Eric Garner, the Torture Report, and Authoritarian Psychology

by | Dec 12, 2014


What do the NYPD arresting officers of Eric Garner, the CIA officials responsible for the crimes detailed in the Torture Report and US foreign policy officials all have in common? They are all agents of institutions that have adopted an “authoritarian psychology.” So what does authoritarian psychology mean?

Alexandre Kojeve, a French fascist in Vichy France, and lifelong close friend of Neocon Godfather Leo Strauss, explained authority as follows: “Authority is the possibility of an agent acting upon others without these others reacting against him, despite being capable to do so, and without making any compromises. Any discussion is already a compromise.”

This is anathema to the authoritarian because it means their absolute authority or of the institution they represent has been lost, even if only to an imperceptible degree. That is the nature of authoritarian psychology and authoritarian government by Kojeve’s and fascist logic.

What this meant to Eric Garner was explained to Ray Suarez by a retired Chicago policeman. First, it doesn’t matter whether the arrest is for a petty crime or a felony. In the case of Garner, according to the Chicago policeman, he had been given the opportunity to surrender, to submit. When he didn’t follow the “order,” (not quick enough) he was not complying and therefore the police “took it to the next level.”

In fairness to the police, it can be presumed they would have done the same with a mass murderer or bank robber as someone selling individual cigarettes. Because at the point of arrest, according to the Chicago cop, it is irrelevant how dangerous or non-dangerous the perpetrator is. At that point, the issue is: have they fully submitted, without a peep. Anything less is resisting arrest, and it must be “taken to the next level.”

The same authoritarian principle permeates the CIA. Not just to detainees but also to their elected “masters” as this week has particularly highlighted. Their masters have forgotten their place and their new more compliant masters, the Republicans, have not yet taken office. But both CIA and Republicans are on the rampage in attacking what everyone knows: the CIA tortured, those were war crimes, and it was initiated under the Bush administration.

Space does not permit explaining in full how the Republican party is no longer a “conservative” party in the Anglo-Saxon tradition but has adopted an ideology near identical to what in Germany was called the “Conservative Revolutionary Movement.” But it suffices to say that following World War I, during the Weimar Republic, the Reichswehr, the German Army, with the collaboration of the Weimar government, became a “state within the state,” and represented the ideological interests of the Conservative Revolutionaries.

Those interests and ideology were: a belief in military expansion abroad, legal authoritarianism at home and in the captured territories they anticipated, and a belief that Germany was the highest order of civilization, an exceptional nation, all held together by a celebration of the “martial virtues” and an authoritarian legal order which would brook no disrespect toward it.

In other words, the Conservative Revolutionaries were a rival fascist ideology to the Nazis, and the political platform of the party which represented them is largely the same as the program of the 21st Century Republican party, with its emphasis on authoritarian government and the primacy of the military and paramilitary agencies to the civilian institutions. Fascism is based on irrationalism for which the Republicans have no shortage of, beginning with the Cheney’s, Nicholle “I don’t care what we did” Wallace, and their myriad of followers, including those libertarians who prefer to be “useful idiots” for the Conservative Revolutionaries than to think for themselves. Theirs is an absolutist belief in authoritarianism they went far to advance, smashing the Constitution in their path.

Finally, the United States, through Dick Cheney while he was Secretary of Defense in 1991, created a global authoritarian order with the declaration that all nations must hereafter comply with US military orders, as explained here. Not surprisingly, the Clinton administration didn’t spurn that gift, and Madeline Albright and Hilary Clinton eagerly put it to use in the Balkans.

But the doctrine required Cheney’s return in 2001 to be fully revealed as US authoritarianism applied to the world. This was expressed in the 2001 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) where it identified as a “threat” to the United States what was described as “anti-access and area denial threats.” These were exactly as the plain words stated, the United States saw as a threat to itself nations that might deny it access to their territory regardless of how nefarious our purpose maybe.

This would be explained further by its conception as an enduring national interest, our “freedom of action,” which can only be understood in an Orwellian sense. Finally, to bring that home, in some military reading in the 2002-2003 timeframe, I came across the best explanation of what that all might be: the U.S. will not tolerate any nation even having the ability to make us hesitate in our decision making. In other words, if another nation doesn’t immediately submit and comply with our order, “ we have to “take it to the next level” lest our authority and intimidation capabilities come to be questioned.

Todd E. Pierce retired as a major in the US Army Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps in November 2012.


  • Todd E. Pierce

    Todd E. Pierce, Major, U.S. Army (Ret.), served as Defense Counsel in the Office of Chief Defense Counsel, Office of Military Commissions, from June 2008 to November 2012. He was on defense teams representing three clients held at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

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