Monday, November 13, 2006

"Pseudo-Conservative": Origins of the Term, Part 2

In my "Pseudo-Conservative": An Update on the Origins of the Term I wrote: "As far as my etymological researches are concerned 'pseudo-conservative' may have first been used in a rather famous book, The Authoritarian Personality, written by Theodore Adorno, Else Frenkel-Brunswik, Daniel J. Levinson and R. Nevitt Sanford in 1950." My learned correspondent, Bill Christensen, tells me his etymological researches show usages of "pseudo-conservative" going back at least to 1863. Mr. Christensen advises: "For example, in a 1936 Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic, we find this notation: 'We need to know more about the pseudo-conservative revolt against the very spirit of modernity which animates the members of these right-wing groups... ' In a 1914 issue of The New Republic, we read: 'The pseudo-conservative would object that such a program offers no relief from the taxation that now absorbs much of the funds needed to provide capital for industry. The true conservative would also be solicitous about capital for industry, but...' In a book on William Seward's foreign correspondence from the year 1862 (published in 1863), we find this gem: '...the leader, in conjunction with the kindred spirits who have always clustered round him, in a new Pseudo-Conservative party, who imagine they can restore to life the Union which they have stabbed, and the Constitution they have violated.'"

The 1936 Menninger Clinic reference is interesting for two reasons: 1) the Menninger Clinic was a psychoanalytic institution and the authors of The Authoritarian Personality were psychoanalytic in orientation; 2) the Menninger Clinic quote used the phrase "the pseudo-conservative revolt", and this was the title of historian Richard Hofstadter's very widely read 1955 article. Hofstadter cited The Authoritarian Personality and his thinking was influenced by psychoanalytic ideas at that time.

Many thanks to Bill Christensen who is the developer of two excellent websites: The Site, for increasing your website's usability and, "Where Science Meets Fiction."

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