Listened to the commentary track on Dirty Harry and wasn't surprised to hear that it caused many libs to wee-wee their panties back when whining was still a legitimate form of argument. Still, it's funny and sad to read that Pauline Kael and Roger Ebert -- and lots of others, judging from the hundreds of thousands of google results -- throw the word "fascist" around when describing the moral worldview of the movie.
Now, that was 1971 when the counter-culture was still strong, and I realize that people don't ejaculate the term so often in public these days. But it nevertheless shows just how stupid the political culture was, and to some extent still is, when famous critics can use the word "fascist" -- with all its images of rigid hierarchy, marching in lockstep, knowing and unquestioningly respecting your given role so that the machine functions smoothly, etc. -- to describe a do-what-you-think-is-best outlook, and a way of acting that cuts the individual free of the society's regulations if they are only getting in the way of achieving the goal (here, of protecting the group).
If anything from that era was totalitarian, it was the liberal bureaucracy that told Dirty Harry to just follow orders from above, to not second-guess their appropriateness by thinking for himself. This is for the greater good: after all, when one piece wiggles out of its proper place in the machine, it will throw every other sub-system outta-whack, and the broken apparatus will no longer be able to protect the group. So just shut up and do as you're told.
I'm sure there are conservative morons who think Dirty Harry shows the value of hierarchical discipline and obeying authority, but they don't make it into the critics circle, so I couldn't easily find any famous examples.
The mandarin class is fundamentally drawn to the powerful -- at least when their favorite party is in power -- so they are always caught completely off-guard when Dirty Harry figures arise. I mean, they just don't make any sense. Vigilantes are anti-authoritarian, which is good if our guys are not in power but bad if they are. And they're acting to protect the larger community (unlike anti-authoritarian loner / hermit types), which is good, but their protection reaches a level that the rulers have proven impotent to achieve. This embarrasses and even discredits the rulers, and again that's good if our guys are not in power but bad if they are.
So sure, if the other guys are in power, let's welcome the vigilantes -- just think of the terrible publicity it'll give our rivals. Then again, given how the enjoyment of power fluctuates between parties, you know what, it's better to not risk being on the side of loose cannons, just in case it's us who's in power.
This explains why so much criticism of movies that treat the theme of authority sounds ridiculous -- since the intellectual class only talks to itself and lusts for power or at least influence over the powerful, they only hear arguments that take the sanctity of following orders for granted. They argue instead over whose plan for society should be rigidly adhered to, lest the whole thing come crumbling apart. The handful of anti-authoritarians who go into academia, the media, etc., are of the loner / hermit type who want to cast off society's shackles so that they can be left alone to themselves and maybe their family, not so that they can better do their job as a member of the team or group or community. They watch X-Files, not Aliens.
I'm not sure where to go to find commentators who might get it. Obviously not the typical places where critics hang out. But outside-the-establishment haunts on the internet are mostly peopled by nerds, and they too fall into the same groups as mainstream critics, although with more of the "just leave me alone" / "the truth is out there" hermits, and fewer chap-lipped dicksuckers of the powerful. If anyone's run across a good place online or off, say where in the comments.