Yes, you can create contexts where people will do things normally regarded as immoral, but which seem OK within the context. Most of us are brought up thinking that it is wrong to kill other humans except in self-defense, etc. Even though we can intellectually justify self-defense, we still have powerful emotional inhibitions against taking a human life. Thus, part of the training of soldiers involves getting them emotionally adjusted at least to the possibility of having to kill another human being. When I was in Basic Combat Training (back in '68), that was done through bayonet drills.
"What is the spirit of the bayonet?" the Sergeant would yell.
We yelled in reply, "To kill!"
BCT was eight weeks long. I hated most of it, but by the final week, I was actually enjoying myself. Wow, I got to toss a real, live hand grenade and hear it explode! (Though I didn't toss it very far. Thank heaven for the thick concrete walls on the grenade range!) I had a cool, psychedelic experience on the "infiltration course," where we crawled along with live machine gun fire overhead and flares going off in the air and quarter-pound TNT charges exploding safely in their sandbagged circles, but they sure sounded cool. Then there was the "firing while advancing" exercise -- man, I was one bad mofo trained killer!
Then I got home on my first leave, had a few puffs of weed and instantly reverted to the neurotic hippie peace creep I was when I went in.
Context is everything. The frame of mind we cultivate during bayonet drills would be appropriate if we were confronting alien armies swarming over our borders. It would not be appropriate for a cocktail party.
Now, suppose a cop comes up to you with a guy in handcuffs with electrodes attached to his arms. "Shock this guy!" he orders. What do you do? I suspect most of us would regard the officer's "authority" as completely illegitimate in such a situation.
Change the context. You're part of a psychology experiment. Now, I'm almost certain that one thing you did not learn while growing up was how to behave in a psych lab. The professor running the experiment tells you to shock someone under certain circumstances. Now what do you do?
I'm sure most of my readers have heard about this stunt. But if it was new to you back in the early '60s when Stanley Milgram first played it on people, well, who knows. Of course, it's wrong to shock people, but this is a medical experiment. At a university. And I'm being paid to participate. So....
Did Milgram's work really cast any light on why so many ordinary Germans went along with the Nazis? Sure -- the Nazis manipulated context. We understand, with some benefit of hindsight, the starkly evil character of their enterprise, but, at the beginning, National Socialism probably struck many Germans as a "bliss was it in that dawn" sort of thing. The propaganda posters said, "Jobs, Freedom, Bread," not, "OK, now we can build some death camps."
We must be cautious about the applicability of psych experiments to the history of the Third Reich. We also need to be cautious about applying lessons from our studies of the Third Reich to marginal groups of young hoodlums in Europe or America. Naziism is the only image available of genuinely anti-establishment evil. Satanism, on the other hand, is somewhat popular these days and not particularly rebellious. I was at a rock concert a few months ago. Many people in the audience were making the Satan sign while the band leader was saying something like God Bless America. So, if you want to present yourself as really evil, you must use inverted swastikas (spinning counterclockwise), not inverted pentagrams (with two points on the top -- Satan's horns!).
All that being said, some people at the margins of society really do have a clear vision of what is going on at the center. A fair number of libertarians and paleoconservatives saw through the lies of the Bush administration right from the beginning and were opposed to Bush's invasion of Iraq.
There is a similar situation with race. We on the margin look at the magnitude of the sum of everything that's going on -- immigration, affirmative action, anti-discrimination laws, political processes based on mass advertising, the suborning of public institutions of education into the service of ideological propaganda -- and we see that things are seriously wrong. We're not talking about a few quibbles about deviations from absolute rectitude. We're talking about a huge social movement that will, if not effectively opposed, add up to the disposition of white Americans. This will not be our country anymore.
The mass public does not see this yet. The mass German public under the Third Reich had been taught to think, "Hmmm.. Hating Jews. Yeah, sounds a good idea! Let's all hate the Jews!" The mass white American public, circa 2005, has been taught to think, "Wow, racial oblivion. Forget about being white. Being white doesn't mean anything. What a cool concept!"
My point is, there is no limit to the stupid ideas a mass public will accept once they are subjected to a suitable amount of the right kind of propaganda. We don't want to be Nazis. Of course not! Nazis were evil! And they were obsessed with race. So we need to... What? We need to forget about race if we want to be good, kind, decent citizens, acceptable in the mainstream, part of the crowd, you know, "one of us."
No, no, my good buddy, my fellow American. My fellow white American. We need to look at the situation we are in. We need to purge ourselves of the poisonous rectitude we have been swallowing.
All the respectable people, all the popular TV shows, all the smart professors at any university will tell us, Diversity is the Way, White Minority Status is the Future, Multiculturalism is the true mark of human decency.
What you need to do, if you are still under the trance of racial oblivion, is to realize that you have been Milgramed into racial stupidity. The Doctors running this experiment know what is going on. You don't. You must wake up.
Copyright © 2005
If you wish to link to this article, try copying and pasting:
<a href="http://m3peeps.org/03/cmro.htm">Context, Morality and Racial Oblivion</a>
[Go to index for Web Log, Volume Three]
[Go to m3peeps.org home page]