01 January 2017

The Great Temptation of Confusion and Complexity and the Rise of the Will to Power

"It seems that under the overwhelming impact of rising power, humans are deprived of their inner independence and, more or less consciously, give up establishing an autonomous position toward the emerging circumstances.

The fact that the stupid person is often stubborn must not blind us to the fact that he is not independent. In conversation with him, one virtually feels that one is dealing not at all with him as a person, but with slogans, catchwords, and the like that have taken possession of him.

He is under a spell, blinded, misused, and abused in his very being. Having thus become a mindless tool, the stupid person will also be capable of any evil and at the same time incapable of seeing that it is evil. This is where the danger of diabolical misuse lurks, for it is this that can once and for all destroy human beings.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers From Prison

"Now that I look back, I realize that a life predicated on being obedient and taking orders is a very comfortable life indeed.  Living in such a way reduces to a minimum one's need to think...  I may have made an error in judgement— but one thing is beyond dispute: the man was able to work his way up to leader of a people of almost 80 million.  His success alone proved that I should subordinate myself to him."

Adolph Eichmann, as quoted by Hannah Arendt in Eichmann in Jerusalem: The Banality of Evil

“In an ever-changing, incomprehensible world the masses had reached the point where they would, at the same time, believe everything and nothing, think that everything was possible and that nothing was true... Mass propaganda discovered that its audience was ready at all times to believe the worst, no matter how absurd, and did not particularly object to being deceived because it held every statement to be a lie anyhow.

The totalitarian mass leaders based their propaganda on the correct psychological assumption that, under such conditions, one could make people believe the most fantastic statements one day, and trust that if the next day they were given irrefutable proof of their falsehood, they would take refuge in cynicism; instead of deserting the leaders who had lied to them, they would protest that they had known all along that the statement was a lie and would admire the leaders for their superior tactical cleverness...

The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the dedicated communist, but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction, true and false, no longer exists.”

Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism

"He who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man."

Samuel Johnson

Never relinquish your ability to love, to love others and to love the truth, whether it be from fatigue, or confusion, careerism or expediency.   For in that simple act of will to love we maintain a critical linkage to our humanity.

The real capitulation of a people to the will to power of the worst occurs, not in the mob as one might think, for by then it is an almost forgone conclusion.

The guardians of the public conscience are in the professional class, for they are the enablers of a moral voice and caution.  In that sense they possess a platform and provide an example, and therefore bear a heavier than normal responsibility for speaking out, early on and often, against not one group or another that they may prefer, because that makes them merely hypocrites.  To lie is to lie, to deceive is to deceive, no matter the reasons.

No, they must uphold a certain character, against the types of behaviour that are clearly beyond the acceptable moral choices of those in authority.

To be truly human is not being able to simply ignore injustice, deprivation, and cruelty. Such indifference is the opposite of the awareness of others as fellow human beings and caring about them— which is the essence of love.