George Walford: Explaining the Explainers

It is sometimes suggested that people take the political positions they do because of their personalities. Thus Adorno and his colleagues have suggested that fascism is particularly linked with “the authoritarian personality” and Eysenck has suggested that adoption of this or that position is connected with one’s “tough-” or “tender-mindedness.”

One way of testing an explanation of behaviour is to apply it to the behaviour of those who offer it. If that is done with this one then it follows that Adorno, Eysenck et al hold the positions they hold, and offer the explanations they offer, because they have the personalities they have, and not because of any intellectual, or scientific validity those positions or explanations may possess.

[See also George Walford: Politics and Personalities]

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PROVOCATION: If the concept of the working class as a political factor be once admitted, then the rest of Marxism develops out of it like a Japanese flower in water. Marxism is (or can be developed as) nothing more than the elucidation of the assumptions implicit in that one concept.

PROVOCATION: “To think of Hitler as a deviant or a monster is to miss the point. He was the epitome of the common man” (Len Deighton, quoted in Observer 29 Sept 79)

from Ideological Commentary 3, December 1979