Somebody today suggested that Stalin was a psychopath, and that’s why he did the things he did, and was able to get to the top of the hierarchy to begin with. I was discussing the power of ideological absolutism on the mind as compared to the condition of being a psychopath with a person.
Which person would be the most dangerous – the absolutist or the psycho?
There’s one factor in the murder of millions by Stalin which doesn’t always get a fair hearing, and that might be because it’s a point which suggests that humans generally – just being the creatures that we are – are not all that nice in terms of our basic natures, which suggests we are no better than the Bolshies on Stalin’s committees.
This point is this: bureaucracy brings out the inner sadist in a person.
It allows them to hide behind the organisation, and our more base natures get an airing in a way which might not happen if we were named and accountable publicly.
This means mass murder by memo under Stalin, or vindictive orders and strange rules about this and that by local councils: it’s the humans inside the machine expressing their true characters, and perhaps getting a little fluttering of power in the belly as they do it.
This, considered with the results of Milgram’s experiments (read his book about these famous experiments, ‘Obedience to Authority’, and suddenly the ‘Nuremburg defence’ makes more sense than is comfortable) suggests that ordinary persons – just regular guys and gals doing regular jobs – could easily turn sadistic, vicious and downright murderous quickly and easily if they are allowed to.
Note the word ‘allowed.’
All this garbage about Stalin and Hitler’s people being ‘evil’ is how we try to pretend that they were somehow less than human because we don’t want them to be the same as us. We pretend they were ‘monstors’ because we can’t face the truth that they were just like us.
Or maybe that, under different circumstances, we’d be just like them…