"Banality of evil is a phrase coined by Hannah Arendt in the title of her 1963 work Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil. Her thesis is that the great evils in history generally, and the Holocaust in particular, were not executed by fanatics or sociopaths, but by ordinary people who accepted the premises of their state and therefore participated with the view that their actions were normal.
Explaining this phenomenon, Edward S. Herman has emphasized the importance of "normalizing the unthinkable." According to him, "doing terrible things in an organized and systematic way rests on 'normalization.' This is the process whereby ugly, degrading, murderous, and unspeakable acts become routine and are accepted as 'the way things are done.'"
"Little Eichmanns is a phrase used to describe persons who participate in society in a way that, while on an individual scale may seem relatively innocuous even to themselves, taken collectively create destructive and immoral systems in which they are actually complicit — comparable to how Adolf Eichmann, a Nazi bureaucrat, unfeelingly helped to orchestrate The Holocaust. Anarcho-primitivist John Zerzan used the phrase in his essay Whose Unabomber? in 1995. The phrase gained prominence in American political culture four years after the September 11th attacks, when an essay written by Ward Churchill shortly after the attacks received renewed media scrutiny. In the essay, "On the Justice of Roosting Chickens", Churchill reiterated the phrase to describe technocrats working at the World Trade Center. The Ward Churchill September 11 attacks essay controversy ensued.
Lewis Mumford collectively refers to people willing to placidly carry out the extreme goals of megamachines
as "Eichmanns". "
- Quote :
- The concept of justice should not be overlooked in considering the Unabomber phenomenon. In fact, except for his targets, when have the many little Eichmanns who are preparing the Brave New World ever been called to account? ”
—John Zerzan, Whose Unabomber?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_EichmannsDiffusion of responsibility
"Diffusion of responsibility is a sociopsychological phenomenon whereby a person is less likely to take responsibility for an action or inaction when others are present. Considered a form of attribution, the individual assumes that either others are responsible for taking action or have already done so. The phenomenon tends to occur in groups of people above a certain critical size and when responsibility is not explicitly assigned. It rarely occurs when the person is alone and diffusion increases with groups of three or more
Diffusion of responsibility occurs in large group settings and under both prosocial and antisocial conditions. In prosocial situations, individuals' willingness to intervene or assist someone in need is inhibited by the presence of other people. The individual is under the belief that other people present will or should intervene. Thus, the individual does not perceive it as his or her responsibility to take action. It has been demonstrated that the likelihood of a person offering help decreases as the number of observers present increases. This is known as the bystander effect. In addition, diffusion of responsibility is more likely to occur under conditions of anonymity. In prosocial situations, individuals are less likely to intervene when they do not know the victim personally. Instead, they believe that someone who has a relationship with the victim will assist. In antisocial situations, negative behaviors are more likely to be carried out when the person is in a group of similarly motivated individuals. The behavior is driven by the deindividuating effects of group membership and the diffusion of feelings of personal responsibility for the consequences.
As part of this process, individuals become less self-aware and feel an increased sense of anonymity. As a result, they are less likely to feel responsible for any antisocial behavior performed by their group. Diffusion of responsibility is also a causal factor governing much crowd behavior, as well as risk-taking in groups.
Diffusion of responsibility can manifest itself:
In a group of people who, through action or inaction, allow events to occur which they would never allow if they were alone. This is referred to as groupthink and groupshift.
In a group of people working on a task who lose motivation, feel less responsibility for achievement of group goals, and hide their lack of effort in the group (social loafing).
In hierarchical organizations, when subordinates claim to simply be following orders and supervisors claim that they merely issue directives and do not perform the actions under question. The difficulty of identifying the culpable party is often seen in trials regarding crimes against humanity."
"Moral disengagement is a term from social psychology for the process of convincing the self that ethical standards do not apply to oneself in a particular context, by separating moral reactions from inhumane conduct by disabling the mechanism of self-condemnation.
Generally, moral standards are adopted to serve as guides and deterrents for conduct. Once internalized control has developed, people regulate their actions by the standards they apply to themselves. They do things that give them self-satisfaction and a sense of self-worth and refrain from behaving in ways that violate their moral standards. Self-sanctions keep conduct in line with these internal standards. However, moral standards only function as fixed internal regulators of conduct when self-regulatory mechanisms have been activated, and there are many psychological processes to prevent this activation. These processes are forms of moral disengagement of which there are four categories.
One method of disengagement is portraying inhumane behavior as though it has a moral purpose in order to make it socially acceptable. For example, torture, in order to obtain information necessary to protect the nation’s citizens, may be seen as acceptable. Voltaire is quoted as saying, “Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities”.
Another disengagement technique is advantageous comparison. Moral judgments of conduct can be influenced by structuring what the conduct is compared against. In social comparison the “morality” of acts depends more on the ideological allegiances of the labelers than on the acts themselves.
Another dissociative practice, known as displacement of responsibility, operates by distorting the relationship between actions and the effects they cause. People behave in ways they would normally oppose if a legitimate authority accepts responsibility for the consequences of that behavior. Under conditions of displaced responsibility, people view their actions as the dictates of authorities rather than their own actions.
Additionally, there is the practice of diffusion of responsibility. This is when the services of many people, where each performs a task that seems harmless in itself, can enable people to behave inhumanely collectively, because no single person feels responsible. An example of this is in executions where multiple persons have distinct roles in the execution process so no individual is responsible.
A similar technique is collective action. Any harm done by a group can be blamed on the other members so people act more harshly when responsibility is collective than when individualized. For example, a juror sentencing a person to death can blame the “jury” rather than him or herself as a juror.
Another method of disengagement is through disregard or misrepresentation of the consequences of action. When someone pursues an activity harmful to others for personal gain they generally either minimize the harm they have caused or attempt to avoid facing it. Instead, they will recall prior information given to them about the potential benefits of the behavior. People are especially prone to minimize harmful effects when they act alone. It is relatively easy to hurt others when the detrimental results of one's conduct are ignored.
A final disengagement practice, dehumanization, is applied to the targets of violent acts and depends on how the perpetrator views the people toward whom the harmful behavior is directed. Once dehumanized, divested of human qualities, people are no longer viewed as persons with feelings, hopes, and concerns but as subhuman objects which do not evoke feelings of empathy from the perpetrator and can be subjected to horrendous treatment."