Sunday, May 27, 2018

Why Would Centrists Be OK with Authoritarianism?

A disturbing new study by David Adler found that centrists show weak support for democracy.

Even after removing people who said they were centrists because they were politically apathetic, the remainder in the middle position were not sold on democracy as a method of political order in any notable way.

As a centrist, I find this particularly challenging.

I think the commitment to democracy depends on an informed study of the alternatives. Most people have enjoyed the benefits of democracy long enough to have forgotten what it cost, and what we had to beat to get here.  The dark lining of the silver cloud of the worldwide democratic norm is that we have forgotten how bad authoritarianism has proven to be, again and again.

I can think of another factor that might account for the rising appeal of authoritarianism, even among political centrists: growing up with family disorder. Family dysfunction is one of the few bad social indicators that is increasing.  To people who live in chaos, tyranny seems like a step up toward order.  Perhaps people living in societies of political order, but who grew up in families of personal disorder, end up centrists who are OK with authoritarianism.