Eric Garner, the Torture Report, and Authoritarian Psychology

What do the NYPD arresting officers of Eric Garner, the CIA officials responsible for the crimes detailed in the Torture Report and US foreign policy officials all have in common? They are all agents of institutions that have adopted an “authoritarian psychology.” So what does authoritarian psychology mean?

Alexandre Kojeve, a French fascist in Vichy France, and lifelong close friend of Neocon Godfather Leo Strauss, explained authority as follows: “Authority is the possibility of an agent acting upon others without these others reacting against him, despite being capable to do so, and without making any compromises. Any discussion is already a compromise.”

This is anathema to the authoritarian because it means their absolute authority or of the institution they represent has been lost, even if only to an imperceptible degree. That is the nature of authoritarian psychology and authoritarian government by Kojeve’s and fascist logic.

What this meant to Eric Garner was explained to Ray Suarez by a retired Chicago policeman. First, it doesn’t matter whether the arrest is for a petty crime or a felony. In the case of Garner, according to the Chicago policeman, he had been given the opportunity to surrender, to submit. When he didn’t follow the “order,” (not quick enough) he was not complying and therefore the police “took it to the next level.”

In fairness to the police, it can be presumed they would have done the same with a mass murderer or bank robber as someone selling individual cigarettes. Because at the point of arrest, according to the Chicago cop, it is irrelevant how dangerous or non-dangerous the perpetrator is. At that point, the issue is: have they fully submitted, without a peep. Anything less is resisting arrest, and it must be “taken to the next level.”

The same authoritarian principle permeates the CIA. Not just to detainees but also to their elected “masters” as this week has particularly highlighted. Their masters have forgotten their place and their new more compliant masters, the Republicans, have not yet taken office. But both CIA and Republicans are on the rampage in attacking what everyone knows: the CIA tortured, those were war crimes, and it was initiated under the Bush administration.

Space does not permit explaining in full how the Republican party is no longer a “conservative” party in the Anglo-Saxon tradition but has adopted an ideology near identical to what in Germany was called the “Conservative Revolutionary Movement.” But it suffices to say that following World War I, during the Weimar Republic, the Reichswehr, the German Army, with the collaboration of the Weimar government, became a “state within the state,” and represented the ideological interests of the Conservative Revolutionaries.

Those interests and ideology were: a belief in military expansion abroad, legal authoritarianism at home and in the captured territories they anticipated, and a belief that Germany was the highest order of civilization, an exceptional nation, all held together by a celebration of the “martial virtues” and an authoritarian legal order which would brook no disrespect toward it.

In other words, the Conservative Revolutionaries were a rival fascist ideology to the Nazis, and the political platform of the party which represented them is largely the same as the program of the 21st Century Republican party, with its emphasis on authoritarian government and the primacy of the military and paramilitary agencies to the civilian institutions. Fascism is based on irrationalism for which the Republicans have no shortage of, beginning with the Cheney’s, Nicholle “I don’t care what we did” Wallace, and their myriad of followers, including those libertarians who prefer to be “useful idiots” for the Conservative Revolutionaries than to think for themselves. Theirs is an absolutist belief in authoritarianism they went far to advance, smashing the Constitution in their path.

Finally, the United States, through Dick Cheney while he was Secretary of Defense in 1991, created a global authoritarian order with the declaration that all nations must hereafter comply with US military orders, as explained here. Not surprisingly, the Clinton administration didn’t spurn that gift, and Madeline Albright and Hilary Clinton eagerly put it to use in the Balkans.

But the doctrine required Cheney’s return in 2001 to be fully revealed as US authoritarianism applied to the world. This was expressed in the 2001 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) where it identified as a “threat” to the United States what was described as “anti-access and area denial threats.” These were exactly as the plain words stated, the United States saw as a threat to itself nations that might deny it access to their territory regardless of how nefarious our purpose maybe.

This would be explained further by its conception as an enduring national interest, our “freedom of action,” which can only be understood in an Orwellian sense. Finally, to bring that home, in some military reading in the 2002-2003 timeframe, I came across the best explanation of what that all might be: the U.S. will not tolerate any nation even having the ability to make us hesitate in our decision making. In other words, if another nation doesn’t immediately submit and comply with our order, “ we have to “take it to the next level” lest our authority and intimidation capabilities come to be questioned.

Todd E. Pierce retired as a Major in the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps in November 2012. His most recent assignment was defense counsel in the Office of Chief Defense Counsel, Office of Military Commissions.

Reprinted with permission from the Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity

25 thoughts on “Eric Garner, the Torture Report, and Authoritarian Psychology”

    1. You never heard of right wing Hegelians, if by your remark you mean Hegelians are "left"? After WW II, one-time supporters of the Nazis such as Carl Schmitt and Kojeve who remained anti U.S., seeing it as a rival empire to the one they had backed, were adopted by some leftists for their anti US position, but they remained what would normally be called "right-wing authoritarians" to include their ideas of militarism. You think Vichy France was a left-wing regime? Kojeve helpfully offers in App. 1 his reasons for support of Marshal Petain, who was later convicted of collaboration and war crimes for his participation with his Nazi allies. As Kojeve explained it, "We can start with the Authority of the Master. Its proper sphere being war, a policy that is essentially and manifestly peaceful and pacifist must inevitably weaken it ("authority") and then, little by little, annihilate it (again, for those who are comprehension challenged, that means "authority). I have encountered so-called "anarcho-capitalists" (AC)who have fetishized "conservative revolutionaries" (CR)of the Weimar period. These CRs included the likes of one-time war worshipper Ernst Junger and advocate of dictatorship and war, Carl Schmitt. Junger repudiated his pre-1945 ideas later but those later writings are not what the "ACs" cite to. Schmitt never did repudiate his earlier writings on dictatorship and war and yet, incredibly, the ACs have adopted him, just as some leftists have, neither group knowing the part of the body used for "rectal rehydration" from a hole in the ground, or more likely, knowing well what they stand for but disingenuously, avoiding presenting themselves as fellow travelers with authoritarian theorists. The Republicans don't even know that much but they have adopted the same ideas but presenting them as "libertarian" while increasing military spending under the Ryan budget while presenting it as a "libertarian" budget.

    2. How does the fact that Alexandre Kojève was a leftist Hegelian rule out his being a fascist? From the Alexandre Kojève wiki page:

      "Kojève's cynicism towards traditional Marxism as an outmoded philosophy in industrially well-developed capitalist nations prompted him to go as far as idiosyncratically referring to capitalist Henry Ford as 'the one great authentic Marxist of the twentieth century.'"

      thesis: capitalism
      antithesis: Marxism
      synthesis: fascism

      Makes Hegelian sense to me.

      Hegel was a bull$#!^er, a philosophical Rorschach test leveraging people's reflex to conflate obscurity with profundity.

  1. Mainstream Republicans are authoritarian, but mainstream Democrats are even more authoritarian, from Waco to Obamacare.

    1. This has been a bipartisan effort, first made "official" in 1991, but probably beginning much earlier than that. So it spans both Republican and Democratic presidencies, and D / R majorities in the House and Senate. Why is it so difficult for some to realize that Ds and Rs are just labels for two sides of the SAME coin.

    2. I think Iraq made Waco look like child's play, not that I'm defending those left-wing authoritarians who liked both Waco, Kosovo, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and now Russia (passed disproportionately by the Republicans). But if it had been a Republican president at the time of Waco, do you really believe they wouldn't have treated those "terrorists" the same way as Clinton/Reno? For who is more authoritarian today, just look at the laws that have been passed and which party has been the majority in passing them. For Sec. 1021, essentially martial law, Joe Lieberman was on the floor making speeches but McCain, Graham, and Ayotte were there with him and it was a few Democrats speaking out against it. No Republicans that I recall. As an independent, I have no dog in that fight, just looking at it objectively.

      1. I think that there is a direct relationship between left-wing authoritarianism (eg Lieberman, Clinton, etc) and one's commitment to Israel. One cannot be anti-war without also being anti-Zionism and vice versa.

        1. Zionism had roots in these authoritarian and fascist ideas, whether described as left or right. This was seen this summer when so many Israel's fully revealed themselves as fascist. A difficulty in all this is that "left" has lost all meaning except as a pejorative term used by rightists in Israel and the US against anyone who is antiwar or anti-imperialist. Lieberman and Clinton are Democrats, that wing which supports all the wars and wealth transfers to Wall Street. Does that place them on the left? How are they different from McCain, Graham, and the vast majority of currently elected Republicans?

      2. I hardly think Clinton and company are left-wing. I submit that there is no viable left-wing party in the country.

        1. I would agree. I mentioned that of Clinton only in that some people see her that way even though she is so tight with Wall Street and the MIC.

  2. "the CIA tortured, those were war crimes, and it was initiated under the Bush administration.”

    The CIA and the U.S. government have a much longer history of torture and murder, but otherwise I like the analysis…

    1. "Murkan" torture and murder are older than the U. S. Government itself.

      Torture and murder by white "Murkans" are as old as the first white settlers who said "Those natives are sitting on good land. Let's kill them and steal it." (And then, fresh from breaking the Commandments against murder and theft, they went to church on Sundays and prided themselves on what good Christians they were.)

      Of course, neither were Native Americans innocent of robbery, torture, and murder of other NAs before Paleface crossed over the Atlantic.

  3. "thesis: capitalism
    antithesis: Marxism
    synthesis: fascism "

    Nowhere in Hegel does the Thesis, Antithesis, Synthesis formulation appear. And even if it did, your terms make no sense. What kind of magical combination could even result in a synthesis between capitalism and Marxism? Do you even know what those words signify?

    No one with even a perfunctory familiarity with 19th-century German philosophy would make the case that Hegel belongs on the right. This is mostly an historical anachronism anyway, since "the right" in an American sense means something much different than in the 19th-century continental sense.

    This blog is amateur philosophy hour.

    1. Perhaps James could direct us to a professional level philosophy hour website where we could learn more and raise this discussion to a higher level of the sort he's accustomed to? Perhaps he could also offer us a brief definition of the "right" in the 19th-centurt continental sense to begin with? It seems to me that Hegel lived some years and changed his viewpoints some so that there is actually an early and a late Hegel as to his philosophical viewpoint leading to the left-Hegelians and the right-Hegelians. But this article was about Kojeve, Leo Strauss's right-wing ideological friend, and Kojeve was writing during the right-wing Petain period as an admirer. Was Petain a leftist?

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  5. This has been a bipartisan effort, first made "official" in 1991, but probably beginning much earlier than that. So it spans both Republican and Democratic presidencies, and D / R majorities in the House and Senate. Why is it so difficult for some to realize that Ds and Rs are just labels for two sides of the SAME coin.

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