"The banality of evil" and collective guilt

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Dennis C. Hackethal

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Mar 21, 2019, 12:10:04 AM3/21/19
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This thread could also be called "Are bystanders guilty of a crime?".

"The banality of evil" is an interesting concept. I think that while
high ranking Nazis were aware of the evil they were committing, many
mid and lower level people probably had little to no idea, or gave in
to peer pressure. There must have been extremely high pressure to
conform.

After the war, the question of collective guilt was brought up both by
the German populace to deal with their past, as well as the victors
who had to (presumably) decide "how far down" the Nazi ranks to punish
people.

We can ask ourself: Had I been around back then, would I have acted
differently? The answer, sadly, may be "no". However, that doesn't
change how one *should have* acted. And there were movements like the
white rose, which show that some people at the time were aware of how
one should act.

Nazi-Germany is just an example. The atrocities committed by Eastern
German authorities until 1989 are another example, and authority
thinking has been problematic in other countries as well.

anonymous FI

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Mar 21, 2019, 12:30:41 AM3/21/19
to 'Dennis C. Hackethal' via Fallible Ideas

On Mar 20, 2019, at 9:09 PM, 'Dennis C. Hackethal' via Fallible Ideas
<fallibl...@googlegroups.com> wrote:

> This thread could also be called "Are bystanders guilty of a crime?".
>
> "The banality of evil" is an interesting concept. I think that while
> high ranking Nazis were aware of the evil they were committing, many
> mid and lower level people probably had little to no idea, or gave in
> to peer pressure. There must have been extremely high pressure to
> conform.
>
> After the war, the question of collective guilt was brought up both by
> the German populace to deal with their past, as well as the victors
> who had to (presumably) decide "how far down" the Nazi ranks to punish
> people.

Punishments should not be determined by moral guilt. They should be
determined by law.

Laws for international conflicts are inadequately developed. In that
case, political philosophy principles can be used to try to figure out
what kind of law there should be or would make sense (develop the law
more). Applying laws retroactively is a huge evil in general, but is
tolerable when an evil is too great (millions dead) to go unpunished
even once. Also a mitigating factor is that many actions of the Nazis
were already illegal according to the laws in most (all?) countries
(including German law a few years earlier. and many Nazi actions were
probably illegal by German law when they did it, i doubt they actually
changed all the laws to legalize everything they did.)


> We can ask ourself: Had I been around back then, would I have acted
> differently? The answer, sadly, may be "no".

I would have acted differently, given who I am today – my ideas,
character, etc. The answer is "no" for many others because they learn
less about reason, liberalism, etc. One of the best groups to find "yes"
answers from is American Christians who exemplify American values and
the American spirit.

I may not have if a baby was born and raised there, to German parents,
and the only similarities to me are having the same genes and same name.
But that would *not be me*. That'd be a totally different person than
me. Like "identical twins" have the same genes but are different people.
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