Machiavelli’s The Prince Explained in an Illustrated Film

Niccolò Machiavelli lived in a time before the internet, before radio and television, before drones and weapons of mass destruction. Thus one naturally questions the relevance of his political theories to the twenty-first century. Yet in discussions about the dynamics of power, no name has endured as long as Machiavelli’s. His reputation as a theorist rests mostly on his 1532 treatise Il Principe, or The Prince, in which he pioneered a way of analyzing power as it was actually wielded, not as people would have liked it to be. How, he asked, does a ruler — a prince — attain his position in a state, and even more importantly, how does he maintain it?

You can hear Machiavelli’s answers to these questions explained, and see them illustrated, in the 43-minute video above. It breaks The Prince down into seven parts summarizing as many of the book’s main points, including “Do not be neutral,” “Destroy, do not would,” and “Be feared.”


These commandments would seem to align with Machiavelli’s popular image as an apologist, even an advocate, for brutal and repressive forms of rule. But his enterprise has less to do with offering advice than with describing how real figures of power, princes and otherwise, had amassed and retained that power.

The video comes from Eudaimonia, a Youtube channel that has also featured similarly animated exegeses of Stoicism and Sun Tzu’s The Art of War. Its creator makes these ancient sources of knowledge accessible with not just his cartoonish illustrations, but also his inclusion of illuminating examples from more recent history. In the case of The Prince, these come from eras like the Russian Revolution, World War II, and even our own time of instant global communication, attention-hungry media, and a seemingly weak political class. In much of the world, we live in a time much less nasty and brutish than Machiavelli’s. But looking at the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of our own leaders, we have to admit that the principles of The Prince may not have gone out of effect.

To delve deeper into the world of Machiavelli, you can watch a BBC documentary on the Renaissance political theorist below.

Related content:

What Does “Machiavellian” Really Mean?: An Animated Lesson

How Machiavelli Really Thought We Should Use Power: Two Animated Videos Provide an Introduction

Salman Rushdie: Machiavelli’s Bad Rap

Introduction to Political Philosophy: A Free Yale Course

Allan Bloom’s Lectures on Machiavelli (Boston College, 1983)

6 Political Theorists Introduced in Animated “School of Life” Videos: Marx, Smith, Rawls & More

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the Substack newsletter Books on Cities, the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall, on Facebook, or on Instagram.

 

The Rolling Stones Play a Gig in Communist Warsaw and a Riot Ensues (1967)

My Name is called Disturbance…. — “Street Fighting Man”

More than two decades before German band the Scorpions blew their allegedly CIA-penned “Wind of Change” over the end of the Cold War; before the “hard rock Woodstock” in Moscow; before Bruce Springsteen rocked East Berlin and rang the “Chimes of Freedom,” another band took the stage behind the Iron Curtain: one not particularly well-known at the time for making geopolitical statements.

In 1967, the Rolling Stones recorded and released Between the Buttons and major hits “Ruby Tuesday” and “Let’s Spend the Night Together.” They tried to compete with the Beatles with stabs at psychedelia on Their Satanic Majesties Request. They didn’t record what is sometimes considered their most political song, “Street Fighting Man,” for another two years, and that song — with its options of street fighting or singing for a rock and roll band — has never been mistaken for a peace anthem.


It wasn’t peace the band courted in their original plan to play Moscow. “They started toying with the idea of performing in Moscow and becoming the most controversial rock band to play on the other side of the Iron Curtain,” writes Wojciech Oleksiak at Culture.pl. “Both the Soviet Union and the UK denied their requests. How is it, Oleksiak asks, “that in 1967 — the middle of the Cold War — Mick, Keith, Brian, Bill, and Charlie came to Poland and performed in Warsaw, at a huge hall known for being traditionally used for the Communist Party’s plenary congresses?” You’ll find the answer in the video at the top from Bandsplaining.

Just above, see footage of the concert itself, culled from newsreel footage and TV broadcasts. The uploader has done us the kindness of putting timestamps in the video for the three songs shown here:

00:00 – Paint It Black

00:43 – 19th Nervous Breakdown

01:06 – (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction

The Stones were “by no means the first western group to play in communist Poland,” writes Polish musician and journalist Paweł Brodowsky, who was in the audience. “By that time I had already seen The Animals, The Hollies, Lulu, and Cliff Richard and the Shadows.” It didn’t hurt that Władysław Jakubowski, the deputy director of Pagart — “a state-owned concert agency,” writes Sam Kemp at Far Out — “had some sympathy for Poland’s young music fans” (just as Gorbachev would in the time of glasnost). None of the other acts caused anything like the chaos that would ensue when the Stones came to Warsaw.

Bands allowed into the country came from a list of names Jakubowski collected from young Polish journalists. How Jakubowski achieved the required permissions from his higher-ups is something of a mystery, Oleksiek writes. Why the deputy director let the Stones into the country even more so. Their reputation for destruction preceded them: “He must have heard about The Rolling Stones’ wrecking of the Olympia, the most famous concert hall in Paris. He was a close friend of Bruno Coquatrix, its director.” At any rate, the Warsaw concert turned into a riot. The band could not be blamed, entirely.

Hearing about the Stones’ arrival, thousands of young fans lined up for tickets. “What most of them didn’t know,” Kemp writes, “was that the bulk of them had already been reserved for communist party members and their families.” The hall was also packed beyond capacity, “with fans hanging off the edge of balconies.” Police fought to keep fans away from the stage and the seated crowds of dour bureaucrats. Richards and Jagger antagonized the cops with obscenities, making ticketless fans who’d breached the doors even more rabid.

Outside, as you can see in the short Polish documentary above, a full-blown riot with tear gas and dogs had broken out. This was a time when riots seemed to break out everywhere. (Mick Jagger has cited the Paris uprisings of 1968 as a source for “Street Fighting Man.”) But at the end of the sixties, few other bands could boast not only of playing the communist Eastern Bloc, but of inspiring mayhem from the stage on both sides of the Cold War lines.

And yet, this is not the end of the story. The Stones returned to Warsaw over fifty years later, in 2018, this time with a pointed political statement made at the behest of Lech Wałęsa, in opposition to a rule limiting the age of judges to 65. “I am too old to be a judge but not too old to sing,” Jagger shouted in Polish from the stage. He then launched into the band’s first song on the setlist. And, yes, it was my favorite and maybe yours too: “Street Fighting Man.”

Related Content:

The Story of the Rolling Stones: A Selection of Documentaries on the Quintessential Rock-and-Roll Band

A Charlie Watts-Centric View of the Rolling Stones: Watch Martin Scorsese’s Footage of Charlie & the Band Performing “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” and “All Down the Line”

The Rolling Stones Jam with Muddy Waters for the First and Only Time at Chicago’s Legendary Checkerboard Lounge (1981)

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

Helen Keller Was a “Firebrand” Socialist (or How History Whitewashed Her Political Life)

We expect that histories of famous figures will prune their lives, sand down rough edges, rewrite and revise awkward and inconvenient facts. What we may not expect – at least in the U.S. – is that decades of a famous person’s life will be redacted from the record. This is essentially what happened, however, to the biography of Helen Keller even before her death in 1968. Perhaps the main offender remains playwright William Gibson’s 1957 The Miracle Worker, adapted from the 1903 autobiography she wrote at 23. Ostensibly about Keller, the story centers instead, beginning with its title, on her teacher, Anne Sullivan.

The play (and 1962 film with Anne Bancroft and Patty Duke reprising their stage parts), portrays Keller as a child, a role she was perpetually assigned by her critics throughout her adult life. She authored and published 14 books and dozens of essays during her 87 years, delivered hundreds of speeches, and maintained a friendship and correspondence with many important figures of the day. But in addition to the usual sexism, she had to contend with those who thought her disability rendered her unfit to express opinions on matters such as politics. They asked that she “confine my activities to social service and the blind,” she wrote in a sardonic reply.


Keller’s political vision was written off as “a Utopian dream, and one who seriously contemplates its realization indeed must be deaf, dumb, and blind.” What did she see in her mind that made critics rush to belittle her? An end to war and Jim Crow; women’s suffrage, labor rights; an end to poverty and the preventable childhood illnesses it engendered…. In a word, Helen Keller was a socialist — and a publicly committed one. “That we know so little of her avowed socialism is astonishing, because she was an extroverted firebrand who delivered hundreds of radical speeches during” — writes Eileen Jones at Jacobin, quoting the 2020 documentary Her Socialist Smile — “‘a fifty-year run on the lecture circuit.'”

Keller published frequent articles on the newly formed Soviet Union, Eugene Debs and the IWW (including “Why I Became an IWW” in 1916), and “Why Men Need Woman Suffrage” (in 1913). “Turning the yellowing pages of radical newspapers and magazines from 1910 to the early 1920’s,” writes historian Philip Foner in an introduction to her collected socialist writings, “one frequently finds the name Helen Keller beneath speeches, articles, and letters dealing with major social questions of the era. The vision which runs through most of these writings is the vision of socialism.”

Mark Twain may have been the first to call Anne Sullivan a “miracle worker” and Keller “a miracle,” but he treated Keller “not as a freak,” she wrote, but as an equal and shared many of her views. He helped fund her education at Radcliffe College (then a part of Harvard ) and encouraged her to speak and publish. Keller joined the socialist party at age 29, in 1909, and in 1912, she published an article in The New York Call titled “How I Became a Socialist.” The answer, she writes: “by reading.” As would be the case throughout her life, Keller felt the need to take a defensive posture: critics had accused John and Anne Macy (formerly Sullivan) of corrupting her, to which she replied that she neither shared Mr. Macy’s propagandistic variety of Marxism nor did Mrs. Macy share either of their views.

Keller’s political writing is now widely available thanks to the internet, and can no longer be suppressed by educators who want to use her childhood and disability but ignore most of her adult life. Even students watching the PBS American Masters documentary Becoming Helen Keller (see clip at the top) will learn that, gasp, yes, she was a socialist. Dig deeper, and they’ll find her views were unique and significant to the U.S. left: Keith Rosenthal writes at International Socialist Review:

She was a serious political thinker who made important contributions in the fields of socialist theory and practice…. [S]he was a pioneer in pointing the way toward a Marxist understanding of disability oppression and liberation—this reality has been overlooked and censored. The mythological Helen Keller that we are familiar with has aptly been described as a sort of “plaster saint;” a hollow, empty vessel who is little more than an apolitical symbol for perseverance and personal triumph.

Get to know the real Helen Keller — or a seriously overlooked (at least) side of her life — in her political writings herehere, and here and watch a video introduction to her politics by Historically Fantastic further up.

via Jacobin

Related Content: 

A New Massive Helen Keller Archive Gets Launched: Take a Digital Look at Her Photos, Letters, Speeches, Political Writings & More

Watch Helen Keller & Teacher Annie Sullivan Demonstrate How Helen Learned to Speak (1930)

Mark Twain & Helen Keller’s Special Friendship: He Treated Me Not as a Freak, But as a Person Dealing with Great Difficulties

Helen Keller Writes a Letter to Nazi Students Before They Burn Her Book: “History Has Taught You Nothing If You Think You Can Kill Ideas” (1933)

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

When Orson Welles Became a Speech & Joke Writer for Franklin Delano Roosevelt

As someone who had mastered radio, film, and stage at such a young age, it shouldn’t be a surprise that Orson Welles once flirted with the idea of running for office. It never happened, but Welles got pretty close in 1944 by ghost-writing speeches for Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s re-election campaign. This in-depth article at Smithsonian by Erick Trickey goes into greater detail about this mix of entertainment and politics, and shows how both have always influenced each other.

In the final four months of 1944, America was still at war with Japan and Germany, and Roosevelt was seeking an unprecedented fourth term to bring the war to a close. Roosevelt’s Republican challenger Thomas Dewey questioned the ailing president’s stamina and wellness for the job, along with accusations of corruption and incompetence.


Welles was still Hollywood’s golden boy, with a career that had taken off during Roosevelt’s second term with his infamous War of the Worlds radio play, picking up on America’s pre-war paranoia. It had continued through 1941’s Citizen Kane and its thinly veiled attack on William Randolph Hearst and other oligarchs. Welles’ voice carried authority and gravitas. He was also married to Rita Hayworth at the time, and enjoying the upside of Hollywood success.

Roosevelt engaged the left-wing Welles in the last month of the campaign and soon the actor was traveling the country and delivering speeches at rallies for FDR. In one stop he called Republicans “the partisans of privilege, the champions of monopoly, the old opponents of liberty, the determined adversaries of the small business and the small farm.”

Welles also supplied ideas and jokes for FDR’s speeches. When Dewey and other Republicans attacked FDR’s dog Fala, Welles’ penned this: “Well, of course, I don’t resent attacks, and my family doesn’t resent attacks — but Fala does resent them. You know, Fala is Scotch, and being a Scottie, as soon as he learned that the Republican fiction writers, in Congress and out, had concocted a story that I had left him behind on the Aleutian Islands and had sent a destroyer back to find him — at a cost to the taxpayers of 2 or 3 or 8 or $20 million — his Scotch soul was furious. He has not been the same dog since.”

The American public seemed to agree that going after a pet was a bit too much. The nationally broadcast speech turned FDR’s fortunes around. And at FDR’s final rally at Fenway Park in Boston, the president introduced both Welles (“The Dramatic Voice”) and Frank Sinatra (“The Voice”). Welles spoke out against GOP elitism: “By free enterprise they want exclusive right to freedom. They are stupid enough to think that a few can enjoy prosperity at the expense of the rest.”

Days later, FDR won 53 percent of the popular vote and took the electoral college, 432-99. In one sense though, Dewey’s attacks on FDR’s health were founded: Roosevelt died five months later on April 12, 1945.

FDR had written to Welles to thank him for the rally, but also wrote about that April’s meeting of the United Nations. The man had the weight of the free world upon his shoulders, and Welles felt it. The artist wrote a eulogy for FDR for the New York Post:

Desperately we need his courage and his skill and wisdom and his great heart. He moved ahead of us showing a way into the future. If we lose that way, or fall beside it, we have lost him indeed. Our tears would mock him who never wept except when he could do no more than weep. If we despair. because he’s gone — he who stood against despair — he had as well never have lived, he who lived so greatly.

You can read it online here.

Related Content:

Hear Orson Welles’ Iconic War of the Worlds Broadcast (1938)

Rare Video Shows FDR Walking: Filmed at the 1937 All-Star Game

When American Financiers and Business Leaders Plotted to Overthrow Franklin D. Roosevelt and Install a Fascist Government in the U.S. (1933)

Listen to Eight Interviews of Orson Welles by Filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich (RIP)

The Hearts of Age: Orson Welles’ Surrealist First Film (1934)

Ted Mills is a freelance writer on the arts who currently hosts the Notes from the Shed podcast and is the producer of KCRW’s Curious Coast. You can also follow him on Twitter at @tedmills, and/or watch his films here.

The History of Birth Control: From Alligator Dung to The Pill

The history of birth control is almost as old as the history of the wheel.

Pessaries dating to Mesopotamia and ancient Egypt provide the launching pad for documentarian Lindsay Holiday‘s overview of birth control throughout the ages and around the world.

Holiday’s History Tea Time series frequently delves into women’s history, and her pledge to donate a portion of the above video’s ad revenue to Pathfinder International serves as reminder that there are parts of the world where women still lack access to affordable, effective, and safe means of contraception.


One goal of the World Health Organization’s Ending Preventable Maternal Mortality initiative is for 65% of women to be able to make informed and empowered decisions regarding sexual relations, contraceptive use, and their reproductive health by 2025.

As Holiday points out, expense, social stigma, and religious edicts have impacted ease of access to birth control for centuries.

The further back you go, you can be certain that some methods advocated by midwives and medicine women have been lost to history, owing to unrecorded oral tradition and the sensitive nature of the information.

Holiday still manages to truffle up a fascinating array of practices and products that were thought – often erroneously – to ward off unwanted pregnancy.

Some that worked and continue to work to varying degrees, include barrier methods, condoms, and more recently the IUD and The Pill.

Definitely NOT recommended: withdrawal, holding your breath during intercourse, a post-coital sneezing regimen, douching with Lysol or Coca-Cola, toxic cocktails of lead, mercury or copper salt, anything involving alligator dung, and slugging back water that’s been used to wash a corpse.

As for silphium, an herb that likely did have some sort of spermicidal properties, we’ll never know for sure. By 1 CE, demand outstripped supply of this remedy, eventually wiping it off the face of the earth despite increasingly astronomical prices. Fun fact: silphium was also used to treat sore throat, snakebite, scorpion stings, mange, gout, quinsy, epilepsy, and anal warts

The history of birth control can be considered a semi-secret part of the history of prostitution, feminism, the military, obscenity laws, sex education and attitudes toward public health.

From Margaret Sanger and the 60,000 women executed as witches in the 16th and 17th centuries, to economist Thomas Malthus‘ 1798 Essay on the Principle of Population and legendary adventurer Giacomo Casanova’s satin ribbon-trimmed jimmy hat, this episode of History Tea Time with Lindsay Holiday touches on it all.

Ayun Halliday is the Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine and author, most recently, of Creative, Not Famous: The Small Potato Manifesto.  Follow her @AyunHalliday.

Related Content 

The Birth Control Handbook: The Underground Student Publication That Let Women Take Control of Their Bodies (1968)

I’m Just a Pill: A Schoolhouse Rock Classic Gets Reimagined to Defend Reproductive Rights in 2017

The Story Of Menstruation: Watch Walt Disney’s Sex Ed Film from 1946

Can We Still Consume the Work of Disgraced Artists — Pretty Much Pop: A Culture Podcast #119

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Comedian Genevieve Joy, philosopher/NY Times entertainment writer Lawrence Ware, and novelist Sarahlyn Bruck join your host Mark Linsenmayer to discuss how we as spectators deal with entertainers like R. Kelly, Michael Jackson, Woody Allen, et al. We all watched W. Kamau Bell’s Showtime documentary We Need to Talk About Cosby, so most of our discussion is around that.

None of us seem able to separate the art from the artist, but this varies by art form, how much of the person’s personality and values went into the art, and the specifics of the alleged crimes or bad behavior. Cosby presents such a dramatic, unambiguous case because he was so universally beloved, and vitally important to the black community, yet his crimes were so numerous, heinous, well documented, and thoroughly undermine the image that he sought to convey. Does our disillusionment with him perhaps reflect not just on rape culture but the importance we put on celebrity itself that made Cosby for a long time “too big to fail”?

It’s fine if you haven’t seen the documentary. You can experience Bell talking about it on WTF and in Slate. For in-depth info on the charges against Bill Cosby, try the Chasing Cosby podcast.

Follow us @CAtFightJOy, @law_writes, @sarahlynbruck, and @MarkLinsenmayer.

This episode includes bonus discussion featuring all of our guests that you can access by supporting the podcast at patreon.com/prettymuchpop or by choosing a paid subscription through Apple Podcasts. This podcast is part of the Partially Examined Life podcast network.

Pretty Much Pop: A Culture Podcast is the first podcast curated by Open Culture. Browse all Pretty Much Pop posts.

How Volodymyr Zelenskyy Went from Playing a President on a Comedy TV Show to Very Real Life

To the great dismay of West Wing fans, Josiah Bartlet never actually became President of the United States of America. At some point, one suspects they’d even have settled for Martin Sheen. Alas, playing the role of the president on television hasn’t yet become a qualifying experience for playing it in real life — or at least not in the U.S. But things work differently in Ukraine, which in 2019 elected to its presidency the star of Servant of the People (Слуга народу), a comedy series about a high-school teacher who becomes president on the back of an anti-establishment rant gone viral. His name, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, is one we’ve all become familiar with indeed since last week, when Russian president Vladimir Putin ordered an invasion of his country.

For as unlikely a head of state as Zelenskyy, a more formidable test could hardly be imagined. The seriousness of the conflict contrasts starkly with the tone of Servant of the People, in light of which Zelenskyy’s ascendance looks less like Martin Sheen becoming President than Veep‘s Julia Louis-Dreyfus becoming Vice President, or Yes Minister‘s Paul Eddington becoming Prime Minister.


Still, the past decade’s further blurring of the lines between televisual fiction and political fact made the Zelenskyy candidacy look less like a stunt than a genuinely viable campaign. During that campaign the BBC produced the segment at the top of the post, which calls him “the comedian who could be President”; Vice published the more detailed view above as election day approached.

Most officials of Zelenskyy’s rank are famous by definition. He had the advantage of already being well-known and well-liked in his homeland, but his performance so far under the harrowing conditions of Putin’s invasion has won him respect across the world. There is now, in addition to the fascination about his rise to power, an equally great fascination about that of Vasyl Holoborodko, the thirty-something history teacher he plays on Servant of the People. This Youtube playlist offers 23 episodes of the show, complete with English subtitles. Give it a watch, and you’ll better understand not just Zelenskyy’s appeal to the Ukrainian people, but that people’s distinctive sense of humor — a vital strategic asset indeed in such trying times.

Related content:

Why Russia Invaded Ukraine: A Useful Primer

West Point Expert Gives Ukrainians Advice on Conducting Effective Urban Warfare Against Russian Troops

Why is Ukraine in Crisis?: A Quick Primer For Those Too Embarrassed to Ask (2014)

“Borat” on Politics and Embarrassment — Pretty Much Pop: A Culture Podcast Discussion #67

Comedians Speaking Truth to Power: Lenny Bruce, George Carlin & Richard Pryor (NSFW)

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the Substack newsletter Books on Cities, the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Are You a Fascist?: Take Theodor Adorno’s Authoritarian Personality Test Created to Combat Fascism (1947)

A man of various accomplishments, Theodor Adorno is perhaps most widely known as the very image of the midcentury European intellectual in exile. After his Jewish background got him forced out of Nazi Germany, he spent fifteen years in England and the United States. Despite his geographical distance from the troubles of the Continent — and even after the end of the Second World War — he understandably remained very much concerned with the nature of not just Hitler himself but all those who supported him. This led to such studies as his 1947 essay “Wagner, Nietzsche and Hitler” as well as (in collaboration with Berkeley researchers Else Frenkel-Brunswik, Daniel Levinson, and Nevitt Sanford) the 1950 book The Authoritarian Personality.

The Authoritarian Personality‘s best-known tool to diagnose the titular personal and social condition is a quantitative system called the “California F-scale” — the F stands for fascism — which produces a score based on a subject’s response to a set of propositions. “To create a personality test that actually revealed latent authoritarianism, the researchers had to give up on the idea that there’s a strong link between anti-Semitism and authoritarianism,” writes Ars Technica’s Annalee Newitz. “Though their experiences with the Holocaust suggested a causal connection between hatred of Jews and the rise of fascism, it turned out that people with authoritarian tendencies were more accurately described as ethnocentric.”


These would-be authoritarians also, as Adorno and his collaborators’ research found, “tended to distrust science and strongly disliked the idea of using imagination to solve problems. They preferred to stick to tried-and-true traditional methods of organizing society.” Other tendencies included “superstition, aggression, cynicism, conservatism, and an inordinate interest in the private sex lives of others.” All these findings informed an F-scale test which consisted of the statements below. For each statement, participants had to select one of the following options : “Disagree Strongly,” “Disagree Mostly,” “Disagree Somewhat,” “Agree Somewhat,” “Agree,” or “MostlyAgree.”

  1. Obedience and respect for authority are the most important virtues children should learn.
  2. A person who has bad manners, habits, and breeding can hardly expect to get along with decent people.
  3. If people would talk less and work more, everybody would be better off.
  4. The business man and the manufacturer are much more important to society than the artist and the professor.
  5. Science has its place, but there are many important things that can never be understood by the human mind.
  6. Every person should have complete faith in some supernatural power whose decisions he obeys without question.
  7. Young people sometimes get rebellious ideas, but as they grow up they ought to get over them and settle down.
  8. What this country needs most, more than laws and political programs, is a few courageous, tireless, devoted leaders in whom the people can put their faith.
  9. No sane, normal, decent person could ever think of hurting a close friend or relative.
  10. Nobody ever learned anything really important except through suffering.
  11. What the youth needs most is strict discipline, rugged determination, and the will to work and fight for family and country.
  12. An insult to our honor should always be punished.
  13. Sex crimes, such as rape and attacks on children, deserve more than mere imprisonment; such criminals ought to be publicly whipped, or worse.
  14. There is hardly anything lower than a person who does not feel a great love, gratitude, and respect for his parents.
  15. Most of our social problems would be solved if we could somehow get rid of the immoral, crooked, and feebleminded people.
  16. Homosexuals are hardly better than criminals and ought to be severely punished.
  17. When a person has a problem or worry, it is best for him not to think about it, but to keep busy with more cheerful things.
  18. Nowadays more and more people are prying into matters that should remain personal and private.
  19. Some people are born with an urge to jump from high places.
  20. People can be divided into two distinct classes: the weak and the strong.
  21. Some day it will probably be shown that astrology can explain a lot of things.
  22. Wars and social troubles may someday be ended by an earthquake or flood that will destroy the whole world.
  23. No weakness or difficulty can hold us back if we have enough will power.
  24. It is best to use some prewar authorities in Germany to keep order and prevent chaos.
  25. Most people don’t realize how much our lives are controlled by plots hatched in secret places.
  26. Human nature being what it is, there will always be war and conflict.
  27. Familiarity breeds contempt.
  28. Nowadays when so many different kinds of people move around and mix together so much, a person has to protect himself especially carefully against catching an infection or disease from them.
  29. The wild sex life of the old Greeks and Romans was tame compared to some of the goings-on in this country, even in places where people might least expect it.
  30. The true American way of life is disappearing so fast that force may be necessary to preserve it.

You can take the test yourself here. But don’t take it too seriously: the F-scale “has been heavily criticized by many psychologists because it is a better indicator of conservatism, an old-fashioned outlook, and a tendency to say ‘yes’ to anything rather than as a measure of authoritarianism,” write Ferdinand A. Gul and John J. Ray in their 1989 paper “Pitfalls in Using the F Scale to Measure Authoritarianism in Accounting Research.” That aside, any reasonably intelligent subject can easily figure out the motives of the test itself. Nevertheless, as Gizmodo’s Esther Inglis-Arkell writes, it offers an occasion to consider whether “you’re superstitious, conformist, or any other awful thing that will cause you to go out one morning and annex something” — no less a concern now, it seems, than it was in Adorno’s day.

Related content:

An Animated Introduction to Theodor Adorno & His Critique of Modern Capitalism

Theodor Adorno’s Radical Critique of Joan Baez and the Music of the Vietnam War Protest Movement

Hear Theodor Adorno’s Avant-Garde Musical Compositions

Theodor Adorno’s Philosophy of Punctuation

Toni Morrison Lists the 10 Steps That Lead Countries to Fascism (1995)

Umberto Eco Makes a List of the 14 Common Features of Fascism

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the Substack newsletter Books on Cities, the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

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