Authoritarianism in the HOA-Land Nation

“There are a lot of Americans who do not care for democracy. They do not mind [failing] to follow the Constitution, or that [it] poses a danger to democracy.[1]

The HOA legal structure and scheme is basically authoritarian in nature: strong central power, limited political freedoms, no accountability, and under the rule of man, not law. 

There are some people [authoritarian followers] for whom the system of checks and balances are bothersome and annoying, and dislike the noise and chaos of democracy”.[2]  

“People who score high in authoritarianism, when they feel threatened, look for strong leaders who promise to take whatever action necessary to protect them from outsiders and prevent the changes they fear.”[3]

The HOA is truly a totalitarian democracy.

“A totalitarian democracy . . . retains full power of . . .  the right of control over everything and everyone. Maintenance of such power, in the absence of full support of the citizenry, requires the forceful suppression of any dissenting element except what the government purposely permits or organizes.”[4]

The authoritarianism of HOA-Land [5] is masked by a thorough indoctrination[6] that the real estate subdivision is a democratic community because the members are allowed to vote, as meaningless as it is. It seems that the more predisposed to authoritarian control the more the member acts as a diehard, dogmatic, true-believer in the BOD.

In 2019  I conducted a limited study on authoritarian followers in HOAs following the stablished research procedures[7] to determine the extent of authoritarianism in the HOA  setting.[8]  I found that,

“High RWA followers can be found in HOA members. 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 above chart (responses to 30 questions)  shows the degree of authoritarianism based on percentages: the higher, the stronger the authoritarian presence. “3Q” reflects HOA responses to 3 strict “control” preference questions in the survey, as a BOD member or not. The middle 2 bars reflect all the results from all HOA respondents and the lower 2 reflect HOA members or not – the public. 

The prevalence of authoritarian followers is clearly indicated with respect to the HOA’s “enforcement” attitude. The authoritarian culture of HOA-Land contributes to the decline in American democracy. “[Authoritarians] seek to . . . rewrite social contracts, and, sometimes, to alter the rule of democracy so they never lose power. Alexander Hamilton warned against them.”[9]

This study on HOA-Land authoritarianism is consistent with research findings with respect to the general public and political leanings.[10]  “[Authoritarians] understand their role, which is to defend the leaders, however dishonest their statement, however great their corruption, and however disastrous their impact on ordinary people and institutions.”[11]

References


[1] Verdict” email from Justia.

[2] Anne Applebaum, Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism, Doubleday (2020).

[3] Amanda Taub, “The rise of American authoritarianism,” Vox (March 1, 2016).

[4] George K. Staropoli, “HOA political dynamics: totalitarian democracy,” The HOA-Land Nation Within America, StarMan Publishing (2019). J. L. Talmon quote.

[5] Authoritarianism: favoring complete obedience or subjection to authority as opposed to individual freedom..

[6] CAI’s effect on the BOD, the members — especially the loyal “followers” — and the public in general stems from 45 years of indoctrination by means of the CAI School of HOA Governance. See in general, Restructuring HOAs: “CAI School and member benefits” pt. 2 (2020).

[7] Bob Altemeyer, The Authoritarians, 2007.

[8] George K. Staropoli, “Preliminary HOA – public survey report,” HOA Constitutional Government (2019). Links to detailed report.

[9] Supra, n.2, p. 20.

[10] Supra, n. 3.

[11] Supra, n. 2., p. 25.

High RWA followers can be found in HOA members

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.