I stumbled across an online book on the phenomenon of right-wing authoritarianism by a social scientist named Bob Altemeyer, at the University of Manitoba. It’s pretty interesting, and written in a light, breezy, accessible style. Do yourself a favor, and read at least the introduction.

One thing that struck me is the test in Chapter One to determine your level of authoritarian tendencies. The lowest possible score is 20, the highest 180. The higher your score, the more likely you are to be an authoritarian follower: essentially, a goose-stepping, armband-wearing fascist. Predictably, I scored very low: 30. What I find surprising is that the average score of people taking the test is 90.

I can’t even imagine agreeing with some of the extreme right-wing statements there, such as “Our country desperately needs a mighty leader who will do what has to be done to destroy the radical new ways and sinfulness that are ruining us.” That’s almost comically exaggerated.

Or conversely, it’s hard to imagine disagreeing with the common-sense liberal positions described in other questions.

So for the average to be 90, many people obviously agree with the cartoonesque Mussolini attitude. That’s sobering, and disquieting.

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