important here as self-deception—a common enough feature of Jewish intellectual history (see SAID, Chs. 7, 8). In any case, the result was excellent political propaganda and a potent weapon in the war on anti-Semitism.
The Influence of the Frankfurt School
Although it is difficult to assess the effect of works like The Authoritarian Personality on gentile culture, there can be little question that the thrust of the radical critique of gentile culture in this work, as well as other works inspired by psychoanalysis and its derivatives, was to pathologize high-investment parenting and upward social mobility, as well as pride in family, religion, and country, among gentiles. Certainly many of the central attitudes of the largely successful 1960s countercultural revolution find expression in The Authoritarian Personality, including idealizing rebellion against parents, low-investment sexual relationships, and scorn for upward social mobility, social status, family pride, the Christian religion, and patriotism.
We have seen that despite this antagonistic perspective on gentile culture, Jewish 1960s radicals continued to identify with their parents and with Judaism. The countercultural revolution was in a very deep sense a mission to the gentiles in which adaptive behavior and group-identifications of gentiles were pathologized while Jewish group identification, ingroup pride, family pride, upward social mobility, and group continuity retained their psychological importance and positive moral evaluation. In this regard, the behavior of these radicals was exactly analogous to that of the authors of The Authoritarian Personality and Jewish involvement in psychoanalysis and radical politics generally: Gentile culture and gentile group strategies are fundamentally pathological and are to be anathemized in the interests of making the world safe for Judaism as a group evolutionary strategy.
As with political radicalism, only a rarified cultural elite could attain the extremely high level of mental health epitomized by the true liberal:
The replacement of moral and political argument by reckless psychologizing not only enabled Adorno and his collaborators to dismiss unacceptable political opinions on medical grounds; it led them to set up an impossible standard of political health—one that only members of a self-constituted cultural vanguard could consistently meet. In order to establish their emotional “autonomy,” the subjects of their research had to hold the right opinions and also to hold them deeply and spontaneously. (Lasch 1991, 453– 455)
In the post–World War II era The Authoritarian Personality became an ideological weapon against historical American populist movements, especially McCarthyism (Gottfried 1998; Lasch 1991, 455ff). “[T]he people as a whole had little understanding of liberal democracy and . . . important questions of public policy would be decided by educated elites, not submitted to popular vote” (Lasch 1991, 455).
These trends are exemplified in The Politics of Unreason, a volume in the Patterns of American Prejudice Series funded by the ADL and written by Seymour Martin Lipset and Earl Raab (1970). (Raab and Lipset also wrote Prejudice and Society, published by the ADL in 1959. Again, as in the Studies in Prejudice Series [funded by the AJCommittee] there is a link between academic research on ethnic relations and Jewish activist organizations. Raab’s career has combined academic scholarship with deep involvement as a Jewish ethnic activist; see Ch. 7, note 1.) As indicated by the title, The Politics of Unreason analyses political and ideological expressions of ethnocentrism by European-derived peoples as irrational and as being unrelated to legitimate ethnic interests in retaining political power. “Right-wing extremist” movements aim at retaining or restoring the power of the European-derived majority of the United States, but “Extremist politics is the politics of despair” (Lipset & Raab 1970, 3). For Lipset and Raab, tolerance of cultural and ethnic pluralism is a defining feature of democracy, so that groups that oppose cultural and ethnic pluralism are by definition extremist and anti-democratic. Indeed, citing Edward A. Shils (1956, 154), they conceptualize pluralism as implying multiple centers of power without domination by any one group—a view in which the self-interest of ethnic groups in retaining and expanding their power is conceptualized as fundamentally anti-democratic. Attempts by majorities to resist the increase in the power and influence of other groups are therefore contrary to “the fixed spiritual center of the democratic political process” (p. 5). “Extremism is anti-pluralism. . . . And the operational heart of extremism is the repression of difference and dissent” (p. 6; italics in text).
Right-wing extremism is condemned for its moralism—an ironic move given the centrality of a sense of moral superiority that pervades the Jewish-dominated intellectual movements reviewed here, not to mention Lipset and Raab’s own analysis in which right-wing extremism is labeled “an absolute political evil” (p. 4) because of its links with authoritarianism and totalitarianism. Right-wing extremism is also condemned for its tendency to advocate simple solutions to complex problems, which, as noted by Lasch (1991), is a plea that solutions to social problems should be formulated by an intellectual elite. And finally, right-wing extremism is condemned because of its tendency to distrust institutions that intervene between the people and their direct exercise of power, another plea for the power of elites: “Populism identifies the will of the people with justice and morality” (p. 13). The conclusion of this analysis is that democracy is identified not with the power of the people to pursue their perceived interests. Rather, democracy is conceptualized as guaranteeing that majorities will not resist the expansion of power of minorities even if that means a decline in their own power.
Viewed at its most abstract level, a fundamental agenda is thus to influence the European-derived peoples of the United States to view concern about their own demographic and cultural eclipse as irrational and as an indication of psychopathology. Adorno’s concept of the “pseudo-conservative” was used by influential intellectuals such as Harvard historian Richard Hofstadter to condemn departures from liberal orthodoxy in terms of the psychopathology of “status anxiety.” Hofstadter developed the “consensus” approach to history, characterized by Nugent (1963, 22) as having “a querulous view of popular movements, which seem to threaten the leadership of an urbanized, often academic, intelligentsia or elite, and the use of concepts that originated in the behavioral sciences.” In terms derived entirely from the Authoritarian Personality studies, pseudo-conservatism is diagnosed as “among other things a disorder in relation to authority, characterized by an inability to find other modes for human relationship than those of more or less complete domination or submission” (Hofstadter 1965, 58). As Nugent (1963, 26) points out, this perspective largely ignored the “concrete economic and political reality involved in populism and therefore left it to be viewed fundamentally in terms of the psychopathological and irrational.” This is precisely the method of The Authoritarian Personality: Real conflicts of interest between ethnic groups are conceptualized as nothing more than the irrational projections of the inadequate personalities of majority group members.
Lasch also focuses on the work of Leslie Friedman, Daniel Bell, and Seymour Martin Lipset as representing similar tendencies. (In a collection of essays edited by Daniel Bell  entitled The New American Right, both Hofstadter and Lipset refer approvingly to The Authoritarian Personality as a way of understanding right-wing political attitudes and behavior.) Nugent (1963, 7ff) mentions an overlapping set of individuals who were not historians and whose views were based mostly on impressions without any attempt at detailed study, including Victor Ferkiss, David Riesman, Nathan Glazer, Lipset, Edward A. Shils, and Peter Viereck. However, this group also included historians who “were among the luminaries of the historical profession” (Nugent 1963, 13), including Hofstadter, Oscar Handlin, and Max Lerner—all of whom were involved in intellectual activity in opposition to restrictionist immigration policies (see Ch. 7). A common theme was what Nugent (1963, 15) terms “undue stress” on the image of the populist as an anti-Semite—an image that exaggerated and oversimplified the Populist movement but was sufficient to render the movement as morally repugnant. Novick (1988, 341) is more explicit in finding that Jewish identification was an important ingredient in this analysis, attributing the negative view of American populism held by some American Jewish historians (Hofstadter, Bell, and Lipset) to the fact that “they were one generation removed from the Eastern European shtetl [small Jewish town], where insurgent gentile peasants meant pogrom.”
There may be some truth in the latter comment, but I rather doubt that the interpretations of these Jewish historians were simply an irrational legacy left over from European anti-Semitism. There were also real conflicts of interest involved. On one side were Jewish intellectuals advancing their interests as an urbanized intellectual elite bent on ending Protestant, Anglo-Saxon demographic and cultural predominance. On the other side were what Higham (1984, 49) terms “the common people of the South and West” who were battling to maintain their own cultural and demographic dominance. (The struggle between these groups is the theme of the discussion of Jewish involvement in shaping U.S. immigration policy in Ch. 7 as well as the discussion of the New York Intellectuals in Ch. 6. Several of the intellectuals mentioned here are regarded as members of the New York Intellectuals [Bell, Glazer, Lipset, Riesman, and Shils], while others [Hofstadter and Handlin] may be regarded as peripheral members; see Ch. 7, note 26.)
As the vanguard of an urbanized Jewish intellectual elite, this group of intellectuals was also contemptuous of the lower middle class generally. From the perspective of these intellectuals, this class
clung to outworn folkways—conventional religiosity, hearth and home, the sentimental cult of motherhood—and obsolete modes of production. It looked back to a mythical golden age in the past. It resented social classes more highly placed but internalized their standards, lording it over the poor instead of joining them in a common struggle against oppression. It was haunted by the fear of slipping farther down the social scale and clutched the shreds of respectability that distinguished it from the class of manual workers. Fiercely committed to a work ethic, it believed that anyone who wanted a job could find one and that those who refused to work should starve. Lacking liberal culture, it fell easy prey to all sorts of nostrums and political fads. (Lasch 1991, 458)
Recall also Nicholas von Hoffman’s (1996) comment on the attitude of cultural superiority to the lower middle class held by the liberal defenders of communism during this period, such as Hofstadter and the editors of The New Republic. “In the ongoing kulturkampf dividing the society, the elites of Hollywood, Cambridge and liberal thank-tankery had little sympathy for bow-legged men with their American Legion caps and their fat wives, their yapping about Yalta and the Katyn Forest. Catholic and kitsch, looking out of their picture windows at their flock of pink plastic flamingos, the lower middles and their foreign policy anguish were too infra dig to be taken seriously” (von Hoffman 1996, C2).
Another good example of this intellectual onslaught on the lower middle-class associated with the Frankfurt School is Erich Fromm’s (1941) Escape from Freedom, in which the lower middle-class is regarded as highly prone to developing “sado-masochistic” reaction formations (as indicated by participating in authoritarian groups!) as a response to their economic and social status frustrations. It is not surprising that the lower middle-class target of this intellectual onslaught—including, one might add, the mittlestand of Wilhelminian German politics—has historically been prone to anti-Semitism as an explanation of their downward social mobility and their frustrated attempts to achieve upward social mobility. This group has also been prone to joining cohesive authoritarian groups as a means of attaining their political goals. But within the context of The Authoritarian Personality, the desire for upward social mobility and the concern with downward social mobility characteristic of many supporters of populist movements are signs of a specific psychiatric disorder, pathetic results of inappropriate socialization that would disappear in the liberalized utopian society of the future.
Although Critical Theory ceased to be a guide for protest movements by the early 1970s (Wiggershaus 1994, 656), it has retained a very large influence in the intellectual world generally. In the 1970s, the Frankfurt School intellectuals continued to draw the fire of German conservatives who characterized them as the “intellectual foster-parents of terrorists” and as fomenters of “cultural revolution to destroy the Christian West” (Wiggershaus 1994, 657). “The inseparability of concepts such as Frankfurt School, Critical Theory, and neo-Marxism indicates that, from the 1930’s onwards, theoretically productive left-wing ideas in German-speaking countries had focused on Horkheimer, Adorno and the Institute of Social Research” (Wiggershaus 1994, 658).
However, the influence of the Frankfurt School has gone well beyond the German-speaking world, and not only with The Authoritarian Personality studies, the writings of Erich Fromm, and the enormously influential work of Herbert Marcuse as a countercultural guru to the New Left. In the contemporary intellectual world, there are several journals devoted to this legacy, including New German Critique, Cultural Critique, and Theory, Culture, and Society: Explorations in Critical Social Science. The influence of the Frankfurt School increased greatly following the success of the New Left counter-cultural movement of the 1960s (Piccone 1993, xii). Reflecting its current influence in the humanities, the Frankfurt School retains pride of place as a major inspiration at the meetings of the notoriously postmodern Modern Language Association held in December 1994. Kramer and Kimball (1995) describe the large number of laudatory references to Adorno, Horkheimer, and especially Walter Benjamin, who had the honor of being the most-referred-to scholar at the convention.33 Marxism and psychoanalysis were also major influences at the conference. One bright spot occurred when the radical Marxist Richard Ohmann acknowledged that the humanities had been revolutionized by the “critical legacy of the Sixties” (p. 12)—a point of view, Kramer and Kimball note, often denied by the academic left but commonplace in conservative publications like The New Criterion and central to the perspective developed here.
Reflecting the congruence between the Frankfurt School and contemporary postmodernism, the enormously influential postmodernist Michel Foucault stated, “If I had known about the Frankfurt School in time, I would have been saved a great deal of work. I would not have said a certain amount of nonsense and would not have taken so many false trails trying not to get lost, when the Frankfurt School had already cleared the way” (in Wiggershaus 1994, 4). Whereas the strategy of the Frankfurt School was to deconstruct universalist, scientific thinking by the use of “critical reason,” postmodernism has opted for complete relativism and the lack of objective standards of any kind in the interests of preventing any general theories of society or universally valid philosophical or moral systems (Norris 1993, 287ff).34
Contemporary postmodernism and multiculturalist ideology (see, e.g., Gless & Herrnstein Smith 1992) have adopted several central pillars of the Frankfurt School: the fundamental priority of ethics and values in approaching education and the social sciences; empirical science as oppressive and an aspect of social domination; a rejection of the possibility of shared values or any sense of universalism or national culture (see also Jacoby’s [1995, 35] discussion of “post-colonial theory”—another intellectual descendant of the Frankfurt School); a “hermeneutics of suspicion” in which any attempt to construct such universals or a national culture is energetically resisted and “deconstructed”— essentially the same activity termed by Adorno “negative dialectics.” There is an implicit acceptance of a Balkanized model of society in which certain groups and their interests have a priori moral value and there is no possibility of developing a scientific, rational theory of any particular group, much less a theory of pan-human universals. Both the Frankfurt School and postmodernism implicitly accept a model in which there is competition among antagonistic groups and no rational way of reaching consensus, although there is also an implicit double standard in which cohesive groups formed by majorities are viewed as pathological and subject to radical criticism.
It is immensely ironic that this onslaught against Western universalism effectively rationalizes minority group ethnocentrism while undercutting the intellectual basis of ethnocentrism. Intellectually one wonders how one could be a postmodernist and a committed Jew at the same time. Intellectual consistency would seem to require that all personal identifications be subjected to the same deconstructing logic, unless, of course, personal identity itself involves deep ambiguities, deception, and self-deception. This in fact appears to be the case for Jacques Derrida, the premier philosopher of deconstruction, whose philosophy shows the deep connections between the intellectual agendas of postmodernism and the Frankfurt School.35 Derrida has a complex and ambiguous Jewish identity despite being “a leftist Parisian intellectual, a secularist and an atheist” (Caputo 1997, xxiii). Derrida was born into a Sephardic Jewish family that immigrated to Algeria from Spain in the nineteenth century. His family were thus crypto-Jews who retained their religious-ethnic identity for 400 years in Spain during the period of the Inquisition.
Derrida identifies himself as a crypto-Jew—“Marranos that we are, Marranos in any case whether we want to be or not, whether we know it or not” (Derrida 1993a, 81)—a confession perhaps of the complexity, ambivalence, and self-deception often involved in post-Enlightenment forms of Jewish identity. In his notebooks, Derrida (1993b, 70) writes of the centrality that Jewish issues have held in his writing: “Circumcision, that’s all I’ve ever talked about.” In the same passage he writes that he has always taken “the most careful account, in anamnesis, of the fact that in my family and among the Algerian Jews, one scarcely ever said ‘circumcision’ but ‘baptism,’ not Bar Mitzvah but ‘communion,’ with the consequences of softening, dulling, through fearful acculturation, that I’ve always suffered from more or less consciously” (1993b, 72–73)—an allusion to the continuation of crypto-Jewish practices among the Algerian Jews and a clear indication that Jewish identification and the need to hide it have remained psychologically salient to Derrida. Significantly, he identifies his mother as Esther (1993b, 73), the biblical heroine who “had not made known her people nor her kindred” (Est. 2:10) and who was an inspiration to generations of crypto-Jews. Derrida was deeply attached to his mother and states as she nears death, “I can be sure that you will not understand much of what you will nonetheless have dictated to me, inspired me with, asked of me, ordered from me.” Like his mother (who spoke of baptism and communion rather than circumcision and Bar Mitzvah), Derrida thus has an inward Jewish identity while outwardly assimilating to the French Catholic culture of Algeria. For Derrida, however, there are indications of ambivalence for both identities (Caputo 1997, 304): “I am one of those marranes who no longer say they are Jews even in the secret of their own hearts” (Derrida 1993b, 170).
Derrida’s experience with anti-Semitism during World War II in Algeria was traumatic and inevitably resulted in a deep consciousness of his own Jewishness. Derrida was expelled from school at age 13 under the Vichy government because of the numerus clausus, a self-described “little black and very Arab Jew who understood nothing about it, to whom no one ever gave the slightest reason, neither his parents nor his friends” (Derrida 1993b, 58).
The persecutions, which were unlike those of Europe, were all the same unleashed in the absence of any German occupier. . . . It is an experience that leaves nothing intact, an atmosphere that one goes on breathing forever. Jewish children expulsed from school. The principal’s office: You are going to go home, your parents will explain. Then the Allies landed, it was the period of the so-called two-headed government (de Gaulle-Giraud): racial laws maintained for almost six months, under a “free” French government. Friends who no longer knew you, insults, the Jewish high school with its expulsed teachers and never a whisper of protest from their colleagues. . . . From that moment, I felt—how to put it?—just as out-of-place in a closed Jewish community as I did on the other side (we called them “the Catholics”). In France, the suffering subsided. I naively thought that anti-Semitism had disappeared. . . . But during adolescence, it was the tragedy, it was present in everything else. . . . Paradoxical effect, perhaps, of this brutalization: a desire for integration in the non-Jewish community, a fascinated but painful and suspicious desire, nervously vigilant, an exhausting aptitude to detect signs of racism, in its most discreet configurations or its noisiest disavowals. (Derrida 1995a, 120–121; italics in text)
Bennington (1993, 326) proposes that the expulsion from school and its aftermath were “no doubt . . . the years during which the singular character of J.D.’s ‘belonging’ to Judaism is imprinted on him: wound, certainly, painful and practiced sensitivity to antisemitism and any racism, ‘raw’ response to xenophobia, but also impatience with gregarious identification, with the militancy of belonging in general, even if it is Jewish. . . . I believe that this difficulty with belonging, one would almost say of identification, affects the whole of J.D.’s oeuvre, and it seems to me that ‘the deconstruction of the proper’ is the very thought of this, its thinking affection.”
Indeed, Derrida says as much. He recalls that just before his Bar Mitzvah (which he again notes was termed ‘communion’ by the Algerian Jewish community), when the Vichy government expelled him from school and withdrew his citizenship, “I became the outside, try as they might to come close to me they’ll never touch me again. . . . I did my ‘communion’ by fleeing the prison of all languages, the sacred one they tried to lock me up in without opening me to it [i.e., Hebrew], the secular [i.e., French] they made clear would never be mine” (Derrida 1993b, 289).
As with many Jews seeking a semi-cryptic pose in a largely non-Jewish environment, Derrida altered his name to Jacques. “By choosing what was in some way, to be sure, a semi-pseudonym but also very French, Christian, simple, I must have erased more things than I could say in a few words (one would have to analyze the conditions in which a certain community—the Jewish community in Algeria—in the ’30s sometimes chose American names)” (Derrida 1995a, 344). Changing his name is thus a form of crypsis as practiced by the Algerian Jewish community, a way of outwardly conforming to the French, Christian culture while secretly remaining Jewish.
Derrida’s Jewish political agenda is identical to that of the Frankfurt School:
The idea behind deconstruction is to deconstruct the workings of strong nation-states with powerful immigration policies, to deconstruct the rhetoric of nationalism, the politics of place, the metaphysics of native land and native tongue. . . . The idea is to disarm the bombs . . . of identity that nation-states build to defend themselves against the stranger, against Jews and Arabs and immigrants, . . . all of whom . . . are wholly other. Contrary to the claims of Derrida’s more careless critics, the passion of deconstruction is deeply political, for deconstruction is a relentless, if sometimes indirect, discourse on democracy, on a democracy to come. Derrida’s democracy is a radically pluralistic polity that resists the terror of an organic, ethnic, spiritual unity, of the natural, native bonds of the nation (natus, natio), which grind to dust everything that is not a kin of the ruling kind and genus (Geschlecht). He dreams of a nation without nationalist or nativist closure, of a community without identity, of a non-identical community that cannot say I or we, for, after all, the very idea of a community is to fortify (munis, muneris) ourselves in common against the other. His work is driven by a sense of the consummate danger of an identitarian community, of the spirit of the “we” of “Christian Europe,” or of a “Christian politics,” lethal compounds that spell death of Arabs and Jews, for Africans and Asians, for anything other. The heaving and sighing of this Christian European spirit is a lethal air for Jews and Arabs, for all les juifs [i.e., Jews as prototypical others], even if they go back to father Abraham, a way of gassing them according to both the letter and the spirit. (Caputo 1997, 231–232)
Derrida has recently published a pamphlet advocating immigration of non-Europeans into France (see Lilla 1998). As with the Frankfurt School, the radical skepticism of the deconstructionist movement is in the service of preventing the development of hegemonic, universalist ideologies and other foundations of gentile group allegiance in the name of the tout autre, i.e., the “wholly other.” Caputo ascribes Derrida’s motivation for his deconstruction of Hegel to the latter’s conceptualization of Judaism as morally and spiritually inferior to Christianity because of its legalism and tribalistic exclusivism, whereas Christianity is the religion of love and assimilation, a product of the Greek, not the Jewish spirit. These Hegelian interpretations are remarkably congruent with Christian self-conceptualizations and Christian conceptions of Judaism originating in antiquity (see SAID, Ch. 3), and such a conceptualization fits well with the evolutionary analysis developed in PTSDA. Reinterpretations and refutations of Hegel were common among nineteenth-century Jewish intellectuals (see SAID, Ch. 6), and we have seen that in Negative Dialectics Adorno was concerned to refute the Hegelian idea of universal history for similar reasons. “Hegel’s searing, hateful portrait of the Jew . . . seem[s] to haunt all of Derrida’s work; . . . by presenting in the most loyal and literal way just what Hegel says, Derrida shows . . . that Hegel’s denunciations of the Jew’s castrated heart is a heartless, hateful castration of the other” (Caputo 1994, 234, 243). As with the Frankfurt School, Derrida posits that the messianic future is unknown because to say otherwise would lead to the possibility of imposed uniformity, “a systematic whole with infinite warrant” (Caputo 1994, 246), a triumphal and dangerous truth in which Jews as exemplars of the tout autre would necessarily suffer. The human condition is conceptualized as “a blindness that cannot be remedied, a radical, structural condition in virtue of which everyone is blind from birth” (Caputo 1994, 313).
As with the Frankfurt School, the exemplars of otherness have a priori moral value. “In deconstruction love is extricated from the polemic against the Jews by being re-thought in terms of the other, of les juifs. . . . If this organic Hegelian Christian-European community is defined as making a common (com) defense (munis) against the other, Derrida advances the idea of laying down his arms, rendre les armes, surrendering to the other” (p. 248). From this perspective, acknowledging the possibility of truth is dangerous because of the possibility that truth could be used against the other. The best strategy, therefore, is to open up “a salutary competition among interpretations, a certain salutary radical hermeneuticizing, in which we dream with passion of something unforeseeable and impossible” (Caputo 1994, 277). To the conflicting views of differing religions and ideologies, Derrida “opposes a community, if it is one, of the blind[;] . . . of the blind leading the blind. Blindness makes for good communities, provided we all admit that we do not see, that in the crucial matters we are all stone blind and without privileged access, adrift in the same boat without a lighthouse to show the other shore” (Caputo 1997, 313–314). Such a world is safe for Judaism, the prototypical other, and provides no warrant for the universalizing tendencies of Western civilization (Caputo 1997, 335)—what one might term deconstruction as de-Hellenization or de-Westernization. Minority group ethnic consciousness is thus validated not in the sense that it is known to be based on some sort of psychological truth, but in the sense that it can’t be proved untrue. On the other hand, the cultural and ethnic interests of majorities are “hermeneuticized” and thus rendered impotent—impotent because they cannot serve as the basis for a mass ethnic movement that would conflict with the interests of other groups.
Ironically from the standpoint of the theory of Judaism developed here, Derrida (who has thought a great deal about his own circumcision in his Circonfession [Derrida 1993b]) realizes that circumcision, which he likens to a shibboleth because of its usefulness as a mechanism of ingroup demarcation (i.e., as a mark of Jewish exclusiveness and “otherness”), is a two-edged sword. Commenting on the work of Holocaust poet Paul Celan, Derrida (1994, 67) states, “the mark of a covenant or alliance, it also intervenes, it interdicts, it signifies the sentence of exclusion, of discrimination, indeed of extermination. One may, thanks to the shibboleth, recognize and be recognized by one’s own, for better and for worse, in the cleaving of partaking: on the one hand, for the sake of the partaking and the ring of the covenant, but also, on the other hand, for the purpose of denying the other, of denying him passage or life. . . . Because of the shibboleth and exactly to the extent that one may make use of it, one may see it turned against oneself: then it is the circumcised who are proscribed or held at the border, excluded from the community, put to death, or reduced to ashes” (Derrida 1994, 67–68; italics in text).
Despite the dangers of circumcision as a two-edged sword, Derrida (1994, 68) concludes that “there must be circumcision,” a conclusion that Caputo (1997, 252) interprets as an assertion of an irreducible and undeniable human demand “for a differentiating mark, for a mark of difference.” Derrida thus subscribes to the inevitability (innateness?) of group demarcations, but, amazingly and apologetically, he manages to conceptualize circumcision not as a sign of tribal exclusivism, but as “the cut that opens the space for the incoming of the tout autre” (Caputo 1994, 250)—a remarkable move because, as we have seen, Derrida seems quite aware that circumcision results in separatism, the erection of ingroup-outgroup barriers, and the possibility of between-group conflict and even extermination. But in Derrida’s gloss, “spiritually we are all Jews, all called and chosen to welcome the other” (Caputo 1994, 262), so that Judaism turns out to be a universalist ideology where marks of separatism are interpreted as openness to the other. In Derrida’s view, “if circumcision is Jewish it is only in the sense that all poets are Jews. . . . Everyone ought to have a circumcised heart; this ought to form a universal religion” (Caputo 1994, 262). Similarly in a discussion of James Joyce, Derrida contrasts Joyce and Hegel (as prototypical Western thinkers) who “close the circle of the same” with “Abrahamic [i.e., Jewish] circumcision, which cuts the cord of the same in order to be open to the other, circumcision as saying yes . . . to the other” (Caputo 1997, 257). Thus in the end, Derrida develops yet another in the age-old conceptualizations of Judaism as a morally superior group while ideologies of sameness and universality that might underlie ideologies of social homogeneity and group consciousness among European gentiles are deconstructed and rendered as morally inferior.
1. Part of this balancing act was a conscious practice of self-censorship in an effort to remove Marxist language from their publications, so that, for example, “Marxism” was replaced with “socialism,” and “means of production” was replaced by “industrial apparatus” (Wiggershaus 1994, 366). The Marxist substance remained, but by means of this deception the Institute could attempt to defuse accusations of political dogmatism.
2. Marcuse remained an ardent Communist after Adorno and Horkheimer abandoned communism. In an internal document of the Institute from 1947, Marcuse wrote, “The Communist Parties are, and will remain, the sole anti-fascist power. Denunciation of them must be purely theoretical. Such denunciation is conscious of the fact that the realization of the theory is only possible through the Communist Parties” (in Wiggershaus 1994, 391). In the same document Marcuse advocated anarchy as a mechanism for achieving the revolution. Yet, Marcuse and Horkheimer never ceased contact, and Horkheimer was an admirer of Marcuse’s Eros and Civilization (Wiggershaus 1994, 470) as reflecting the Institute’s view that sexual repression resulted in domination over nature and that ending sexual repression would weaken destructive tendencies.
3. The general thesis of Dialectic of Enlightenment is that the Enlightenment reflected the Western attempt to dominate nature and suppress human nature. Fascism was then viewed as the ultimate embodiment of the Enlightenment, since it represented the apotheosis of domination and the use of science as an instrument of oppression. In this perspective fascist collectivism is the logical outgrowth of Western individualism—a perspective that is fanciful to say the least. As discussed in PTSDA (Ch. 8), the collectivist nature of fascism has not been characteristic of Western political organizations. To a much greater extent than any other world cultural group, Western cultures have instead tended toward individualism beginning with the Greco-Roman world of antiquity; Judaism, in contrast, is a paradigm of a collectivist, group-oriented culture. As Charles Liebman (1973, 157) points out, it was the Jews who “sought the options of the Enlightenment but rejected its consequences,” by (in my terms) retaining a strong sense of group identity in a society nominally committed to individualism. And as argued in SAID (Chs. 3–5), there is good reason to suppose that the presence of Jews as a highly salient and successful group evolutionary strategy was a necessary condition for the development of prominent Western examples of collectivism.
4. Adorno’s philosophical style is virtually impenetrable. See Karl Popper’s (1984) humorous (and valid) dissection of the vacuity and pretentiousness of Adorno’s language. Piccone (1993) proposes that Adorno’s difficult prose was necessary to camouflage his revolutionary intent.
5. The theme that all modern ills, including National Socialism, collectivism, adolescent rebellion, mental illness, and criminality are due to the suppression of nature, including human nature, is also prominent in Horkheimer’s (1947, 92ff) Eclipse of Reason. In a passage that directly conforms to the psychoanalytic perspectives discussed in Chapter 4, the suppression of nature characteristic of civilization is said to begin at birth:
Each human being experiences the domineering aspect of civilization from his birth. To the child, the father’s power seems overwhelming, supernatural in the literal sense of the word. The father’s command is reason exempt from nature, an inexorable spiritual force. The child suffers in submitting to this force. It is almost impossible for an adult to remember all the pangs he experienced as a child in heeding innumerable parental admonitions not to stick his tongue out, not to mimic others, not to be untidy or forget to wash behind his ears. In these demands, the child is confronted by the fundamental postulates of civilization. He is forced to resist the immediate pressure of his urges, to differentiate between himself and the environment, to be efficient—in short, to borrow Freud’s terminology, to adopt a superego embodying all the so-called principles that his father and other father-like figures hold up to him. (pp. 109–110)
6. In a comment that predates the thesis of The Authoritarian Personality that anti-Semites are not introspective, Horkheimer and Adorno state that anti-Semitism is not simply projection, but projection in the absence of reflection. Anti-Semites have no inner life and therefore tend to project their hatreds, desires, and inadequacies onto the environment: “It invests the outer world with its own content” (p. 190).
7. As an indication of the self-conscious Jewish identifications of the Frankfurt School, Horkheimer attributed the refusal of Frankfurt theorists to “name the other” to their following the traditional Jewish taboo on naming God or describing paradise (see Jay 1980, 139).
8. The Frankfurt theorists inherited a strong opposition to capitalism from their previously-held radical beliefs. Irving Louis Horowitz (1987, 118) notes that the Critical Theorists were “caught between the Charybdis of capitalism—which they despised as a system of exploitation (whose fruits they nonetheless enjoyed), and the Scylla of communism—which they despised as a system of worse exploitation (whose bitter fruits they often escaped, unlike their Russian-Jewish counterparts).”
9. An interesting feature of the material in this section of The Authoritarian Personality is an attempt to demonstrate the irrationality of anti-Semitism by showing that anti-Semites have contradictory beliefs about Jews. As noted in SAID (Ch. 1), anti-Semitic beliefs are not expected to necessarily true or, I suppose, even logically consistent. However, The Authoritarian Personality exaggerates the self-contradictory nature of anti-Semitic beliefs in the service of emphasizing the irrational, projective nature of anti-Semitism. Thus Levinson states that it is contradictory for individuals to believe that Jews are clannish and aloof as well as to believe that Jews should be segregated and restricted (p. 76). Similarly in another volume of the Studies in Prejudice series, Ackerman and Jahoda (1950, 58) propose that anti-Semitic attitudes that Jews are clannish and intrusive are contradictory.
Agreement with such items is not self-contradictory. Such attitudes are probably a common component of the reactive processes discussed in SAID (Chs. 3–5). Jews are viewed by these anti-Semites as members of a strongly cohesive group who attempt to penetrate gentile circles of power and high social status, perhaps even undermining the cohesiveness of these gentile groups, while retaining their own separatism and clannishness. The belief that Jews should be restricted is certainly consistent with this attitude. Moreover, contradictory negative stereotypes of Jews, such as their being capitalist and communist (Ackerman & Jahoda 1950, 58), may be applied by anti-Semites to different groups of Jews, and these stereotyping processes may have a significant degree of truth: Jews may be overrepresented among successful capitalists and among radical political leaders. As noted in SAID (Ch. 2), there was indeed some truth to the idea that Jews were disproportionately likely to be political radicals and successful capitalists. “From emancipation onwards, the Jews were blamed both for seeking to ingratiate themselves with established society, enter in and dominate it; and, at the same time, for trying to destroy it utterly. Both charges had an element of truth” (Johnson 1988, 345).
Levinson also notes that the “Seclusive” scale includes statements such as “Jewish millionaires may do a certain amount to help their own people, but little of their money goes into worthwhile American causes,” whereas the “Intrusive” scale includes contradictory items such as “When Jews create large funds for educational or scientific research (Rosenwald, Heller, etc.), it is mainly due to a desire for fame and public notice rather than a really sincere scientific interest.” Again, one could easily affirm the first statement as a general rule and consistently believe that the exceptions result from Jewish self-interest. Nevertheless, Levinson concludes, “One major characteristic of anti-Semites is a relatively blind hostility which is reflected in the stereotypy, self-contradiction, and destructiveness of their thinking about Jews” (p. 76).
Anti-Semites are also said to oppose Jewish clannishness and Jewish assimilation. They demand that Jews “liquidate themselves, that they lose entirely their cultural identity and adhere instead to the prevailing cultural ways”; at the same time, “Jews who attempt to assimilate are apparently even more suspect than the others. Accusations of ‘prying,’ ‘power-seeking,’ and ‘imitation’ are made, and seemingly generous acts by Jews are attributed to hidden selfish motives. . . . There is no logical basis for urging on the one hand that Jews become like everyone else, and on the other hand, that Jews be limited and excluded in the most important areas of social life” (p. 97).
This is a strange interpretation of the data. One could easily advocate that an outgroup assimilate but at the same time have negative attitudes regarding the present clannish, power-seeking behavior of outgroup members. Again, social identity research and evolutionary theory do not predict that individuals will hold true or self-consistent beliefs about an outgroup such as the Jews. Levinson, however, is clearly going far beyond the data in an attempt to portray anti-Semitism as entirely irrational.
10. See also the discussion in SAID (Ch. 6) of ADL strategies to combat anti-Semitism by making true statements about Jews into exemplars of anti-Semitic attitudes. Mayer (1979, 84)) notes that Orthodox Jews are highly concerned about living in an area which has a sufficiently high concentration of Jews, and Lowenstein (1983) shows that Jews continued to live in concentrated areas in Germany after emancipation. See also Glazer and Moynihan (1970) for similar data for American Jews.
11. Political conservatism and ethnocentrism are said to be difficult to separate, as indicated by the following item from the Political and Economic Conservatism Scale (PEC): “America may not be perfect, but the American Way has brought us about as close as human beings can get to a perfect society.” Levinson comments, “To support this idea is, it would seem, to express politico-economic conservatism and the ingroup idealization so characteristic of ethnocentrism” (p. 181). Here, as in the case of the discussion of the Ethnocentrism Scale itself, individuals who identify strongly with a dominant majority group and its interests are viewed as pathological. In fact the PEC scale was not as highly correlated with the F-Scale as was the Ethnocentrism Scale (E-Scale), a finding that Adorno tendentiously interpreted not as indicating that these concepts were not highly related but as indicating that “we are living in potentially fascist times” (p. 656)! As indicated in the conclusion of this chapter, the high correlation between the F-Scale and the E-Scale was a matter of design rather than an empirical finding.
12. The authors of The Authoritarian Personality take a strong moral position against ethnocentrism and political conservatism. Levinson notes, for example, that “The National Maritime Union . . . can take pride in having the lowest [means on the Ethnocentrism Scale]” (p. 196).
13. Frenkel-Brunswik’s interview data have been shown to suffer from serious methodological difficulties “from beginning to end” (Altemeyer 1981, 37; see also R. Brown 1965, 514ff). There are problems of generalization since fully 40 percent of the high-scoring male interviewees (8 out of 20) were inmates at San Quentin prison and 2 were patients at a psychiatric hospital at the time of the interviews. (Three of the 20 low scorers were from San Quentin, and 2 were from the psychiatric clinic.) As Altemeyer (1981, 37) notes, this type of sample obviously presents problems of generalization even granting the possibility that high scorers are more likely to be in prison. This problem is much less apparent in the interviews from the women, however, where the high scorers were mainly students and health workers, although 3 of the 25 were psychiatric patients.
Nevertheless, Altemeyer (1988, 37) notes that the San Quentin interviewees were “the backbone” of the statistically significant results separating the high and low scorers. Besides this method of inflating the level of statistical significance by including highly unrepresentative subjects, there was also a strong tendency to discuss results as if they were based on statistically significant differences when in fact the differences were not significant (Altemeyer 1988, 38).
It has also been shown that scores on the Ethnocentrism Scale are negatively associated with IQ, education, and socio-economic status to a much greater extent than found by the Berkeley group (Hyman & Sheatsley 1954). Lower socioeconomic status and its correlative lower IQ and education may result in ethnocentrism because such individuals have not been socialized in a university environment and because economic pressures (i.e., resource competition) are more likely to result in group identifications within the lower social classes. The latter perspective fits well with social identity research and with the general findings of another volume in the Studies in Prejudice series, Prophets of Deceit (Lowenthal & Guterman 1970).
14. Excerpts indicate that these individuals had very positive attitudes about their parents. A high-scoring female describes her mother as follows: “Mother—she amazes me—millions of activities—had two maids in ——— years ago, but never since—such calmness—never sick, never—beautiful women she really is” (p. 340; italics in text). Another (F24) describes her father as follows: “Father—he is wonderful; couldn’t make him better. He is always willing to do anything for you. He is about ——— years old, six feet tall, has dark brown hair, slim build, young-looking face, good-looking, dark green eyes” (p. 342).
15. Other examples of proposed resentment against parents by high-scoring subjects clearly suggest a parent who has strict rules and enforces them within the context of a relationship that is viewed positively overall. Thus a high-scoring subject says about her father, “I can’t say I don’t like him, . . . but he wouldn’t let me date at 16. I had to stay home” (p. 348). The interview material of a high-scoring female (F78) shows that “[h]er parents definitely approve of the engagement. Subject wouldn’t even go with anyone if they didn’t like him” (p. 351). Again, these subjects are labeled as victimized by their parents. The supposition seems to be that any parental strictures on children’s behavior, no matter how reasonable, are bound to result in enormously high levels of suppressed hostility and aggression in children.
16. This idea that rebellion against parental values and authority is a sign of mental health can also be seen in the theory of the psychoanalyst Erik Homberg Erikson (1968). Erikson proposed that the most important developmental issue of adolescence was the identity crisis and that going through an identity crisis was a necessary prerequisite for healthy adult psychological functioning. The evidence indicates, however, that adolescence is not normatively a time of rebellion against parents, but rebellion against parents is associated with hostile, rejecting family relationships.
The interesting point here is that research on identity processes during adolescence does not support the idea that adolescents who accept adult values show signs of psychopathology. The subjects who most resemble those viewed as pathological in The Authoritarian Personality are termed “foreclosure” subjects by Marcia (1966, 1967). These subjects have not experienced an identity crisis but have made commitments which they have accepted from other individuals, usually parents, without question. The families of foreclosure subjects tend to be child-centered and conformist (Adams, Gullotta, & Markstrom-Adams 1994). Matteson (1974) found that foreclosures participated in a “love affair” with their families, and Muuss (1988) summarizes evidence indicating that foreclosures are very close to and feel highly valued by their parents. Degree of control is intermediate, neither too harsh nor too limited, and such individuals perceive parents as accepting and supportive. The parent-child relationships of these individuals appear to be the authoritative parent-child relationships commonly viewed by developmental psychologists as producing optimal child development. Marcia and Friedman (1970) found that foreclosure women had high self-esteem and were low in anxiety, and Marcia (1980) summarizes several studies showing that the foreclosure females are well adjusted. There is thus no reason to suppose that adolescents who accept parental values are in any sense suffering from psychopathology.
On the contrary, individuals who have very poor parent-child relationships tend to be in the “identity diffused” category, namely individuals who completely fail to develop an identity. Very negative parent-child relationships are characteristic of such identity-diffused subjects (Adams, Gullotta, & Markstrom 1994), and they appear to lead to minimal identification with the values and ideologies of the parents. Parents of such individuals are described as “distant, detached, uninvolved and unconcerned” (Muuss l982; see also Marcia l980) and such individuals appear not to accept the values of their parents. There is even evidence that identity-diffused individuals are at risk for psychopathology.
17. Other examples: F71: “Right now, I’m [father’s] favorite. . . . [H]e’ll do anything for me—takes me to school and calls for me” (p. 354); M47: “Well I guess her [mother] being so good and friendly to everybody, especially me. (For example?) Well, always trying to do everything for me. Very seldom go uptown without bringing something back for me” (p. 354); M13: “Mostly [father’s] attention to us kids was very admirable. He’s very honest, so much so that he won’t condone charge accounts. He’s known throughout the country as a man whose word is as good as his bond. His greatest contribution was denying himself pleasure to take care of us kids” (p. 354).
In the section “Image of the Mother: Sacrifice, Moralism, Restrictiveness,” mothers of high scorers are individuals who are highly self-sacrificing on behalf of their children and also have a strong sense of appropriate behavior which they attempt to inculcate in their children. M57: “She was a hard working lady, took care of us kids; she never did mistreat us in any way.” M13: “Mother was sick in bed a great deal of the time. She devoted her last strength to us kids.” M47: “She always taught me the difference between right and wrong, the things I should do and shouldn’t.”
18. Other typical comments of high scorers are as follows: M58: “If there were any conflicts between mother and father, I didn’t know.” F24: “Parents get along swell— never quarrel—hardly ever. Just over nonsense if they do. They quarrelled once after drinking wine over who got the last. Silly stuff like that”; F31: “My parents get along very well with each other, so far—knock on wood. They have their arguments, but they’re never serious because of my mother’s easy-going personality.”
19. Other typical comments of the low scorers are as follows: M15: “Mother accuses father of ‘keeping her down.’ She talks about her ambitions too much. Mother thinks of herself first. She doesn’t want to settle down in any church. Keeps suspecting father lets another singer get ahead of her. There are many quarrels between them, which upset me. Father sometimes threatened to leave”; M50: “Father was temperamental and father and mother had considerable domestic strife”; M55: “Mother went along with him on all the moralizing, though not as harsh as he was, not really a very good marriage. Mother should have married someone a lot more human and she probably would have been a lot better off . . . well, it’s hard to imagine him with anyone with whom he would get along.”
20. Similarly, when a subject reports no aggression against his father on the Thematic Apperception Test, the results are interpreted as indicating suppressed aggression against the father because the only aggression in the stories is done by characters the subject rejects. Aggressive imagery unrelated to the father is evidence for suppressed aggression against the father.
21. Another example of concern for social status among high scorers is the following from F79, who comes from a wealthy family that owns a lumber mill, a logging camp, and other business interests: “It’s a medium sized mill but I have no idea of his [father’s] income. Of course, we children have always been to private schools and lived in exclusive residential section. In ——— we had tennis courts and horses. We had more or less to start over again when we came to this country. We lived in a nice house but really couldn’t afford it. It was quite an effort to get into social circles. In ——— we felt secure and fitted in. Back here, we have lived at the same level but with anxiety about it. Mother and daddy have climbed socially . . . and I don’t care so much” (p. 384). Since the subject seems not so concerned about social status, one might wonder why the protocol was scored as it was.
22. The examples of “anti-Id moralism” among the high-scoring women include the following: F22: “Sex isn’t uppermost in my mind by any means. . . . I’m more for having a good time with the exclusion of sex interest”; F31: “I think a girl should be friendly, but I don’t like necking in the back of a show. A boy and girl should be just friends” (p. 396).
High-scoring males appear to value sexual decorum in females they intend to marry: M6: “I like a girl who is level-headed and can talk on several topics. I don’t like the Maizie and Flo type or the sex boxes”; M14: “I want a girl whose sole interest is in the home.”
23. Other examples of adaptive female mate discrimination behavior among the high scorers deemed pathological by Frenkel-Brunswik are the following: F71: “Fine boy. Father a writer; grandfather secretary of ——— Canal; very wealthy family but he doesn’t have the drive and ambition that I want; I just have to have more drive; somebody who doesn’t have to lean on me. I had the feeling that if I walked away he would collapse. . . . Another boy here has everything except that he isn’t thoughtful like. . . . I’ve got to have someone who isn’t selfish.” F22: “I’m going to look (among other things) for the fellow’s views on supporting me. I’d like to marry someone, for instance, who is going into a profession—maybe a doctor” (p. 401).
24. The other two examples given of such “pathological” attitudes among females are the following:
F32: “Well, I think that because of the society in which we live, young people miss a great deal by not being married in the church of their faith. They lose the reverence for marriage and don’t learn the true meaning of marriage vows, when it is done so commercially (in a public office). I think that when people are married in church—by that I don’t mean a large wedding necessarily—they have one of the most beautiful experiences of their lives. . . . The thing which the church can teach youth is ‘to choose.’ ” By this, she means principally the choice between right and wrong, but also to choose one’s friends. “In a church group one meets the right kind of young people; not the kind who hang around the lake shore at night.” (p. 403)
F78: “It was just love at first sight. He has brown hair, brown eyes, white teeth, not handsome, but good clean-cut looking; beautiful smile; mixes well, easy to get along with but has a will of his own. He’s lots of fun, interested in everything. He’s a high school graduate, now a mechanic in the ground crew of the Naval Air Transport. He wants to get into something in the mechanical line. Before the war he was an apprentice in the auto industry. . . .” The vocation of her husband really wouldn’t matter. She thinks boy friend has good chances of getting along, definitely. She would like a profession—“sort of middle class.”
25. The high scorers are said to engage in “self-glorification” for saying such things as the following: F71: “Child—nervous because of mastoid operations. . . . terrible time getting started in school . . . afraid of kids . . . this in first half of kindergarten . . . by second half I was a leader. Think one of my best assets is my poise—learned from moving around so much” (p. 425); F38, commenting on overcoming infantile paralysis: “I have always had a happy disposition, and I’ve always been honest with my family. I appreciate what they did for me. I’ve always tried to find a way so that I wouldn’t be a burden to them. I’ve never wanted to be a cripple. I was always dependable in a pinch. I’ve always been cheerful and I’m sure I’ve never made anyone feel bad because of my handicap. Maybe one of the reasons I have been cheerful is because of my handicap. I wore a cast on my leg until I was 4 years old.” (p. 425). (Subject goes on to describe her marital fidelity, happy married life, and good relationships with her family.) Only an extremely perverse interpretation of these data—an interpretation made possible by psychodynamic theory—could result in supposing that these individuals are anything less than heroic in their ability to overcome their disabilities and lead fulfilling, productive lives.
26. These tendencies are confirmed in the projective material in Chapter XV. Low scorers again appear to be highly conflicted, anxious, and guilt-ridden (pp. 550, 562). They “identify with the underdog” (p. 566) and have a “strong sense of failure, self-blame, helplessness or impotence” (p. 562). They strive after close relationships at the same time they attribute feelings of hostility and exploitiveness to others (p. 551).
27. In keeping with his generally unscientific approach to the data, Adorno provides no information on how these types were arrived at or what proportion of the subjects fit into the various categories. In the case of “The Genuine Liberal,” there is a discussion of one subject.
28. Interestingly, immediately after expressing the moral legitimacy of free competition between Jews and gentiles, the “genuine liberal” states, “Maybe if the Jews get in power they would liquidate the majority! That’s not smart. Because we would fight back” (p. 782) This subject clearly views Jews not as individuals but as a potentially menacing, cohesive group.
29. Similarly, in another volume of the Studies in Prejudice series, Bettelheim and Janowitz (1950) found that some of their anti-Semitic subjects were rebellious and uninhibited.
30. Gottfredson (1994) likewise notes that in the media and public opinion there persists the idea that intelligence tests are culturally biased and have nothing to do with performance in life, and this long after these ideas have been discredited by researchers on intelligence.
31. The same might be said about Margaret Mead’s work discussed in Chapter 2. Despite the fact that at this point any reasonable person must assume that the work is at least highly questionable, her work continues to appear prominently in many college textbooks. Mead was on the advisory board of the Institute’s anti-Semitism project, which produced The Authoritarian Personality.
32. Several authors have found evidence for a general authoritarianism dimension in which attitudes toward authority are divorced from the ethnocentrism often included in measures of right-wing authoritarianism (e.g., Bhushan 1982; Ray 1972). Altemeyer (1994) notes that authoritarian individuals in North America and in the Soviet Union under communism had mirror-image authoritarian attitudes, with the latter supporting “hard line,” authoritarian communism. In Studies on Authority and the Family (the earlier attempt of the Frankfurt School to link family relationships and authoritarianism), it was impossible for an individual to be classified as authoritarian if he or she stated that socialism would improve the world situation and that capitalism caused hyperinflation. “The possibility that someone could remain loyal to the Communist Party or to its programme and nevertheless be authoritarian was thus excluded” (Wiggershaus 1994, 174).
33. The 1996 Arts and Humanities Citation Index listed approximately 375 citations of Adorno, 90 of Horkheimer, and 550 of Walter Benjamin. A search of the libraries of the University of California in April 1998 under the subject heading “Frankfurt School” listed 41 books published since 1988, with over 200 more on the topic of Critical Theory.
34. Consider the influential postmodernist Jean-François Lyotard (1984, 8) states that “the right to decide what is true is not independent of the right to decide what is just.” In the best tradition of the Frankfurt School, Lyotard rejects scientific accounts as totalitarian because they replace traditional accounts of culture with scientifically derived universals. As with Derrida, Lyotard’s solution is to legitimize all narratives, but the main project is to attempt to prevent what Berman (1989, 8) terms the development of “an institutionalized master narrative”—the same deconstructive project that originated with the Frankfurt School. It goes without saying that the rejection of science is entirely a priori—in the best tradition of the Frankfurt School.
35. I noted briefly the anti-Western ideology of Claude Lévi-Strauss in Chapter 2 (pp. 22–23). It is interesting that Derrida “deconstructed” Lévi-Strauss by accusing him of reactivating Rousseau’s romantic views of non-Western cultures and thereby making a whole series of essentialist assumptions that are not warranted by Derrida’s radical skepticism. “In response to Lévi-Strauss’s criticisms of philosophers of consciousness, Derrida answered that none of them . . . would have been as naive as Lévi-Strauss had been to conclude so hastily in favor of the innocence and original goodness of the Nambikwara [an African tribe]. Derrida saw Lévi-Strauss’s ostensibly ethnocentric-free viewpoint as a reverse ethnocentrism with ethnic-political positions accusing the West of being initially responsible, through writing, for the death of innocent speech” (Dosse 1997 II, 30). These comments are symptomatic of the changes inaugurated by postmodernism into the current intellectual zeitgeist. While the earlier critiques of the West by the Boasians and the structuralists romanticized non-Western cultures and vilified the West, the more recent trend is to express a pervasive skepticism regarding knowledge of any kind, motivated, I suppose, by the reasons outlined in this chapter (pp. 166, 201) and Chapter 6.