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Old 01-24-2009, 11:16 PM
 
Location: Alaska
384 posts, read 856,668 times
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I recently saw The Nazi's: Warning from History. Amazing series because the focus is on the why and how of human nature versus footage of the the piles of dead bodies. Actual intereviews with those who worked for Hitler, those who perpetrated specific documented travesty's, and with general community members who narc'd on their neighbors.

I've always wondered how could people have done this - it has haunted me since I was young. This series provided me, in flesh and blood, the answer's to that question - it showed me the factor that allowed a whole nation, and more, to join in on the mass destruction of other humans.

It also showed me that the real question we need to answer is "what is it that caused some people to NOT join in to do as the nazi's did or encouraged to be done....and often at great risk to themselves and their own families?" This is the missing element, it is the thing we need to understand, to teach and replicate.... because it IS what is truly different and rare. In contrast, the willingness to join in, to rationalize even the most hideous of behavior ... that is the norm of our nature.

In the 1950's in a search for understanding evil, a psychology experiement had people administer electric shocks to an individual in another room.... with the voltage being increased with every push of the button ... despite the sounds of pain coming from the other room. The majority of shock givers were willing to continue administering increasingly painful shocks as long as they were told to continue by the moderator, and others who voiced concern still continued as long as they believed that someone else (experiment moderator) was responsibile for what ultimately happened. This experiment was recently replicated with similar results. Over and over ... those who joined in the Nazi atrocities rationalized their actions in the same manner. It was very few that accepted full responsiblity for their actions even though they knew they were doing wrong, doing harm.

On a less drastic level - I see this same mechanism and behavior over and over in government workplaces. It is the same mechanism with a different exterior, and less harmful results.

I know there was a recent thread on a similar topic and it was closed because it got off topic. I think it is is an important topic, however - one we should all think about and take the time to recognize the similar tendencies within ourselves.
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Old 01-25-2009, 06:13 PM
 
Location: Brooklyn
40,057 posts, read 29,718,655 times
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Give it a little time--this thread is going to go off-topic too. Very far off topic. Mark my words!
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Old 01-25-2009, 06:21 PM
 
Location: Victoria TX
42,668 posts, read 71,556,197 times
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Most people said pretty much what they had to say about this topic in its original guise, and that's why it went off topic.
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Old 01-25-2009, 07:42 PM
 
2,377 posts, read 4,750,646 times
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Originally Posted by Fred314X View Post
Give it a little time--this thread is going to go off-topic too. Very far off topic. Mark my words!
Hopefully not...but not for long if it does!!!
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Old 01-25-2009, 09:18 PM
 
Location: Aloverton
6,564 posts, read 11,882,584 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by miruca View Post
I've always wondered how could people have done this - it has haunted me since I was young. This series provided me, in flesh and blood, the answer's to that question - it showed me the factor that allowed a whole nation, and more, to join in on the mass destruction of other humans.
I don't think there's a single answer to it.

In many cases, I think people were just content to follow the lead and rationalize away behaviors they would not have wanted to receive themselves. This mentality says: "I know or suspect that it's happening, but it's not happening to me; there's nothing I can do to stop it; the less I know the better because it makes me uneasy."

In other cases, I think authentic fanaticism was in play. The fanatic mind, that which sees only black and white, is as dangerous as the mind incapable of seeing anything but grey. The fanatic thinks: "They're the enemy, or helping the enemy, in which case they aren't even people--whatever they get, they have coming."

And in others, I think it was pure bureaucracy. "I just work here. This is what we do. Everyone has to have a job, and mine's better than being at the front with 2SS Panzer Division."

In general, I think it happened steadily and gradually, like a toothache that slowly gets worse, but you get accustomed to it; maybe like eating hot foods, where you build up a tolerance until you can eat habaneros without wanting to fill your mouth with solid ice afterward. Victor Klemperer's diaries are very illustrative in this. For him, each week brought some new tribulation, some new tax, new restriction, new obligation, new slight, new annoyance. Pain became the new normal, and it got a little worse with each gradual uptick. In the meantime, the non-Jews around him unconsciously readjusted their concept of normal just as gradually.

Some people, however, are utterly immune to peer pressure and well enough grounded to avoid being caught up in groupthink, or will snap out of it at some point. Those are probably the ones who took positive action, because their concept of normal didn't shift to match the status quo. I understand this because I watch the tides of public opinion in society and seem able to stay aloof from them. I wasn't all paralyzed with fear, my innocence and safety shattered, by 9/11. I'd never felt terribly safe or fearful to begin with, so I wasn't traumatized. Angered, surely, but it didn't mess with my mind. More recently, though I am glad of the presidential race results and loathed the previous administration with a mighty loathing, I'm not caught up in the euphoria. It's still the government, there are limits to what it can achieve and fix, most of the real larcenists still have their straws in the milkshake, and we'll see what happens. And when the market started to really eat flaming death, I felt no desperate guts-turning-to-water feeling; when it recovers, I won't get all euphoric. I tend to be suspicious of whatever view society seems to be demanding and expecting of me at a given time (on the general grounds that I think public emotion is subject to heavy and deliberate manipulation, and also usually reflects self-delusion), so they usually don't get it. It may be this trait in some Germans who knew the Holocaust was happening, knew that it was a great wrong, and dared take action to oppose it. (Not that I walk through life an automaton. I cried when we won the gold medal in hockey in 1980, but not because everyone else was. Because it was a wonderful moment that made me feel exuberant.)

Take for example reactions to banking policy. Banking policy has, in general, screwed the consumer worse and worse with each passing year. Most people simply adjust to the new policy as the new normal, which is what the banks count upon--but some do not. Some folk have their independent compass of proper banking policy, and it says what it says, and they don't care if all the banks are doing the same thing or if it's been twenty years--they still say it's wrong, and they resent/resist it. Meanwhile everyone who has accepted the new 'normal' doesn't understand what the fuss is about. To the resisting person, the reason for the fuss never went away, and neither will they.

I suspect that's how the mentality developed in Nazi Germany. People are people.
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Old 01-26-2009, 01:22 AM
 
Location: Alaska
384 posts, read 856,668 times
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I agree that fanaticism and incremental adaptation played a role in defining intolerance as normal - both being part of the mechanism I was refering to and both dulling the awareness that every step leads in one direction or another. I wonder though what is it that causes some people to be more aware that the little increments are leading to a big problem, or what is it that causes certain people to be immune to the groupthink?
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Old 01-26-2009, 01:56 AM
 
Location: Aloverton
6,564 posts, read 11,882,584 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by miruca View Post
I agree that fanaticism and incremental adaptation played a role in defining intolerance as normal - both being part of the mechanism I was refering to and both dulling the awareness that every step leads in one direction or another. I wonder though what is it that causes some people to be more aware that the little increments are leading to a big problem, or what is it that causes certain people to be immune to the groupthink?
With regard to the latter, maybe some people are just fundamentally obstinate, or at least non-joiners, who do not take comfort in being part of a large group. Concerning the former, perhaps it is just that some people have a better anchored moral compass than others. What causes it, that I can't really say. It might be as basic as what causes our sexual preferences or other basic aspects of our nature: something unknown.

I've known very happy and warm and kind people who were so despite protracted and brutal abuse, and I've known vicious, vindictive people who really hadn't experienced the kind of life circumstances that would naturally produce that. Something has to account for the fact, for example, that some people went to Vietnam and saw horrors and took abuse on their return, and lived productive lives anyway, whereas others came back pretty much hosed. If we knew what it was, we'd have a significant contribution to understanding.
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Old 01-26-2009, 02:42 AM
Status: "happy again, no longer catless! t...." (set 5 days ago)
 
Location: Cushing OK
14,421 posts, read 16,686,996 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by j_k_k View Post
With regard to the latter, maybe some people are just fundamentally obstinate, or at least non-joiners, who do not take comfort in being part of a large group. Concerning the former, perhaps it is just that some people have a better anchored moral compass than others. What causes it, that I can't really say. It might be as basic as what causes our sexual preferences or other basic aspects of our nature: something unknown.

I've known very happy and warm and kind people who were so despite protracted and brutal abuse, and I've known vicious, vindictive people who really hadn't experienced the kind of life circumstances that would naturally produce that. Something has to account for the fact, for example, that some people went to Vietnam and saw horrors and took abuse on their return, and lived productive lives anyway, whereas others came back pretty much hosed. If we knew what it was, we'd have a significant contribution to understanding.
Those who are faced with survival/abuse issues either make it or don't. Those who do have a very different view of life having seen the darkside. Its a perspective that those bitter people who just imagine that life has been mean to them can't possibly understand.

Those who don't follow the crowd tend to fade into the background by choice. Being invisible can be an advantage when not being part of the herd can cost your life. I'm sure that those Germans who did great acts of heroism saw beyond the public displays and noticed the people who dissapeared and listened to the words not said. But were quiet about it. Their acts were done in full knowledge of what it could cost, and without a need for any glory. Perhaps it was in part to atone for the blindness of their fellow citizens.

The Germans who blindly followed were their sheeple. They heard words that made them feel good. They didn't question. They got used to being controlled. I'm sure some woke up at a point, but by then they could not go back. They could play the same role and hope nobody noticed.

Remember the first occupants of Dachu were not Jews or foreigners, but Germans. The first to go were the intelectuals and free thinkers who would not allow themselves to be controlled. The teachers and artists and those who did not move with the herd were searched for and if found eliminated. Those with the opportunity to do so left the country seeing where it was going.

When you take away those can potentially dissuade some of the sheeple away from the propaganda, it makes the sheep herders job a lot easier.

I'm sure most of the people here are non sheeple. So a challenge question.

You see lies and a tightening grip on the public perception by those you believe are leading to a state of total control. You see your neighbors blindly spouting all the right phrases. You have a choice, keep that your not like them yourself or make that last stand in hopes of changing something.

Second challenge, your society has tightened its grip and terrible things are happening. You've manage to stay unnoticed. Do you risk that and the lives of yourself and your family to do what is right and resist or do you see that its too late to change anything big and hope your hiding well enough?
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Old 01-26-2009, 07:45 AM
 
11,564 posts, read 17,501,153 times
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Those who don't read previous posts are doomed to repeat discussions:

The Holocaust really troubles me...

I don't see what we can add to the dozen pages from the previous post. It stared wrong in the first place, when the P&C nuts came in. Maybe this post belongs in "great debates" or in the "P&C" forum.
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Old 01-26-2009, 09:54 AM
 
Location: Wherever women are
19,022 posts, read 24,683,229 times
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You also have to remember that it wasn't an internet-driven world where bloggers and citizen journalists kept pervading information through.

Many didn't even know of the death camps. News was also rumour-ridden. People simply had no idea.
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