Already I can hear the hackles rising.
‘Who do you mean? Those who believe in growth, low taxes, and Global Britain? Brexit? The government?
Sorry, yes, some members of the government, certainly…
‘Those who believe in hard work, hi-tec and national sovereignty?’
Yes, the ones who have spent such a long time in getting us nowhere!
‘Surely, you must mean those moaning Minnies, who run down Britain and whine about the NHS, with their lefty lawyers. and the criminal gangs they are protecting…’
No, sorry, none of them, nor do I mean those who chain themselves to railings, or wave placards, or even the official opposition…
‘Surely, you must mean the Remoaners, the enemy within, the doctors who leave their patients to die, while they go on strike…’
No, sorry, I am referring to those who are psychologically disposed to be negative, those whom the behavioural scientists might place towards the top of the F-scale…
Let me start at the beginning.
The authoritarian personality
There once was an eminent philosopher, Theodor Adorno, a refugee from Nazi Germany, who published an influential book in 1950, The Authoritarian Personality.
From the safety of a university department in California, he compiled personality profiles by handing out questionnaires to members of the public. This technique, primitive though it was, led on towards targeted marketing and how to turn humanity into algorithms.
Adorno’s aim was to study responses of the far right, the so-called F-types (F for fascist), and to find out if there were any latent Nazis in the free world of the West. The prime suspect was Senator Joe McCarthy, the Republican scourge, whose House Committee was conducting a witch-hunt against those suspected of Un-American Activities.
Steeped in the intellectual traditions of Marx and Freud, Adorno analysed the grades on the F-scale. He wanted to find out how their behaviour was influenced by their education, breeding, and national culture. He was not concerned just with the extremes, like Joe McCarthy, but also with the sliding scales of F-typicality, where patriotism graded towards xenophobia, and good manners into militant conformity.
‘Ah! Some Austrian psycho-crap…?’
You prove my point!
The distrust of foreigners! That was the first notch on the F-scale!
‘That’s common sense! Don’t drink the tap water when you go abroad! You might get typhoid.’
It’s not just water…
‘No, it’s the values as well, they don’t have our values…’
‘Tolerance, freedom, fair play…’
They don’t play cricket.
Fascism and fear of the unknown
Adorno wrote, and, sorry, this was his theory, that this suspicion might have something to do with the way in which the F-types were brought up, very timid, scared of the unknown…
‘He would say that, wouldn’t he? being a foreigner himself…’
…which he blamed upon capitalism and the patriarchal society…
‘So, it’s political!’
It may be more cultural than political but have it your own way! If you are brought up to believe in a world where there are only winners and losers, you distrust nearly everyone else, all the strangers…
‘There’s no such thing as society, as Maggie Thatcher said…’
Doesn’t that mean the law of the jungle?
‘Well, we live in a jungle…’
It’s a vicious circle! The F-types live in the world that they have been brought up to believe in! They examine the small print for the tricks that may not be there, but miss the wider picture…
‘Surely, that’s common sense!’
They miss the vision because they are frightened of the risks. They call for growth but leave the common market.
‘Surely, that’s a matter of sovereignty!’
They want to lead, but never to follow. They blame other people when things go wrong.
‘Surely, we are the ones who always get blamed! We are called racist, and sexist, and must put up with all that Wokery nonsense! They want to censor our minds!’
Isn’t it extraordinary how, sliding up and down the F-scale, victims become bullies and bullies become victims?
‘Surely, even you must acknowledge that there is a deep left-wing conspiracy that has infiltrated the universities, the BBC, the civil services, just as, in the bad old days, there were hundreds of commies in the US State Department.’
Joe McCarthy has been dead for a long time… or is he one of the Un-dead!
And don’t call me Shirley!