My best friend from my twenties in Japan became the top-spook for CSIS (Canada's low-rent branch of the CIA/NSA) in a Muslim country. I won't speak with him anymore. I gave him the courtesy of telling him that it wasn't possible that his position accords with any understanding of democracy or decency, or even Canadian sovereignty or good state-craft, but I blocked him from making any response. In his position, what would he be allowed to say that wasn't part of the script, and even if he were allowed, how could he square the cognitive dissonance considering himself decent and having any part in getting people sent for torture?*
I have offended mutual friends, but that says more about them than me. This article points to some better information on the Milgram Experiments and the Stanford Prison Experiment, which everyone needs to be aware of if they have to live among humans: in short, your 'neighbour' would send you to Dachau. It's self-serving for me to quote this, but it's no less correct:
In “When Groups are Wrong and Deviants are Right,” published last year in The European Journal of Social Psychology, Australian academics argue that group members are often hostile to people who buck conformity, even if the members later agree with the dissenter.
Even when, say, a whistle-blower may prove to be correct, she is not always admired or accepted back into the fold, the academics found. Rather, the group may still feel angry that the whistle-blower damaged its cohesion.Yes, high school never ends.
It often seems there's nothing to do about the injustice in the world: your power is too small, and there are too few who would join you. It's still true, for the most part, though the 'Occupy' movement has some traction. Even if it gets bigger, expect it to be co-opted by the same people who brought our society to this, or taken over by the usual manqué-elite. Who else has the time and the influence? No, there are two things we can do right now, no matter what your opinions are on 'a diversity of tactics': not collaborate, and scorn the collaborators you know. In the Milgram and Stanford Prison experiments, as well as popular revolt, the first step is to refuse to collaborate, and it is a powerful one: the machine requires collaboration. It's also the message of the Gospels.** It is also the basis of the best question I heard a priest ask his congregation: we all 'know' we would have protected Jews and fought the Nazis - what have you done to 'know' you are better than the majority of Germans?
I'm fully aware you can't be absolute about it. I know I am enmeshed with some people who've made choices I am wary of, such as family members who worked for Wall Street companies, and that it's not possible to live in our economy without being fouled; however, aim for the biggest 'low-hanging fruit'. I have. It's nearly useless to scorn 'the 1%', because you can't reach them. Scorn their agents, because they are nothing without the dupes who work for them, against their own larger interests. Remember Europe, 1989.
As a start, we should scorn all police. If you have a friend or family member who is a cop, cut them out of your life. Extreme? Not at all. You may think that only 'a few bad apples' pepper spray (torture) non-violent demonstrators, including 84 year old women, and in a limited way you are correct. But let me ask you this, when such 'bad apples' remove their badges and put on masks to get away with violence on unarmed people, or run their own drug and prostitution rings, how many of their colleagues will testify against them? Eh? Fuck them all.
Maybe not fuck them all. There are a couple of cops who grew a conscience after they retired, and now speak up (how much nicer if they had done so before). The onus is on any cop you know to prove himself. By virtue of association, they are guilty, until proven innocent.
*I am against torture, capital punishment and extra-judicial sentencing for various reasons, but the most important come in this order:
- States have shown they cannot be trusted with these powers
- agents of the State too often nab the wrong person, especially if their complexion is darker than the agents'
- torture and capital punishment demean the perpetrators of it, even should the subject have earned it
- if someone's guilty, charge them on the evidence; if you won't (Bin Laden) it's because you are afraid of what they may say
- torture gets bad intelligence
- I am happy to pay to quarantine murderers, rapists, etc. for the entirety of their lives - I see no reason to sink to their level
- the expense argument is BS - it's far cheaper to incarcerate someone for life than to put them on death row
**I am no Christian, but was raised a Catholic: a church so twisted to operate in contradiction to the message of its messiah.