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SAN ANTONIO, Texas’ convenient, downtown rRHocicTKEtril Hotel & Motor Inn NONE MORE CONVENIENT, MORE COMPLETE OR MORE REASONABLE . . . FOR THE FAMILY OR BUSINESSMAN. FREE PARKING, SWIMMING POOL, ICE MACHINE. FULLY AIR-CONDITIONED. 24-HOUR TELEPHONE. FULL HOTEL SERVICE. REGISTER FROM YOUR MOST CREDIT CARDS HONORED. CROCKET HOTEL & MOTOR INN 301 EAST CROCKETT Frrlr–1 r- I 711-0 or III sr”! I sr II/ F117117 Ir111 BY THE ALAMO 1 &I \\MOTOR/ INN FREE PARKING GARAGE CAR. II III serve all these functions? Object appraisal first: Mr. Downey, our oilman, could argue that his attitudes bear directly upon his material interests and that they sprang originally from his observations of the real world. Even when attitudes don’t accurately reflect objective reality, they can and obviously do reduce the chaos for rightists. Particularly if one’s tolerance for ambiguity is low \(as was characteristic, for should be very helpful to have a Communist bag in which to shove one large chunk of the world’s people and politicians, and an all-American bag in which to shove a smaller but higher-grade chunk, without worrying about in-betweeners. And according to a good part of what these rightists read and hear from their limited sources of information, this is the right, true and ultimate way to subdivide the world. Rightist attitudes serve the social adjustment function better or worse according to the kind of society in which you live. Our Mrs. Stevens, who preached 20 The Texas Observer GROUP SUBSCRIPTIONS Subscriptions to the Observer can be bought by groups at a per person cost of $5.00 a year, provided ten or more subscriptions are ordered at one time and the copies can be mailed in a bundle to a single address. For subscriptions to be mailed to each individual’s home address, if ten or more are ordered at one time the cost for each is just $6.00 a year. If you belong to a group that might be interested in this or if you want to organize a group for no particular purpose except to benefit by these reduced rates write the Observer business office for sample copies and descriptive materials. Please add 4’4% sales tax to rates cited above. THE TEXAS OBSERVER 504 West 24th Austin, Texas 78705 to PTAs about creeping Communism, apparently drew an enthusiastic response wherever in Dallas she went and was regarded highly by all her friends for her noble defense of free enterprise. But I’d guess that if she tried the same speech before PTAs in the university town where I now live, she’d not only run into some pretty abrasive situations but would find her friendships limited mainly to lower-status social circles. \(Her attitudes could then help remedy her plight, by making her feel decidedly superior to all those nincompoops who couldn’t see a Social adjustment is the function the sociologists are usually talking about. The externalization function is the one I illustrated to my social psychology classes for several years largely with rightist examples, until I found that a substantial number of rightists didn’t exemplify it. But it is the most important function for the real rightist kooks, from Lasswell’s Secret Service man to my American Nazi, Mr. Whiteside. When rightist attitudes work to relieve neurotic conflict or to keep a psychotic break unbroken, they’re fulfilling the externalization function. None of these functions by itself provides a sufficient, basis for the far-right attitudes of most of my Dallas volunteers. But any set of political attitudes will serve all three functions to varying degrees not only rightist attitudes, but leftist, moderate, apathetic, anything. The puzzle is not what the Dallas rightists’ attitudes were doing for them; for most, the attitudes seemed to be serving the common ordinary set of political attitudes. The puzzle is why the attitudes had to be so extreme. IN A PLACE like Dallas, the answer may simply be, Why not? Radical rightism has long been part of the Dallas social and political structure, and for those just now discovering politics, it’s really about as open an option as any other ideological position. The Birch Society is respectable and easily accessible; even the local Republican Party seems to be heavily infiltrated, if not run, by Birchers. So why not indeed? No neurosis needed, no abnormal status problems just a reasonable concern about what’s going on in the world, a desire to understand it better with the least expense of time and effort, perhaps an interest in doing something useful and stimulating with your leisure time. What’ll it be the Women’s Christian Sewing Circle or the Christian Anti-Communism Crusade? But even in Dallas not everyone has taken the path into the Birch grove, so perhaps a little more is involved. The data I have at hand don’t suggest much else specifically, so let me speculate. Most of the Dallas rightists I interviewed had been raised to honor the conservative values preservation of home, country, God. But they weren’t content to do their honoring in peace and quiet. Even those with no loose screws or status hang-ups were disturbed by the social pressures to conform, by the increasing homogenization of society and by their own lack of significance. They had good jobs, substantial incomes, comfortable homes, most of them; but so did everyone else they knew. Each really wanted to make a name for himself, not to become famous but to be known as a distinct individual. This desire as much as economic selfishness seemed to be behind the frequent references to “individualism.” Political moderation, even moderate conservatism, would hardly bring forth their faces from those of the crowd. Their jobs or household roles had not given them the sense of distinct identity that they sought. Hobbies might have helped in the past, but the problems of our civilization are now so grave as to make stamp collecting and most other hobbyist bywaters embarrassing in their triviality. To add to this dilemma, more and more people are now largely free of major personal worries about financial and physical security, while at the same time they have more ready access than ever to televised amusements, pop music and other cheap thrills. An escalation of expectations about entertainment has occurred in America during this decade, not only among the young. Instant kicks have become an important criterion for the continued allotment of time to any nonwork pursuit. If it’s not more fun than television, at least, why bother? For those who have found few thrills in philately, politics may become a new hobby. Of course, genuine expertise even on an amateur level comes hard. But the mass media, by publicizing and personalizing politics and by analyzing complex events in five-minute doses, make politics look like a satisfactory substitute for both serious and trivial pastimes. The rightist organizations take things from there. Radical rightism is a sort of quick-and-easy, mail-order-diploma way to gain political expertise, and its conspiracy