I remember reading The Authoritarian Personality back in the day --studying social psychology. It was a 'referential' work, often cited in argument and discussions among those of 'the movement'--the anti-war crowd eager for political reform and social change evidenced in civil rights and the women's movement.
First published in 1950, its lead author Theodor Adorno was a member of the Frankfurt School a Marxist-inspired collection of social science scholars dedicated to analysis of cultural characteristics of capitalism. Another of the book's authors, R. Nevitt Sanford of UC Berkeley, a distinguished psychologist, was fired for refusing to sign a McCarthy-era loyalty oath, just after the book came out.
The Authoritarian Personality addressed itself to the question of whether the United States might harbor significant numbers of people with a "potentially fascistic" disposition.
The Authoritarian Personality seemed to anticipate the fervent crusades against communism and the attacks on Chief Justice Earl Warren, the United Nations, and even fluoridation that would characterize postwar politics in the United States.
The fact that the radical right has transformed itself from a marginal movement to an influential sector of the contemporary Republican Party makes the book's choice of subject matter all the more prescient.
Adorno and his associates devised the F scale, a method of analysing answers to key questions used to identify nine key dimensions of a protofascist personality: conventionality, submissiveness, aggression, subjectivity, superstitiousness, toughness, cynicism, the tendency to project unconscious emotional responses onto the world, and heightened concerns about sex.
For example, subjects were asked how much they disagreed or agreed with such statements as:
"Obedience and respect for authority are the most important virtues children should learn." (Submissiveness.)
"Homosexuality is a particularly rotten form of delinquency and ought to be severely punished." (Aggression and sex.)
"No insult to our honor should ever go unpunished." (Toughness and aggression.)
"No matter how they act on the surface, men are interested in women for only one reason." (Sex and cynicism.)
"When you come right down to it, it's human nature never to do anything without an eye to one's own profit"? More