Raised to Rage
The Politics of Anger and the Roots of Authoritarianism
320 pp., 6 x 9 in,
- Published: August 12, 2016
- Publisher: The MIT Press
- Published: August 8, 2016
- Publisher: The MIT Press
An argument that voter anger and authoritarian political attitudes can be traced to the displacement of anger, fear, and helplessness.
Politicians routinely amplify and misdirect voters' anger and resentment to win their support. Opportunistic candidates encourage supporters to direct their anger toward Mexicans, Muslims, women, protestors, and others, rather than the true socioeconomic causes of their discontent. This book offers a compelling and novel explanation for political anger and the roots of authoritarian political attitudes. In Raised to Rage, Michael Milburn and Sheree Conrad connect vociferous opposition to immigrants, welfare, and abortion to the displacement of anger, fear, and helplessness. These emotions may be triggered by real economic and social instability, but Milburn and Conrad's research shows that the original source is in childhood brutalization or some other emotional trauma. Their research also shows that frequent experiences of physical punishment in childhood increase support in adulthood for punitive public policies, distorting the political process.
Originally published in 1996, reprinted now with a new introduction by the authors that updates the empirical evidence and connects it to the current political situation, this book offers a timely consideration of a paradox in American politics: why voters are convinced by campaign rhetoric, exaggeration, and scapegoating to vote against their own interests.
Milburn and Conrad help readers see that the rise of the rightwing politics today is not just about some pendulum swing, some political correction within a society that has veered slightly off course. Instead, as they so ably argue, what is happening is much deeper and much more significant: The Right is tapping into deep historical and personal patterns of denial, social fears, and profound personal pains. And because so much is being denied, cultural discourse about what can be done to change the lives of people who are poor, or who still experience deeply demeaning racism, or even of communities threatened with environmental hazards, is fundamentally stunted.
Ann Withorn, Professor of Social Policy, University of Massachusetts at Boston
Denial of the past damages everyone. The comprehensive scope of the book—religious fundamentalism, authoritarian politics, anti-environmentalism, and other immediate relevant matters—make it indispensable for anyone who wishes to understand American life and thought.
Philip Greven, Professor, Department of History, Rutgers University
This lively and provocative book offers a thoughtful analysis of the impact of unresolved personal issues on public support for dysfunctional, or at least sub-optimal, policies pursued at the governmental level. The book offers important prescriptions for public policy that have dominated the 'marketplace of ideas' in the recent past. I look forward to watching its impact on the intellectual community.
Kathleen Knight, Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Houston
This is a powerful book. It convincingly shows the disastrous consequences of harsh, physically and emotionally punitive treatment of children. In a readable and convincing way, the book shows how children who are badly treated are punitive as adults toward their own children, and toward other groups and their members, toward everybody who is not 'us'. Their behavior as parents, as citizens of their country, and participants in its political life, as their actions as leaders is profoundly affected. Every one of us should read this book and then face our responsibility as parents, relatives, teachers, and children to raise children with love and care.
Ervin Staub, Professor of Psychology, University of Massachusetts at Amherst; author of The Roots of Evil: The Origins of Genocide and Other Group Violence and Positive Social Behavior and Morality
Milburn and Conrad have written a very interesting book about the force of denial in our lives and our politics. They range over their field of study, from war to child rearing, offering new and often compelling insights into the role of denial in the way we see and understand ourselves.
Marvin Kalb, Director, Shorenstein Center, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University