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I’ve been engaging in a political thought experiment recently. My findings are still incomplete, but I thought I’d reach out for some peer review before I get too far into this thing.

The experiment deals with the “authoritarian mind.” You may have read about this idea over the last year; it’s gotten a lot of attention as a part of the many tortured attempts to explain the rise of Drump within a free, enlightened society. The term authoritarian here does not refer control freakish behavior of authoritarians themselves, but rather to the willingness of their followers to submit to such behavior.

The authoritarian mind is evidenced by a desire to be told what to think and do and a willingness to cede all personal responsibility to a strong leader. “I’ll take care of everything,” says the leader. The follower, seizing his chance to be let off the hook, replies “You’ve got my vote. Do whatever you have to!” — and the authoritarian relationship is officially established.

These relationships occur outside of politics, of course. Religion uses them to great effect. Most scams, both large and small, depend on the mark’s eagerness to give up personal control of their life or money and hand it over to someone who will promise to make everything better.

So here is my experiment: what would our world be like if all of these authoritarian minded people disappeared? Never mind why or how. If it makes you feel more comfortable, perhaps they’ve all been transported to heaven in the Rapture. Whatever. They’re gone — maybe 40% of humanity — and only those people who are willing (most of the time) to confront facts are left behind. Since you haven’t stopped reading this out of disgust, that group includes you, me, and everyone who tries to lead an evidence-based life.

Would the world be a better place without authoritarians? Would there be peace? Would reason finally triumph? Would the Age of Aquarius dawn at last?

Or would some fundamental element of humanity be lost? Would civilization stall and finally crumble to dust without the participation of true believers? Can our species survive without a blind faith that is impervious to facts? Who is to say that, with these people gone, some of us wouldn’t rush to fill the void of credulity and obedience? Movements need such people. So do armies. Maybe, as a species, we all do.

I prefer to think not. I prefer to think that an evidence-based life will lead me toward meaning and understanding and happiness. If I can maintain vigilance that is. I know that we all have an authoritarian inside us, urging us to give in to promises of simplicity and certainty. Who wouldn’t daydream of finding an easy way out of the daily drudgery of figuring out what to do in life? That drudgery can be a total pain.

Or maybe I’m wrong. Maybe, to be truly human, we must be gullible. Happy sheep waiting to be fleeced by the Controlling Class. Ba-a-a?

I don't think so. For me, the correct answer is “Bah!” That blissful certitude sounds even worse than the total pain option. Even though there will be lapses into gullibility, at least there’s the hope that I’ll snap out of it. I’m voting for endless doubt over contented ignorance.

I guess I’ll just have to miss out on the Rapture.
No "new normal" for me, this shit ain't normal.
~ MS, Truckee