Blind Loyalty and Obedience
This post is a reaction to something I read on LinkedIn. I am posting a response here, to be later posted to LinkedIn, because there never seems to be enough space in the comment section to provide a detailed response. The original LinkedIn post made the argument that we should not follow the government blindly or believe what they say without question. The author used as an example the Holocaust and the blind obedience to the government of the German people. Claiming that this obedience was one of the contributing factors to the horror of genocide—the German government misled the German people into supporting genocide. The corollary is that we should not blindly follow the government because it will lead to other horrors.
I confess that I agree with the author concerning blind obedience. Blind obedience to any organization or individual is never a good thing. That lack of critical thinking, and total blind loyalty is ripe for abuse. Entire nations have marched to national destruction as a result. However, I have problems with the rest of the author's argument. Now, I know what he is trying to do. He is carrying the Right's disdain for the government, for mask mandates and vaccines, and the belief that the government is part of a conspiracy to deny citizens their rights and turn them into an enslaved population, yada, yada. That's fine. We can all believe what we like but there are some glaring misconceptions in the post.
It is unlikely that the German government would have carried out the genocidal policies of the Holocaust if left on its own. It hadn't done so in the years it existed as part of the German state. It was a political party, the Nazi Party, that created the policies that led to the Holocaust. It was that political party that stoked the peoples' rage, and their sense of victimization, and and lied about who was responsible for their plight. It was that same political party that focused that rage on specific groups of people. It was the Nazi party, when it came to power, that seeded the government with its members and sympathizers, individuals blindly following and obeying Nazi thought. The Nazis took over the German government and turned it into an arm of the Nazi Party. The government itself was perverted by the Nazi ideology. It was that party’s charismatic leader that the German people followed blindly, and obeyed blindly. Sound familiar?
Governments are not independent, living beings. They are composed of people with a degree of expertise required to keep nations running. In every instance, a government is led by political parties (in the case of democracies) or individuals (in the case of authoritarian regimes). Governments carry out the policies of those in power, not their own. They will make recommendations, they will provide information, and answer questions as asked, but they generally carry out policies developed by the political leadership.
Somewhere in our history, the idea of blaming the government for our ills and woes instead of political and economic leadership took hold. Whether the government is responsible or not, whether the government has the power or authority or not, we blame them. If GM decides to move its factory to Mexico because costs are cheaper, thus increasing their profits, we blame the government.
The irony of this argument—not to blindly obey the government, with which I concur—is that those very same people making the argument blindly follow a leader and political party. They tout the arguments, true or not, that the party makes. They hate the people the party and its leader tells them to hate. They stand ready to commit violence at the behest of the party. That attitude of blind loyalty to a leader and party is what led to the Holocaust, and it’s what we need to change in the future