Shorthand for a general type of person
embodying a set of personality characteristic
s almost universally present in certain individuals throughout markedly diverse human societies
. The behavior of an authoritarian personality is characterized by excessive 'blind' support for existing institutions
, and structures of power, and excessive intolerance for any viewpoints that challenge those structures. It may also be characterized by repressed resentment of those same power structures and repressed admiration for those challenging them.
It should be noted that the 'blind' devotion to established power structures does not necessarily prevent the authoritarian personality from constructing logical, articulate arguments in defense of them for himself or others. It should also be noted that not all defenders of established power structures and hierarchies fit the authoritarian personality profile, but many do.
This personality type was identified by such authors as Erich Fromm in his work studying the psychological origins of fascism, and American psychologists in their studies of the psychology of racism in the pre-civil rights era South. Persons fitting the authoritarian personality profile seem to develop their devotion to existing power structures based on a resentment and repression of their own sexual desires in the following manner:
Those individuals who as young children receive overly stern admonishment and tabooing of infantile sex-play, even innocent expressions such as touching ones own privates, come to internalize a view of their own sexuality as shameful and the authority structures that supress it, such as parental authority and societal coercion as a whole, as therefore necessary. This early molded view of coercive authority moves on from 'necessary' to near 'holy' as the now shameful sexual desires of the individual become more apparent to him/her self. This is especially true if the individual experiences sexual desires that are especially shameful in his/her particular society, for example homosexual desires. This resentment and repression of the self - combined with reverence for the power structures that control it - define the personality for the duration of the individual's life, barring any life-altering revelations.
The authoritarian personality is consistent across cultures. The same type of person rigidly adheres to and defends a status quo power structure on a gut level in any society. For example, a citizen of mainstream contemporary America who extols the virtues of neo-liberal corporate capitalism would likely be virulently extolling the virtues of class war and the dictatorship of the proletariat if he happened to be born into the Soviet Union. Likewise he would rigidly follow the dictates of the church and cheer the burning of heretics were he born in the middle ages.
People who rigidly adhere to and defend existing hierarchies and power structures are a constant throughout human societies.