Why Conservatives Love War

Corey Robin in the Chronicle of Higher Education:

Photo_7822_carousel This year is the 60th anniversary of the publication of The Authoritarian Personality. Once this was the most famous of Theodor Adorno's works. Today it's largely forgotten. With one exception: its indelible portrait of the “pseudo-conservative.” Although Richard Hofstadter is often credited with the term—his essay “The Pseudo-Conservative Revolt” appeared in 1955—it was Adorno and his three co-authors who first identified the type: that vengeful and violent citizen who avows his faith in calm and restraint while agitating for policies that “would abolish the very institutions with which he appears to identify himself.” The pseudo-conservative, in other words, is no conservative at all. Prone to “violence, anarchic impulses, and chaotic destructiveness,” he loves war and longs for bedlam in the streets. He has “little in common,” in Hofstadter's words, “with the temperate and compromising spirit of true conservatism.”

Musing on those passages last June, Andrew Sullivan wrote on his blog, “It all sounds weirdly familiar, doesn't it?” He was talking about the predatory revanchism that has stalked the Republican Party since 9/11 and now consumes it. “The Bush-Cheney presidency,” wrote Sullivan, was “the perfect pseudo-conservative administration.” The White House and its neoconservative enablers celebrated war and torture, shredded the Constitution, and bankrupted the nation. “Throughout all this,” Sullivan pointed out, “the Tea Partiers supported them.”

More here.

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