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The Importance of Being CivilThe Struggle for Political Decency$
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John A. Hall

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780691153261

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691153261.001.0001

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Down with Authenticity

Down with Authenticity

(p.129) Chapter 6 Down with Authenticity
The Importance of Being Civil

John A. Hall

Princeton University Press

This chapter focuses on the dangers of authenticity. There are a number of reasons why authenticity should be kept out of politics, why politics should not be personalized. It has been suggested that theories with the best intentions end up with authoritarian conclusions when trying to create political order based on respect for authenticity. The practical precedents are, of course, much worse: the most famous example of a politician basing his legitimacy on a claim of personal authenticity is that of Adolf Hitler. Unrestricted openness and authenticity would lead to confusion, distrust, and, perhaps, the creation of ground rules of even more questionable character. The chapter then explains why the politics of authenticity are bound to become authoritarian. Any political theory that seeks to anchor human personality at one particular point and prevents people, for example, from making mistakes, and hopefully learning from them, is bound to end up coercing people into one particular mold.

Keywords:   authenticity, authoritarianism, Adolf Hitler, political theory, human personality, personal authenticity

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