When reason fails

It is a sad fact that not too many people care about the basic premise of individual freedom. It is not just your freedom, but also that of someone else (when a book gets banned, and you don’t say anything, don’t expect any support when you face a similar – or worse – situation). It is this attitude (apathy, rather) that slowly leads to the rise of authoritarianism in institutions that are in control of nations. When the people themselves don’t care, why should the government do so? The logical outcome of such state of affairs is a police state where government increasingly assumes the right to control the private lives of its citizens. And citizens too will obey, the reasons being many – fear and conformity being the two that come to mind immediately.

I would rank the idea of conformity – I do what my neighbor is doing, why make a scene – above fear, but, come to think of it, conformity too is an expression of a kind of fear – one of exclusion. The fact is we as a society expect too much obedience from citizens. Too many people ready to accept whatever another group of people tell them without thinking about it themselves, is nothing but a failure of reason. And that is what makes incidents like the Holocaust, and more recently Abu Ghraib, possible. The greater the failure, the greater the effects.

Check out the following Wikipedia links (if you don’t already know about it) for chilling examples of how humans can cross certain lines of behavior, under specific instructions –
Milgram experiment
Stanford prison experiment

And the source of all problems –
Authoritarianism
Obedience

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