California: Authoritarianism Defined?
I was reading this piece from the Orange County Register the other day. It questions whether at least some of California's election results are consistent with the state's reputation for liberalism.
Nolan Chart. I've suggested here before that California isn't a liberal state but an authoritarian one (Populist or Totalitarian on the chart above).
So what's the definition of liberal? According to this online dictionary it is,
- Not limited to or by established, traditional, orthodox, or authoritarian attitudes, views, or dogmas; free from bigotry.
- Favoring proposals for reform, open to new ideas for progress, and tolerant of the ideas and behavior of others; broad-minded.
Perhaps a better definition of liberal is that being they tend to favor personal freedom, but not economic freedom? That seems a better as it's more easily understood but, assuming that defines liberal, that doesn't describe California.
California does have a reputation for being pro- tax and anti- business, so it fits the economic definition of liberalism. I'd argue, though, contemporary liberals aren't all that favorable towards personal freedoms, either. Just look at attacks on smokers, gun owners or those that like junk foods.
Some will say, "But, Fred. At least some of us want to legalize pot...". I'd suggest that's a fluke, will be short lived and many of those who supposedly support legalization often suggest tobacco, or even alcohol, be made illegal instead. Not exactly what I'd consider support for personal freedoms.
Thus I'd argue that contemporary California "liberals" support neither economic or personal freedoms. To me, that defines an authoritarian.
But how do we define authoritarian? The online dictionary defines it as, "Characterized by or favoring absolute obedience to authority, as against individual freedom: an authoritarian regime. Of, relating to, or expecting unquestioning obedience.".
That definition doesn't work all that well. I'm not sure that authoritarians favor absolute obedience to all authority- just obedience to their authority when they're in charge.
The definition I usually use is someone who believes government should be involved in every aspect of one's life. That no matter what the issue, those decisions should be made by a politician, bureaucrat or a 51% majority vote, not the individual.
Taking it further, you can break it down to both functional and philosophical authoritarians. The difference being mostly in one's actions vs. actual beliefs.
For instance, many of my neighbors are at least functional authoritarians. They might not personally care about a lot of things other people do with their personal lives, but they consistently vote for candidates that do. By supporting authoritarian candidates and thus interfering in others lives, they are functionally authoritarian.
Then there are the philosophical authoritarians. These are the ones that either come up with, or support, laws that affect every aspect of our lives. I can think of at least one local blogger that is philosophically authoritarian, defending every government intrusion into our lives no matter what the issue.
California voters often overwhelmingly vote for candidates that not only support government control over our lives, but want to increase it. Witness the strong support for incumbents Chesbro, Huffman and Feinstein last election. There's no question that California is an authoritarian state with a majority of people that support neither economic or personal freedom.
You heard it first from me, folks!