This commentary is a copy of my Amazon review of Robert Altemeyer’s 2007 book, The Authoritarians. “RWA” is the author’s term for Right-Wing Authoritarian followers, where the term ‘right-wing” is used to designate people who “traditionally submit to authority.” Altemeyer writes,
Followers submit too much to the leaders, trust them too much, and give them too much leeway to do whatever they want–which often is something undemocratic, tyrannical and brutal.
My concern focused on the blind, to me, acquiescence to whatever the BOD told the members what it wanted approved, especially when it involved amendments to the governing documents. When presented with hard, concrete evidence of violations of the law or governing documents, the majority of the members just gave the BOD a blank check. The conduct of the BOD and numerous members echoed the behavior described by Altemeyer in the opening chapters of his book: a defense of the board, attacking the “whistleblower,” refusal to discuss, or debate or hear any opposition, with the ultimate dogmatic final defenses coming into play.
Reading the opening chapters of The Authoritarians immediately brought to mind the conduct of HOA members. Chapter 6 on legislative RWAs also hit the button since state legislators fell into the same defense of HOA-Land (the fragmented collection of HOAs across the country) with a dogmatic reaction. Chapter 7 on “What to do” was not surprising as I’ve attempted his short-term suggestions and failed just as Altemeyer stated. If I had been aware of Altemeyer 10 years ago I would have saved a lot of time.
My own analysis of this blind obedience is presented in my book, HOA-Land Nation Within America, (Part 1, “The Cultural Dynamics of HOA-Land”) and fell short of making a solid case for this behavior. HOA right or wrong rested on the pro-HOA national lobbyist indoctrination into its authoritarian model of HOA governance. Altemeyer gives me solid ground to explain this behavior and his suggestions on how to combat it in the long term.
What is needed to confirm my analysis, however, is to run the RWA scale against HOA members and BODs, and to survey their views on a number of HOA aspects, as Altemeyer did with his students and state legislators.
If you truly want to understand how HOA-Land is undermining American democracy, The Authoritarians explains the contributions by the majority of the 23% Americans living in HOAs. He offers a path to returning to the fundamental values and principles of The Founding Fathers.