The Frankfurt School of Social Research and the Pathologization of Gentile Group Allegiances
THE POLITICAL AGENDA OF THE FRANKFURT SCHOOL OF SOCIAL RESEARCH
Hatred and [the] spirit of sacrifice . . . are nourished by the image of enslaved ancestors rather than that of liberated grandchildren.
(Illuminations, Walter Benjamin 1968, 262)
To write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric.
(T. W. Adorno 1967, 34)
Chapters 2–4 reviewed several strands of theory and research by Jewish social scientists that appear to have been influenced by specifically Jewish political interests. This theme is continued in the present chapter with a review of The Authoritarian Personality. This classic work in social psychology was sponsored by the Department of Scientific Research of the American Jewish Committee (hereafter, AJCommittee) in a series entitled Studies in Prejudice.
Studies in Prejudice was closely connected with the so-called Frankfurt School of predominantly Jewish intellectuals associated with the Institute for Social Research originating during the Weimar period in Germany. The first generation of the Frankfurt School were all Jews by ethnic background and the Institute of Social Research itself was funded by a Jewish millionaire, Felix Weil (Wiggershaus 1994, 13). Weil’s efforts as a “patron of the left” were extraordinarily successful: By the early 1930s the University of Frank- furt had became a bastion of the academic left and “the place where all the thinking of interest in the area of social theory was concentrated” (Wigger- shaus 1994, 112). During this period sociology was referred to as a “Jewish science,” and the Nazis came to view Frankfurt itself as a “New Jerusalem on the Franconian Jordan” (Wiggershaus 1994, 112–113).
The Nazis perceived the Institute of Social Research as a communist organ- ization and closed it within six weeks of Hitler’s ascent to power because it had “encouraged activities hostile to the state” (in Wiggershaus 1994, 128). Even after the emigration of the Institute to the United States, it was widely perceived as a communist front organization with a dogmatic and biased Marxist perspective, and there was a constant balancing act to attempt not to betray the left “while simultaneously defending themselves against corre- sponding suspicions” (Wiggershaus 1994, 251; see also p. 255).1
Gershom Scholem, the Israeli theologian and religious historian, termed the Frankfurt School a “Jewish sect,” and there is good evidence for very strong Jewish identifications of many members of the school (Marcus & Tar 1986, 344).
Studies in Prejudice was under the general editorship of Max Horkheim- er, a director of the Institute. Horkheimer was a highly charismatic ‘managerial scholar’ who constantly reminded his associates of the fact that they belonged to a chosen few in whose hands the further development of ‘Theory’ lay” (Wiggershaus 1994, 2). Horkheimer had a strong Jewish identi- ty that became increasingly apparent in his later writings (Tar 1977, 6; Jay 1980). However, Horkheimer’s commitment to Judaism, as evidenced by the presence of specifically Jewish religious themes, was apparent even in his writings as an adolescent and as a young adult (Maier 1984, 51). At the end of his life Horkheimer completely accepted his Jewish identification and achieved a grand synthesis between Judaism and Critical Theory (Carlebach 1978, 254–257). (Critical Theory is the name applied to the theoretical per- spective of the Frankfurt School.) As an indication of his profound sense of Jewish identity, Horkheimer (1947, 161) stated that the goal of philosophy must to be vindicate Jewish history: “The anonymous martyrs of the concen- tration camps are the symbols of humanity that is striving to be born. The task of philosophy is to translate what they have done into language that will be heard, even though their finite voices have been silenced by tyranny.”
Tar (1977, 60) describes Horkheimer’s inspiration as deriving from his at- tempt to leave behind Judaism while nevertheless remaining tied to the faith of his fathers. Not surprisingly, there is an alienation and estrangement from German culture:
Had I just arrived from my homeland of Palestine, and in an amazingly short time mastered the rudiments of writing in German, this essay could not have been more difficult to write. The style here does not bear the mark of a facile genius. I tried to communicate with the help of what I read and heard, subconsciously assembling fragments of a language that springs from a strange mentality. What else can a stranger do? But my strong will prevailed because my message deserves to be said regardless of its stylistic shortcomings. (Horkheimer, My Political Confession; in Tar 1977, 60)
T. W. Adorno, first author of the famous Berkeley studies of authoritarian personality reviewed here, was also a director of the Institute, and he had a very close professional relationship with Horkheimer to the point that Hork- heimer wrote of their work, “It would be difficult to say which of the ideas originated in his mind and which in my own; our philosophy is one” (Hork- heimer 1947, vii). Jewish themes became increasingly prominent in Adorno’s writings beginning in 1940 as a reaction to Nazi anti-Semitism. Indeed, much of Adorno’s later work may be viewed as a reaction to the Holocaust, as typified by his famous comment that “to write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric” (Adorno 1967, 34) and his question “whether after Auschwitz you can go on living—especially whether one who escaped by accident, one who by rights should have been killed” (Adorno 1973, 363). Tar (1977, 158) notes that the point of the former comment is that “no study of sociology could be possible without reflecting on Auschwitz and without concerning oneself with preventing new Auschwitzes.” “The experience of Auschwitz was turned into an absolute historical and sociological category” (Tar 1977, 165). Clearly there was an intense Jewish consciousness and commitment to Judaism among those most responsible for these studies.
In Chapter 1 it was noted that since the Enlightenment many Jewish intel- lectuals have participated in the radical criticism of gentile culture. Horkheim- er very self-consciously perceived an intimate link between Jewish assimilation and the criticism of gentile society, stating on one occasion that “assimilation and criticism are but two moments in the same process of eman- cipation” (Horkheimer 1974, 108). A consistent theme of Horkheimer and Adorno’s Critical Theory was the transformation of society according to moral principles (Tar 1977). From the beginning there was a rejection of value-free social science research (“the fetishism of facts”) in favor of the fundamental priority of a moral perspective in which present societies, including capitalist, fascist, and eventually Stalinist societies, were to be transformed into utopias of cultural pluralism.
Indeed, long before Studies in Prejudice Critical Theory developed the idea that positivistic (i.e., empirically oriented) social science was an aspect of domination and oppression. Horkheimer wrote in 1937 that “if science as a whole follows the lead of empiricism and the intellect renounces its insistent and confident probing of the tangled brush of observations in order to unearth more about the world than even our well-meaning daily press, it will be participating passively in the maintenance of universal injustice” (in Wigger- shaus 1994, 184). The social scientist must therefore be a critic of culture and adopt an attitude of resistance toward contemporary societies.
The unscientific nature of the enterprise can also be seen in its handling of dissent within the ranks of the Institute. Writing approvingly of Walter Ben- jamin’s work, Adorno stated, “I have come to be convinced that his work will contain nothing which could not be defended from the point of view of dialec- tical materialism” (in Wiggershaus 1994, 161; italics in text). Erich Fromm was excised from the movement in the 1930s because his leftist humanism (which indicted the authoritarian nature of the psychoanalyst-patient relation- ship) was not compatible with the leftist authoritarianism that was an integral part of the current Horkheimer-Adorno line: “[Fromm] takes the easy way out with the concept of authority, without which, after all, neither Lenin’s avant-garde nor dictatorship can be conceived of. I would strongly advise him to read Lenin. . . . I must tell you that I see a real threat in this article to the line which the journal takes” (Adorno, in Wiggershaus 1994, 266).
Fromm was excised from the Institute despite the fact that his position was among the most radically leftist to emerge from the psychoanalytic camp. Throughout his career, Fromm remained the embodiment of the psychoanalyt- ic left and its view that bourgeois-capitalist society and fascism resulted from (and reliably reproduced) gross distortions of human nature (see Ch. 4). Similarly, Herbert Marcuse was excluded when his orthodox Marxist views began to diverge from the evolving ideology of Adorno and Horkheimer (see Wiggershaus 1994, 391–392).2
These exclusionary trends are also apparent in the aborted plans to reinsti- tute the Institute’s journal in the 1950s. It was decided that there were too few contributors with the Horkheimer-Adorno line to support a journal and the plans foundered (Wiggershaus 1994, 471). Throughout its history, to be a member of the Institute was to adopt a certain view and to submit to heavy editing and even censorship of one’s works to ensure conformity to a clearly articulated ideological position.
As might be expected from a highly authoritarian political movement, the result was a speculative, philosophical body of work that ultimately had no influence on empirically oriented sociology, although, as indicated below, it has had a profound influence on theory in the humanities. (The Authoritarian Personality is not included in this statement; it was very influential but had an empirical basis of sorts.) This body of work does not qualify as science because of its rejection of experimentation, quantification, and verification, and because of the priority of moral and political concerns over the investiga- tion of the nature of human social psychology.
The priority of the moral and political agenda of Critical Theory is essential to understanding the Frankfurt School and its influence. Horkheimer and Adorno eventually rejected the classical Marxist perspective on the im- portance of class struggle for the development of fascism in favor of a per- spective in which both fascism and capitalism were fundamentally conceptualized as involving domination and authoritarianism. Further, they developed the theory that disturbed parent-child relations involving the sup- pression of human nature were a necessary condition for domination and authoritarianism.
Obviously, this is a perspective that is highly compatible with psychoana- lytic theory, and indeed psychoanalysis was a basic influence on their think- ing. Virtually from the beginning, psychoanalysis had a respected position within the Institute for Social Research, particularly under the influence of Erich Fromm. Fromm held positions at the Frankfurt Psychoanalytic Institute as well as at the Institute for Social Research, and along with other “left- Freudians” such as Wilhelm Reich and eventually Marcuse, he developed theories that incorporated both Marxism and psychoanalysis essentially by developing a theoretical link between the repression of instincts in the context of family relationships (or, as in the case of Fromm, the development of sado- masochistic and anal personality traits within the family) and the development of oppressive social and economic structures.
It is interesting that although the Horkheimer group developed a very strong hostility to empirical science and the positivistic philosophy of science, they felt no need to abandon psychoanalysis. Indeed, psychoanalysis was “a central factor in giving Horkheimer and the most important of his fellow theoreticians the sense that important insights could also be achieved—or even better achieved—by skipping over the specialized disciplines” (Wiggershaus 1994, 186). We shall see that psychoanalysis as a nonempirically based hermeneutic structure (which nevertheless masqueraded as a science) turned out to be an infinitely plastic tool in the hands of those constructing a theory aimed at achieving purely political objectives.
For Horkheimer and Adorno, the fundamental shift from the sociological to the psychological level that occurred during the 1940s was motivated by the fact that in Germany the proletariat had succumbed to fascism and in the Soviet Union socialism had not prevented the development of an authoritarian government that failed to guarantee individual autonomy or Jewish group interests (Tar 1977, 80; Wiggershaus 1994, 137ff, 391ff). Within the new perspective, authoritarianism was viewed as the fundamental problem, its origin traceable to family interactions and ultimately to the suppression of human nature (Tar 1977, 87–88). Nevertheless, the formal outline of the theory can be seen in philosophical form in the earlier work Studies on Au- thority and the Family of 1936, a work that presented Fromm’s psychoanalytic theory of authoritarian “sado-masochistic” family relationships and their putative linkages with bourgeois capitalism and fascism.
This philosophical-speculative approach to anti-Semitism was refined in the chapter on anti-Semitism in Horkheimer and Adorno’s (1944/1990) Dialectic of Enlightenment.3 In addition to being highly abstract and written in what might be termed a Hegelian manner, the style of writing is assertional: State- ments about anti-Semitism are simply asserted with no attempt to provide any empirical justification.4 As Jacob Katz (1983, 40) notes, the Frankfurt School has “not been notable for the accuracy of its evaluation of the Jewish situation either before the advent of Nazism or afterward.” However, many of the ideas simply asserted there in a philosophical, speculative manner are identical to the theories of anti-Semitism contained in The Authoritarian Personality.
Indeed, the authors viewed the chapter on anti-Semitism as a theoretical study for their anticipated empirical study of anti-Semitism (Wiggershaus 1994, 324). The Authoritarian Personality may thus be viewed as an attempt to provide these philosophical theories of anti-Semitism with empirical support, but the theory itself was fundamentally an a priori philosophical theory and was not viewed by its authors as subject to either verification or falsification:
Horkheimer seemed to consider the dialectics project and the anti-Semitism project as two distinct items relating to one another in the way that an abstract theory relates to its
application to a concrete topic, or in the way that Hegel’s logic relates to the Hegelian philosophies of history, law or aesthetics. Was this not turning a distinction within the theoretical and empirical research process into a distinction which silently gave the theory the dignity of speculation and made it independent of the empiricism appropri- ate to science? And was empirical research not thus being denied its status as a dimen- sion of reflected experience, and degraded into a means of illustrating the theory? . . . A further open question was whether their enthusiasm for the theory, and their con- temptuous remarks about research in specific scientific disciplines, in fact represented more than mere evidence of personal values and moods; whether these did not have an influence on the way in which their scholarly work was carried out and on its results— particularly when external influences were forcing them to take both dimensions seriously. (Wiggershaus 1994, 320; see also Jay 1973, 240, 251)
The non-empirical nature of the theory of anti-Semitism was quite clear to Adorno as well: “[W]e never regarded the theory simply as a set of hypotheses but as in some sense standing on its own feet, and therefore did not intend to prove or disprove the theory through our findings but only to derive from it concrete questions for investigation, which must then be judged on their own merit and demonstrate certain prevalent socio-psychological structures” (Adorno 1969a, 363). The findings do indeed have to be judged on their own merit, and as indicated below, there is reason to suppose that the procedures used to verify the theory went well beyond the bounds of normal scientific practice.
Fundamentally The Authoritarian Personality studies resulted from a felt need to develop an empirical program of research that would support a politi- cally and intellectually satisfying a priori theory of anti-Semitism in order to influence an American academic audience. As Horkheimer stated in 1943, “When we became aware that a few of our American friends expected of an Institute of Social Sciences that it engage in studies on pertinent social prob- lems, fieldwork, and other empirical investigations, we tried to satisfy these demands as well as we could, but our heart was set on individual studies in the sense of Geisteswissenschaften [i.e., the humanities] and the philosophical analysis of culture” (in Wiggershaus 1994, 252).
Indeed, the goal of producing political propaganda by using the methods of social science was self-consciously articulated by Horkheimer. Thus Hork- heimer reacted with enthusiasm to the idea of including criminals in the study: “Research would be able here to transform itself directly into propaganda, i.e., if it could be reliably established that a particularly high percentage of crimi- nals were extreme anti-Semites, the result would as such already be propagan- da. I would also like to try to examine psychopaths in mental hospitals” (in Wiggershaus 1994, 375; italics in text). Both groups were eventually included in the study.
A general theme in Dialectic of Enlightenment is that anti-Semitism is the result of “the will to destroy born of a false social order” (p. 168). The ideolo- gy that Jews possess a variety of negative traits is simply a projection resulting in a self-portrait of the anti-Semite: Anti-Semites accuse the Jews of wanting power, but in reality the anti-Semites “long for total possession and unlimited power, at any price. They transfer their guilt for this to the Jews” (p. 169).
There is a recognition that anti-Semitism is associated with gentile move- ments for national cohesiveness (pp. 169–170). The anti-Semitism arising along with such movements is interpreted as resulting from the “urge to destroy” carried out by “covetous mobs” that are ultimately manipulated by ruling gentile elites to conceal their own economic domination. Anti-Semitism is without function except to serve as a means of discharging the anger of those who are frustrated economically and sexually (p. 171).
Horkheimer and Adorno propose that modern fascism is basically the same as traditional Christianity because both involve opposition to and subjugation of nature. While Judaism remained a “natural religion” concerned with nation- al life and self-preservation, Christianity turned toward domination and a rejection of all that is natural. In an argument reminiscent of Freud’s argument in Moses and Monotheism (see Ch. 4), religious anti-Semitism then arises because of hatred of those “who did not make the dull sacrifice of reason. . . . The adherents of the religion of the Father are hated by those who support the religion of the Son—hated as those who know better” (p. 179).
This tendency to interpret anti-Semitism as fundamentally deriving from suppressing nature is central to Studies in Prejudice, and particularly The Authoritarian Personality.5 Suppression of nature results in projection of qualities of self onto the environment and particularly onto the Jews. “Impuls- es which the subject will not admit as his own even though they are most assuredly so, are attributed to the object—the prospective victim” (p. 187). Particularly important for this projection process are sexual impulses: “The same sexual impulses which the human species suppressed have survived and prevailed—in individuals and in nations—by way of the mental conversion of the ambient world into a diabolical system” (p. 187). Christian self-denial and, in particular, the suppression of sex result in evil and anti-Semitism via projection.6
Psychoanalytic theory is invoked as an explanation of this process in a manner that, in its emphasis on suppressed hatred for the father, also antici- pates the theory utilized in The Authoritarian Personality. Aggressive urges originating in the id are projected onto the external world by actions of the superego. “The forbidden action which is converted into aggression is general- ly homosexual in nature. Through fear of castration, obedience to the father is taken to the extreme of an anticipation of castration in conscious emotional approximation to the nature of a small girl, and actual hatred to the father is suppressed” (p. 192).
Forbidden actions underlain by powerful instincts are thus turned into ag- gression, which is then projected onto victims in the external world, with the result that “he attacks other individuals in envy or persecution just as the repressed bestialist hunts or torments an animal” (p. 192). A later passage decries the “suppression of animal nature into scientific methods of controlling nature” (p. 193). Domination of nature, viewed as central to Christianity and fascism, thus derives ultimately from suppressing our animal nature.
Horkheimer and Adorno then attempt to explain the role of conformity in fascism. They argue that cohesive gentile group strategies are fundamentally based on a distortion of human nature—a central theme of The Authoritarian Personality. They posit a natural, nonconforming, reflective self in opposition to society that has been corrupted by capitalism or fascism. The development of large industrial interests and the culture industry of late capitalism have destroyed in most people the inner-directed, reflective power that can produce “self-comprehending guilt” (p. 198), which could oppose the forces leading to anti-Semitism. This inner directed reflection was “emancipated” from society and even directed against society (p. 198), but under the above-mentioned forces, it conforms blindly to the values of the external society.
Thus humans are portrayed as naturally opposed to the conformity demand- ed by a highly cohesive society. As indicated below, a consistent theme of The Authoritarian Personality is the idea that gentile participation in cohesive groups with high levels of social conformity is pathological, whereas similar behavior of Jews with respect to the group cohesiveness characteristic of Judaism is ignored: Indeed, we have seen that Judaism is portrayed in The Dialectic of Enlightenment as morally superior to Christianity.
The gentile elite is then said to take advantage of the situation by directing the projected hostility of the masses into anti-Semitism. Jews are an ideal target for this projected hostility because they represent all that is antithetical to totalitarianism: “Happiness without power, wages without work, a home without frontiers, religion without myth. These characteristics are hated by the rulers because the ruled secretly long to possess them. The rulers are only safe as long as the people they rule turn their longed-for goals into hated forms of evil” (p. 199).
The conclusion is that if the rulers in fact allowed the ruled to be like the Jews, there would be a fundamental turning point of history:
By overcoming that sickness of the mind which thrives on the ground of self-assertion untainted by reflective thought, mankind would develop from a set of opposing races to the species which, even in nature, is more than mere nature. Individual and social emancipation from domination is the countermovement to false projection, and no Jew would then resemble the senseless evil visited upon him as upon all persecuted beings, be they animals or men. (p. 200)
The end of anti-Semitism is thus viewed as a precondition for the develop- ment of a utopian society and the liberation of humanity—perhaps the closest that the Frankfurt School ever came to defining utopia.7 The envisioned utopian society is one in which Judaism can continue as a cohesive group but in which cohesive, nationalistic, corporate gentile groups based on conformity to group norms have been abolished as manifestations of psychopathology.
Horkheimer and Adorno developed the view that the unique role of Judaism in world history was to vindicate the concept of difference against the homogenizing forces thought to represent the essence of Western civilization: “The Jews became the metaphoric equivalent of that remnant of society preserving negation and the non-identical” (Jay 1980, 148). Judaism thus represents the antithesis of Western universalism. The continuation and acceptance of Jewish particularism becomes a precondition for the development of a utopian society of the future.
Within this perspective, the roots of anti-Semitism are therefore to be sought in individual psychopathology, not in the behavior of Jews. Neverthe- less, there is some acknowledgment that the actual characteristics of Jews may be involved in historical anti-Semitism, but Horkheimer and Adorno theorize that the Jewish characteristics that have led to anti-Semitism were forced on Jews. Jews are said to have incurred the wrath of the lower classes because Jews were the originators of capitalism: “For the sake of economic progress which is now proving their downfall, the Jews were always a thorn in the side of the craftsmen and peasants who were declassed by capitalism.
They are now experiencing to their own cost the exclusive, particularist character of capitalism” (p. 175). However, this Jewish role is viewed as forced on the Jews who were completely dependent on gentile elites for their rights even into the nineteenth century. Under these circumstances, “Commerce is not their vocation, it is their fate” (p. 175). The success of the Jews then constitut- ed a trauma to the gentile bourgeoisie, “who had to pretend to be creative” (p. 175); their anti-Semitism is thus “self-hatred, the bad conscience of the para- site” (p. 176).
There are indications that the original anti-Semitism project envisioned a more elaborate discussion of “Jewish character traits” that led to anti-Semitism along with suggested methods for overcoming them. However, “The topic never became part of the Institute’s programme, perhaps partly out of consid- eration for the sensitivity of most Jews towards this topic, and partly to avoid exposing the Institute to the accusation that it was turning the problem of anti- Semitism into a Jewish problem” (Wiggershaus 1994, 366). Indeed, the Institute was well aware of a 1945 Jewish Labor Committee survey of work- ing-class Americans in which the latter complained of Jewish behaviors related to the types of actual dealings working-class individuals would be likely to have with Jews (see SAID, p. 50). Adorno appears to have believed that these attitudes were “less irrational” than the anti-Semitism of other classes (see Wiggershaus 1994, 369).
I have noted that a powerful tendency in both radical politics and psychoa- nalysis has been a thoroughgoing critique of gentile society. An important theme here is that Studies in Prejudice and, especially, The Authoritarian Personality attempt to show that gentile group affiliations, and particularly membership in Christian religious sects, gentile nationalism, and close family relationships, are an indication of psychiatric disorder. At a deep level the work of the Frankfurt School is addressed to altering Western societies in an attempt to make them resistant to anti-Semitism by pathologizing gentile group affiliations. And because this effort ultimately eschews the leftist
solutions that have attracted so many twentieth-century Jewish intellectuals, it is an effort that remains highly relevant to the current post-Communist intel- lectual and political context.
The opposition of Jewish intellectuals to cohesive gentile groups and a ho- mogeneous gentile culture has perhaps not been sufficiently emphasized. I have noted in Chapter 1 that the Conversos were vastly overrepresented among the humanist thinkers in fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Spain who opposed the corporate nature of Spanish society centered around the Christian religion. I have also noted that a central thrust of Freud’s work was to contin- ue to strongly identify as a Jew while at the same time developing a theory of Christian religious affiliation in which the latter is conceptualized as fulfilling infantile needs.
Similarly, another way of conceptualizing the Jewish advocacy of radical political movements consistent with the material in Chapter 3 is that these political movements may be understood as simultaneously undermining gentile intrasocietal group affiliations, such as Christianity and nationalism, at the same time allowing for the continuation of Jewish identification. For example, Jewish Communists consistently opposed Polish nationalist aspira- tions, and after they came to power in the post–World War II era they liqui- dated Polish nationalists and undermined the role of the Catholic Church while simultaneously establishing secular Jewish economic and social structures.
It is of some historical interest to note that an important feature of the rheto- ric of German anti-Semites (e.g., Paul Lagarde [see Stern 1961, 60, 65]) throughout the nineteenth century into the Weimar period was that Jews advocated political forms such as liberalism, which opposed structuring society as a highly cohesive group, at the same time they themselves retained an extraordinary group cohesiveness that enabled them to dominate Germans. During the Weimar period the Nazi propagandist Alfred Rosenberg com- plained that Jews advocated a completely atomized society while at the same time exempting themselves from this process. Whereas the rest of society was to be prevented from participating in highly cohesive groups, the Jews “would retain their international cohesiveness, blood ties, and spiritual unity” (Aschheim 1985, 239).
In Mein Kampf, Hitler clearly believed that Jewish advocacy of liberal attitudes was a deception overlaying a commitment to racialism and a highly cohesive group strategy: “While he [the Jew] seems to overflow with ‘enlightenment,’ ‘progress,’ ‘freedom,’ ‘humanity,’ etc., he himself practices the severest segregation of his race” (p. 315). The conflict between Jewish advocacy of Enlightenment ideals and actual Jewish behavior was noted by Klein (1981, 146): “Annoyed by the parochial attachments of other people, and unreceptive to the idea of a pluralistic state, many non-Jews interpreted the Jewish assertion of pride as a subversion of the ‘enlightened’ or egalitarian state. The Jewish stress on national or racial pride reinforced the non-Jewish perception of the Jew as a disruptive social force.”
Ringer (1983, 7) also notes that a common component of anti-Semitism among academics during the Weimar period was a perception that Jews attempted to undermine patriotic commitment and social cohesion of society. Indeed, the perception that Jewish critical analysis of gentile society was aimed at dissolving the bonds of cohesiveness within the society was common among educated gentile Germans, including university professors (Ringer 1983, 7). One academic referred to the Jews as “the classic party of national decomposition” (in Ringer 1983, 7).
In the event, National Socialism developed as a cohesive gentile group strategy in opposition to Judaism, a strategy that completely rejected the Enlightenment ideal of an atomized society based on individual rights in opposition to the state. As I have argued in SAID (Ch. 5), in this regard Na- tional Socialism was very much like Judaism, which has been throughout its history fundamentally a group phenomenon in which the rights of the individ- ual have been submerged in the interests of the group.
As evident in the material reviewed here and in the previous chapters, at least some influential Jewish social scientists and intellectuals have attempted to undermine gentile group strategies while leaving open the possibility that Judaism continue as a highly cohesive group strategy. This theme is highly compatible with the Frankfurt School’s consistent rejection of all forms of nationalism (Tar 1977, 20). The result is that in the end the ideology of the Frankfurt School may be described as a form of radical individualism that nevertheless despised capitalism—an individualism in which all forms of gentile collectivism are condemned as an indication of social or individual pathology.8
Thus in Horkheimer’s essay on German Jews (see Horkheimer 1974), the true enemy of the Jews is gentile collectivities of any kind, and especially nationalism. Although no mention is made of the collectivist nature of Judaism, Zionism, or Israeli nationalism, the collectivist tendencies of modern gentile society are deplored, especially fascism and communism. The prescription for gentile society is radical individualism and the acceptance of pluralism. People have an inherent right to be different from others and to be accepted by others as different. Indeed, to become differentiated from others is to achieve the highest level of humanity. The result is that “no party and no movement, neither the Old Left nor the New, indeed no collectivity of any sort was on the side of truth. . . . [T]he residue of the forces of true change was located in the critical individual alone” (Maier 1984, 45).
As a corollary of this thesis, Adorno adopted the idea that the basic role of philosophy is the negative role of resisting attempts to endow the world with any “universality,” “objectivity,” or “totality,” that is, with a single organizing principle for society that would homogenize society because it applied to all humans (see especially Adorno’s Negative Dialectics [Adorno 1973]; see also the review of Adorno’s ideas on this concept in Jay [1984, 241–275]). In Negative Dialectics the main example attacked by Adorno is Hegel’s idea of universal history (also a stalking horse for Jacques Derrida; see below), but a similar argument applies to any ideology, such as nationalism that results in a sense of national or pan-human universality. For example, the principle of exchange characteristic of capitalism is rejected because through it all humans become commensurable and thus lose their unique particularity.
Science too is condemned because of its tendency to seek universal principles of reality (including human nature) and its tendency to look for quantitative, commen- surable differences between humans rather than qualitative differences. Each object “should be respected in its ungeneralized historical uniqueness” (Landmann 1984, 123). Or, as Adorno (1974, 17) himself noted in Minima Moralia: “In the face of the totalitarian unison with which the eradication of difference is proclaimed as a purpose in itself, even part of the social force of liberation may have temporarily withdrawn to the individual sphere.” In the end, the only criterion for a better society was that it be one in which “one can be different without fear” (p. 131). The former communist had become an advocate of radical individualism, at least for the gentiles. As discussed in Chapter 4, Erich Fromm (1941), another member of the Frankfurt School until he was excluded, also recognized the utility of individualism as a prescription for gentile society while nevertheless remaining strongly identified as a Jew.
Congruent with this stress on individualism and the glorification of differ- ence, Adorno embraced a radical form of philosophical skepticism which is completely incompatible with the entire social science enterprise of The Authoritarian Personality. Indeed, Adorno rejected even the possibility of ontology (“reification”) because he viewed the contrary positions as ultimately supporting totalitarianism. Given Adorno’s preoccupation with Jewish issues and strong Jewish identity, it is reasonable to suppose that these ideological structures are intended to serve as a justification of Jewish particularism. In this view, Judaism, like any other historically particular entity, must remain beyond the reach of science, forever incomprehensible in its uniqueness and ever in opposition to all attempts to develop homogeneous social structures in the society as a whole. However, its continued existence is guaranteed as an a priori moral imperative.
The prescription that gentile society adopt a social organization based on radical individualism would indeed be an excellent strategy for the continua- tion of Judaism as a cohesive, collectivist group strategy. Research summa- rized by Triandis (1990, 1991) on cross-cultural differences in individualism and collectivism indicates that anti-Semitism would be lowest in individualist societies rather than societies that are collectivist and homogeneous apart from Jews. A theme of PTSDA (Ch. 8) is that European societies (with the notable exceptions of the National Socialist era in Germany and the medieval period of Christian religious hegemony—both periods of intense anti-Semitism) have been unique among the economically advanced traditional and modern cul- tures of the world in their commitment to individualism. As I have argued in SAID (Chs. 3–5), the presence of Judaism as a highly successful and salient group strategy provokes anti-individualist responses from gentile societies.
Collectivist cultures (and Triandis [1990, 57] explicitly includes Judaism in this category) place a much greater emphasis on the goals and needs of the ingroup rather than on individual rights and interests. Collectivist cultures develop an “unquestioned attachment” to the ingroup, including “the perception that ingroup norms are universally valid (a form of ethnocentrism), automatic obedience to ingroup authorities, and willingness to fight and die for the ingroup. These characteristics are usually associated with distrust of and unwillingness to cooperate with outgroups” (p. 55). In collectivist cultures morality is conceptualized as that which benefits the group, and aggression and exploitation of outgroups are acceptable (Triandis 1990, 90).
People in individualist cultures, in contrast, show little emotional attach- ment to ingroups. Personal goals are paramount, and socialization emphasizes the importance of self-reliance, independence, individual responsibility, and “finding yourself” (Triandis 1991, 82). Individualists have more positive attitudes toward strangers and outgroup members and are more likely to behave in a prosocial, altruistic manner to strangers. Because they are less aware of ingroup-outgroup boundaries, people in individualist cultures are less likely to have negative attitudes toward outgroup members (1991, 80). They often disagree with ingroup policy, show little emotional commitment or loyalty to ingroups, and do not have a sense of common fate with other in- group members.
Opposition to outgroups occurs in individualist societies, but the opposition is more “rational” in the sense that there is less of a tendency to suppose that all of the outgroup members are culpable for the misdeeds of a few. Individualists form mild attachments to many groups, whereas collectiv- ists have an intense attachment and identification to a few ingroups (1990, 61).
The expectation is that individualists will tend to be less predisposed to anti-Semitism and more likely to blame any offensive Jewish behavior as resulting from transgressions by individual Jews rather than stereotypically true of all Jews. However Jews, as members of a collectivist subculture living in an individualistic society, are themselves more likely to view the Jewish- gentile distinction as extremely salient and to develop stereotypically negative views about gentiles.
In Triandis’s terms, then, the fundamental intellectual difficulty presented by The Authoritarian Personality is that Judaism itself is a highly collectivist subculture in which authoritarianism and obedience to ingroup norms and the suppression of individual interests for the common good have been of vital importance throughout its history (PTSDA, Chs. 6, 8). Such attributes in gentiles tend to result in anti-Semitism because of social identity processes. Jews may, as a result, perceive themselves to have a vital interest in advocat- ing a highly individualist, atomized gentile culture while simultaneously maintaining their own highly elaborated collectivist subculture. This is the perspective developed by the Frankfurt School and apparent throughout Studies in Prejudice.
However, we shall see that The Authoritarian Personality extends beyond the attempt to pathologize cohesive gentile groups to pathologize adaptive gentile behavior in general. The principal intellectual difficulty is that behav- ior that is critical to Judaism as a successful group evolutionary strategy is conceptualized as pathological in gentiles.
REVIEW OF THE AUTHORITARIAN PERSONALITY
The Authoritarian Personality (Adorno, Frenkel-Brunswik, Levinson & Sanford 1950) is a true classic of research in social psychology. It has generat- ed thousands of studies, and references continue to appear in textbooks, although in recent years there has been increasing criticism and rejection of the personality approach to intergroup prejudice and hostility. Nathan Glazer (1954, 290) noted, “No volume published since the war in the field of social psychology has had a greater impact on the direction of the actual empirical work being carried on in the universities today.”
Despite its influence, from the beginning it has been common to point out technical problems with the construction of the scales and the conduct and interpretation of the interviews (see Altemeyer 1981, 33–51; 1988, 52–54; Billings, Guastello & Rieke 1993; R. Brown 1965, 509ff; Collier, Minton & Reynolds 1991, 196; Hyman & Sheatsley 1954). The result is that The Authoritarian Personality has become something of a textbook on how not to do social science research.
Nevertheless, despite technical problems with the original scale construc- tion, there is no question that there is such a thing as psychological authoritar- ianism, in the sense that it is possible to construct a reliable psychometric scale that measures such a construct. Whereas the F-scale from the original Authori- tarian Personality studies is plagued with an acquiescent response set bias, more recent versions of the scale have managed to avoid this difficulty while retaining substantially the same correlates with other scales. However, the validity of the scale in measuring actual authoritarian behavior, as opposed to having a high score on an authoritarianism scale, continues to be controversial (see Billings et al. 1993).
In any case, my treatment will emphasize two aspects of The Authoritarian Personality that are central to the political program of the Frankfurt School: (1) I will emphasize the double standard in which gentile behavior inferred from high scores on the F-scale or the Ethnocentrism Scales is viewed as an indication of psychopathology, whereas precisely the same behavior is central to Judaism as a group evolutionary strategy; (2) I will also criticize the psy- chodynamic mechanisms involving disturbed parent-child relationships proposed to underlie authoritarianism. These proposed psychodynamic mech- anisms are responsible for the highly subversive nature of the book considered as political propaganda; not coincidentally, it is this strand of the project that has often struck commentators as highly questionable.
Thus Altemeyer (1988, 53) notes that despite the “unconvincing” nature of the scientific evidence supporting it, the basic idea that anti-Semitism is the result of disturbed parent-child relationships has “spread so widely through our culture that it has become a stereotype.” Moreover, much of the incredible success of the Au- thoritarian Personality studies occurred because of the book’s widespread acceptance among Jewish social scientists, who by the 1950s had assumed a prominent role in the American academic community and were very con- cerned with anti-Semitism (Higham 1984, 154; see also below).
The politicized nature of The Authoritarian Personality has long been ap- parent to mainstream psychologists. Roger Brown noted, “The study called The Authoritarian Personality has affected American life: the theory of prejudice it propounded has become a part of popular culture and a force against racial discrimination. Is it also true? You must be the judge. . . . The Berkeley study of authoritarian personality does not leave many people indifferent. Cool objectivity has not been the hallmark of this tradition. Most of those who have participated have cared deeply about the social issues involved” (Brown 1965, 479, 544). The last part of Brown’s comment reflects the feeling one has in reading the book, namely, that the beliefs of the authors were important in conceptualizing and interpreting the research.
A good example of such a reader is Christopher Lasch (1991, 445ff), who noted “The purpose and design of Studies in Prejudice dictated the conclusion that prejudice, a psychological disorder rooted in ‘authoritarian’ personality structure, could be eradicated only by subjecting the American people to what amounted to collective psychotherapy—by treating them as inmates of an insane asylum.” From the beginning, this was social science with a political agenda: “By identifying the ‘liberal personality’ as the antithesis of the author- itarian personality, they equated mental health with an approved political position. They defended liberalism . . . on the grounds that other positions had their roots in personal pathology” (Lasch 1991, 453).
The Authoritarian Personality begins by acknowledging Freud as a general influence, and especially his role in making the intellectual world “more aware of the suppression of children (both within the home and outside) and socie- ty’s usually naive ignorance of the psychological dynamics of the life of the child and the adult alike” (p. x). In congruence with this general perspective, Adorno and his colleagues “in common with most social scientists, hold the view that anti-Semitism is based more largely upon factors in the subject and in his total situation than upon actual characteristics of Jews” (p. 2). The roots of anti-Semitism are therefore to be sought in individual psychopathology— “the deep-lying needs of the personality” (p. 9)—and not in the behavior of Jews.
Chapter II (by R. Nevitt Sanford) consists of interview material from two individuals, one high on anti-Semitism (Mack), the other low on anti-Semitism (Larry). Mack is quite ethnocentric and tends to see people in terms of in- group-outgroup relationships in which the outgroup is characterized in a stereotypically negative manner. As predicted for such a person on the basis of social identity theory (Hogg & Abrams 1987), his own group, the Irish, has approved traits, and outgroups are seen as homogeneous and threatening.
Whereas Mack is strongly conscious of groups as a unit of social categorization, Larry does not think in terms of groups at all.
Although Mack’s ethnocentrism is clearly viewed as pathological, there is no thought given to the possibility that Jews also have analogously ethnocen- tric thought processes as a result of the extreme salience of ingroup-outgroup relationships as an aspect of Jewish socialization. Indeed, in SAID (Ch. 1) I noted that Jews would be more likely than gentiles to have negative stereo- types about outgroups and to view the world as composed fundamentally of homogeneous, competing, threatening, and negatively stereotyped outgroups. Moreover, there is excellent evidence, summarized throughout this volume, that Jews have often held negative views of gentile (i.e., outgroup) culture. Nevertheless, as we shall see, the agenda of The Authoritarian Personality is that similar ethnocentric attitudes among gentiles are traceable to pathological early influences on personality.
Further, a consistent theme in Chapters 2–4 is that a major thrust of Jewish intellectual movements since the nineteenth century has been to devise theo- ries that minimize the importance of the social category Jew-gentile while allowing for the continuation of a very strong sense of Jewish identity. Larry’s tendency not to see the social environment in terms of groups is linked with an absence of anti-Semitism, whereas Mack’s anti-Semitism is necessarily linked to the importance of groups as a social category.
These themes and their influence on scale construction can be seen in Chap- ters III and IV (by Daniel J. Levinson). Levinson notes that anti-Semites tend to see Jews as members of groups rather than as individuals, and he suggests that the effectiveness of individual experience with Jews “would seem to depend in large part on the individual’s capacity for individuated experiences” (p. 95; italics in text).9 Levinson also notes that individuals who themselves belong to groups with a strong ingroup ideology, such as sororities, are more likely to be anti-Semitic (p. 104). Again, the implication is that strong ingroup ideologies should be reserved for Jews and are dangerous in others. These findings fit well with the discussion of individualist versus collectivist socie- ties at the beginning of this chapter: Jews, as a highly cohesive group, have an interest in advocating a completely atomistic, individualistic society in which ingroup-outgroup distinctions are not salient to gentiles.
The Ethnocentrism Scale has three subscales, one involving attitudes to- ward African Americans, one involving attitudes toward minorities in general, and one involving patriotism. Although the presentation of the Ethnocentrism Scale leads one to believe that the researchers are studying ethnocentrism in general, in fact the scale items are exclusively concerned with ethnocentrism among the Caucasian Christian population. Those high in ethnocentrism according to this scale have negative attitudes toward African Americans and Jews and positive attitudes toward white, Christian dominance. For example, one item on the Ethnocentrism Scale is “In view of the present national emergency [World War II], it is highly important to limit responsible govern- ment jobs to native, white, Christian Americans.” The result of including such items is that a strongly identified Jew, for whom the ingroup-outgroup distinc- tion is salient, would have a low score on Levinson’s ethnocentrism scale.
Items on the Anti-Semitism Scale appear to imply that an aspect of anti- Semitism is the gentile view that Jews constitute a distinctive group. For example, one of the items is “The trouble with letting Jews into a nice neigh- borhood is that they gradually give it a typical Jewish atmosphere.” Brown (1965, 483) comments, “How could it be otherwise? Surely Jews will produce a Jewish atmosphere. They will at any rate do so if one thinks of Jews as ‘categorically different from non-Jews.’ However, it is just this saliency of ‘Jewishness’ which the authors consider the beginning of anti-Semitism.” Here the implicit assumption is that the salience of the Jewish-gentile social categorization signals anti-Semitism in gentiles and therefore indicates dis- turbed parent-child relations. Nevertheless, among Jews such a social catego- rization process is critical for the continuation of Judaism as a group evolutionary strategy.
Similarly ironic as an aspect of the Anti-Semitism Scale is the inclusion of the items “I can hardly imagine myself marrying a Jew” and “It is wrong for Jews and Gentiles to intermarry.” Such attitudes apparently result from dis- turbed parent-child relationships among gentiles and the suppression of human nature, yet the rejection of intermarriage has been common among Jews. Indeed, the “threat” of intermarriage has recently produced a crisis within the Jewish community and has resulted in intensive efforts to persuade Jews to marry other Jews (see SAID, Ch. 8).
Other items reflecting aspects of Judaism as a group evolutionary strategy in fact have substantial empirical support. For example, several items are concerned with perceptions of Jewish clannishness and its effect on residential patterns and business practices.10 Other items are concerned with perceptions that Jews engage in cultural separatism and with perceptions that Jews have power, money and influence out of proportion to their numbers in the popula- tion. There is an item that reflects the overrepresentation of Jews in leftist and radical political causes: “There seems to be some revolutionary streak in the Jewish make-up as shown by the fact that there are so many Jewish Com- munists and agitators.” However, data reviewed in this volume, SAID, and PTSDA indicate that in fact there is considerable truth in all these generaliza- tions. Being high on the Anti-Semitism Scale may therefore simply mean that one has access to more information rather than a sign of a disturbed childhood.
Particularly interesting is the patriotism scale, designed to tap attitudes in- volving “blind attachment to certain national cultural values, uncritical con- formity with the prevailing group ways, and rejection of other nations as outgroups” (p. 107). Again, strong attachment to group interests among the majority group is considered pathology, whereas no mention is made of analogous group attachments among Jews. An advocacy of strong discipline and conformity within the majority group is an important indicator of this pathology: One scale item reads, “Minor forms of military training, obedience, and discipline, such as drill, marching, and simple commands, should be made a part of the elementary school educational program.” However, no mention is made of discipline, conformity, and the socialization of group cohesiveness as important ideals within minority group strategies. As indicated in PTSDA (Ch. 7), traditional Jewish socialization practices have placed strong emphasis on discipline within the group and psychological acceptance of group goals (i.e., conformity).
These results are of interest because an important aspect of this entire effort is to pathologize positive attitudes toward creating a highly cohesive, well- disciplined group strategy among gentiles, but nevertheless failing to censure such attitudes among Jews. Individuals high on the Ethnocentrism Scale as well as the Anti-Semitism Scale are undoubtedly people who are very group- conscious. They see themselves as members of cohesive groups, including, in some cases, their own ethnic group and, at the highest level, the nation; and they view negatively outgroup individuals and individuals who deviate from group goals and group norms. In Chapter III Levinson states that anti-Semites want power for their own groups and value clannishness in their own groups while condemning similar Jewish behavior (p. 97). Conversely, the data reviewed in this volume are highly compatible with the proposition that many Jews want power for their own group and value clannishness in their own group but condemn such behavior in gentiles. Indeed, the discussion at the beginning of this chapter indicates that this is precisely the ideology of the Frankfurt School responsible for these studies.
From the standpoint of the authors of The Authoritarian Personality, group consciousness in the majority is viewed as pathological because it tends necessarily to be opposed to Jews as a cohesive, unassimilated, and unassimi- lable minority group. Viewed from this perspective, the central agenda of The Authoritarian Personality is to pathologize gentile group strategies while nevertheless leaving open the possibility of Judaism as a minority group strategy.
In his discussion, Levinson views ethnocentrism as fundamentally con- cerned with ingroup-outgroup perceptions, a perspective that is congruent with social identity theory that I have proposed as the best candidate for developing a theory of anti-Semitism. Levinson concludes, “Ethnocentrism is based on a pervasive and rigid ingroup-outgroup distinction; it involves stereotyped negative imagery and hostile attitudes regarding outgroups, stereotyped positive imagery and submissive attitudes regarding ingroups, and a hierarchical, authoritarian view of group interaction in which ingroups are rightly dominant, outgroups subordinate” (p. 150; italics in text).
Further, Levinson notes “The ethnocentric ‘need for an outgroup’ prevents that identification with humanity as a whole which is found in anti- ethnocentrism” (p. 148). Levinson clearly believes that ethnocentrism is a sign of psychiatric disorder and that identification with humanity is the epitome of mental health, but he never draws the obvious inference that Jews themselves are unlikely to identify with humanity, given the importance of ingroup- outgroup distinctions so central to Judaism. Moreover, Levinson describes the anti-Semite Mack’s demand that Jews assimilate as a demand that Jews “liquidate themselves, that they lose entirely their cultural identity and adhere instead to the prevailing cultural ways” (p. 97). Levinson sees the demand that Jews assimilate, and thus abandon rigid ingroup-outgroup social categoriza- tion processes, as an aspect Mack’s anti-Semitic psychopathology; at the same time Levinson is perfectly willing to advocate that the anti-Semite identify with humanity and abandon ingroup-outgroup social categorization processes. Clearly ethnocentrism and its concomitant salience of ingroup-outgroup social categorization is to be reserved for Jews and pathologized as an aspect of gentile behavior.
The material reviewed throughout this volume indicates that a major thrust of Jewish intellectual activity has been to promote liberal-radical political beliefs in gentiles. Here Levinson links ethnocentrism with conservative economic and political views, with the implication that these attitudes are part of a pervasive social pathology stemming ultimately from disturbed parent- child relationships. Levinson finds an association among political conserva- tism, economic conservatism (support of prevailing politicoeconomic ideology and authority), and ethnocentrism (stigmatization of outgroups).11 However, “The further development of liberal-radical views is ordinarily based on imagery and attitudes identical to those underlying anti-ethnocentric ideology: opposition to hierarchy and to dominance-submission, removal of class and group barriers, emphasis on equalitarian interaction, and so on” (p. 181).
Here the ethical superiority of the removal of group barriers is advocated in an official publication of the AJCommittee, an organization dedicated to a way of life in which de facto group barriers and the discouraging of intermarriage have been and continue to be critical and the subject of intense feelings among Jewish activists.12 Given the overwhelming evidence that Jews support leftist- liberal political programs and continue to have a strong Jewish identification (see Ch. 3), one can only conclude that the results are another confirmation of the analysis presented there: Leftism among Jews has functioned as a means of de-emphasizing the importance of the Jewish-gentile distinction among gentiles while nevertheless allowing for its continuation among Jews.
Levinson then proceeds to a section of the analysis with large repercus- sions. Levinson provides data showing that individuals with different political party preferences than their fathers have lower ethnocentrism scores. He then proposes that rebelling against the father is an important predictor of lack of ethnocentrism: “Ethnocentrists tend to be submissive to ingroup authority, anti-ethnocentrists to be critical and rebellious, and . . . the family is the first and prototypic ingroup” (p. 192).
Levinson asks the reader to consider a two-generation situation in which the first generation tends to be relatively high on ethnocentrism and political conservatism; that is, they identify with their ethnic group and its perceived economic and political interests. Prediction of whether children will similarly identify with their ethnic group and its perceived interests depends on whether children rebel against their fathers. The conclusion of this syllogism, given the values implicit in the study, is that rebelling against parental values is psycho- logically healthy because it results in lower ethnocentrism scores. Conversely, lack of rebellion against the parent is implicitly viewed as pathological. These ideas are expanded in later sections of The Authoritarian Personality and indeed constitute a central aspect of the entire project.
One wonders if these social scientists would similarly advocate that Jewish children should reject their families as the prototypical ingroup. The transmis- sion of Judaism over the generations has required that children accept parental values. In Chapter 3 it was noted that during the 1960s radical Jewish stu- dents, but not radical gentile students, identified strongly with their parents and with Judaism. I have also discussed extensive socialization practices whereby Jewish children were socialized to accept community interests over individual interests. These practices function to produce strong ingroup loyalty among Jews (see PTSDA, Chs. 7, 8). Again, there is an implicit double stand- ard: Rebellion against parents and the complete abandonment of all ingroup designations is the epitome of mental health for gentiles, whereas Jews are implicitly allowed to continue with a strong sense of ingroup identity and follow in their parents’ footsteps.
Similarly with regard to religious affiliation, R. Nevitt Sanford (Chapter VI) finds that affiliation with various Christian religious sects is associated with ethnocentrism, and that individuals who have rebelled against their parents and adopted another religion or no religion are lower on ethnocentrism. These relationships are explained as due to the fact that acceptance of a Christian religion is associated with “conformity, conventionalism, authoritarian sub- mission, determination by external pressures, thinking in ingroup-outgroup terms and the like vs. nonconformity, independence, internalization of values, and so forth” (p. 220). Again, individuals identifying strongly with the ideolo- gy of a majority group are viewed as suffering from psychopathology, yet Judaism as a viable religion would necessarily be associated with these same psychological processes.
Indeed, Sirkin and Grellong (1988) found that rebellion and negative parent-child relationships during adolescence were associated with Jewish young people’s abandoning Judaism to join religious cults. Negative parent-child relationships predict lack of acceptance of par- ents’ religious group membership, whatever the religion involved.
Part II of The Authoritarian Personality consists of five chapters by Else Frenkel-Brunswik presenting interview data from a subset of the subjects studied in Part I. Although there are pervasive methodological difficulties with these data, they provide a fairly consistent, theoretically intelligible contrast in the family relationships between high scorers and low scorers on the Ethno- centrism Scale.13
However, the picture presented is quite different from that which the authors of The Authoritarian Personality intend to convey. In conjunction with the material from the projective questions in Chapter XV, the data strongly suggest that high scorers on the Ethnocentrism Scale tend to come from very functional, adaptive, competent, and concerned families. These individuals identify with their families as a prototypical ingroup and appear intent on replicating that family structure in their own lives. Low scorers appear to have ambivalent, rebellious relationships with their families and identify minimally with their family as an ingroup.
Frenkel-Brunswik first discusses differences in attitudes toward parents and conceptions of the family. Prejudiced individuals “glorify” their parents and view their family as an ingroup.14 Low-scoring individuals, in contrast, are said to have an “objective” view of their parents combined with genuine affection. To make these claims plausible, Frenkel-Brunswik must show that the very positive attitudes shown by high scorers are not genuine affection but are simply masks for repressed hostility. However, as Altemeyer (1981, 43) notes, “It is at least possible . . . that [the parents of the high scorers] really were a little better than most, and that the small relationships found have a perfectly factual, nonpsychodynamic explanation.” I would go further than Altemeyer and claim that the parents and families of the high scorers were almost certainly quite a bit “better” than the parents and families of the low scorers.
Frenkel-Brunswik’s only example of genuine affection on the part of a low scorer involves a female subject who recounted her despair at being aban- doned by her father. (It would appear from data discussed below that aban- donment and ambivalence are generally more common among the low scorers.) This subject, F63, makes the following comment: “But I remember when my father left, [my mother] came to my room and said ‘You’ll never see your Daddy again.’ Those were her exact words. I was crazy with grief and felt it was her fault. I threw things, emptied drawers out of the window, pulled the spreads off the bed, then threw things at the wall” (p. 346). The example does indeed show a strong attachment between father and daughter, but the point clearly is that the relationship is one of abandonment, not affection. Moreover, Frenkel-Brunswik mentions that some of the low scorers appear to have “blocked affect” regarding their parents; that is, the low scorers have no emotional response at all toward them. One wonders, then, in what sense the low scorers can be said to have genuinely positive emotional relationships with their parents. As we shall see, the data as a whole indicate very high levels of hostility and ambivalence among the low scorers.
In contrast, high scoring women are said to perceive themselves as “victim- ized” by their parents. The word “victimized” has negative connotations, and my own reading of the published interview material suggests that the subjects are expressing negative feelings toward parental discipline or unfairness within the context of an overall positive relationship. Parent-child relation- ships, like any relationship, may be viewed as consisting of positive and negative attributes from the standpoint of the child—much like an account ledger. Relationships in general are not likely to be perfect from the standpoint of all parties because people’s interests conflict. The result is that a perfect relationship from one person’s standpoint may seem like exploitation to the other person in the relationship. So it is in parent-child relationships (Mac- Donald 1988a, 166–169). A perfect relationship from the standpoint of the child would be unbalanced and would undoubtedly be highly unbalanced against the parent—what is usually termed a permissive or indulgent parent- child relationship.
My interpretation of the research on parent-child interaction (and this is a mainstream point of view) is that children will accept high levels of parental control if the relationship with the parents is positive overall (MacDonald 1988a, 1992a, 1997). Developmental psychologists use the term “authoritative parenting” to refer to parenting in which the child accepts parental control within the context of a generally positive relationship (Baumrind 1971; Maccoby & Martin 1983). Although children of authoritative parents un- doubtedly may not always enjoy parental discipline and restrictions, this style of parenting is associated with well-adjusted children.
A child may therefore resent some activities of the parent within the context of an overall positive relationship, and there is no psychological difficulty with supposing that the child could accept having to perform unpleasant work or even being discriminated against as a female while nevertheless having a very positive overall view of the parent-child relationship. Frenkel-Brunswik’s examples of girls who have very positive views of their parents but also complain about situations in which they were made to do housework or were treated less well than their brothers need not be interpreted as indicating suppressed hostility.
Frenkel-Brunswik states that these resentments are not “ego-accepted” by the girls, a comment I interpret as indicating that the girls did not view the resentment as completely compromising the relationship. Her example of such non-ego-accepted resentment is as follows: F39: Mother was “terribly strict with me about learning to keep house. . . . I am glad now, but I resented it then.” It is only by accepting a psychodynamic interpretation in which normal resentments about being required to work are a sign of powerful suppressed hostilities and rigid defense mechanisms that we can view these women as in any sense pathological.15 It is ultimately the proposed repressed hostility engendered by parental discipline that results in anti-Semitism: “The dis- placement of a repressed antagonism toward authority may be one of the sources, and perhaps the principal source, of . . . antagonism toward out- groups” (p. 482).
Whereas the negative feelings high scorers had toward their parents tend to derive from parental efforts to discipline the child or get the child to do household chores, the negative feelings of the low scorers are the result of feelings of desertion and loss of affection (p. 349). However, in the case of the low scorers, Frenkel-Brunswik emphasizes that the desertions and loss of love are frankly accepted, and this acceptance, in her view, precludes psycho- pathology. I have already discussed F63, whose father abandoned her; another low scoring subject, M55, states, “For example, he would take a delicacy like candy, pretend to offer us some and then eat it himself and laugh uproariously. . . . Makes him seem sort of a monster, though he’s not really” (p. 350). It is not surprising that such egregious examples of parental insensitivity are vividly recalled by the subject. However, in the upside-down world of The Authoritarian Personality, their being recalled is viewed as a sign of mental health in the subjects, whereas the overtly positive relationships of the high scorers are a sign of deep, unconscious layers of psychopathology.
Contemporary developmental research on authoritative parenting and par- ent-child warmth also indicates that authoritative parents are more successful in transmitting cultural values to their children (e.g., MacDonald 1988a, 1992, 1997a). In reading the interview material, one is struck by the fact that low scorers have rather negative views of their parents, whereas high scorers have quite positive views. It is reasonable to suppose that the low scorers would be more rebelliousness against parental values, and this indeed occurs.
Part of the deception of The Authoritarian Personality, however, is that low scorers’ resentment directed toward their parents is interpreted as a sign that parental discipline is not overpowering. “Since typical low scorers do not really see their parents as any too overpowering or frightening, they can afford to express their feelings of resentment more readily” (p. 346). The meager signs of affection in the children of low scorers and the obvious signs of resentment are thus interpreted by Frenkel-Brunswik as genuine affection, whereas the very positive perceptions of their parents held by the high scorers are viewed as the result of extreme parental authoritarianism resulting in repressions and denial of parental faults.
These results are an excellent example of the ideological biases characteris- tic of this entire project. A developmental psychologist looking at these data is impressed by the fact that the parents of the high scorers manage to inculcate a very positive perception of family life in their children while managing to discipline them nonetheless.
As indicated above, contemporary researchers label this type of parent as authoritative, and the research supports the general proposal that children of such parents will accept adult values. Children from such families have close relationships with their parents, and they accept parental values and group identifications. Thus if the parents accept religious identifications, the child from such a family is more likely to accept them as well. And if parents hold up education as a value, the children are also likely to accept the importance of doing well in school. These authoritative parents set standards for their children’s behavior and monitor compliance with these standards. The warmth of the parent-child relationship motivates the child to conform to these standards and to monitor his or her behavior in a manner that avoids violating ingroup (i.e., family) norms of behavior.
The deeply subversive agenda of The Authoritarian Personality is to pathologize this type of family among gentiles. However, since parental affection is viewed positively according to the theory, evidence for parental affection among the high scorers must be interpreted as a mask for parental hostility; and the low scorers had to be interpreted as having affectionate parents despite surface appearances to the contrary. Rebellion against parents by the low scorers is then conceptualized as the normal outcome of affection- ate child rearing—a ridiculous view at best.16