Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Chapter 35 from: J.J. Ray (Ed.) "Conservatism as Heresy". Sydney: A.N.Z. Book Co., 1974

Women and Suburbia


LOOK HERE, FELLAS, there seems to be this mistaken idea around that we working mums work because we're bored to sobs with suburbia. Or that we're mad careerists or neurotic or something.

Frankly, I can imagine few jobs nicer than knocking off the housework in a couple of hours, then going to the beach or watching the midday movie and being all relaxed and smiling for my kids when they come home from school. That's if I could still afford to give them steak when I wanted to instead of sausages, and buy the odd good book, and go on the occasional holiday.

High Prices

Have you ever considered that the reason a lot of us work is to take a little of the load from our husbands so they're not crushed down with bills and dread? So they can take time out to laugh? OK, so we may have job satisfaction. But I know stay-at-home mothers who are equally satisfied learning pottery.

Do you know what I think of that suggestion of paying a weekly wage to women who prefer to stay at home with their children? Unreal.

Nearly all of us would prefer to stay at home with our kids. Most of us can't because the price of meat etc. has risen slightly lately (in case you hadn't noticed).

We may arrive at work all tarted up and composed (we have to-the competition's stiff) but don't imagine it's a breeze. The big bugbear is we get so tired. It's not the amount of work we necessarily have to do in each of our jobs-keeping the household in order, caring for the children. The job. It's knowing we have to do them all.

We're not doing our own thing either. We're incredibly timetabled. Make the beds 6.45, breakfast 6.50, shine dem shoes, tote dat bale. God help us if one of the kids decides to go slow.

No unwinding over a beer after work for us mums. We're so damn guilty it's straight back on the treadmill-- usually to a darkened house and the dinner to cook and the stories to read and the homework to help with.

Missing Out

Then there's the missing out bit. Like visiting day at the school. The vision of that little face, eyes fixed wistfully on the doorway, waiting for the Mum who never comes.

I used to work five days a week. I liked the job. No hangups about child care centres (or the lack of) because my children had reached primary school. A succession of non-tax-deductible house keepers (no, you can never rely on them staying despite all your blandishments) to keep the home scene from becoming too chaotic. Until the day my eight-year-old said: 'What's the point of having a mother if you hardly ever see her?'

Well I'm one of the lucky ones now with a part-time job. But a lot of my fellow working mums have to slog it out full-time through sheer economic necessity and/or because they can't get part-time jobs. See?

The Women's Electoral Lobby has an alternative proposal-- that the housewife's wage replace child endowment and that it be paid from the first child, but not increase with the number of children. At least we'd all get it. But I'd be surprised if the amount was much more than the drop-in-the-bucket child endowment is now.

Instead of mulling over 12th of Never projects, why don't you fellas get to work lowering the cost of living? Then indeed we might be able to spend more time with our children.

This chapter originally appeared as an article in the Sydney "Daily Mirror", 21 June 1973.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Chapter 36 from: J.J. Ray (Ed.) "Conservatism as Heresy". Sydney: A.N.Z. Book Co., 1974

Blueprint for Disaster: American Defence Expenditure


This is going to be one of those old-fashioned, reactionary columns that will cause all right-thinking persons to label the writer a tired old toady of the military-industrial complex. But there are certain facts of our present situation that really do seem worth a bit of thinking about, and that are hardly being thought about, or argued about, or written about, at all. Here are four examples:

1. The way things are going, the U.S. Army will soon hardly be in shape to take on a determined girls' hockey team. The Army is now dependent on volunteers, and young men are not volunteering fast enough, despite a pay scale that makes our Army infinitely the most expensive per capita in world history. So the Army is headed down to 800,000 men, and could go down to 730,000 men.

Moreover, the Army bureaucracy, in its incredible way, has ruled that only fifteen per cent of the men in Army uniform should be the fighting men of the three combat services, infantry, artillery and armour. That means an Army of around 120,000 combat soldiers -- the rest are support troops or bureaucrats in uniform, rather less capable of harming an enemy than a determined girls' hockey team. An Army of 120,000 combat soldiers must seem some sort of joke to the Russians, who field a superbly equipped army of at least eighty combat-ready divisions.

2. Norman Polmar, U.S. editor of Jane's Fighting Ships, the traditionally accurate British guide to naval strength, believes that the Soviet Union, which hardly had a navy fifteen years ago, 'may already have become the dominant seapower'.

3. U.S. intelligence satellites have spotted no fewer than three new Soviet missile types since the SALT 1 agreement was signed last year. All three are designed to carry very heavy warheads. One, for example, is a heavier version of the SS-9, which already carries a warhead about twenty times as heavy as the American Minuteman. Another uses a 'pop-up' technique to enable the smaller SS-11 to carry a much heavier warhead than before.

Why all this emphasis on heavier warheads? The answer is obvious. MIRVing a warhead is like slicing a pie-the bigger the warhead to be MIRVed, the bigger, and the more numerous, the individually targeted warheads into which it can be divided. The SALT agreement represents a stable nuclear balance, simply because the Soviet missiles are not MIRVed and ours are. But all the experts are agreed that the Soviets will have fully mastered MIRV technology by 1980 at the latest.

Then, unless something is done in the meantime, the nuclear balance will cease to be stable. For then, according to the experts in such matters, the Soviets will have the capacity to knock out our entire land-based nuclear deterrent in a first strike, with enough nuclear warheads to destroy every major city in this country in a second strike. We will lack an equivalent capacity. Thus the stable nuclear balance will cease to be stable.

4. The Canadian truce team in South Vietnam, just before it withdrew in frustration, issued a report. The Canadians, hardly toadies of the U.S. military-industrial complex, reported that the North Vietnamese had been cheating wholesale on the Paris agreement. North Vietnam, the Canadians charged, 'without being deterred one scintilla by the Paris agreement, has been infiltrating massive armed North Vietnamese troop units into Cambodia and South Vietnam in order to conduct military operations against the Republic of South Vietnam . . .'

One thing that is interesting about these four assorted facts is the reaction to them of the Democratic opposition. The Democratic Party of John Kennedy and his predecessors would have been howling to high heaven that something had to be done to right the growing imbalance in both conventional and strategic power. The current reaction of the Democrats is summed up in a paper signed by almost the entire liberal Democratic defense establishment -- Paul C. Warnkle, Adrian Fisher, Morton Halperin, Roswell Gilpatric, Herbert ScoviIle, Herbert York and so on. The booklet proposes to cut more than $14 billion from the current defence budget.

Curious Reasoning

This is to be done partly by sharp reductions in conventional strength. 'At least' three divisions are to be cut from our enfeebled Army, and carriers, nuclear submarines, tactical air wings and so on are to be similarly cut back. It is to be done partly by eliminating virtually all new strategic-weapons procurement, even to the point of halting 'the final instalment for the MIRVing of the first 550 Minuteman missiles.' And it is to be done partly by cutting off all logistic, economic or other support for the South Vietnamese.

All three proposals are fairly mind-boggling. The men who put their names to the report are intelligent men, but it is curious reasoning, surely, that the way to deal with an unquestioned threat of decisive Soviet superiority in conventional and strategic power is to cut back on U.S. conventional and strategic power.

The report points out that the 'imbalance in the teeth-to-tail ratio' needs to be reversed. Indeed it does, and by the toughest kind of action, up to and including the mass firing of generals and admirals. But the way to do so is not to cut three divisions from our thirteen-division Army, for example, but to demand that the Army provide a lot more divisions --at least twenty-from its 800,000 manpower level.

Insuring Defeat

As for the proposal to cut off all logistic and other support to the South Vietnamese, this would of course insure the defeat of South Vietnam. The 'massive' infiltration which the Canadians report is clearly in preparation for another North Vietnamese offensive, for which the Soviets and the Chinese are providing generous logistic support, including heavy tanks and long-range artillery. Cut off from all U.S. support, the South Vietnamese cannot possibly contain the offensive.

The betrayal of South Vietnam was the price demanded by the Communists for the return of our prisoners, before the Paris agreement. If this Democratic defence blueprint is approved, South Vietnam will be betrayed gratuitously, and the war lost retroactively. It is a curious atmosphere in which we find ourselves, in which moral men like those listed above can blandly propose the betrayal of a small dependent ally, amid nods of approval from other moral men, who can claim to have been right all along, when the inevitable defeat of South Vietnam occurs.

In such an atmosphere, the Democratic defence blueprint seems likely to be adopted without much argument or much thought. For to dispute its wisdom is to invite the Pavlovian label of cold warrior or Pentagon toady, and no sensible man, no politician especially, wishes to be so labeled.

This chapter originally appeared as an article in "Newsweek", 13 August 1973, p. 35.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Chapter 37 from: J.J. Ray (Ed.) "Conservatism as Heresy". Sydney: A.N.Z. Book Co., 1974

In Defence of Monarchy


JUST AS QUEEN VICTORIA would not have been, so I, too, was not amused at the cheeky presumption of the upstart military junta in Athens to abolish the Greek monarchy and declare a republic. Like all leftwing, communist-sympathising, radical and subversive newspaper columnists, I gradually have come around to the opinion that what the world needs now is not fewer, but more kings and queens.

As things stand now, there is not a single hereditary monarchy at the moment in the whole of North and South America --unless one counts places like Canada and the Netherlands Antilles, where a European sovereign is technically chief of state. There only are two or three kingdoms left in Africa, a mere handful remaining in Europe, with not very many more in Asia, even when one counts all those tiny Persian gulf emirates.

Practically every year another monarchy is overthrown, or abolished. This year it is Greece. Before that it was Cambodia, before that Libya, and before that it was Burundi. Just in the years since world war two, monarchies have been done away with in countries stretching from Italy to Zanzibar. Have conditions improved in those countries, as the result of these intemperate and impulsive constitutional changes? No, of course not.

Greece, the birthplace of Western democracy, now languishes in throes of dictatorship. Cambodia is ravaged by war. Colonel Khadafi, no more than King Idris, has been able to make the Libyan desert bloom; but he has banned cold beer- which at least used to make it bearable. Burundi is rent by terrible tribal massacres.

Italy last year went through dozens of expensive and time consuming ballots in an unedifying constitutional crisis over the election of a figurehead president. Had the figurehead Italian monarchy not been abolished in 1946, the cost and bother would not have been necessary. In Zanzibar, there is a permanent reign of terror, the likes of which was never seen while the sultan was on his throne and all was right with the clove trade.

Many years ago, the late King Farouk of Egypt remarked that in fifty years there only would be five kings left-- the king of spades, the king of hearts, the king of diamonds, the king of clubs and the King of England. In my opinion two other countries-- Japan and Thailand-- also will have the courage and good sense to preserve their monarchical institutions in the face of the worldwide, lemminglike fad for wasting time and money, and obscuring the real issues, by firing kings and queens.

This disturbing, anti-monarchical trend in world affairs might not be so depressing if kings were replaced by something worthwhile. Instead they tend to be replaced by colonels, or when a touch of glamour is required, by generals. Instead of King Constantine of Greece-- a presentable, industrious and pleasant young man, who once won a medal in the Olympics-- we now have some mustachioed, semi-literate Greek colonel as chief of state, who not only is a power-hungry autocrat, but a bore as well.

In Libya, we have Colonel Khadafi. There is a colonel ruling in Burundi as well, who is responsible for the massacre of at least fifty thousand of his countrymen. A colonel --named Nasser-- also succeeded King Farouk in Egypt.

As these random samples indicate, colonels are like the rest of us. They can be boring, eccentric, wicked or even rather clever. But since colonels are just like the rest of us, I fail to see why, therefore, the Divine Right of Kings should be replaced by the Divine Right of Colonels.

All over the world, but especially in places like Vietnam and Washington DC, one runs into many colonels. As a rule, they have about as much sense of state as does a canister of napalm. On the other hand, most of the kings one runs across are persons of above average experience and intelligence. The king of Thailand, like King Constantine, is a skilled yachtsman, King Birendra of Nepal went to Harvard. The King of Sweden is a trained archeologist. The Emperor of Japan is very knowledgeable about seashells.

The advantage of kings over colonels was definitively demonstrated not too long ago when the Shah of Iran gave a dinner party at Persepolis, to which all the crowned heads of the world were invited. The event provoked intense curiosity and enthusiasm all around the world, and I do not know a single person -- however strong his or her pretentions towards inverse snobbism --who would have rejected an invitation had it been offered. But would anybody bother to travel all the way to Persepolis just to have dinner with twenty-five or thirty colonels?

It is interesting that the monarchies most likely to survive are precisely those in which the monarch no longer wields political power. In Japan, Thailand, the United Kingdom, the Low Countries and Scandinavia everyone wants the monarch to go on reigning, because he or she no longer rules. There are other countries -- Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Morocco, Jordan --where the kingship remains not only the highest, but also the most politically powerful office. But these are precisely the parts of the world, I venture to predict, where we sooner or later shall see the face of some dreadful colonel staring out at us from the postage stamps and national currency.

The reason, of course, is obvious: the combination of hereditary kingship and absolute power is too much for any one man to wield all by himself for a lifetime. Were prime ministers of Australia, or presidents of the U.S.A. absolute monarchs for life, instead of just for a few years, they all eventually would be overthrown by guerilla warfare or coups d'etat. As things stand, we grow sick enough of them in a few years anyway.

This does not mean, however, that just because a king is politically powerless he is unimportant, or a mere cipher or constitutional convenience. Far from it. The indispensability of a successful monarch lies precisely in the fact that he provides a non political identity for his country and people, that he does not owe his office to any group or faction, that he imbues the state with an ethos transcending political issues, that he influences events by example rather than command.

The function of the ideal monarch is not to be a great man, but to be a good Englishman, Swede or Japanese; that he personify, rather than direct, the state. To the extent that he performs all these tasks well, the monarch can and should be a much more important national figure than any colonel or politician.

Being a native of a republic, I was inculcated in my youth with the belief that kings were bad, undemocratic things, like walking sticks and spats. But, since putting away childish things, I have lived all but a few months of my adult life in kingdoms: Nepal, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Britain. And while the monarchies and royal families of these various countries were not always the types of people with whom one would wish to share a railway carriage, in all cases they were of much more use to their countries than the local politicians and colonels.

Once, while visiting an upcountry fair in Thailand, I happened upon one of the more spectacular diversions offered there, which I thought well demonstrated the value of the kingship. It was a round wooden cylinder some twenty feet high and a similar distance in diameter. One paid the equivalent of ten cents to climb up a flight of outside steps to a balcony which surrounded the top of this large, open cylinder.

Front that vantage point, one could watch several Thai motor-cyclists start their machines and then, extracting their livelihood from the principle of centrifugal force, drive the vehicles at great speed around and around the inside of the cylinder, defying gravity, until the motorcycles circled some twenty feet straight up to the top of the cylinder.

Having edified the customers with this daredevil exploit, the motorcyclists then returned to the base of the cylinder, there to bide their time until sufficient new members of the public paid enough prices of admission to make the display once again profitable.

Above the ticket window of this diversion, respectfully garlanded with flowers, was a photograph of the King of Thailand, in a white dress uniforrn, mounting the same stairs the customers did, in order to view the same display. Although the King of Thailand is politically powerless, he is a person of such exalted status that his presence is considered nearly divine. Protocol commands that he never smile in public and that the slightest familiarity never be directed towards him.

Thus the King was shown in the photograph mounting the wooden cylinder with the same impassive dignity with which he habitually receives foreign ambassadors or news of the latest coup d'etat. The effect was to impart upon this lowly, but harmless economic activity of some of his most humble subjects a certain dignity, to incorporate them -- in an act of state magic --into the cosmological total of the Thai state and national identity.

The King of Thailand occupies many hours each day in the diligent fulfilment of state duties. I am sure that the majority of Thailand's thirty-eight million people at one time or another personally have seen the king, and that his contribution to perpetuating Thailand's national stability and sense of self respect has been far greater than that of any Thai colonel or politician.

I think the secret of the success of the British royal family is that they, too, appreciate the importance of the trivial duties diligently performed. For a long time, I considered the Queen a dull woman, before realising that her dullness was her greatest virtue.

One does not want an arbiter of fashion, a movie star or an intellectual leader to open a primary school or hand out OBEs. One does not want the speech from the throne read with feeling. The Queen's job is neither to direct the British nor to dazzle them, but to be always there, cutting the ribbon, inspecting the new wing of the hospital, lending a degree of non-political dignity and national recognition to the everyday events that are much more important, in their cumulative weight, in the life of the nation than who wins the next election, or whether the pound floats or sinks.

It is not necessary that the Queen be famous for her witty repartee, only that she not run out of small talk in the reception line. The Queen thoroughly realises this-- and the result is something wonderful and unique. Though she is charismatic as a brocaded tortoise after twenty years of bland and unremitting performance of her duty (Britain doubtless would be far better off today if the country's wildcat strikers and sex-obsessed cabinet ministers had followed her example), the Queen not only is a more popular figure, she is a more interesting and more indispensable one than either Mr Wilson or Mr Heath.

The Queen undoubtedly will be remembered as the greatest and best loved British leader since Queen Victoria, and for the same reason; she does a tedious job diligently and well; that of being a powerless, hereditary constitutional monarch.

In America, on the other hand, there long has existed exactly the opposite kind of office, and it has failed abysmally. The president is an all-powerful, elected, absolute monarch. The president can treat Congress, the public, the rest of the government with an unchecked arrogance that has not been possible in Britain since the days of Magna Carta, or at least since the beheading of Charles I.

Yet at the same time, the president is expected to he as far above politics as the King of the Belgians is above the squabbles between the Walloons and Flemings; to be a virtually divine figure, like the Emperor of Japan.

The inevitable results of perpetuating this ridiculous office of the American presidency not only have been disasters like Watergate and Vietnam, but the cloaking of such abysmal crimes in an ethos of royal inviolability that at once preserves the particular scoundrel holding the office from punishmont, and which at the same time cheapens and degrades the presidency's symbolic personification of the American state.

In consequence, America currently is ensnared in the worst of all possible situations: Richard Nixon cannot be sent packing by a vote of no-confidence like some normal, mortal prime minister. At the same time, the United States is deprived of the reassuring alternative to its politicians' sleaziness that, for example, the engagement annnouncement of Princess Anne has provided to the British callgirl scandal involving several ministers in the Heath government.

As an American, I would be quite prepared to exercise my franchise in favour of the establishment of a constitutional, hereditary American monarchy. Had one of the sons of Franklin D. Roosevelt --the only really successful American president this century-- been permitted to inherit the presidency upon his father's death in 1945, the excessive political powers presently being unconstitutionally abused by the White House long ago would have declined to those presently enjoyed by the royal families of Norway or Malaysia.

The present American crisis of confidence could be best resolved if the Pentagon computers discovered and identified the legitimate heir, according to Salic Law, of George Washington, and he then were crowned King of the United States.

Some bland, aristocratic, well mannered, unpretentious and slightly inbred old Virginia family is exactly the alternative America now requires to our present royal family, which has been sullied by King Richard's myriad malfeasances of office, the ineffably lower middle class origins of his wife, and by the bright-young-reactionary-housewife-next-door demeanor of his two daughters, whose only advantages are that they are less grotesque, parvenu and uninspiring than America's two previous princesses royal --Luci Baines and Lynda Bird.

As the foregoing suggests, it is not merely enough that the monarch be preserved in the few places where it still exists. Keeping the colonels and politicians out of the royal palace in Tonga is not going to set things right in Brazil, where a perfectly decent, efficient and hardworking imperial family was needlessly pensioned off at the end of the last century, just so some general could enjoy a twenty-one gun salute and have his profile immortalised on the coins of the realm. Wherever and whenever the circumstances arise, monarchies instead must be re-established, and even implanted in those countries never privileged to have enjoyed that form of government.

This article originally appeared in "Nation Review", 29 June 1973, p. 1143, under the title 'Every country needs a queen'.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Chapter 38 from: J.J. Ray (Ed.) "Conservatism as Heresy". Sydney: A.N.Z. Book Co., 1974

Conformity or Diversity? -Which Way Are We Going?


THE SUPER-INDUSTRIAL revolution will consign to the archives of ignorance most of what we now believe about democracy and the future of human choice. Today in the techno-societies there is an almost ironclad consensus about the future of freedom. Maximum individual choice is regarded as the democratic ideal. Yet most writers predict that we shall move further and further from this ideal. They conjure up a dark vision of the future, in which people appear as mindless consumer-creatures, surrounded by standardised goods, educated in standardised schools, fed a diet of standardised mass culture, and forced to adopt standardised styles of life.

Such predictions have spawned a generation of future-haters and technophobes, as one might expect. One of the most extreme of these is a French religious mystic, Jacques Ellul, whose books are enjoying a campus vogue. According to Ellul, man was far freer in the past when 'Choice was a real possibility for him.' By contrast, today, 'The human being is no longer in any sense the agent of choice.' And, as for tomorrow: 'In the future, man will apparently be confined to the role of a recording device.' Robbed of choice, he will be acted upon, not active. He will live, Ellul warns, in a totalitarian state run by a velvet-gloved Gestapo.

This same theme-the loss of choice runs through much of the work of Arnold Toynbee. It is repeated by everyone from hippie gurus to Supreme Court justices, tabloid editorialists and existentialist philosophers. Put in its simplest form, this Theory of Vanishing Choice rests on a crude syllogism: science and technology have fostered standardisation. Science and technology will advance, making the future even more standardised than the present. Ergo: man will progressively lose his freedom of choice.

If instead of blindly accepting this syllogism, we stop to analyse it, however, we make an extraordinary discovery. For not only is the logic itself faulty, the entire idea is premised on sheer factual ignorance about the nature, the meaning and the direction of the super-industrial revolution. Ironically, the people of the future may suffer not from an absence of choice, but from a paralysing surfeit of it. They may turn out to be victims of that peculiarly super-industrial dilemma: overchoice.


No person travelling across Europe or the United States can fail to be impressed by the architectural similarity of one gas station or airport to another. Anyone thirsting for a soft drink will find one bottle of Coca-Cola to be almost identical with the next. Clearly a consequence of mass-production techniques, the uniformity of certain aspects of our physical environment has long outraged intellectuals. Some decry the Hiltonisation of our hotels; others charge that we are homogenising the entire human race.

Certainly, it would be difficult to deny that industrialism has had a levelling effect. Our ability to produce millions of nearly identical units is the crowning achievement of the industrial age. Thus, when intellectuals bewail the sameness of our material goods, they accurately reflect the state of affairs under industrialism.

In the same breath, however, they reveal shocking ignorance about the character of super-industrialism. Focused on what society was, they are blind to what it is fast becoming. For the society of the future will offer not a restricted, standardised flow of goods, but the greatest variety of unstandardised goods and services any society has even seen. We are moving not towards a further extension of material standardisation, but towards its dialectical negation.

The end of standardisation is already in sight. The pace varies from industry to industry, and from country to country. In Europe, the peak of standardisation has not yet been crested. (It may take another twenty or thirty years to run its course.) But in the United States, there is compelling evidence that a historic corner has been turned.

Some years ago, for example, an American marketing expert named Kenneth Schwartz made a surprising discovery. 'It is nothing less than a revolutionary transformation that has come over the mass consumer market during the past five years,' he wrote. 'From a single homogenous unit, the mass market has exploded into a series of segmented, fragmented markets, each with its own needs, tastes and way of life.' This fact has begun to alter American industry beyond recognition. The result is an astonishing change in the actual outpouring of goods offered to the consumer.

Philip Morris, for example, sold a single major brand of cigarettes for twenty-one years. Since 1954 by contrast, it has introduced six new brands and so many options with respect to size, filter and menthol that the smoker now has a choice among sixteen different variations. This fact would be trivial, were it not duplicated in virtually every major product field. Gasoline? Until a few years ago, the American motorist took his pick of either 'regular' or 'premium'. Today he drives up to a Sunoco pump and is asked to choose among eight different blends and mixes. Groceries? Between 1950 and 1963 the number of different soaps and detergents on the American grocery shelf increased from sixty-five to 200; frozen foods; from 121 to 350; baking mixes and flour from eighty-four to 200. Even the variety of pet foods increased from fifty-eight to eighty-one. One major company, Corn Products, produces a pancake syrup called Karo. Instead of offering the same product nationally, however, it sells two different viscosities, having found that Pennsylvanians, for some regional reason, prefer their syrup thicker than other Americans. In the field of office decor and furniture, the same process is at work. 'There are ten times the new styles and colours there were a decade ago,' says John A. Saunders, president of General Fireproofing Company, a major manufacturer in the field. 'Every architect wants his own shade of green.' Companies, in other words, are discovering wide variations in consumer wants and are adapting their production lines to accommodate them. Two economic factors encourage this trend: first, consumers have more money to lavish on their specialised wants; second, and even more important, as technology becomes more sophisticated, the cost of introducing variations declines.

This is the point that our social critics - most of whom are technologically naive - fail to understand: it is only primitive technology that imposes standardisation. Automation, in contrast, frees the path to endless, blinding, mind-numbing diversity. 'The rigid uniformity and long runs of identical products which characterise our traditional mass-production plants are becoming less important' reports industrial engineer Boris Yavitz. 'Numerically controlled machines can readily shift from one product model or size to another by a simple change of programmes ... Short product runs become economically feasible.' According to Professor Van Court Hare Jr, of the Columbia University Graduate School of Business, 'Automated equipment . . . permits the production of a wide variety of products in short runs at almost "mass-production" costs.' Many engineers and business experts foresee the day when diversity will cost no more than uniformity.

The finding that pre-automation technology yields standardisation, while advanced technology permits diversity is borne out by even a casual look at that controversial American innovation, the supermarket. Like petrol stations and airports, supermarkets tend to look alike whether they are in Milan or Milwaukee. By wiping out thousands of little 'mom and pop' shops they have without doubt contributed to uniformity in the architectural environment. Yet the array of goods they offer the consumer is incomparably more diverse than any corner shop could afford to stock. Thus at the very moment that they encourage architectural sameness, they foster gastronomic diversity.

The reason for this contrast is simple: food and food packaging technology is far more advanced than construction techniques. Indeed, construction has scarcely reached the level of mass production; it remains, in large measure, a pre-industrial craft. Strangled by local building codes and conservative trade unions, the industry's rate of technological advance is far below that of other industries. The more advanced the technology, the cheaper it is to introduce variation in output. We can safely predict, therefore, that when the construction industry catches up with manufacturing in technological sophistication, gas stations, airports, and hotels, as well as supermarkets, will stop looking as if they had been poured from the same mould. Uniformity will give way to diversity.

{Where the process has begun, the results are striking. In Washington, DC, for example, there is a now famous computer-designed apartment house, Watergate East - in which no two floors are alike. Of 240 apartments, 167 have different floor plans. And there are no continuous straight lines in the building anywhere.}

While certain parts of Europe and Japan are still building their first all-purpose supermarkets, the United States has already leaped to the next stage, the creation of specialised super-stores that widen still further (indeed, almost beyond belief) the variety of goods available to the consumer. In Washington, DC, one such store specialises in foreign foods, offering such delicacies as hippopotamus steak, alligator meat, wild snow hare, and thirty-five different kinds of honey.

The idea that primitive industrial techniques foster uniformity, while advanced automated techniques favour diversity, is dramatised by recent changes in the automobile industry. The widespread introduction of European and Japanese cars into the American market in the late 1950s opened many new options for the buyer, increasing his choice from half a dozen to some fifty makes. Today even this wide range of choice seems narrow and constricted.

Faced with foreign competition, Detroit took a new look at the so-called 'mass consumer'. It found not a single uniform mass market, but an aggregation of transient mini-markets. It also found, as one writer put it, that 'customers wanted custom-like cars that would give them an illusion of having one-of-a-kind.' To provide that illusion would have been impossible with the old technology; and new computerised assembly systems, however, make possible not merely the illusion, but even-before long-the reality.

Thus the beautiful and spectacularly successful Mustang is promoted by Ford as 'the one you design yourself', because, as critic Reyner Banham explains, there 'isn't a dung-regular Mustang any more, just a stockpile of options to meld in combinations of 3 (bodies) X 4 (engines) x 3 (transmissions) X 4 (basic sets of high-performance engine modifications) - 1 (rock-bottom six-cylinder car to which these modifications don't apply) + 2 (Shelby grand-touring and racing set-ups applying to only one body shell and not all engine/ transmission combinations).' This does not even take into account the possible variations in colour, upholstery and optional equipment.

Both car buyers and auto salesmen are increasingly disconcerted by the sheer multiplicity of options. The buyers' problem of choice has become far more complicated, the addition of each option creating the need for more information, more decisions and sub-decisions. Thus, anyone who has attempted to buy a car lately, as I have, soon finds that the task of learning about the various brands, lines, models and options (even within a fixed price range) requires days of shopping and reading. In short, the auto industry may soon reach the point at which its technology can economically produce more diversity than the consumer needs or wants.

Yet we are only beginning the march towards destandardisation of our material culture. Marshall McLuhan has noted that 'Even today, most United States automobiles are, in a sense, custom-produced. Figuring all possible combinations of styles, options and colours available on a certain new family sports car, for example, a computer expert came up with 25,000,000 different versions of it for a buyer ... When automated electronic production reaches full potential, it will be just about as cheap to turn out a million differing objects as a million exact duplicates. The only limits on production and consumption will be the human imagination.' Many of McLuhan's other assertions are highly debatable. This one is not. He is absolutely correct about the direction in which technology is moving. The material goods of the future will be many things; but they will not be standardised. We are, in fact, racing towards 'overchoice'-the point at which the advantages of diversity and individualisation are cancelled by the complexity of the buyer's decision-making process.

This chapter originally appeared as the first part of Chapter 12 of "Future Shock"

Friday, August 20, 2004

Chapter 39 from: J.J. Ray (Ed.) "Conservatism as Heresy". Sydney: A.N.Z. Book Co., 1974

Under the title 'Do mental events exist: Physiological adumbrations', this paper was originally published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, 1972, 120, 129-132. The abstract originally appeared in the November 1971 issue of the same journal.


J. J. Ray

It is argued that the present state of neurophysiological knowledge and theory does give grounds for an explanation of all those phenomena normally held in some quarters to be irreducibly 'mental'. Suggestions are made as to what physiological events particular mental events could be made up of. It is proposed that perception should be regarded as a response and that the problem, 'What is consciousness?' should be treated as an empirical one -- the tentative answer proposed being: 'All those responses accompanied by an orienting response'. It is concluded that peculiarly "mental" events do not exist.

IN THIS PAPER, elaboration of a Realist answer to some of the classical questions of psychology and epistemology will be sought, starting from a knowledge of Soviet and Western findings in psychophysiology (particularly the work of Pavlov, 1932, and Hebb, 1949. See also the summary by Burt, 1968). The point of departure taken in the philosophical literature is the paper by Place (1969). This paper will adopt a reflexological model of brain function -- with its implied view that memory is synaptically encoded. While this model has largely fallen into disfavour, it is used here paradigmatically -- to show that well-developed physiological models in general can provide a satisfactory account of 'mental' phenomena.

The central expository device to be used here is theoretical consideration of a man who has had a microelectrode inserted in each cell of his CNS, each of these being connected to one of a vast array of oscilloscopes situated in front of him in a manner such that he can see at all times a representation of the electrical events going on in his brain. While such a preparation is not technically possible at the moment, the day when it may definitely be possible does not seem so far off at all against the historical perspective of the two or more millennia in which questions of epistemology have been discussed. Nonetheless the technical possibility as such is really irrelevant here. Such a preparation is considered merely for its value as a model. It will be evident that with such a preparation we would be able to determine exactly what brain processes go on when particular mental events go on. In this paper, an attempt to predict the type of answers we would get will be made on the basis of present neurophysiological knowledge and theory. There will then follow some consideration of questions more purely epistemological in nature.

A few stipulative definitions to start with: When 'stimulus' is used here, it will be used to mean any event which causes a neuron to discharge with a spike potential ('neuron' here will include those specialised cells which make up the classical sensory receptors). A discharge across a neuro-muscular synapse will also be called a stimulus (to muscle fibres). 'Response' will be used here to mean a spike potential in any neuron or a contraction in any muscle tissue. From this definition, it will be obvious that the stimulus to one neuron or muscle fibre will very often be a part of the response of another neuron or muscle fibre. A 'reflex' will be used to refer to a structural feature of nervous tissue which predisposes one particular neuron or set of neurons to fire another particular neuron or muscle fibre (out of the many particular adjacent neurons or muscle fibres it could possibly fire).

Let us go back now to our man with the wired-up brain. The responses shown on the oscilloscope are set up with a three-second time lag. He looks at a plain blue surface and then quickly looks at his oscilloscope array to find out what happened in his brain when he saw 'blue'. He sees a myriad of events going on, all over his brain. Not discouraged he looks again and again at a series of objects all of the same blue shade. Eventually he notes that of all the brain events going on there is one and only one which coincides always with his seeing blue and which never occurs without his seeing blue. What then might he say? He might say: 'Now I know what blue is' or 'Now I know what causes me to perceive blue' or 'Now I know what the perception of blue is made up of'. While we might feel confident of our ability to convince him that the first two of these statements need revision, it seems to me that, in the third statement, all people but some philosophers would agree that our man is right and his statement is accurate. But such a statement implies that the total set of brain events is the perception of blue, that a perception is a brain process. Only the object perceived is blue. There is no need of an internal analogue to represent blue. To perceive blue is to respond in a certain way to a blue object. Even in dreams, what we see are things -- not images. What does need explaining in dreams is that we see things at a time when those things are not present. The explanation of this is merely a particular technical problem. So perceiving that a thing is blue is not the same as seeing the brain process that goes on when a person perceives blue -- nor should it be. Blue is a property of the object. Perceiving is an activity of organisms. Accurate perceptions are adaptive responses in organisms, and misperceptions are unadaptive responses in organisms. (A part of the reason why they are unadaptive is that they set off stimulus-response chains which may call for opposing effector actions at any one point in time.)

The above is tantamount to a denial that there are mental events. When we close our eyes (and other receptors) what 'mental' events might go on? We could 'call up an image of an object' -- which is not quite like seeing an object. This is conceivably a conditioned response to a sub-vocalised or even non-vocalised verbal stimulus --and, like all conditioned responses, not quite like the unconditioned response. We do in fact 'see' a modified object because brain activity goes on in accordance with known conditions for brain activity.

To move out of the visual modality, we could also claim that we hear our own thoughts quite clearly. This testifies to the strength of the auditory conditioned responses to (sub-verbal) speech. At other times, brain activity may go on without verbalisations (or any 'central' part thereof), but while in retrospect we may feel that something went on, we cannot 'say' what it was -- i.e. in this sense there was 'imageless' (or non-verbal) thought. 'Imageless thought' then is any brain process not involving sub-vocal verbalisations or conditioned response perceptions of objects.

Why is it that only some responses are 'conscious'? When we 'see' an object a response takes place that has the quality of 'consciousness'. Why do not all our responses have this quality? The short answer is again that this would be unadaptive. Particular perceptual responses have their stimulus properties magnified by another, concurrent 'orienting response' (Lynn, 1966). This 'orienting response' is a stereotyped set of physiological changes which occur in various degrees after stimuli of certain strength. As so far measured, it has always peripheral components, but in the case of weak stimuli there may be a purely central form of the response with no peripheral indicators. It is stimuli eliciting orienting responses that we describe ourselves as being 'aware of or 'conscious of . Thus, when we open our eyes we respond to or perceive all the things before us. The strongest of all these responses however, will be accompanied by another, orienting, response and it is this strongest of responses which is conscious perception. For a person to be said to be conscious, orienting responses must be taking place in his central nervous system.

Just as I become 'conscious' of objects in the external world, so I may become 'aware' of my own responses. Each response acts in turn as a stimulus for another response. That a response is triggered off is perception. If this response is accompanied by another, orienting response, I then become 'aware' of my original action. Thus I may come to 'know that I know' -- when the perceptual response accompanied by an orienting response becomes itself a stimulus for a further response of like nature. At this point it becomes possible to define 'perceptual' versus 'non-perceptual' responses. A perceptual response is one that an orienting response could magnify. In humans, this is mainly the class of responses occurring in the cerebral cortex. Note that the difficulty of demonstrating unconscious conditioning is paralleled by the difficulty of demonstrating sub-cortical conditioning.

From the foregoing it follows that while it may be true that we describe a disposition of a person when we say 'he knows something', to say that 'he came to know something' is not to describe a disposition he had but rather to assert that he had an orienting and a perceptual response to a particular event that caused structural alterations in his brain; i.e. from that point on a reflex was established which was the mechanism for his having in future a disposition to respond in a way different to the way he would have responded had that perception never occurred.

In vision, how is it that we see objects, although it is a light wave that actually produces the receptor response, i.e. how is it that we know the object to be 'out there' and not on our retina? This is an inference the brain learns to make using several cues. How does it learn? Reflexes are set up by the coincidence of certain visual cues with tactile stimuli. Distance receptors evolved subsequent to contact receptors and hence touch is the 'final check' (unconditioned stimulus) of visual impressions (compare our responses when confronted with the 'bent stick' illusion in water). Thus responses to tactile stimulus could be said to form first-order conditioned reflexes while some responses to visual cues are formed as second order or 'generalised' reflexes. Note, however, that the distinction between touch and distance receptors is only one of the nature of the characteristic stimulus. In both cases stimuli cause us to 'perceive' (or: 'react to') objects. The difference is that in one case. we believe the stimulus event to involve only the object perceived (touch), whereas in the case of the distance receptors we have to learn otherwise.

The inferences necessary with distance receptors may of course fail when the needed cues are attenuated. This has often been shown in distance perception and size constancy experiments. This shows that the 'inference' is in fact a conditioned response as dependent on appropriate stimuli as any other conditioned response. To say the 'brain infers distance' is to say that we respond as if the thing perceived were not touching our receptors. This is what the perceiving of a thing 'out there' is. We respond in such a way because that has been both learnt and selected for in evolution -- and the reason such a response has been learnt and selected for in evolution is that the object really is 'out there'.

But when it is asserted that perception is made up of neural responses and nothing more, someone will want to claim that Watson (the founder of behaviourism) was discredited for just such an assertion when he denied that mental events exist. This is not so. The failure of Watson was not that he denied mental events but that he also acted as if brain processes too did not exist. Watson acted as if he believed that the only responses and stimuli which existed were those observable from outside the organism without the aid of instruments. The remarks made here, on the other hand, if they have any implications for the direction of future psychological research, point rather to the importance of introspection, free association and other techniques which stimulate and disinhibit vocal muscle responses to neural outputs from the brain.

I will, however, heartily concur with Watson in claiming that mental events do not exist. How do we know there are mental events unless we perceive them? But how could we perceive them? We perceive objects and some of our own physio-chemical processes, but if one defines mental events as something beyond physiochemical processes or objects then how can they be perceived? How can one know them? If mental events are an 'aspect' of brain processes, in what sense of the word 'aspect'? I believe that if we are to retain the term 'mental events' we may do so only if we use it as a term completely interchangeable with 'brain processes'.

As a coda to the above considerations, Anderson's (1962) suggestion that 'mind is feeling' rather than brain processes may be treated. Do we really think of emotions when we think of mental events? No. We think of emotions as somatic events. They are perceived in the same way as we perceive a blue object. The only difference is that the impulse comes from different receptors (visceral) and projects in a different part of the cortex. An emotion is a visceral conditioned response to stimuli perceived externally and then a conditioned stimulus for further motor conditioned responses (e.g. flight). The temporal order here is not important. As in the James-Lange theory, the motor action may also come as a direct conditioned response to external stimuli, with the emotional response subsequent.


ANDERSON, J. (1962) Studies in empirical philosophy. Sydney: Angus & Robertson.

BURT, C. (1968) Brain and consciousness. British J. Psychology, 59(1), 55-69.

HEBB, D.O. (1949) The organization of behavior. N.Y.: Wiley.

LYNN, R. (1966) Attention, Arousal and the Orientation Reaction. London: Pergamon

PAVLOV, I. P. (1932) Selected works. Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing House.

PLACE, U.T. (1969) Burt on brain and consciousness. Bulletin of the British Psychological Society, 22, 285-292.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Chapter 40 from: J.J. Ray (Ed.) "Conservatism as Heresy". Sydney: A.N.Z. Book Co., 1974


John Ray

IN BOTH PSYCHOLOGY and sociology, there is an amorphous current of thought variously termed 'existentialism', 'phenomenology', 'self theory' etc. Although probably a minority view, it does represent a continuing challenge to the usual standards of scientific practice always prevalent in the social sciences and in other sciences. In fact, more than a challenge, this stream of thought represents to the scientifically inclined almost a foreign and certainly an unintelligible language. Although attacking it is rather like waging war on a mile-high cube of jelly, it is desired in this chapter to point out a possible major source of fallacy in this form of 'theory'.

From J. P. Sartre to Carl Rogers, a central theme in existentialist talk has been 'the self. An article by Bertocci (1965) summarising something of the history of this body of ideas goes back even earlier than this. Bertocci refers to the work in 1915 of the psychologist Mary Calkins in the following words: 'The self, as Calkins saw it, is self-identical, unique, related to its social and physical environment, but not "beyond or beside" the experience it has' (p. 300).

What this desperate mumbo jumbo means is anybody's guess. It creates a feeling rather than conveying any information or offering any explanation. One gets the idea that some concept of 'the self is central, but what this 'self actually is seems rather mystical. At the very least Bertocci is not so much offering an explanation as providing an oracular utterance that requires explanation and elaboration. It is very much like a verbal Rorschach inkblot -- a lineal descendant of the pronouncements of the Delphic oracle. Unfortunately the whole of Bertocci's paper and the whole of existentialist writing in general is like this. It could mean anything or nothing. Nowhere are there any plain utterances the truth of which could be tested.

An examination of the one sentence quoted from Bertocci will serve to exemplify the difficulty of finding out just what is being said in 'existentialist', 'personahstic' or 'phenomenological' writing. What, for instance, could possibly be conveyed by saying that the self is 'self-identical'? To say as much is a totally unilluminating tautology. Even primary school children realise that if you want to define a term you cannot use that term itself in the definition. The self is 'related to its social and physical environment'. What does that tell us? Practically nothing. The one totally trivial thing that we might perhaps infer is that the self is something other than its social and physical environment. This inference, however, is little more than a case of something being true by definition. Next we are told that the self is not 'beyond or beside' the experience it has. By any criterion this means that the self is the experience it has. Yet if it is experiences, how can it also have experiences? This seems to be a case of either an infinite regress or a statement that is untrue by definition. Putting 'beyond or beside' in quotes is no help except that it provides mystification. Why it was done or what it means no-one can know.

So we see how existentialist talk -- and one could multiply the above example indefinitely -- is not really discourse at all. It looks like discourse, but violates all rules of discourse. It is either totally trivial, tautologous, true by definition or false by definition. It includes no real statements, propositions or assertions at all. It is a verbal fruit salad-rather like a dictionary gone berserk. It is not even a question of being uncertain of what it means. It quite certainly and obviously can have no meaning at all. The words used do have meaning in isolation, but the use that is made of them is not meaningful. The use that is made of them contradicts what we understand to be their meaning in isolation. In isolation we are quite happy to regard an experience as something that is 'had' by someone, but when we read Bertocci we are told that this is in fact not the case. Experiences have themselves. All meaning crumbles. Words evidently are not being used according to their conventions. What is being spoken can at the best only be a private, esoteric or idiosyncratic language that just happens to look like English.

I have just used five hundred words analysing only twenty-six words of Bertocci: For this to be necessary, existentialism must at the very least be a remarkably unclear form of talk. The fact that the passage analysed came from what was supposed to be a textbook and was the nearest Bertocci came to offering a definition of his central concept is even more depressing. Even if the analysis had succeeded in discovering something that the passage meant, we would have to conclude that such writing was very, very uneconomical and poorly done indeed. Only some sort of intellectual masochism could motivate anyone with alive critical faculties to read it.

Bertocci and the existentialists are not of course the only ones who have had difficulty in defining the self. Hall & Lindzey (1957) record William James as defining the self (in his 1890 book Principles of psychology) to be 'the sum total of all that a man can call his -- his body, traits and abilities; his material possessions; his family, friends and enemies; his vocation and avocation and much else' (p. 515). The idea of my friends and even my enemies being part of myself is quite bizarre and one can only say of James' definition that why he excluded anything at all from it is difficult to work out. The definition is hopelessly overinclusive and highly idiosyncratic.

A book on the 'self' that Hall & Lindzey do recommend is The ego and the self by Symonds (1951). Symonds defines the self as 'the ways in which the individual reacts to himself'. Now the self is a way of reacting. What next will it be? The obvious question is: "Why not just say what you mean and explicitly talk about how a person reacts to himself? Why create this magical entity of the self?" The answer also is obvious. When Symonds talks about the self, he wants to talk about it as if it were something like a person or at least as if it were a definable entity. If we substituted 'how a person reacts to himself on every occasion where Symonds uses the single word 'self', it would make nonsense of what was being said.

One could go on through the excellent summary of self theories that Hall & Lindzey offer, but to do so would only be to reinforce what has been pointed out already: everybody uses the word 'self' in a different and often bizarre way.

Why is this? Why is this little word such a conceptual stumbling-block to so many people? I would suggest that it is because of an elementary philosophical mistake: Nobody has realised that the word is topic-neutral. It is a grammatical word -- not a contentful word. To wax technical it is 'syncategorematic'. It is part of the grammatical machinery used to string contentful words together -- like 'the', 'and', 'if' and so on. If anyone was foolish enough to try to define what a 'the' was, then they might have as much difficulty as do the people who try to define what the 'self' is. What a downfall it is if it can be shown that the central concept in existentialist thought has no content at all and is merely a piece of grammatical machinery --- a word that does not represent anything!

The grammatical function of the word 'self' in English (and its equivalents in other languages such as 'sich' in German), is as an indicator of reflexivity. It is used to indicate that the person or thing referred to at one point in a sentence is the same as the person or thing referred to earlier in the sentence. For instance, if we wish to amplify 'he hit him' to indicate that the 'he' and the 'him' are one and the same, we make such an indication by adding 'self' to the 'him'. To do so is so customary that it would be deceptive, and hence 'ungrammatical', if we did not add on 'self' in this context. The force of the custom is indicated by the normal English practice of spelling the two words as one (unlike 'sich' in German). Much the same is true of hyphenated compounds such as 'self-conscious'. If I use the phrase, 'A self-conscious man.' I indicate that the consciousness is reflexive (i.e. it is not of the world about, but of the man discussed). There are also some contexts where we do use the word uncompounded: as in 'his better self'. Here the word is being used to indicate that what is 'better' is still the same person as the 'his' and the entire expression could be awkwardly paraphrased as 'him being better'. It is such usages as this, however, that have given rise to the careless impression that the 'self' must have a denotation of its own. Because the expression 'his better self' falls into the identical form to 'his better suit', we tend to assume that 'self' introduces as much new content as does 'suit'. Once such an assumption has been accepted, 'hypostatisation' or 'reification' has been committed. Once we have decided that because there is a separate word for it then the 'self' must be different from 'he' or 'him' (we 'reify' it), we then may proceed to 'explain' something about the man by reference to his 'self' (hypostatisation). As Maze (1954) points out, this is a 'kind of fallacy to which psychology seems especially prone'.

Now there is of course absolutely no reason why someone cannot come along and stipulate that he is going to use the word 'self to indicate something other than reflexivity. He could use it to refer to all non-spinning flying saucers if that was his fancy. The point is that 'self' is not normally used in such a totally random way. Normally, the attraction of using the word stems from an apparent conviction that people already have some idea what it means. It is this conviction which is mistaken. People cannot know what it means for the simple reason that there is basically nothing for it to mean. It is topic-neutral. People are, however, very adaptable and when so many people use 'self as if it were topic-relevant (or "informative") they do try to construct some meaning for it. If somebody started talking about 'ands' as if everybody knew what he was talking about, we could probably make some shift at working out what he might mean there too. The revealing part is the wide variety of quite different things that various people take 'self' to mean. Because it really has no conventionally accepted substantive meaning, your guess is as good as mine as to what meaning should be attached to any particular use of the word in a substantive way.

The central concept and explanatory device in existentialist theory, then, has no meaning. It is just a noise. It could become meaningful if existentialists stipulated carefully what they intended it to mean but this, it seems, is too much to ask. Bertocci's best attempt at such a definition has been shown to be equally as meaningless as the word itself. Even a contentful stipulative definition would run the risk of not being stuck to. If 'self has to be defined by reference to other words then it should be possible to continue just using those other words and avoiding the inherent ambiguity of 'self' entirely.

It follows from the above that a theory of the self cannot be used to explain what men do. A man's self does not cause him to be or to do something for the excellent reason that he is that self. Insofar as it might mean anything at all, 'self theory' is simply a deceptive synonym for psychology.

Full citation details for all references used above can be found here.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Chapter 41 from: J.J. Ray (Ed.) "Conservatism as Heresy". Sydney: A.N.Z. Book Co., 1974

Are Authoritarians Sick?


Evidence for the view expressed in The Authoritarian Personality (Adorno et al, 1950) that the authoritarian is in some sense 'sick' is far from unequivocal. Incorporating several methodological refinements lacking in earlier studies, the Authoritarianism (F) Scale and the Rokeach Dogmatism Scale were each correlated with a number of clinical indices of psyehopathology. Subjects were 358 day and evening students at the University of Sydney. The results reveal no overall association between authoritarianism and psychopathology, dogmatism and psychopathology or political conservatism and psychopathology, thus presenting disconfirmatory evidence for the hypothesis that authoritarianism is an indicator of psychopathology.

One of the implications of The authoritarian personality (Adorno et al 1950) was that the authoritarian personality type was in some sense 'sick' (see, for example, the concluding chapter to the volume). The projection, rigidity, etc. said to be characteristic of the authoritarian were presented as being psychopathological in degree. They were presented as being mere symptoms of a deep-seated malaise springing from disruptive experiences, particularly with the father, in early childhood. So much so, in fact, that the California authors felt justified, in their concluding chapter, in referring to authoritarianism itself as a 'disease'.

Allowing for the extreme emotional revulsion that these Jewish scholars must have felt for the phenomenon of Nazism --of which they believed authoritarianism to be a precursor-- there does seem to be some grounds in their work for the view that authoritarianism might be related to conventional indices of psychopathology. Unless this is so, it is difficult to see how the terming of authoritarianism as a 'disease' could be anything more than a mere value judgment, particularly since no one has shown that authoritarianism is a sufficient condition for Nazism or Nazi-type behaviour (see Ray, 1971c) or even that it is a necessary condition for this (see Ray, 1971d).

The California work has been so widely questioned as being methodologically inadequate, however, (Christie & Jahoda, 1954) that independent checks on their conclusions are quite essential if those conclusions are to be taken seriously. Some of the checks that have been carried out have been far from encouraging to the hypothesis (e.g. Masling, 1954) but others have purported to present confirming evidence (see Eckhardt & Newcombe, 1969). Although more than twenty years have gone by since the original report, and although the conclusions of that report seem to have passed into popular mythology, the evidence for its conclusions is still far from unequivocal.

In the present paper it is hoped to advance the question somewhat by way of methodological improvements on earlier work. Two of the characteristics of the F scale that have aroused most comment (Christie & Jahoda, 1954) are its one way wording (and the consequent susceptibility to acquiescent response set) and its inbuilt right-wing bias. Some allowance for the first can be made by the use of independent acquiescent indices (Couch & Keniston, 1960; Bass, 1956) and the second can be allowed for by use of Rokeach's (1960) measure of ideology-free authoritarianism --the 'D' or 'Dogmatism' scale. If it is true that the F scale measures acquiescence as well as true authoritarianism, it is at least possible that the correlation of these two variables with psychopathology is not the same. In a society that requires a great deal of conformity and obedience to direction in everyday life, it could be that acquiescence is an adaptive trait or related to an adaptive trait. As such, it might be negatively associated with indices of psychopathology. Thus in cases were acquiescence is operative as a significant influence on F scale scores, it could act as a masking variable on the correlation between authoritarianism and psychopathology. If acquiescence is negatively associated and true authoritarianism is positively associated with psychopathology, the correlation observed with an instrument containing some of both variables might be an overall orthogonality. Thus at least some of the variability in results observed to date might be due to whether or not appreciable amounts of acquiescence were operating on those particular occasions. Acquiescence is presumably fairly sensitive to situational influence and it might be more or less present with particular subjects and on particular occasions. It being something very difficult to control for experimentally with certainty, the only thing we can reasonably do is measure it on each occasion and remove its influence after the event by some statistical method such as the analysis of covariance or partial correlation.

The problem with conservatism as a contaminating variable is also a real one. Eysenck (1954) summarises a great deal of work in his conclusion that, in general, there is no association between conservatism and measures of psychopathology. This being so, to to the extent to which the F scale is responded to simply as a conservatism scale, we would expect again no correlation between it and clinical indices. The existence of the Rokeach 'Dogmatism' scale, however, renders speculation on the matter unnecessary --since the 'D' scale is specifically designed to be an ideology-free measure of authoritarianism.

The following study would then appear to be the first to combine careful control for acquiescence in a study of both the F and D scales as related to independent clinical indices of psychopathology.



A questionnaire was made up to contain the following tests among others: the twenty-eight item California 'F' scale (Adorno, 1950, p. 255); the forty item Rokeach 'Dogmatism' scale (Rokeach, 1960, p. 73); the Bass 'Social Acquiescence' scale (SA), (Bass, 1956); the Couch & Keniston 'Agreement Response Set Scale' (ARS), (Couch & Keniston, 1960); the Maudsley Personality Inventory (twelve item short form) (Eysenck, 1958); and the Gordon Personal Profile (Gordon, 1953).

The use of two scales to measure acquiescence was dictated by findings such as McGee's (1962) that acquiescence measures do not intercorrelate highly --possibly because some or all of them are in fact sensitive to other things than pure acquiescence. Paradoxically, the requirement of writing a group of items with no coherent theme or consistent content appears difficult of achievement. In this situation, the two scales that appear to have had widest acceptance in previous work were both included here.

The Maudsley Personality Inventory and the Gordon Personal Profile provided the indices of psychopathology. Inclusion of the former scale was suggested by the large amount of evidence summarised in Eysenck & Eysenck (1969) to the effect that extraversion (E) and neuroticism (N) (which the Inventory measures) are the two primary or most general dimensions of personality description. Additionally, the scale has had widespread clinical use and extensive validation.

Gordon (1953) considers that his test gives quick, reliable measures of five aspects of personality which are especially significant in the daily functioning of the normal person -- Ascendancy (A), Responsibility (R), Emotional Stability (ES), Sociability (S) and Total (T) or overall self-evaluation. Radcliffe, in reviewing the test (Buros, 1965) concludes that "In all, this is a carefully constructed test which is easily administered and scored. For a personality test, reliabilities are encouraging, especially those for the total score". It was for these reasons, viz. significance of the variables in the functioning of the normal person, ease of administration, and good reliability and validity, that the Inventory was included.


The basic hypothesis here of course, is that authoritarianism is dysfunctional, not in the sense of failing to adjust to a societal norm (there was at no point any suggestion that authoritarian attitudes were contrary to the social norms of post-war California) but rather in the sense of being generally handicapping in any social or non-social situation. Paranoia, neuroticism and projection are obvious clinical examples of such disease entities. Note however, that in actual practice it would be hard to sort out the several sorts of psychopathology. A subject who, in a personality inventory, reports personal feelings of distress, may be doing so, not because he cannot function among people generally but rather because the people among whom he finds himself are ones who, for some reason or other, have preferences for forms of conduct which are contrary to those which are customary for him. Being neurotic may be an effect of social disapproval, not a cause of it.

It is possible then that authoritarianism is not itself a disease or symptomatic of a disease but that the attitudes people have to authoritarianism may alone cause the observed variations in the correlation between authoritarianism and psychopathology indices. Where authoritarianism is disapproved of, authoritarians will tend to become neurotic (or, putting it the other way, only neurotics will remain authoritarian). Where authoritarianism is not disapproved of, there will be no observed relationship with psychopathology. Where authoritarianism is positively approved of, it will be the low authoritarians who show up as more poorly adjusted.

There is in fact already some strong evidence for the latter contention in the work of Orpen (1972)-- who found an extremely high positive correlation between authoritarianism and good psychological health among white South Africans --i.e. among people who were members of an authoritarian culture.

Therefore although all our present subjects do nominally come from the same culture, it was felt to be a desirable refinement to consider both political allegiance and religious affiliation as possibly defining separate sub-cultural groups. For this reason the analyses below will be split up in these terms.

All subjects were students in the Introductory Psychology course at the University of Sydney- -of whom approximately one third were older evening students. To facilitate the religious sub-group analysis, data was recorded only for students of Roman Catholic, Anglican, Methodist or Presbyterian background, though subjects were not necessarily practicing Christians at the time of testing. The few students of other backgrounds would have fallen into groups too small for meaningful analysis.

Testing was carried out in groups sessions with about thirty subjects at a time. The total testing time was three hours for each subject, subjects being required to come for one hour each week over a period of three weeks. The order of presentation of the tests was counterbalanced.


A total of 353 subjects with denominational background in one of the four categories was obtained. Of these, a total of 292 favoured one of the two major Australian political parties: Liberal and Labor. In Table 1, the correlations for all groups are given separately. It will be noted that there is in fact little difference of relevance to our present concerns between the correlations originating from any of these groups. In no group is there a significant relationship between the two authoritarianism measures and the two main psychopathology indices (Eysenck 'N' score and Gordon 'T' score). Turning to the sub-scales of the Gordon inventory, there was a negative relationship between both indices of authoritarianism and emotional stability for Methodists only. Against this, Authoritarians were less 'ascendant' among Methodists and more 'responsible' among Liberal voters. Among Labor voters, less dogmatic people were ascendant.

To see the full table above, click here

To see the full table above, click here

The correlations with the two acquiescence scales are presented in Table 2. It will be noted that the ARS scale correlates consistently, and in some cases highly, with the Eysenck 'N' scale and the Gordon 'T' score. This is not so for the Social Acquiescence scale. Since an inspection of the items in the ARS scale suggests a strong component of 'sensation seeking' of some sort (e.g. 'novelty has a great appeal to me' and 'I crave excitement') it does appear that the'content-free' ideal seems to have been poorly realised in the ARS scale. Both impressionistically and empirically there is a clear contamination with psychopathological sentiments. For this reason, it is the Social Acquiescence scale upon which principal reliance must be placed here.

The implications this has for our hypothesis is that, if we use the SA scale, acquiescence is not a masking variable and could not hence affect the correlation between authoritarianism and psychopathology. If we accept the ARS at face value on the other hand, acquiescence (being positively correlated with both authoritarianism and psychopathology ) is a masking variable and correction for this would make the correlation between authoritarianism and psyehopathology significantly negative instead of non-significant. This contrasts with the California hypothesis of a positive correlation between authoritarianism and psychopathology.

For instance, if we take the 229 Liberal voters, the correlation between the F and N scales (-.07, NS) becomes -.175 (significant <.05) when ARS score is partialled out. A similar result would hold for the group of sixty-three Labor voters. It is however doubtful that the ARS scale should be used in this way.

A final contrast of relevance concerns the relationship between political conservatism and psychopathology. This can simply be assessed by comparing the mean scores on the psychopathology indices for our two groups of Liberal and Labor voters. Results for this comparison are given in Table 3. On no psychopathology index is there any significant difference.




Agreement Response Set....60.48....12.31............57.46.....11.72......1.74...<.05
Social Acquiescence............25.09....8.81..............22.31....10.04......1.76...<.05
Emotional Stability...................4.11....6.54..............4.68.......6.28.......-.62.....N.S.
Gordon Total..........................12.70...17.12............13.68....17.50......-.40......N.S.

Table 3: Mean, S.D. and t value on each variable, for subjects classified as either Liberal supporters or Labor supporters.


The present evidence represents clear disconfirmation for the hypothesis --widely accepted as a fact --that authoritarians are in some sense mentally 'sick'. Using two personality inventories, two measures of authoritarianism, and two potential controls for acquiescence, no trace of the predicted association could be found. Considering that the evidence in favour of the hypothesis adduced by Eckhardt & Newcombe (1969) was at best indirect --being inferences from higher 'intolerance of ambiguity' scores among the more authoritarian members of a group of peace activists --the present results must be accepted as better evidence on the question.

The isolated association among Methodists between authoritarianism and the Gordon ES scale is probably explicable in terms of the 'social pressure' considerations treated earlier. Sydney Methodists do have a notable record of humanitarian programs and socially radical thinking. A person who, by reason of early training and present religious beliefs feels obliged to accept the Methodist church as the most theologically 'correct' one and who is yet not himself humanitarian or radical in inclination might find himself in a conflictful or stressful situation. This effect is not strong enough, however, to produce an overall association between psychopathology (as measured by the Gordon T score) and authoritarianism. The above interpretation is lent credence by the negative association between ascendance and authoritarianism among Methodists. An authoritarian in Methodist company feels himself obliged to take a back seat. Since the indices are of personality traits rather than of situational responses, we might even say that an authoritarian in a Methodist family is made to feel oppressed. Such a combination produces lasting maladjustment.

A closely similar explanation could apply for the finding that among Labor (radical) voters, dogmatic people were less ascendant. Although it is no news that for various reasons some dogmatic people are attracted to, and may even gain some prominence in, politically radical movements it is equally true that a humanitarian/radical ideology is fundamentally opposed to dogmatism. In general, then, we have the finding that dogmatic people can not be ascendant in radical company.

Yet again, the remaining finding --of a correlation between responsibility and authoritarianism among Liberal (conservative) voters --seem susceptible of a situational explanation. In this company, authoritarian sentiments are normative and an impression of oneself as responsible in such company is probably a true one.

It must be said, however, that all the explanations of findings drawn from the Gordon sub-scales are essentially ad hoc. The point of them is to stress and exemplify the influence that situational factors could have in the apparent presence or absence of psychopathology. Any examination of a relationship between some other variable (such as authoritarianism) and psychopathology must take them into account.

The present work has taken account of such factors and has also employed a variety of other methodological controls, at least some of which appear to have been neglected on most previous occasions. For this reason, it is felt that the results with our two major indices of psychopathology allow us to conclude with some confidence that there is no overall association between authoritarianism and psychopathology, dogmatism and psychopathology or political conservatism and psychopathology.


Note that in Australia, the "Liberal" party is the major conservative party and the "Labor" party is the major Leftist party.

Full citation details for all references used above can be found here.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Chapter 42 from: J.J. Ray (Ed.) "Conservatism as Heresy". Sydney: A.N.Z. Book Co., 1974


John J. Ray
A scale measuring 'Humanistic Radicalism' (HR) was written to express types of attitude characteristic of student radicals and other types of Radical intellectual. On a sample of Australian army conscripts this scale was found to have satisfactory reliability and to correlate significantly positively (p <.01) with two measures of authoritarianism -- short forms of the California F scale and the Rokeach 'D' scale respectively. Explanations of this finding are considered.

WHEN ADORNO ET AL (1950) produced evidence that their measure of 'authoritarianism' correlated consistently with various measures of political Conservatism, they concluded that this was evidence of a necessary association between Conservatism and authoritarianism. This was immediately questioned by Shils (1954) and others -- who claimed that there was also such a thing as an 'authoritarianism of the Left'. The F scale was identified as artifactually loaded with Right-wing ideology and was hence said to be a measure not of general authoritarianism but rather of 'authoritarianism of the Right'.

An obvious response to these claims was to attempt to produce some scale (analogous to the F scale) that would be sensitive to Left-wing authoritarianism. While Rokeach (1960) has produced a measure (the Dogmatism or 'D' scale) which has claims to be a measure of general authoritarianism, no one yet seems to have produced a measure of peculiarly Left-wing authoritarianism. This is a little surprising as Left-wing authoritarianism is surely as distinctive an entity as Right-wing authoritarianism. The present work represents evidence that such a scale would be possible.

Perhaps the name most frequently associated with prior attempts to measure Left-wing authoritarianism is that of Eysenck (1954). He spoke of Radical 'tough-minded' attitudes versus Conservative tough-minded' attitudes and attempted to measure these. His work has however been severely attacked by Christie (1956) and Rokeach & Hanley (1956) -- who showed that Eysenck had in fact failed to produce evidence for there being a dimension of 'tough-mindedness' in attitudes. Certainly Eysenck has not as yet presented evidence that there is a group of Radical (or Liberal) attitudes which can also be shown, on some objective basis, to be authoritarian.

Although the name 'Humanism' is given to the sort of Left-wing ideology treated in this paper, there is no particular implication that all Left-wing ideology is humanistic or that all Humanism is authoritarian. It will simply be claimed that some sorts of humanitarian ideology are authoritarian and evidence for this will be produced in the form of correlations between a measure of this ideology and other scales accepted as measuring authoritarianism.


This work had its origin in a larger study by the present author of relationships among various ideology measures often associated with the 'authoritarianism' research tradition. The sample comprised 404 Australian National Servicemen (conscripts) -- being the October, 1968 intake at 3TB Singleton. During their first week in camp, 474 recruits received a seventy-one item questionnaire containing several attitude scales in short form. Short forms of the scales were necessitated by a half-hour time limit placed on testing by the Army. As it was, seventy of the questionnaires handed in showed significant incompleteness and had to be discarded. The Army conscripts formed a sample with several advantages in social research where wide generalizability of results is desired. They were selected at random from the entire Australian twenty-year-old male population by a national birth date ballot procedure. Non-citizen migrants and students were not exempted although the latter could have their liability deferred for two or three years. There was no geographical bias between city and country and only very obvious medical rejects were excluded prior to intake. One very great advantage this type of sample has over door-to-door studies is the absence of any 'volunteer artifact' -- which elsewhere is often very large (cf. Martin & Westie, 1952). Since it is known that the psychological characteristics of the co-operative minority are in fact different from those of the majority (Patterson & Wilson, 1969; Sheridan & Shack, 1970) this sort of bias is also a serious one that we do very well to avoid.

Included in the battery given to this sample was a group of fifteen items written by the present author and designed to reflect the sort of utterance often shouted by student activists, preached by Left-wing intellectuals and taught by Left-wing social scientists. It was naively supposed that such utterances would reflect a type of upper class radicalism (not necessarily much associated with preference for any of the existing political parties) that would be opposite to the 'authoritarianism' said by Lipset (1960) to be characteristic of the working class: In expectation of this proving true, fifteen items had also been selected from the California F scale -- items in the original expressing superstition, projectivity etc. being excluded from the present study on the grounds that they might best be viewed as empirical correlates rather than as essential elements of authoritarianism (cf. French & Ernest, 1955; Prothro & Melikian, 1953). The original idea was then that the two supposedly opposite groups of fifteen items might be combined into one bi-polar scale and thus produce the long awaited 'balanced F scale'.

Also included in the battery was the Australian revision of the Rokeach Dogmatism scale produced by Anderson & Western (1967). The chief attraction of this version of the 'D' scale was its brevity -- it being composed of only nine items. The wording of two items was changed slightly to give better applicability to a conscript as distinct from a student sample.

The ten strongest items (judged from the item analyses provided by the original authors) of the Beswick & Hills (1969) Australian Ethnocentrism scale were also included. This scale had five positive and five negative items. Prior occupation and educational attainment were also ascertained from each recruit.

When the results had been obtained, all scales were subjected to item analysis before any conclusions about relationships among them were drawn. Item analysis in this sense consisted of finding the coefficients 'alpha' (Cronbach, 1951) for each scale and the correlations of each item with the relevant scale total.


The projected 'balanced F scale' was unsuccessful. Most of the supposedly 'negative' items in fact correlated positively with the original F scale items. It is this finding then that became the material for further analysis. As a preliminary, however, it must be pointed out that this finding is somewhat different from the previously well-known finding (Peabody, 1961 and 1966) 1966) that attempted 'reversals' of original F scale items do sometimes correlate positively with the originals. Such correlations could be and have been attributed to the inherent psychological meaninglessness of F scale item reversals (Christie, Havel & Seidenberg, 1956). In Kerlinger's (1967) terms the reversed items simply do not provide relevant 'criterial referents' for people of Left-wing views; reversed F scale items are not a 'natural' expression of Left-wing orientation. These things, however, could scarcely be said of the present items (see appendix to this chapter).

In the present case, therefore, it was decided to treat the two groups of items as separate scales in their own right. To do this, however, it is necessary to show that the group of 'Humanistic Radicalism' items do empirically hang together. It is theoretically quite possible for all such items to correlate negatively with F scale score and yet fail to intercorrelate among themselves. The conventional index of scalability (or: 'homogeneity') in this sense is, of course, Cronbach's (1951) coefficient 'alpha' -- and this was hence computed for each scale in the battery. The values obtained were as follows: ten item ethnocentrism scale .65; nine item dogmatism scale .60; fifteen item F scale .74; fifteen item humanistic radicalism scale .65. Mean scores (and SDS ) for the same scales were 30.12 (6.27), 29.91 (4.77), 52.78 (7.84) and 55.54 (6.57) respectively.

It was found that the Humanistic Radicalism scale correlated with both measures of authoritarianism at a level of significance < .01. The correlation with the 'D' scale was .266 and the correlation with the F scale was .474.

Other findings of interest were the expected significant negative correlations of the F scale with both indices of socio-economic status (r with education = -.236 and r with occupational status scored on the Congalton (1969) scale = -.186) and with a failure of the Humanistic Radicalism scale to correlate with either of these indices at all (rs were -.016 and -.027 respectively). The correlation between the Humanistic Radicalism scale and Ethnocentrism was non-significant (r = .053) while the F scale correlated significantly positively with ethnocentrism (r = .249).


It has been shown, then, that the sort of utterance we can so readily recognise as characteristic of much radical or liberal talk today is in fact among the general population associated with attitudes previously identified as authoritarian. Let us consider some objections that might be levelled against this finding:

Following the line of argument developed in Ray (1971), it might be argued that F scale items are not a good measure of authoritarianism. Note, however, that even the index of authoritarianism proposed in Ray (1971) -- the AA scale -- has a high correlation with F scale scores (r = .76). Although the F scale does measure other things as well, there is no dispute that authoritarianism is one of the components. The attempted a-priori elimination of 'non-central' F scale items from this study and the demonstrated homogeneity of the items actually used should also be some guarantee that authoritarianism was what we were measuring here. There is in addition the second line of evidence represented in the correlation of the Humanistic Radicalism scale with the 'D' scale items.

Another critical observation might be that the reliabilities of the scales here employed were rather low. This might be held to reflect on the integrity or factorial unity of the constructs. This is not so. The reliabilities here observed are simply a penalty of having to use short scales. They are not a-typical of those observed with other scales of comparable length that are available in the literature (compare, for example, the reliabilities of the scales in the battery presented by Anderson & Western (1967) -- ranging from .55 to .73).

Perhaps the most serious objection that might be urged, however, centres around the familiar issue of acquiescent response set. Perhaps the correlations observed are due to a common factor of acquiescence. Certainly, while such an explanation can never be ruled out altogether, the continued widespread use of the F scale in its original form would appear to reflect a judgment by many psychologists (supported by empirical studies and systematic arguments such as those by Kerlinger (1967) and Rorer (1965)) that the acquiescence factor is of little importance. For all that, in my other published studies I have always made a consistent point of using balanced scales in order to eliminate where possible any alternative explanation in terms of acquiescence. Indeed the present study springs from just such an attempt.

Since the present relationships are a little unexpected, the appeal of an explanation in terms of acquiescence artifact is doubly strong here. The general assurances of Kerlinger and Rorer might on other occasions suffice to set our minds at ease but the present situation demands more specific proof. But how can we examine the question? If we have not controlled for acquiescence before the event can we control for it after the event? The usual method of 'statistical' (i.e. 'post hoc') control is of course either the analysis of covariance or partial correlation -- but each of these requires an independent measure of the thing to be removed. Do we have in the present work an independent measure of Yeasaying? Such a measure is often obtained (cf. Ray, 1970 and Ray, 1971) by taking the items of a balanced scale and adding the number of 'agrees' irrespective of direction of wording. Such a score may be significantly related to the scale score proper (Ray, 1970) or insignificantly related (Ray, 1971). The only successful balanced scale in the present study was the ethnocentrism scale and our yeasaying score was accordingly derived from it. As mentioned, the score was obtained by adding up the item scores without reversing the negative items. This score correlated .085 with ethnocentrism, .257 with dogmatism, .257 with the F scale and .179 with the HR scale. Partialling out acquiescence from the correlations between the Dogmatism and HR (originally .266) and F and HR scales (originally .474) left reduced correlations of .231 and .450: That the reduction afforded was so slight is mainly attributable to the very small influence of acquiescence on HR scores (r = .179). It has been shown, then, that the correlation between Humanistic radicalism and authoritarianism cannot be attributed to a common acquiescence artifact. We are now free to seek a substantive interpretation of the findings.

One very apparent explanation is that all three scales employ very sweeping and simplistic wording. Difficult issues and questions are treated as solvable or answerable by simple formulas. That this feature accounts for a substantial proportion of the correlation observed is doubly attested to by the fact that three HR items appeared as successful negative items in the Ray (1971) 'Attitude to authority' scale (also normed on National Servicemen). The favourable judgments of authority implied in the F scale are obviously greatly outweighed in impact by the 'intolerance of complexity' or 'intolerance of ambiguity' components of that scale. Intolerance of complexity is viewed here as a special or more particular case of intolerance of ambiguity. Whatever we call it, however, the items of both scales evince an inability to see that opposing points of view on the issues concerned may each have merit. This in turn may be a result of failing to see or failing to care about the full implications of any one of the opinions expressed.

It is concluded then that an authoritarian type of Left-wing ideology has been detected and is embodied in the 'Humanistic Radicalism' scale. We ought, however, to be cautious about generalising these findings to 'institutional' Humanists (i.e. members of Humanist clubs or organisations). The present findings concern relationships in the population at large and do hence have some claim to represent psychologically 'basic' connections: People who have however gone so far as to join a Humanist organisation might perhaps be expected to have thought out their position fairly thoroughly in rational terms and might have come to conclusions that disallow other attitudes of an authoritarian and dogmatic kind.

In answering attitude scales therefore we might expect such people clearly to disavow authoritarian or dogmatic attitudes -- and this indeed has been found to be so (Ray, 1970) . Although he might like to impose his idea of the good world on the rest of the community, the humanist who has thought his position out ought usually to conclude that such an authoritative imposition is in fact incompatible with what he otherwise says he wants. In humanist intellectuals, therefore, we have grounds for believing that authoritarianism may be latent rather than acknowledged.

One inference that is very strongly suggested by the above results is that there may be a general factor of intolerance of ambiguity (or complexity) in matters of social policy -- an intolerance or love of sweeping solutions to political problems that is independent of ideological polarisation. That the correlation between the HR and F scales was so high -- in spite of the ideological opposition of the sentiments expressed -- suggests in fact that this intolerance of complexity is by far the most important factor in F scale scores. Its 'Right-wing-ness' is a quite secondary attribute. One qualification that must be stressed, however, is that we cannot assume that intolerance of complexity in social policy preferences would be correlated with other sorts of intolerance of complexity. We have demonstrated the generality of intolerance of complexity across ideological barriers but we have not in any sense demonstrated that it is a completely general trait. It might be the case that intolerance of complexity in perceptual tasks is completely independent of intolerance of complexity in social policy preferences.

Although it can be said, then, that the present work has shown that authoritarianism can be Humanist as well as anti-Humanist, it should not be assumed that the HR scale is in any sense a new scale of 'Left-wing authoritarianism' suitable for general use. As it stands, it is inadequate for this purpose in length, reliability and balance against acquiescent set. Details of its behavioural validity are also as yet unknown. What the HR scale has done however is to suggest that the phenomenon of Left-wing authoritarianism is both isolable and measurable. It does thus fill a notable gap in previous research and gives us some glimpse of a form of ideology that could not previously have been suspected of being authoritarian.

To summarise: We may say that the F and HR scales constitute measures of authoritarianism at opposing ideological poles -- where authoritarianism is understood to consist of intolerance of ambiguity on social issues and in matters of social (political) policy.


Adorno,T.W., Frenkel-Brunswik, E., Levinson, D.J. & Sanford, R.N. (1950). The authoritarian personality New York: Harper.

Anderson, D.S. & Western, J.S. (1967) An inventory to measure students' attitudes. St. Lucia, Brisbane: Univ. Qld. Press.

Beswick, D.C. & Hills, M.D. (1969) An Australian ethnocentrism scale. Australian J. Psychol. 21, 211-226.

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The Humanistic Radicalism (HR) Scale Items.

1 Human beings are more important than efficiency.
2 The thing children need most is lots of love and affection.
3 Human life is sacred.
4 There is seldom any reason to hurt people's feelings.
5 Dictatorships are totally wrong.
6 Some of the most lovable things about certain people are their little faults and foibles.
7 A bit of disorganisation sometimes does you good.
8 If the Army allowed more room for individuality it might be a better institution.
9 All men are equal.
10 The government should provide more help for the disabled.
11 People should be guided more by their feelings and less by the rules.
12 On some things it is impossible to make up your mind for days on end.
13 In the Army soldiers should not obey an order if it is obviously morally wrong.
14 Patriotism is just a glorified name for national selfishness.
15 Individual freedom is a basic human right.


A sequel to the above work can be found in the article below:

Ray, J.J. (1985) Authoritarianism of the Left revisited. Personality & Individual Differences 6, 271-272.