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An authoritarian is someone who values authority, whether earned or assigned, over all other considerations. Authoritarians generally believe that an individual's authority overrides any rational objections which might be raised by the authority's subjects (i.e. individuals who are under the authority). Authoritarians tend to take the view that division is weakness, rather than seeing dissent as part of an honest effort to help one's country choose the right path.

There are two notable types of authoritarian:

  • the authoritarian follower has a strong will to follow an authoritarian leader and be protected by him (leaders are almost always male)
  • the authoritarian leader has a strong will to have power over others, to exercise that power, and to be seen as invincible

Related Pages


Research into these personality types has been most recently and notably documented by Dr. Bob Altemeyer in his online book The Authoritarians. There seems to have been considerable discussion of related concepts prior to Dr. Altemeyer's research, however, including the work of Jane Jacobs [W] on "Systems of Survival [W]" in which two main moral systems are identified:

Guardian Syndrome's
Moral Precepts
Commerce Syndrome's
Moral Precepts
  • Shun trading
  • Exert prowess
  • Be obedient and disciplined
  • Adhere to tradition
  • Respect hierarchy
  • Be loyal
  • Take vengeance
  • Deceive for the sake of the task
  • Make rich use of leisure
  • Be ostentatious
  • Dispense largesse
  • Be exclusive
  • Show fortitude
  • Be fatalistic
  • Treasure honor
  • Shun force
  • Compete
  • Be efficient
  • Be open to inventiveness and novelty
  • Use initiative and enterprise
  • Come to voluntary agreements
  • Respect contracts
  • Dissent for the sake of the task
  • Be industrious
  • Be thrifty
  • Invest for productive purposes
  • Collaborate easily with strangers and aliens
  • Promote comfort and convenience
  • Be optimistic
  • Be honest
(table courtesy Wikipedia)

Note the similarity between the "guardian syndrome" and the ideals of the authoritarian.


  • "More hideous crimes have been committed in the name of obedience than have ever been committed in the name of rebellion." – C.P. Snow, 1961