Law & Liberty

Blind Obedience to Authority

Table of Contents
         "I was only following orders" is referred to as the "Nuremberg Defense", and it is nothing less than blind obedience to authority.

        Blind obedience to authority is what you do when you think laws should be obeyed just because the law exists.  Such indiscriminate failure to think about your actions "because we've always done it this way"; "because my boss said so"; "because it's the law"; "because I was only following orders" will lead you to do morally corrupt acts.  You will do these acts believing that you are doing nothing wrong because you are following the law.

The Devil’s Right Hand (abridged)

 by Larken Rose (2/6/03)

      What does the Devil's right hand look like?

      I don't mean this to be particularly religious or biblical; I just want to know, whatever "evil" is, what is the main mechanism by which it is served? Adolph Hitler? Stalin? Charles Manson? Jeffrey Dahmer? The Columbine shooters? 

      Nope. Not even close.

      Let's get out the score card. How many people did Manson, Dahmer, and the Columbine  shooters kill? A few dozen, at most. I don't mean to downplay  the horrible nature of their atrocities, but on a purely statistical  level, they hardly register on the big scheme of things.

      "Oooo, oooo, I know! Stalin, Mao, and Hitler!"

      Actually, no. How many people actually died at the hands of those individuals? Not very many (again, in the big scheme of things). "Well, maybe they didn't do the actual killing, but they orchestrated mass murder!" True. And what was their  primary tool?

      The true threat to humanity are not the Hitlers, the Dahmers, and the Mansons. Those who have a view of reality that twisted--those who have no regard for human life, or even delight in the suffering or death of others--are few and  far between. They are outnumbered (and perhaps more importantly, out-gunned) at least a million to one.

      No, as disturbing as the occasional psychotic, sadistic murderer is, that is NOT what society needs to worry about. Let's look at the other column on the score card. The grand total is in the hundreds of millions of human beings tortured and murdered. And who is responsible? Who accomplished atrocities way beyond what the famous mass-murders accomplished?

      Average, generally decent human beings, who did the wrong thing BECAUSE SOMEONE IN “AUTHORITY” TOLD THEM TO. They are the Devil's Right Hand. Remove that blind obedience to  imagined "authority"--just getting those people to use their  OWN judgment instead of following someone else's--and you  remove 99% of murder from the earth.

      Your neighbor is the implementer of evil.

      Yeah,  that nice guy who helped you jump-start your car last week.  Yeah, the one with the three kids, who is such a great dad.  That's the one. That's the Devil's right hand.

       Know your enemy. Your enemy is not Darth Vader, or Sauron, or Dr. Evil. Your enemy is that "nice guy" next door. If you want to see just how scary he really is, I highly recommend a book titled "Obedience to Authority," which is a detailed psychological study by Stanley Milgram (done back in the 1960's). I'll let the book give you all the gruesome details, but the punch line is this: the vast majority of your neighbors will KNOWINGLY INFLICT PAIN AND SUFFERING ON YOU, if someone they perceive as "authority" tells them to.

      They take no responsibility for their actions, they avoid original thought like the plague, and they are immune to any evidence or logic which goes against what their bosses are telling them to do. In short, they are the Devil's right hand.

Next Page

Table of Contents