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Study shows dark psychological roots of Left Wing authoritarianism

When Jordan Peterson first started speaking about “when the left has gone too far,” even though it seemed like a random thought, it stuck in my mind more than a throwaway comment would. He was bringing to our attention, for the first time, a dog that did not bark.

The left has done a spectacular job of spinning a story that they are the inheritors of liberalism and freedom orientated civil rights, so that it seems to the majority of “normies” that there couldn’t be an authoritarian impulse on the left.

That prima facie assumption is a spectacular error, a growing body of research indicates.

Peterson brought it to people’s notice that there was nobody on the left willing to put a restraint on the left’s controlling ideologies which can lead to authoritarianism.

‘Not an issue’ said the left. We are the good guys. By definition we cannot do wrong. We are not authoritarian, that is fascism and that is not us – they say.

New research provides a compelling insight in this regard. It shows that there are differences in the nature and manifestation of authoritarianism on the right and the left, as well as large overlaps, and that Left Wing Authoritarianism (LWA) is just as big an issue as Right Wing Authoritarianism (RWA).

“The right know when those on the right have gone too far” Peterson has said. “How far is too far for the left?” he asked.

Nobody on the left answered. History has recorded multiple incidents of famine and genocide of leftist thinking, regimes, and actions that went “too far,” but it is very hard to find leftists vocally critical of the philosophies and ideas behind them.

This new research explains why this reticence exists. It also explains the differences between Left Wing Authoritarianism (LWA) and Right Wing Authoritarianism (RWA).

The Swiss study published in the Journal, Current Psychology, showed that narcissism and psychopathy were strong indicators of left wing revolutionary aggression.

The study also found that neither altruism nor a commitment to social justice were positively correlated to this aggressive aspect of LWA. This would indicate that LWA is driven by something other than altruism.

This revolutionary aggression also correlates with an anti-hierarchical aspect of left wing psychology. While LWA overlaps with RWA in that it features a submission to authority, it has this other feature of anti-hierarchical aggression which is turned against out-groups.

On a psychological level RWA comes from a place of projection of power and confidence, while LWA comes from a place of feelings of vulnerability. Polarization research (2022, December) indicates that a higher proportion of left-wingers than right-wingers endorse harming or even murdering their political opponents.

That vulnerability ‘identity’ seems to promote openness and inclusiveness, but also total conformity. LWA will accept anyone, but only if they agree with them 100%. This is why there is a purity test on every left wing issue, and those who do not meet the test requirements are purged. Cancellation of former liberal and left wing allies is a feature of LWA.

Another preprint said that while there are many overlapping traits between LWA and RWA, those on the left were “higher in negative emotionality, and expressed stronger support for a political system with substantial centralized state control.”

This negative emotionality possibly explains the report’s other finding: “Our results also indicate that LWA powerfully predicts behavioral aggression and is strongly correlated with participation in political violence”

The Swiss study gives explanatory links between narcissism and the nature of LWA. Narcissism is an unassailable belief in your own moral superiority. It is psychologically protected by rigid mindedness, which is a feature of both LWA and RWA. However the nature of narcissism amongst LWAs comes in two forms which synthesize in a way which promotes psychopathic behavior.


The Swiss study defines Authoritarianism as having two characteristics: 1) a submissiveness to authority figures and (2) a dominance towards subordinates

It found a high level of overlapping behaviours between LWA and RWA, such as submissiveness to authority and in group preference and domination; even though it also found that the psychologies of these overlapping behaviours were not the same.

The study found a relationship between anti-hierarchical aggression and psychopathy. LWA is strongly correlated with the dark triad personality traits of machiavalianism, narcissism, and psychopathy. Dark triad personalities are frequently intelligent and good at hiding their true motives. They are callous, manipulative, self-aggrandising, and often violent.

The authors of the study state: “Considering these results, we assume that some political activists on the left side of the political spectrum do not actually strive for social justice and the support of underprivileged groups or persons, but rather endorse or express violence for the satisfaction of their own ego-focused, sometimes even antisocial, needs.”

So while RWA has a strong impulse to subservience to authority and be high in Social Dominance Orientation (SDO), LWA are driven more by individual dark triad traits such as narcissism and psychopathy.

When we understand that these dark triad traits can be represented by the statements “Most people can be manipulated” (Machiavellianism), “I insist on getting the respect I deserve” (narcissism), “I’ll say anything to get what I want” (psychopathy), it is perhaps understandable that we know less about LWA than we do about RWA which seems to be more open about its aims and group structures.

One of the biggest trait differences between LWA and RWA is in what causes the trait ‘submission to authority’ and how it manifests. In RWA it is characterized as a group preference known as social dominance orientation (SDO) where they try to dominate weaker out-groups.

(As an aside; research on SDO has been mainly undertaken with a left wing academic bias which may have led to misunderstanding about its nature. SDO when analysed from a Left wing perspective was assumed to have a left wing explanation. It is assumed to be driven by fear so it is usually explained as racism, xenophobia, homophobia etc. However, new researchers such as Canadian Psychologists, Christine Brophy, thinks this is an impoverished understanding of the evolved psychology of group competition. Right wing conservatives, who value individualistic masculine strength, like to select their own associations (a trait fundamental to the operation of unions by the way) and they like to compete for dominance within the hierarchy. Left wing researchers assume that this is explained as fear of losing their position and stuff to other people, but Brophy’s view is that they just like being the best.)

Left wing ideology champions weaker out-groups; a psychological trait that makes evolutionary sense as a nurturing instinct.


However, when combined with narcissistic traits this empathy is directed aggressively towards traditions and hierarchical structures.  Tied with the psychological trait of agreeableness, this manifests as “vulnerable narcissism”.

Vulnerable narcissism is most easily recognized as “virtue signaling” where left wing narcissists will champion the disadvantaged to illustrate their higher morality.

According to Christine Brophy, who has studied political correctness and left wing aggression, in their eagerness to identify with victims, vulnerable narcissists will punish non-victim groups.

They are rigid minded so can’t empathise with other perspectives, or see other points of view. They think critics are evil, and so judge disagreement very harshly. This explains why they see Nazis everywhere.

This is a very common outlook on the left. It explains the movement to “defund the police” which follows every police shooting (of a black man) incident; soft on crime policies; the “believe all women” thought-terminating cliché; and affirmative action.

Vulnerable narcissists will make excuses for criminals and excuse the pathological elements within “victim groups”. They will contextualize their criminal behavior and divert the blame to external explanatory factors.

Excuses such as “poverty is the cause of crime” “they are underserved with social services” “they are historically marginalised” are regularly offered up as ameliorating explanations to pathological behavior of individuals within these “disadvantaged groups”.

This pathological empathy does not actually have a good outcome. The victims of crime are, in fact, mainly the disadvantaged neighbors of these criminals.

Another effect of vulnerable narcissism is that it feeds opportunists who use empathy to extract resources from those who believe in the victim narrative. Vulnerable narcissists will give money to people claiming to be victims and expect nothing in return.

(This is what BLM figured out when they started collecting millions of dollars from leftist vulnerable narcissists and sundry virtue signalers. Questions are now being asked about the finances of that organisation.)

This can also open the door for grandiose narcissists and dark-triad personality. These are the ones most likely to ascribe to the doctrine of violence on the left.

Grandiose narcissists, have a certainty they are right and moral, and also tend to anti-hierarchical aggression. This is the psychology that underlies the leftist attack on traditions and institutions including marriage and the family. These are the ones most likely to agree with murdering their opposition and attacking existing societal structures.  Mao’s Cultural Revolution aimed to destroy the traditions of China, which he termed the Four Olds.

At its top level left wing authoritarianism has a Machiavellian dark triad nature with a driving personality of sadism.

If the left were honest they would have answered Peterson at the very least with this “the left goes too far when it allows sadism to advance its goals”. The fact that that answer was never countenanced says a lot about the leaders of the left and the psychology of its adherents.

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