Saturday, February 16, 2013

Akin Gump and the Fascist Personality

From 1988 to 1991 I was employed as a paralegal at the law firm of Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld.  I was woefully underemployed, given the fact that I had two law degrees -- a J.D. and an LL.M. -- and I was licensed to practice law in Pennsylvania.  Throughout the entirety of my tenure with the firm I believed I was a victim of subtle job harassment by co-workers and others.

In 1990 I complained to my treating psychiatrist, Stanley R. Palombo, M.D. about the harassment.  Dr. Palombo opined that if I was being harassed at all it was because I was a "freak"--someone who qualified to practice a learned profession but who, instead, chose to work as a paralegal.

In 1991 William D. Brown, Ph.D. offered the same opinion about my employment problems.

Assuming that the opinions of these two mental health professionals was the correct one, should our analysis end there?  Perhaps not.  I would ask as a followup: "What does it say about an organization's culture that it would aggress upon someone who showed signs of weakness, who failed to actualize his potential, and who had a markedly underemployed status in the organization?"

Perhaps the organization's reaction of contempt in the face of my apparent weakness indicates that the organization was dominated by a Fascist ethos.  In such an organization it is probable that I would be discriminated against by the many simply because I was discriminated against by the few.  The work of Theodor Adorno clarifies these issues.

In 1947 Theodor W. Adorno defined what would be later called "blaming the victim," as "one of the most sinister features of the Fascist character".  Shortly after Adorno and others at the Berkeley research group formulated their influential and highly debated F-scale (F for fascist), published in The Authoritarian Personality (1950), which included among the fascist traits of the scale the "contempt for everything discriminated against or weak."  After Adorno, also other authors, like professor Kriss Ravetto, have described victim blaming as a characteristic fascist trait.  A typical infamous expression of victim blaming is the "asking for it" idiom, used in phrases like "a raped woman in a short skirt was asking for it."

I wonder what the "expert in expert opinions" would have to say about the expert opinions of the above-cited experts.


Gary Freedman said...

Clever ideas. But of course, I'm no Vicki Abt, Ph.D.!!

Gary Freedman said...

The F Scale: