Date: 13.11.2015 — 06.12.2015
In his artistic work and philosophical research Václav Magid continuously deals with the analysis of models of avant-garde thinking. Among one of which belongs the exploitation of the legacy that has left critical philosophy of the Frankfurt School, along with analyzes of fascism and the vivisection of its ideological implications. Václav Magid conceives the exhibition in etc. gallery as a comprehensive dialectical structure of aesthetic and textual testimonies, as a space for the reorganization of the so-called “fascist scale.”
Curator: Radim Langer
At the end of the 1940s a research called “The Authoritarian Personality” took place at the University of California, Berkeley, whose focus was to establish the empirical methods of indicating antidemocratic tendencies in the society. The result was published in the year 1950 and signed by Theodor W. Adorno, Else Frenkel-Brunswik, Daniel J. Levinson and R. Nevitt Sanford – two Americans and two immigrants from Central Europe.
What was regarded as the most significant contribution of this research was the creation of the “F scale” that was supposed to measure the strength of personality traits that make individuals prone to antidemocratic tendencies.
When constructing the F scale, the researchers aimed at creating a tool that would make it possible to indicate the frequency of prejudices without explicitly mentioning specific minority groups or current politico-economic issues. The questionnaire items were formulated in a manner meant to coax even those who ostensibly uphold democratic values to express their prejudices.
During the process of the F scale drafting, another, much more important, purpose emerged: revealing deeper, often unconscious forces that make individuals open to the influence of antidemocratic ideologies. As the source of the authoritarian personality type the authors have identified the so-called weak ego, incapable of satisfactorily fulfilling its main function – that is, to ensure the harmonic integration of all individual elements of the psychic structure. As a result, the internalization of superego fails and the superego becomes a kind of foreign body within one’s personality. An individual with a weak ego is unable to form a coherent and resilient system of moral values and therefore seeks an external force that would offer a substitute prop.
Nowadays the F scale is seen as an obsolete tool for the research of authoritarian tendencies in the society. It has been criticized for a number of shortcomings, from its formulation of the questionnaire items, which provoke the respondents to answer in the positive, to equaling a certain personality structure with a specific political content (represented by broadly conceived term “fascism”). One of the highly-regarded aspects of “The Authoritarian Personality” research nevertheless remains the description of the basic traits that capture the psychic structure of an individual prone to authoritarianism. These traits are described by nine variables whose values determine the place of a respondent on the F scale:
1. Conventionalism. Rigid adherence to conventional, middle-class values.
2. Authoritarian submission. Submissive, uncritical attitude toward idealized moral authorities of the ingroup.
3. Authoritarian aggression. Tendency to be on the lookout for, and to condemn, reject, and punish people who violate conventional values.
4. Anti-intraception. Opposition to the subjective, the imaginative, the tenderminded.
5. Superstition and stereotypy. The belief in mystical determinants of the individual’s fate; the disposition to think in rigid categories.
6. Power and “toughness”. Preoccupation with the dominance-submission, strong-weak, leader-follower dimension; identification with power figures; overemphasis upon the conventionalized attributes of the ego; exaggerated assertion of strength and toughness.
7. Destructiveness and cynicism. Generalized hostility, vilification of the human.
8. Projectivity. The disposition to believe that wild and dangerous things go on in the world; the projection outwards of unconscious emotional impulses.
9. Sex. Exaggerated concern with sexual “goings-on”.
Applying these characteristics on the type of fascist we usually encounter nowadays however requires certain effort. We have to learn to recognize the features of fascist thought in manifestations that may at first seem to signal the exact opposite:
1. Conventionalism. The central conventional value to which the present-day fascist adheres rigidly is one’s right to enjoyment. They won’t allow their culinary attitude to the world be threatened by anyone.
2. Authoritarian submission. Their moral authorities are predominantly those who from the height of their social status are unafraid to show a great deal of boorishness.
3. Authoritarian aggression. They do not condemn others for violating values, but rather for the fact that unlike themselves, they have a coherent system of values for which they are ready to fight.
4. Anti-intraception. They are tenderminded. They are easily offended when the quality of their favorite sports team, music genre or habitual way of spending free time is questioned.
5. Superstition and stereotypy. They pride themselves in their lack of prejudice. The only mystical determinants of an individual’s fate are reportedly “objective laws,” “facts” and “information”.
6. Power and “toughness”. They do not identify with power figures; on the contrary, they demand speedy intervention, in the name of women and children, against the healthy young men who are their biggest fear.
7. Destructiveness and cynicism. They are determined to defend humanist values against destruction and cynicism – regardless of the death toll.
8. Projectivity. They are convinced that they in particular are endowed with critical thinking which allows them to see through the media manipulation and ubiquitous fear of calling a spade a spade.
9. Sex. They flaunt their healthy and open attitude towards the sexual “goings-on” and their tolerance to different sexual orientations – especially if it allows them to set themselves apart from their sexually uptight enemies.