The dark ego and left-wing authoritarianism

(AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Two new research studies from the University of Bern are showing a link between left-wing authoritarianism, narcissism and psychopathy. Study authors Ann Krispenz and Alex Bertrams, the head of the Educational Psychology Lab at the University of Bern, call such psychological behavior: the “dark-ego-vehicle principle.” According to this principle, individuals with dark personalities — such as high narcissistic and psychopathic traits — are attracted to certain forms of political and social activism which they can use as a vehicle to satisfy their own ego-focused needs instead of actually aiming at social justice and equality,” PsyPost reported.


Studying the relationship between left-wing authoritarianism with the ego-focused trait of narcissism, the studies came to what many would view as a ‘not so surprising conclusion’. They found that some leftist political activists do not actually strive for social justice and equality but rather use political activism to endorse or exercise violence against others to satisfy their own ego-focused needs. That is to say their narcissism.

In particular, certain forms of activism might provide them with opportunities for positive self-presentation and displays of moral superiority, to gain social status, to dominate others, and to engage in social conflicts and aggression to satisfy their need for thrill seeking.

While pretending to be prosocial, narcissists tend to have low empathy and to be primarily interested in satisfying their self-centered needs. Therefore, instead of striving for reasonable solutions, narcissistic individuals will rather be interested in keeping the perception of problems going to maintain their highlighted position.

In fact, narcissistic individuals and those with psychopathic tendencies are more likely to strongly endorse left-wing anti-hierarchical aggression, the authors concluded.

We investigated our hypotheses in two studies using cross-sectional correlational designs. Two nearly representative US samples (Study 1: N = 391; Study 2: N = 377) completed online measures of left-wing authoritarianism, the Dark Triad personality traits, and two variables with a prosocial focus (i.e., altruism and social justice commitment). In addition, we assessed relevant covariates (i.e., age, gender, socially desirable responding, and virtue signaling). The results of multiple regression analyses showed that a strong ideological view, according to which a violent revolution against existing societal structures is legitimate (i.e., anti-hierarchical aggression), was associated with antagonistic narcissism (Study 1) and psychopathy (Study 2).


So what does this have to do with the Second Amendment?  Plenty. Just think about the average gun the control activist and the gun control groups they support.  They thrive on the very possibility of controlling your Second Amendment rights. But why?  Is there a reason beyond their claims of societal safety and security? Yes. And there appear to be deeply rooted psychological reasons for their very visible and very public activism.

While the researchers expected to find narcissists tendencies in left-wing authoritarians based on previous studies, they acknowledge the dearth of formal studies and skepticism amongst their peers.

We were interested in the psychological factors behind authoritarianism. There is a wide range of literature and research in the field of right-wing authoritarianism (RWA). However, research on authoritarianism observed in individuals who are supportive of left-wing political ideologies are still rare. By many researchers, the notion of left-wing authoritarianism (LWA) is even been met with skepticism.

I would argue that history is replete with examples of left-wing authoritarianism, past studies or not. However, the majority of research on authoritarianism has focused on individuals with right-wing political ideologies. In fact, popular culture is inundated with stereotypes of right-wing authoritarianism run amok.  Just look at almost any Hollywood movie or news story from corporate media.  But as history shows, left-wing authoritarians have victimized untold millions.


Because the notion of right-wing authoritarian is so prevalent in society, left-wing ideologues love to use this as an ad-hominem pejorative against their ideological and political adversaries.  But understanding the source narcissism behind the personal attack is instructive.  It is perhaps the reason the left is often so quick to attack the person rather than the idea.

So, it is this lack of understanding of authoritarianism among individuals who support left-wing political ideologies that the authors of these studies hoped to address.

Based on existing research, we expected individuals with higher levels of left-wing authoritarianism to also report higher levels of narcissism. Further, as individuals with leftist political attitudes can be assumed to be striving for social equality, we expected left-wing authoritarianism to also be positively related to prosocial traits, but narcissism to remain a significant predictor of left-wing authoritarianism above and beyond those prosocial dispositions.

So, what does this all mean and why are these studies important?

First, it’s important to understand the motivations of those that seek power over you.  Individuals high in left-wing authoritarianism tend to have high levels of neurotic narcissism, which means they care strongly about what others think about them, they experience high levels of shame, and have a strong need for admiration. In other words, they spend most of their time worried about what everyone thinks about them.   Calling them out for their narcissism or mocking their ideological stances can be effective strategies to counter their attempts to grasp power. And you can see the narcissistic tendency of gun control activists and organizations as they divert from their stated missions and frequently pile onto the left-wing issue of the day.


Second, their preoccupation with how they are viewed by others explains in-part why they choose to seek power and authority over the lives of others–undoubtedly leading to their need to control what others say and do. And they will go as far as restricting the rights you should have and be able to exercise. Sound like anyone or any groups you know? I’m thinking of you Everytown. It’s even indelibly inked in the names of some of these groups. It’s not Not Mom’s Persuade, it’s Mom’s Demand. It’s why they’re given to protests, marching, performative and often meaningless visual displays.

Lastly, some left-wing authoritarians who engage in aggressive actions to overthrow those in power, are more likely to exhibit traits of exploiting others for their own gain, lacking empathy, feeling entitled, being arrogant and manipulative, showing reactive anger, distrusting others, and seeking thrill. Just look at the violence Antifa is willing to engage in to shut down speech with which they disagree. Herein lies an opportunity to engage and persuade those that have been exploited or victimized by these authoritarians, showing them that the freedoms guaranteed in our constitutional republic are the best hope for pursuing life, liberty and happiness.



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