John Dean joined Jon Stewart to discuss his new book "Conservatives Without Conscience"
Transcript by The Third Path
Dean: Unfortunately, it could happen here, and it hasn't happened here — we don't typically talk about authoritarianism in democracy — but indeed there is an authoritarian strain that has gotten into the conservative movement. It's sort of a reversion —
Stewart: Isn't the point of those — and I was a psychology major in college, so I've had at least two hours of training in this — wasn't the point of all those experiments where they showed that people would give an electric jolt to strangers just because a guy in a white coat told them to, wasn't the idea based on that we are all closer to falling under the spell of authority than we think, even regular people? Is it fair to say it's a conservative trait, or is it fair to say it's in some ways a human trait?
Dean: In dealing with that, in the Milgram experiments, where he brought people in off the street, and indeed found that he could get them to administer high voltage — what they thought was high voltage, and it wasn't. I deal with that to show how people can set their conscience aside. In other words, how do people go into the CIA every day and carry out some of the orders for torture? How do people go into NSA and turn that incredible apparatus against Americans? This is a typical Milgram situation. I actually go beyond that to find the nature of the authoritarian personality that will follow a leader who is an authoritarian.
Stewart: Do you believe that the conservative movement has been overtaken by — I mean, authoritarianism is another word, I guess, for fascism — or do you think it's a weird confluence of events: an attack on American soil, a government that is unchecked by an oppositional party, in some respects —
Dean: First of all, it's proto-fascism. We're not there yet....read on