Conservatives Without Conscience

Conservatives Without Conscience

by John W. Dean


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780143038863
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 08/28/2007
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 293,845
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.66(d)
Age Range: 18 - 17 Years

About the Author

John Dean was White House legal counsel to President Nixon for a thousand days. Dean also served as chief minority counsel for the House Judiciary Committee and as an associate deputy attorney general in the U.S. Department of Justice.

Table of Contents

Conservatives Without ConsciencePreface

Chapter One: How Conservatives Think

Chapter Two: Conservatives Without Conscience

Chapter Three: Authoritarian Conservatism

Chapter Four: Troubling Politics and Policies of Our Authoritarian Government


What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"A penetrating and highly disturbing portrait of many of the major players in Republican politics and power ... riveting."
-Booklist, starred review

"A fierce indictment of Republican politicians ... the sheer outrage in Dean's book has power of its own."
-Chicago Tribune

Customer Reviews

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Conservatives Without Conscience 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 24 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It would seem that they are on their way. Dean paints a scary picture of what has happened so far and how it could get worse. With a House of Representatives already an effective dictatorship, with a Supreme Court a heart beat away from a similar take over, it takes little imagination to visualize what might happen then. Conservatism itself, Dean says, can be good, bad or evil. He devotes his entire book to the bad and evil. It is vital reading for any who care about the future of democracy and the United States in particular. He explains how conservatives think, and how the Neocons differ markedly from the conservatism of Barry Goldwater, who was not just an ordinary politician, but a human being and statesman as well. Dean writes of the alarming extent to which the Neocons and pals with their '...authoritarian personalities, which tolerate no dissent, use dissembling as their standard modus operandi, and have pushed their governing authority beyond the law and Constitution.' '... The motive of the GOP leaders was simply to please the party's 'base' the wishes of the base was their command. That base was composed primarily of Christian conservatives, in particular evangelicals.' This book could be required reading for citizenship, for the Authoritarian personality permeates all societies and is in ascendance in our times of terror. It is also highly dangerous in its polarizing viewpoint. Dean's book is well researched and is in fact backed up by the works of many social scientists, including Adorno, Milgram, Zimbardo and Altemeyer, each of whom illustrated the authoritarian personality scientifically. Dean is much much more than just a disgruntled politician. He is an astute observer and intrerpreter of how authoritarians built their bases of power at the state level to ensure success nationally.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Just picked up the book the other day and I'm about 1/3 of the way through. I guess I'd consider myself a political junkie of sorts. I truly enjoy political tales of all sorts, from biographies to stories about various political occurances, such as Watergate. First of all, I am enjoying the book because I feel that it is well written. It is a thoughtful, yet easy read. More to the point, I especially enjoy Mr. Dean's political insight. There is some digression in the begining about his problems with some of the Watergate conspirators, but it still sets a tone for the book. My favorite part of the book is simply the analysis of various human types. He tries to explain how and why someone would be willing to compromise their ethics and perform certain acts. Mr. Dean then proceeds up the ladder and finally discusses the personality types of different leaders. His insight is very enlightening. This is a must read for people of ALL political leanings. It should be a must read for those who are currently disappointed with the current conservative leaders.
Schmerguls on LibraryThing 10 months ago
Conservatives Without Conscience, by John W. Dean (read 13 Jan 2012) This is an insightful and excellent book. It was published in 2006, and as I read it I kept being grateful that the 2006 and 2008 elections turned out as they did, else the country would really be in bad trouble. Dean in the forepart of the book does some rather turgid discussion of what a conservative is, which is instructive but not as enlightening as his discussion of the nature of the conservatives exemplified by the likes of Cheney, Bush, and Gingrich. It is troubling that 20 to 25 % of the adult population of the US is so right-wing authoritarian, so scared, so self-righteous, so ill-informed, and so dogmatic that nothing that can be said or done to change its minds.Fortunately in 2006 and 2008 they were outvoted. But 2010 shows the dangers that still loom for the country. This book though six years old is still a book to help understand the danger of the type of conservative which Dean studies so perceptivly herein.
pretzelogic on LibraryThing 10 months ago
Fascinating and provocative examination of a half-century of scientific research into authoritarian personalities, and the links between such people and the "conservative" (actually radically right-wing) political movement of today. Scary 'cause it's true... think you're "conservative"? I dare you to read this one.
Teramis on LibraryThing 10 months ago
Dean's book is an incisive exploration and critique of how the influence of Christian fundamentalism has pulled the Republican party far to the right, and altered the substance of conservative thought in contemporary politics from its earlier essence in the 20th century. Troubling insights, and helpful material for understanding many of the abuses of power and dangers in current government. As a staunch Nixonian Republican who was one of the few to break ranks and stop playing along with the Watergate coverup, Dean has well established credentials as a conservative (later moderate, as the Republicans moved further to the right), and a man of considerable integrity. He is well positioned to write this critique, knowing most of the players first-hand, and with unique perspective on the issues. He also refers to substantial bodies of social science (in particular Altemeyer's work on authoritarianism) and writes a cautionary tale regarding governance today. Highly recommended, especially for moderates trying to make sense of what is askew on the national stage these days.
worldsedge on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
On the one hand a very well written and thought out work, but on the other perhaps too biased against conservatism, even the sort I detest. Authoritarian personalities are far from limited to the "right wing." It is a pity this work was not co-written with Barry Goldwater, as was originally intended.
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He reinforced my late father's support and liking for Barry Goldwater and the Republican Party Senator Goldwater represented. This book helped me clarify my feelings that todays Republican Party is no longer the party of my father. His in depth writing and research explains what has happened, and what kind of mentality is now running away with the GOP. It tells why this has turned so many moderate conservatives away from this party.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
From one of Watergate's finest, a compliment--really--, John Dean draws his deep knowledge of authoritarian conservatives from the Nixon White House and describes the sociological and pschyological impats that they have. In describing the three groups of authoritarian conservatives ( the follwers, social domination oriented leaders, and the Double Highs), he paints a disturbing picture of where this country is going. In taliking about various authoritarian consertavies like DeLay, Frist, Abramoff, and the most dangerous of the social dominators-- Dick Cheney. The Double Highs are proto-fascist, as Dean observes and this book is meant to draw in the old group of Goldwater Republicanism that are fed kup with a totally alien brand of conservatism. Dean, however shows that the tendencies have always been toward authoritarianism in conservative thought because of its divergent thought processes and wide traditions, especially in American conservatism where it started with Burke. Not just a book for liberals or moderates, also for closet Republicans beleaugered by the present administration and Congress. This is a warning and a book for its times, but not limited to it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
JOHN DEAN¿S CENTRAL THESIS is that the Republican party is currently controlled by ¿Right Wing Authoritarians¿ who demonstrate low regard for democratic values, the rule of law, and standards of common decency. You recognize these authoritarians by their amoral behavior, stridency, and extremist politics. Consider the following: Cheney¿s defense of torture, glorification of militarism by neoconservative intellectuals, secret imprisonment without habeas corpus, fear campaign after fear campaign on behalf of preemptive war (the mushroom cloud), domestic spying (the mushroom cloud), and abolishing social security (program bankruptcy by 2017), fear tactics DeLay employed to coerce Republicans colleagues and lobbyists in the K Street extortion project, the unconstitutional Bush practice of disregarding laws he has signed via ¿signing statement¿ reservations (against which the American Bar Association is now taking legal action), the coordinated character assassinations and hate campaigns emanating from Coulter-like hit men and other assorted smear artists, anencephalic opposition to stem cell research in the face of scientific consensus, and even ordinary National Security Agency employees who turn powerful surveillance machinery against their neighbors. TAKEN TOGETHER, does this list not represent the embryo of fascism? We have seen it before in McCarthyism, Watergate, and the ultra right preaching and propaganda of Robert Welch (John Birch Society founder), H. L. Hunt (called Eisenhower a communist) and Father Coughlin (pro fascist radio commentator and Hitler supporter). A LARGE BODY OF RESPECTED RESEARCH since WWII demonstrates that just as ordinary people came to support the rise of fascism during the 1920s-30s in Germany, Italy, Japan, and elsewhere, there are authoritarians among us today, people who unknowingly, or purposefully, chip away the edifice of liberty and democracy in order to institutionalize their anti-democratic policy preferences. (among the researchers cited are Altemeyer, Milgram, Adorno, Arendt ) When a female radio commentator states that editors of the NY Times ought to suffer execution for running news stories about NSA¿s domestic spying activities, that is the fascist termite at work undermining the foundation of a free society. THE POLICY DISASTERS OF THE CURRENT BUSH ERA can be attributed to the closed minded arrogance of the Right Wing Authoritarians who proceed without conscience or concern for rights of those who do not share their views. In the words of journalist Joshua Marshall: ¿Secrecy and authoritarianism breed incompetence.¿ Often, because of the absence of openness in their psychological makeup, they betray a nasty, mean spirited, vindictiveness and feel no limits on how they proceed to achieve their ends. These personality types were the early recruits during the rise of fascism in the 1920s and 1930s. ACCORDING TO DEAN, Right Wing Authoritarians are divided into leaders and followers. ¿Followers¿ are intolerant, submissive to authority figures, have difficulty coping with life¿s uncertainty, demand conformity, and are not particularly reflective or thoughtful people, but rather take their cues from authority figures with whom they agree because such authority figures offer simple-minded often hate-motivated answers to complex political problems. Right Wing Authoritarians constitute an alarming percentage of ordinary people who will toss aside their consciences when told to administer electric shock to another person (according to Mailgram¿s experiments) or use spy machinery of the National Security Agency against their countrymen . These people constitute the ¿ base¿ of the Republican party and include religious dogmatists living under delusions or moral superiority and many of those single issue voters identified in ¿What¿s the Matter with Kansas?¿ whose perceptions cannot range beyond opposition to gun control or support of sc
Guest More than 1 year ago
Do you wonder what happened to the Republican Party you joined 30 years ago? Or how some of our political and religious leaders can be such sanctimonious hypocrits and still have such devout followings? Read this book! It explains so much that has happened in the world and in our own country during the past decades. And if you think we could never have a Hitler as our leader, you have got to read this book!
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Hijacking of a Party, July 28, 2006 Reviewer: L. Glasner (NY NY) - See all my reviews (REAL NAME) In his new, provocative book, Conservatives Without Conscience, Dean provides a watershed moment: We are on the cusp of being taken over by authoritarianism wrapped in a blanket of pseudo-conservative ideology. Unless we the public recognize it and counter it within the next decade or so, the US may be shocked to find itself among the world¿s dictatorial regimes. But Conservatives Without Conscience is not about John Dean or Watergate it is about an attempt to understand how the conservative movement evolved to its place today, the different factions that call themselves conservative, and an understanding of the thinking behind both the leaders and followers of such policy. After having read the book, I can report that it is not that Dean has changed his political outlook so much as that the definition of conservative has moved to such extremes that Dean now sees himself as left of center. Apparently, the term conservative has been fixed around contemporary conservative hegemony. Dean uses this book to object. Dean laments the loss of the core conservative principles that have largely been overrun by the political right. From neocons to theocons, these groups all coalesce around a common enemy: liberalism. Dean points out not just their internal inconsistencies and intellectual dishonesty, but also the common thread of authoritarianism that runs through them. This is not a characterization that Dean takes lightly and it is one that stands apart from the brand of ¿kinder, gentler¿ conservatism that represented the Goldwater/Reagan ideology and its cousins. In undertaking the analysis that is this book, Dean asks the ultimate question: Why? What is it about contemporary conservative thinking (or nonthinking in many cases) that makes people subscribe to authoritarian claims? Why do people in general succumb to this kind of ideology? To address these questions, Dean looked toward social science and social psychology and found himself immersed in research and data that provided answers that made sense. Research by Stanley Milgram and more recently Bob Altemeyer harkens back to themes put forth by Hannah Arendt and her ideas about the ¿banality of evil.¿ Dean discusses these major social science theories and aptly applies them to the current crop of conservatives who dominant US politics. None of the theories suffice independently to understand the phenomena, but taken together they go a long way toward explaining how a few dominant personalities have been able to radicalize and co-opt the traditional conservative philosophy without too much protest from within their own ranks. Until now. Dean¿s may not be the only voice rumbling from more traditional conservatives, but it is clearly the loudest and the most cogent. Others have mostly remained on the sidelines without being cheerleaders. Dean¿s voice should be heard as a calling card for those traditional conservatives (i.e., those with a conscience) whose values have been hijacked by the Bush/Cheney White House. Dean would like this book to raise both the consciousness and conscience of those conservatives and moderate Republicans and Democrats who have been both acquiescent and silent in the face of bald-faced lies, corruption, and a tilt toward tyranny. We are all stakeholders.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Although this book has elicited only mixed reviews from critics, many of whom still seem to begrudge the fame and fortune that have come to John Dean since Watergate, the book has reached the top of several bestseller lists. For example, in the New York Times non-fiction bestseller list released today (but dated July 30, 2006) it occupies the number two slot just behind ¿Marley & Me¿ by John Grogan. By writing this mind-sobering book, John Dean is trying to make people aware that the extremism of a few authoritarian men who have now dominated the Republican Party is threatening to transform our country into a land of the lawless. These authoritarian men, he says, ¿are enemies of freedom, antidemocratic, anti-equality, highly prejudiced, mean-spirited, power hungry, Machiavellian and amoral.' These are some of the radicals he mentions: 1. Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House 2.Grover Norquist, arch conservative, president of Americans for Tax Reform, and serves on the boards of director of the American Conservative Union and the National Rifle Association 3. Vice President Dick Cheney 4. President George W. Bush 5. Karl Rove, Bush¿s political advisor 6. Bill Frist, Senate majority leader 7. Tom De Lay, the disgraced former House majority leader 8. Jerry Farwell, Televangelist and, 9. James Dobson, religious power broker and head of the Focus on the Family Group. ¿Today's Republican policies are antithetical to bedrock conservative fundamentals. There is nothing conservative about preemptive wars or disregarding international law by condoning torture. Abandoning fiscal responsibility is now standard operating procedure,¿ John Dean has said. He is especially harsh on Dick Cheney, who believes that the ends justify the means. How else can you explain the horrors of Guantanamo prisons? He is convinced that these radical men are destroying the Republican Party, along with the very foundations of American democracy. He not only has a valid point, and sufficient facts to support his statements, but he also makes a convincing case that this gang of nine has pretty much ruined the reputation of the USA around the world. Decent people all over the world and especially our traditional allies in Europe are aghast at our transformation from a country that respected the Geneva Conventions into a country that not only condones torture but also revels in it. We are now routinely named as a country that flaunts not only the Geneva Conventions, but also many other international laws as well. On its cover the book has photos of seven of these ¿authoritarian¿ men, and it seems to proclaim: China had its infamous Gang of Seven, and we have our own Gang of Seven also. Perhaps it is a reflection of our times that an advisor and former friend of President Richard Nixon, and a confidant of Republican senator and presidential candidate Barry Goldwater, is now considered a moderate Republican and voice of reason, because authoritarian, right-wing Republicans have hijacked the party of Abraham Lincoln. It must be said, however, that conservative talk show hosts of radio and cable TV have so far refrained from setting their pit-bulls and attack dogs on John Dean only because of his impeccable Republican lineage. After all, is there anyone more Republican than Richard Nixon and Barry Goldwater? Read this book, please. I can assure you that if it doesn¿t make your head spin, it will at least make you think.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a must read for all freedom loving Americans, whether you are a conservative, moderate, or liberal. John Dean's experience and background in partisan politics as a Republican operative before and during the Watergate years, provide the reader a unique and in-depth view of the startling developments in how the business of our government at the federal level is conducted. His reference and use of several first-class research studies about the psychological make-up of 'conservatives without conscience' is insightful and useful in understanding what is going on in our country today. Mr. Dean began the project to write this book with his long-time friend Barry Goldwater, former Arizona senator, and Republican presidential nominee in 1964. Mr. Dean's portrayal and explanation of how far the Republican Party has moved to the right since Senator Goldwater's defeat in 1964 is filled with fascinating details and stories about the political personaliites that have lead the rightward swing of the Party. This is a very well-written, reseached and referenced book. There are many interesting details and tidbits expanding upon the referenced material in the Appendices and Notes sections.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a good book for those conservatives who have forgotten what it means to be a patriotic conservative. It reminds us of the original premise of Goldwater and Reagan Republicans that government intrusion in our private lives in any form is abhorrent and contrary to the freedoms our country was founded on. As the current administration tries in intrude more and more in our private lives and in moral decisions that should be personal choices, it is good to have a refresher on what it once meant to be a conservative. Barry Goldwater would be a saint and a positive role model for legitimate conservatives in today's political climate. Too bad he was ahead of his time and horribly misunderstood. John Dean does a good job of clarifying conservative values the majority of us are quite comfortable with adopting as our own.
Stevie_Jo More than 1 year ago
I have to admit up front that I had no choice but to read this book. It was chosen for me by my government professors to do a "critical book analysis." Had I not been required to read it, I honestly don't think it's something I would have picked up. Dean seemed to take a psychological approach to this rather than a strictly political view. He starts the book with a lengthy preface that talks briefly about his post-Watergate encounters with some of the conservatives involved in it. He tells how they try to get him on television, and all that. Well, that's interesting. And that sets us up to think, "Oh, okay. I see. He's going to break down the conservative and relate it to the people involved in Watergate. Wow, that'll be really interesting." Fail. So Dean enlightens the reader on a conservative, the various factions of conservatism, and how they are destructive to the government. Then he does the same sort of description for authoritarians and puts the two together to give you the authoritarian conservative. This is where he gets more specific. He begins discussing contemporary politicians like Gingrich, DeLay, and even the Bush/Cheney administration. For the remainder of the book, he talks about what those people have done in politics and why they are authoritarian conservatives. That's it. The first half is a description of authoritarian conservatism and why it's bad; the rest is about contemporary politicians. Only a few mentions of the Nixon Administration. Now, I wouldn't be focused so much on this except for one sentence that sticks out in my mind. At one point, Dean is discussing Cheney and he even confesses that this is not a book about Bush and Cheney, but one about Nixon and his corrupt administration...If this is a book about Nixon and his corrupt administration, why aren't they the ones being discussed in the section about politicians?? Why on God's green Earth, was Richard Nixon not discussed in length in lieu of Dick Cheney and W.??? Dean was the legal counsel for the White House back then. Surely, he has some insider information about Nixon's personality. Otherwise, he has made a grave mistake in writing this book. I suppose his real purpose would then be to lament the loss of his mentor: Barry Goldwater.