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American Thinker, October 23, 2009

It was fashionable among leftist revolutionaries in the 1960s to label our country "Amerika," the German spelling meant to recall Adolf Hitler and indicate that the United States was a "fascist" state. With the dramatic shift toward government takeover of the private sector and the attendant diminishing of constitutional rights being instituted by our new president's administration, it might be time to take a page from the left's playbook and ask, "Are we now living in Obamerika?"

In using the word "fascist" to discredit their enemies, leftists from the 1960s to the present follow the lead of two Marxist thinkers, Erich Fromm and Theodor Adorno, who were among the more vocal in making the false connection between conservatism and fascism. That connection took the form, most importantly, of the identification of something called "the authoritarian personality," a concept which emerged and grew alongside Adolf Hitler's rise to power in the 1930s. In fact, Fromm and Adorno, as well as Herbert Marcuse and many other leftist intellectuals, were members of The Frankfurt School, a Marxist think tank that was driven from Germany during that decade by Hitler himself, the ultimate authoritarian personality and the model for the Institute's defining psychological paradigm.

Fromm labeled the personality disorder in his 1947 book, Man For Himself. In the section of the book entitled Humanistic vs. Authoritarian Ethics, Fromm writes, "In authoritarian ethics an authority states what is good for man and lays down the laws and norms of conduct; in humanistic ethics man himself is both the norm giver and the subject of the norms, their formal source or regulative agency and their subject matter." Fromm further asserts that "[v]irtue is responsibility toward his [man's] own existence. . . . [V]ice is irresponsibility toward himself." In his attempts to discredit "authoritarianism," Fromm lays out the solipsistic leftist principle that self-reference is the only way to discover and apply values and principles.

During the mid-1940s, Adorno and others conducted research that would be presented in a book titled The Authoritarian Personality. Their work typified the methodology of leftist thinkers: They identified a number of psychological characteristics of subjects they had observed to be most sympathetic to the Nazi message, and then proposed that there must be a psychological type that conformed to these characteristics. After that, they interviewed for the study itself the very subjects they'd used to derive their "type." This pretty much guaranteed that their theory would be borne out, since they knew in advance what the answers to their questions would be.

Lo and behold, they "discovered" that there indeed did exist among American citizens people who were of the "authoritarian personality" type. Furthermore, these people shared many of their personality traits with Nazi leaders and Nazi supporters. Predictably, their character traits were precisely opposite those of the "good guys," that is, of people who tended to be pro-communist and pro-socialist. The book claims to describe nothing less than "the rise of an 'anthropological' species we call the authoritarian type of man."

The Authoritarian Personality and Man For Himself have provided, since their publication, the foundation for those on the left referring to anyone whose political beliefs were even minimally right of center as "Nazis," a practice which persists to this day. The twisted, self-fulfilling logic of the left on this topic is perhaps best illustrated in a post by one Peter Mehlman, a contributor to the internet website "Huffington Post," who asserted that former President George W. Bush was actually worse than Hitler, because "[y]ou could argue that even the world's fascist dictators at least meant well. They honestly thought they were doing good things for their countries by suppressing blacks / eliminating Jews / eradicating free enterprise / repressing individual thought / killing off rivals / invading neighbors, etc."

Unfortunately, it is the current administration that exemplifies Mehlman's "reasoning." Obama and his cohorts eschew all "authority," from the Bible to the U.S. Constitution, not self-generated. This translates to "any moral or legal principle that does not support the Obama administration's political agenda or the idea that its leaders should have power over every area of our lives." Through sweeping stimulus, health care, cap-and-trade, and net neutrality legislation, the current administration is attempting to commandeer the authority to dictate everything from executive pay to what end-of-life treatments are available to its citizens, from what we listen to on our radios and watch on our television sets to what opinions we can share on the internet and what cars we can drive.

The problem is, though, that in its quest to eradicate capitalism, the constitution, and conventional morality in the service of denying "authoritarianism," the radical left has morphed into precisely the type of totalitarian movement it had long sought to discredit. In the process, it's turning our country into Obamerika.

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