The Authoritarian Personality, Wildings, Zimbardo???

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The Virgin, the feminine speaks to the human . . .

We speak often of Theodor Adorno as one of the founders of the Frankfurt School, for which Habermas became the ultimate spokesperson. Right after the Second World War, Adorno, a Jew who had escaped from Nazi Germany, tried to understand how humans could treat other humans so cruelly. In the The Authoritarian Personality, Adorno tried to understand the individual who would engage in gratuitous humiliation and/or infliction of injury or death. Wildings is the term we give today to uncontrolled destructive behavior of groups, seen more as crowd behavior, the infrastructure interacting with the individual. Athens sees violence as even more externalized as part of socialization. And most of the research goes back to day to Zimbardo of Stanford with the prison guard experiments.

The photo here is one taken from Cuba Debate on Sunday, May 9, 2004, as I wandered through many sources for teaching materials:

I chose to put up this photo because I had just read the Times article by Claudia Wallis in which she refers to this or a photo very much like this:

"On the other hand, some experts on torture deeply doubt that members of an MP company from a small town could have come up with something like the pose seen in one of the most infamous images from Abu Ghraib—one in which a hooded prisoner stands on a box with electrical wires connected to his arms and genitals. The photo could have been a textbook illustration of a classic torture method known as crucifixion, says Darius Rejali, an associate professor of political science at Reed College and author of Torture and Modernity. This kind of standing torture was used by the Gestapo and by Stalin, he says, although the wires and the threat of electrocution if you fell were a Brazilian police innovation. 'You don't learn this sort of thing in West Virginia,' says Rejali. 'Somebody had to tell these soldiers what the parameters were for their behavior.' "

Claudia Wallis, Time Why Did They Do It? Are those charged with abuse a few bad apples, or are they just like the rest of us?.

The question of why they did it, and especially of who "they" are will be with us for a long time to come. That question raises issues not only for our understanding of legitimation and our system of justice, but also for our understanding of nation states, citizens, and human rights, and for the many levels at which "they" consists of both individual and community.

Perhaps this disaster has taught us all one thing: women, given a chance, can be just like men. Now, given a chance, can both women and men be, like human?

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