Date of Award

Summer 8-1-2022

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Chair

Laura Alberti

Committee Chair School


Committee Member 2

Paul Strait

Committee Member 2 School


Committee Member 3

Ed Simpson

Committee Member 3 School



This project infuses Lacanian psychoanalysis further into the rhetorical study by exploring authoritarian discourses on Reddit. I analyze the alt-right community that found a home on the subreddit r/The_Donald and chart their discourse as it shaped from the quarantine to the establishment of an independent forum called I selected memes and the comments around them to build the analysis. The second aspect of this thesis examines authoritarian communist discourse on Reddit. The leftist community splintered when r/socialism banned a community member because the person made catgirl art. The ban sent shockwaves through the leftist community on Reddit and generated old faction lines between the authoritarians and anarchists on the left. I include, alongside the memes and discourse of authoritarian communists, an analysis of how authoritarianist communists define authoritarianism. I selected these communities and events to observe the workings of 21st-century authoritarianism to understand how fringe ideologies reflect the structure of authority in the current socio-economic sphere. I engage in my analysis through a deep psychoanalytic reading of the memes of the selected subreddits to chart the structure of their discourse. I contend there is better opposition to authoritarianism within psychoanalysis, a dramatic linguistic turn, and the development of a politics of desire.