Predisposed Authoritarians

Yesterday, I finished reading Anne Applebaum’s superb new book Twilight of Democracy –- The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism. I made notes and plan to write a memo about it. I’ll just say here that near the beginning she refers to an estimate made by the behavioral economist Karen Stenner that about a third of the population of any country have an “authoritarian predisposition.” This is something I’ve been thinking about for a long time, and I think one-third of the population is a good guess. It lines up pretty closely to the roughly forty percent of the country that comprises the “Trump base.” It’s not that hard to spot people with an authoritarian predisposition, though they include people as disparate as Bill Barr, Sean Hannity, Clarence Thomas, and the Proud Boys.