What Authoritarian Voters Really Want

Aggression, Not Submission to Authority, May Be the Psychological Key to Supporters of Strongmen

Authoritarianism isn’t just a word. When the landmark study The Authoritarian Personality first gave the concept psychological depth in 1950, the memory of authoritarian movements was fresh and indelible. The intent of the new definition was to capture the many-sided extremism of those movements. “Authoritarian aggression” was defined as the tendency to “condemn, reject, and punish” cultural or moral outsiders, while authoritarian submission was a “submissive” and “uncritical” attitude toward idealized leaders of their own in-group.

In other words, for the originators of the concept, in-group leaders who condemn …

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Were Empires Better Than Nation-States at Managing Diversity?

By Respecting Local Cultures, Far-Flung Rulers Fostered Cooperation From Those They Subjected

Did empires actually serve to protect the diversity of their subjugated people? And if so, what lessons can they offer for the challenges facing modern states?

Answering these questions might begin …

The “Little Giant” Who Thought That Backing Slavery Would Unite America

Stephen Douglas' Push to Allow Human Chattel in Nebraska Lit a Match to the Civil War

One of the most ambitious attempts to unite America ended up dividing it, and altering it forever.

At the opening of the 33rd Congress on December 5, 1853, Stephen A. Douglas, …

What Saudi Arabia’s Vibrant Art Scene Says About Its Internal Struggles

Artists Are Using Ambiguity to Probe the Fault Line Between Modernity and Conservative Islam

When I first saw Ajlan Gharem’s video, “Paradise Has Many Gates,” at an art studio in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, I was amazed.

It opens with a small single-story structure made …

Can a Corrupt Politician Become a Good President?

A Mysterious Woman’s Letters Made Chester Arthur Fit for the White House

“Who you are, what you are, it doesn’t change after you occupy the Oval Office,” President Barack Obama said during the 2016 election campaign. “It magnifies who you are. It …