Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Ordinary People

There is no limit to the evil that man can do.  We often view the world’s tyrants as the most evil men and women who have ever walked the Earth.  In this day and age, most people in Western civilization look at Adolf Hitler as the ultimate representation of evil.  He did commit a blatant act of genocide and he certainly was a very wicked man.

But Hitler alone could not have accomplished everything he is remembered for.  Indeed, there were thousands upon millions of people who were either actively assisting his cause or passively allowing it to go on.  The same can be said for all the other murderous tyrants who have existed throughout history.  For every murderous thug in leadership, there is no shortage of ordinary people who are all too willing to kill for their leader.

Human beings, by and large, crave to be lead.  There is a deep need in all of us for someone to tell us what to do with our lives.  And there is never any shortage of wicked men who seek to lead people in a manner that runs counter to their own best interests.  The sad fact is, there are very few true individuals in this world, at least from where I stand.  A true individual is someone who does not submit to any human authority.  Do you honestly think that most people are capable of being a true individual?  While I have hope that people can overcome their baser instincts, I’m not holding my breath.

It was ordinary people, with families and normal childhoods and rational moral values who marched the Jews into the gas chambers.  It was skilled craftsmen who built the damn things and they knew exactly what they were going to be used for.  I still recall the conversation that Randal had with Dante in Clerks about the ‘innocent’ contractors working on doomed Deathstar in The Return of the Jedi.  What was interesting about that conversation was that a contractor who was in the store spoke up and told them that those people knew exactly what they were doing and were not innocent.  He proceeded to tell them a story about how he turned down a good job due to his own moral values.

So when someone says that the TSA agents are doing their jobs and that their orders are merely wrong, tell them that they’re idiots.  If the orders are bad, any sane person could easily turn them down.  But people believe that they are not responsible for their actions when they are handed down by higher authorities.  If anything, the Milgram experiment proved that (and it continues to do so today).   Milgram himself summed up the terrible truth of human nature quite well:

Ordinary people, simply doing their jobs, and without any particular hostility on their part, can become agents in a terrible destructive process. Moreover, even when the destructive effects of their work become patently clear, and they are asked to carry out actions incompatible with fundamental standards of morality, relatively few people have the resources needed to resist authority.

That’s right.  In order for tyranny to reign, all that is required is not for good men to do nothing, but for ordinary people to do their jobs.  In other words, Statism will never be overcome so long as people continue to abdicate their own responsibility in tyranny.

But that’s an uphill battle to say the least.  There is nothing that people resist more than the realization that they are, or have great potential for, evil.


  1. Yeah, those TSA agents should all quit and get jobs... um... who's hiring people with groping experience? I think the Catholic Church is having financial trouble at the moment... so... hmm... maybe school bus driver? Boy scout troop leader? High school teacher?

    After the TSA agents all quit, maybe some private assholes like predatory lending agents and hedge fund operators and people hired by insurance companies to find loopholes that let them drop people when they get sick...

  2. Angry rant aside, you forgot one minor fact: the TSA has the authority and law of the government on its side. So did the Nazi guards at the camps. And the Soviet guards at their camps.

    The effects of telling people its OK to hurt others and giving them a uniform and medals for it are astounding.

  3. Yeah, because predatory lenders, hedge fund investors and insurance companies are not backed by the laws they purchased.

    Let's just cut the middle men and let private companies oppress us without any recourse, that'll solve everything. Clearly government and laws are the problem...

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. The TSA is wrong, but if you're goign to go with a Nazi comparison (which makes you pretty sad), you might want to start with mortgage brokers who are throwing people out of their homes... which is sort of what the Nazis did the Jews... I must have missed that day in history class when we talked about the evil Nazis and their overbearing travel security measures.


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