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Is the army a school of discipline?

The Feast of Obedience

Kamil Churaev

People have a certain characteristic that constantly causes trouble and catastrophes — even such catastrophes as senseless wars, whose conclusions are celebrated with parades and carnivals. 

This quality is submissiveness, the readiness to be obedient. With this quality, people are ready to submit themselves to anything that could demand it of them convincingly enough.

After WW2 there was a scientist, Stanley Milgram, who tried to find out what made ordinary, everyday citizens participate in war crimes en masse. He wanted to find out what made respectable fathers go and murder other fathers with their battalions and weapons. What made them service the camp crematoria? What made them do senseless, nightmarish things? Milgram conducted an experiment, the results of which were astounding. Here’s the gist of this experiment. The participant was asked, under some pretext, to shock another volunteer by pressing buttons. In fact, there was no current, and the second participant was an actor, but the subjects didn’t know this. They saw an authoritative-looking man in a white coat, “a leader.” They saw the impressive electric shock “device” with labeled buttons and a nameplate. The subject couldn’t see the other dummy participant, but they could hear him hitting the wall with his feet — this occurred after increasing the force of the “shock” beyond a certain point. They wanted to find out how far a normal person would go in fulfilling the requirements of an important leader. They assumed that only a small percentage, or even a fraction of a percentage, of the participants would reach the end. But in fact most reached the end. People started to be doubtful, but the man in the white coat calmly and confidently told them to continue — that was enough for them to do so. Don’t forget that this was a voluntary experiment and nobody was held there by force. The experiment was repeated many times, even changing the conditions such as the country in which it took place and the gender of the participants, but the results didn’t significantly change. The majority of the volunteers were ready to do anything abominable if ordered to do so. This is a proven fact.

People are roughly the same everywhere. The soldiers of one army are not different in any way from those of another army. Soldiers, and not only soldiers, are ready to murder and die simply because they were told to do so. And they kill. And they die. All because the Motherland ordered it. And soldiers (young men and women, sons and daughters, husbands and wives, dads and moms) do whatever, go wherever. Do not say that one is attacking while the other is defending. That’s nonsense. ”Wherever they order, we go.”

People! Since we’re here, take a look at your commanders’ faces. Look at the chiefs of all ranks, at the presidents. Listen to what they say. Look at what they are doing and why. Think. These people stand above you, their diseased will is not to be questioned.

Since Milgram has shown us the explanation for evil, maybe we can start to somehow rid ourselves of this slavish obedience; maybe we can try not to give up our personal responsibility to anyone in exchange for… everything. Leave me my life, my family, my arms and legs, my conscience. On this condition, I promise to hold myself accountable for all my actions.

And I advise you to do the same.


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