Why do good men do nothing?


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progunner1957
July 14, 2006, 03:09 PM
Source: www.jpfo.org

Why Do Good Men Do Nothing?
By Wendy McElroy

In his book Thoughts on the Cause of Present Discontents (1770), the British philosopher Edmund Burke wrote, "When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one…" This sentiment has survived as "All that is necessary for evil to succeed is that good men do nothing."

Why do good men do nothing in the face of evil, especially when evil aggressively invades their lives?

The question has red-hot relevance to those who value the tradition of individual freedom into which America was born -- a tradition that includes freedom of speech, the right to bear arms and to demand due process. These traditional freedoms are crumbling under the wheels of run-away government. Through dozens of 'alphabet agencies' -- the IRS, BATF, CPS, DHS, et al -- government aggressove;u enters the lives of good men who do nothing to protect themselves or their families.

Some people are paralyzed by fear; some by denial. But many others are immobilized by an apathy that strips away the emotional will to act in self-defense.

In psychological terms, apathy is a state of constant indifference that is generally associated with depression. Apathy leaves an individual unresponsive to the world and creates a disconnect between what he believes, how he feels and which actions he takes. For example, a man might fully recognize that food is necessary to life but, because he doesn't care, he doesn't eat.

Translated into political terms, he might realize that a gluttonous government is feasting on his liberty, his wealth and even on his children's future but, because he feels only numbness toward government, he doesn't act in self-defense. He obeys even when the command is self-destructive.

The question of why people passively obey government has haunted the history of political discourse. In 1552, Étienne de la Boétie addressed what he called the most important problem confronting freedom: people consent to their own enslavement. His analysis of 'why' resulted in the world's first book on non-violent resistance, The Politics of Obedience: The Discourse of Voluntary Servitude.

Modern historians ask the same question. During the mass arrests of Stalinist Russia, people reportedly slept in their clothing not in order to flee more easily but in order to be fully dressed when seized. In Hitler's Europe, Jews reported on their own to deportation centers and to their deaths. Why?

Part of the complex answer lies in what psychologists call 'object specific' apathy. That is, a person's numbness is directed toward a specific situation and may not be manifested in other areas of his life. The same man who is passionate about music or his wife may feel impotent in the area of demanding or even wanting his own freedom.

This response is a form of 'learned helplessness.' It is 'learned' because the response comes from relentlessly teaching an individual that he has no control over a situation and, so, his efforts are futile.

The original and now-famous experiment from which the term 'learned helplessness' derives involved shocking dogs with electricity until they developed the psychology of submission. When applied to human beings, 'learned helplessness' is most often used to describe people who have been institutionalized, for example, in prisons, mental institutions or orphanages. There, the regimentation strips an individual of the smallest choice and punishes the expression of preference. In time, many institutionalized people accept the inevitability of their environment. Some of them lose all ability to feel their own preferences.

The depth of learned helplessness that comes from being institutionalized is rare. But most of us absorb a degree of this apathy through constant exposure to a society that attempts to control almost every choice in daily life: smoking, eating fast food, gun ownership, telling a rude joke at work, marriage and divorce, boarding an airplane, medical care, banking…making a phone call. It is difficult to find a choice that isn't scrutinized by bureaucracy and covered by some form of government control. The message is clear: Conformity is rewarded; the 'wrong' choices are punished or otherwise discouraged. The public school system is just one example of what could be called the institutionalizing or bureaucratizing of daily life.

The Castle, a brilliant novel by Franz Kafka, offers a window into what happens to the psychology of a man who confronts bureaucracy. Due a mistake in paperwork, the main character K. is summoned to work in a village as a surveyor but ends up as a janitor. The Castle is the summoning authority with which K. must but cannot deal because he cannot contact the proper official. K.'s long and agonizing exercise in futility reveals the impact that bureaucracy has upon the human soul: it deadens.

K.'s error was to accept the authority of The Castle in the first place.

The foregoing observation contains good news: bureaucracy and authority require consent. And, if that consent is learned behavior, then it can also be unlearned.

Something within the human spirit seems to want to shake off destructive programming. Call it a survival instinct. Perhaps it is the inbred urge revealed by every two-year-old who yells 'no' over and over again for the simple joy of exercising veto over his own life.

Adults need to recapture the childlike joy and power of saying 'no.' The words most feared by those in authority are 'I won't.' Individuals with the habit of obedience may need to start by saying 'no' on small matters like refusing to fill in racial information on application forms. They may be shocked by how difficult it is to say 'I won't' even to petty demands. But the difficulty is a sign of how important it is. Only when a person is able to say 'no' can he say 'yes' and have the word mean more that the obedient response of a servant. 'Yes' is properly the affirmation of a free man.
Just say NO to arbitrary government and to tyranny! It's the American way!:D

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shermacman
July 14, 2006, 03:15 PM
The question of why people passively obey government has haunted the history of political discourse.

Yup. And I voluntarily mailed in my 1040 last April 15. I even post at stamp on it, at my own expense. Sort of like the Chinese billing the family of the recently executed for the cost of the cartridge.:barf:

Biker
July 14, 2006, 03:25 PM
Simple. We still figure we have too much to lose if we take action.
Bread and cicuses...

Biker

longeyes
July 14, 2006, 03:48 PM
Bread and circuses--aka escapism--are one cause.

And...

A lifetime of anger and resentments creates a hynotized state, a brutalized consciousness. numb passivity. Too many Americans are blanks, de facto zombies. You change that by acknowledging your anger, then doing the right thing.

mordechaianiliewicz
July 14, 2006, 04:47 PM
Fear. Fear is what it is about. It will continue that way until the risk to our lives and livelihoods is greater than our fear of reprissal.

JesseJames
July 14, 2006, 04:48 PM
I admit I've been guilty of apathy for quite a while. But I feel like I'm coming around.
It's funny because whenever you try to think hard on subjects and talk about them with people they look at you like you are from another planet.

I've given up on or don't bother with the majority of the "sheep" but, I do keep an eye out for the intellectually curious who still have their wits about them. They are relatively easy to spot. It's like that kid in your school classroom that was clever and called the b.s. like he or she saw it and the teacher didn't like him or her.
It gets worse when you enter the workforce. There's pulling for the team but then there's check your mind at the door and take your place you cog.

Lou629
July 14, 2006, 05:57 PM
Simple. We still figure we have too much to lose if we take action.

Biker

+1
That's about as simple and eloquently put as you can get, and sums things up nicely for most of us. About the only thing one might add is that if and when it becomes apparent that we haven't anything else to lose, that there's a discernable sense of diminishing returns, there will probably be hell-to-pay should that day ever arrive.

Fosbery
July 14, 2006, 06:08 PM
"People sleep peacably in their beds at night because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf." - George Orwell

mordechaianiliewicz
July 14, 2006, 06:58 PM
I think it partly depends on your past, and your level of compliance right now. The U.S. government is just a little away from fascism as it currently stands. Where are you gonna be? Make your choice.

progunner1957
July 14, 2006, 08:27 PM
I think it partly depends on your past, and your level of compliance right now. I am currently "in compliance" but may or may not be ( :evil: ) if "The Government" ever outlaws the possession of firearms, attempts to confiscate them by force, or attempts to imprison those who will not "comply."

James T Thomas
July 14, 2006, 09:11 PM
Most americans will do something 'when evil aggressively invades,' but when the invasion is surrepticious, good men do not often recognize it until the black uniforms are worn. They started out brown, with pressed shirts and ties. Singing patriotic songs. And the good was proclaimed.

'Good' men do not recognize the wolves when they have donned sheep's clothing and are right amoung the pack. When something smells funny and the 'sheep dog' growls a little, the wolf reassures him. 'Good boy,' we're just like them. We are peaceful. We only want the good. And we, like the loyal and trustworthy guard, roll over and play dead while those lurking go about their plans.

Not recognizing or being decieved is not fear, nor denial, or even apathy.

People consent to what the wiley claim is a peacefull agenda, not to their own enslavement. The 'politics' of obediance? Simply intermix enough tasty and nutritous ingredients in the poisonous stew to mask the taste.
( Called 'riders' in the terms of legislative bills.)

Were those awaiting arrest in old Stalinist Russia disarmed prior to the purges?
I know the Jews -mentioned, who were reporting to the deportation centers or relocation centers were.

You may effectively loose the franchise to vote when your representative dares to cater to special interest groups rather than their constituency, but you are only 'helpless' when you are disarmed. That is at the end of what becomes an imperial senate, and self representatives.

The 'honorable' PA senator Arlen Specter; former Democrat, and now proclaimed Republican 'friend' not foe, has a new suit of clothing. But he smells wolf to me.

I intend to drive this predator out of the flock the next election, no matter how white and bleating he becomes.

Who was that wise man of the past who stated that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance?

mordechaianiliewicz
July 14, 2006, 09:15 PM
+1 Mr. Thomas

The "good folks" often don't notice what is going on until it's too late. The Bush administration's excesses in things the Republican Party railed against the Dems about is proof of that.

jondar
July 14, 2006, 09:39 PM
When that piece of garbage, Ira Einhorn, was brought back kicking and screaming from France (or was it Belgium?) after he had skipped after Specter had gotten him out on bail, I sent Arlen an e-mail which went something like this: "Since under law you are still Ira Einhorn's attorney-in-fact will you still be representing him?" The e-mail came back with the notation "Unable to Deliver."

Dionysusigma
July 14, 2006, 11:13 PM
Meh. You wanna know why "good" people do nothing?


It's inconvenient.

progunner1957
July 15, 2006, 11:36 AM
Meh. You wanna know why "good" people do nothing?


It's inconvenient.
Exactly.

The Sheeple can't be bothered with such matters - they have to work late, the kids have soccer practice, they "need" an new Volvo and a jet ski, they have to watch Survivior and American Idol.

Bread and circuses for everybody!

wingman
July 15, 2006, 11:44 AM
We have become a nation of talk very little action, the media, public schools,
and our government love victims not men. It can change and I believe will
but the period between changes will be serious.

JBusch8899
July 15, 2006, 12:10 PM
There is also the matter of criminal/civil liability and the death of common sense.

Be proactive and justified to shoot the bg, you are still looking at losing your liberty and your house. Its no wonder that businesses don't want firearms (to include armed security) on their premesis for fear of being dragged into a lawsuit for their not forbidding you to carry a firearm.

Thankfully, various states have recently started passing legislation absolving people of the liabilities associated with justified defense measures.

longeyes
July 15, 2006, 12:40 PM
If the people who think they have too much to lose would make a sober assessment of the world around them, they would realize they've already lost it--unless they take drastic action NOW.

Working Man
July 15, 2006, 12:51 PM
So where did we (USA) go wrong? Usually there is a definable turning point
that all events can be traced back to, it may be small but it is there. It is not
unlike the 6 "degree" relation factors.

Can the knowing how, when, and why help turn things around at this point or
is an entirely new dawn upon us?

Is it because things have become too easy? Blistered hands and sore backs
are no longer the norm and even then there were no guarantees of success.
Too much to lose, too fat and happy, to comfortable to rock the boat? I
agree, that is part of it. Too scared or don't know how to react? That's part
of it too. Thinking one stands alone and simply does not have to power to
invoke change? Yup. Don't care, not my problem, every man for himself?
That's the one that kills nations.

So now what?

SugarFoot
July 15, 2006, 12:55 PM
www.infowars.com

alan
July 15, 2006, 03:22 PM
Lou629 Quote:
Simple. We still figure we have too much to lose if we take action.

Biker


+1
That's about as simple and eloquently put as you can get, and sums things up nicely for most of us. About the only thing one might add is that if and when it becomes apparent that we haven't anything else to lose, that there's a discernable sense of diminishing returns, there will probably be hell-to-pay should that day ever arrive.

---------------------------

What strikes me as strange, and neven mind about actually taking action, is how seemingly few people even ask questions.

Take a quick glance at the private sector for instance. For the "free stuff" that will be rained down upon us, how much of our "personal data' do we blithly provide, and how many of us ever pause to even passingly consider to what purpose this data might be put, by whom, and or where it might ultimately end up? For instancse, you purchased some item. You have paid for it, and some teenage "sales associate", as they are often called asks for your telephone number. No argument with the clerk, they are simply doing as instructed, but what about you, the adult customer. Ever think about where this phone number goes, assuming that you provide your own number, and or to what ends it might be used?

Of course, we could sooner or later come that other seemingly inescapable question, that being "what is your "sosch", or your "social", sometimes even your Social Security Number, as it is more properly known. I'm willing to leave that as grist for another mill, on another day, though readers might want to think on it a little.

JBusch8899
July 15, 2006, 05:10 PM
One could argue that the same reasons that Israel fell out of favor with God.....disregarding His will.

Another argument could be that Mayberry v. Madison started the ball rolling of this decline. Certainly 10A (the enumerated constitutional powers amendment) should have prohibited SCOTUS from grabbing this power.

But I choose to believe that the people are responsible for not correcting our government's deviation from COTUS. We went wrong a long time ago and continue to go wrong everytime we choose not to throw the government out and bring the original meanings of COTUS back for the sake of our country.

WolfMansDad
July 15, 2006, 06:03 PM
Simple. We still figure we have too much to lose if we take action.

Partly true, Biker, but I think it's more accurate to say we don't have enough to gain.

If people really believe in what they are fighting for, they will sacrifice their fortunes, their reputations, and even their own lives for the cause. Even we must admit that RKBA is not, by itself, a big enough issue to seriously fight for. Neither is a little spying on American citizens, a relatively small tax, etc. We in this forum recognize these, especially RKBA, as preludes to bigger things, so we are willing to fight - politically and non-violently - early. If and when the issues get bigger - suppression of free speech, revocation of due process, siezure of property, midnight arrests, etc. - people will step up and resist. It'll just be harder then.

telomerase
July 15, 2006, 06:08 PM
Because good people are busy doing constructive work. Political activity is a cost to them.

Political activity to a political parasite is their ecological niche, not a cost.

longeyes
July 15, 2006, 07:42 PM
Even we must admit that RKBA is not, by itself, a big enough issue to seriously fight for.

I suppose the First Amendment, "by itself," isn't a big enough issue to seriously fight for either. I disagree. If we understood, fully, what we are sacrificing and where our compromises are eventually leading us, I think we would realize it IS "big enough."

enfield
July 15, 2006, 08:36 PM
I think the root cause of "apathy" is fear. The funny thing is that once you do something in spite of your fear, and the worst-case-scenario doesn't happen, the fear lessens -- forever (IMHO). You'd be surprised at what you can accomplish after the fear is gone.

BigRobT
July 15, 2006, 09:26 PM
We have become a nation of talk very little action, the media, public schools, and our government love victims not men. It can change and I believe will but the period between changes will be serious.

In my Homeowner's Association, I did some research and discovered that we could request the train horns be silenced at certain RR intersections. I brought this matter before the association at the last meeting. Everybody was in agreement and said they would help. I wrote up, emailed and snail mailed my letter to my city council rep. I also copied the main association contact. To this date, I firmly believe that I am the only one who has bothered with this. I guess the homeowners here would rather tolerate disturbed sleep, interrupted conversations and tolerate this nuisance instead of a simple email and letter. Fear ?? What's the worst that could happen?? The RR says, "NO" ??

armedandsafe
July 16, 2006, 12:59 PM
We've talked here about fear, busy lives, apathy and ignorance. What no one, so far, has addressed is the average person's belief in the "Goodness of Man."

Most people who are in any way disposed to get involved in matters outside their immediate lives are aware that there are evil, greedy and oportunistic people out there who will take every advantage to advance their well being at the expense of others. However, most people go along with their everyday activities with a basic belief that their elected and appointed "hired hands" will do the best they can to do the best for the country, state, county and city. They are only vaguely, if at all, aware that there are those who will twist the system, but believe that those few will be kept down by the majority, those who are basically good at heart and mind.

This can be described as apathy, but it is not a conscious apathy. It is ingrained by their upbringing, having been taught to trust in and have faith in the government and the people who make up that government bureaucracy. Even those who talk cynically about "corrupt government officials and workers" still believe that the bulk of those people are good at heart.

There, that ought to be worth about $0.02. :D

Pops

longeyes
July 16, 2006, 01:16 PM
Goodness of man? How about the fact that half the country or more is in some way dependent on the Federal feedbag? No one wants their checks cut off or their lives made uncomfortable. They'd rather just let the crap continue and hope they remain unscathed and that the general impact isn't TOO terrible.

Fear is behind a lot of this. If you believe "this is all there is" and the material world is "it," then, yes, you will behave like a basic animal organism oscillating from fight to flight but mostly just looking for a hide-out.

Those who operate as if they are already "dead" will live longest and best.

alan
July 17, 2006, 01:46 PM
armedandsafe:

Even if the bulk of "those people were good at heart", a premise that I'm not willing to accept, given the fact that they are not doing the jobs they are paid to do, being "good at heart" simply doesn't cut it.

longeyes
July 17, 2006, 03:23 PM
"Why do good men do nothing?"

BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT GOOD ENOUGH.

Tomcat1066
July 17, 2006, 04:12 PM
Even we must admit that RKBA is not, by itself, a big enough issue to seriously fight for.

I disagree. If I don't fight for this right, how can I fight for the others?

Tom

ryoushi
July 17, 2006, 07:31 PM
The Sheeple can't be bothered with such matters - they have to work late, the kids have soccer practice, they "need" an new Volvo and a jet ski, they have to watch Survivior and American Idol.

So I guess tonight I'll turn on my TV news and see you in New London, rifle in hand defending Kelo and the Constitution.

Yeah, that's what I thought.

And don't anybody even talk to me about the sheeple or defending liberty unless you can run a mile without stopping for air and do ten pull ups.

Biker
July 17, 2006, 07:59 PM
So you have to run for a mile without stopping and do ten pullups without stopping for air and do ten pullups to be a defender of freedom?
If you're talking about Basic Training, it was a bit tougher in Jan 1973. Is that what you're talking about?

Biker

Molon Labe
July 17, 2006, 08:39 PM
Why do good men do nothing?This is a nonsensical question. Men who do nothing are not good.

ryoushi
July 17, 2006, 08:44 PM
So you have to run for a mile without stopping and do ten pullups without stopping for air and do ten pullups to be a defender of freedom?

Just don't get all hot and bothered about apathetic sheeple if you haven't even bothered to maintain a basic level of personal fitness.

Biker
July 17, 2006, 09:11 PM
Like I said, bub, I was doing that and more back when God was a boy. Whether or not I can do these things now is irrelevant. I kinda did it when it really counted. Have you?
Being a defender of Liberty requires much more than an arbitrary measure of fitness.

Biker

longeyes
July 17, 2006, 09:24 PM
Just don't get all hot and bothered about apathetic sheeple if you haven't even bothered to maintain a basic level of personal fitness.

So, how many push-ups can you do?

If I can do more than you, would it make me more patriotic?

Barbara
July 17, 2006, 11:12 PM
Even we must admit that RKBA is not, by itself, a big enough issue to seriously fight for.

Not a man and so irrelevant to the conversation apparently, but I spend my fair share of time on the work and I think its a plenty big enough issue.

Dunno about pullups. I can do about 30 pushups in a shot. And run a mile if someone is chasing me. I never feel especially patriotic after doing that. Mostly just sweaty. Maybe its the estrogen.

Oleg Volk
July 17, 2006, 11:37 PM
Because good people are busy doing constructive work. Political activity is a cost to them.

Political activity to a political parasite is their ecological niche, not a cost.

And that is one of the two main reasons. I work 80-90 hours/week...finding the time for THR and my other web sites is pretty taxing. The other reason is the concern about harm befalling friends and family. Single adults and, even more, single teenagers, are more likely to take risks for a cause than adults with dependents.

Sam
July 18, 2006, 02:04 AM
Thats why the military hires on those 17-19 year olds Oleg.

Molon Labe has it correct.
maybe we ain't so good.

Sam

evan price
July 18, 2006, 03:24 AM
Because, unfortunately, concepts such as "freedom" "self determination" "Liberty" etc have no meaning when you have no food, shelter, or means of providing for your family, all potential costs of being the nail that sticks up too high.

Ask a cougar what it thinks of personal liberty. It will probably reply by eating you. And in that, is your answer.

Google "Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs" and see how things really become important.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow's_hierarchy_of_needs

Barbara
July 18, 2006, 07:34 AM
I'm still not clear on exactly what kind of action you're looking for (or why one would have to do pushups to do it.)

cuchulainn
July 18, 2006, 07:52 AM
Because they're too busy fantasizing about "the coming fight" to actually work to prevent the need to fight.

Working Man
July 18, 2006, 08:12 AM
Just don't get all hot and bothered about apathetic sheeple if you haven't even bothered to maintain a basic level of personal fitness.

I could see how that would apply to say a personal trainer that was in lousy
shape being viewed as less creditable..... but how does that apply to being patriotic?

In my opinion I'm a fat b@$t@rd but I just did a 50 shot of push-ups at a 1 sec
rate. I don't feel any more patriotic.... just a little hungry.

longeyes
July 18, 2006, 12:15 PM
We're good, not just good enough.

Yet.

Tomcat1066
July 18, 2006, 12:33 PM
And don't anybody even talk to me about the sheeple or defending liberty unless you can run a mile without stopping for air and do ten pull ups.


Ok. Done. Now, is it ok with you if I talk about it ;) :p

Tom

Biker
July 18, 2006, 12:38 PM
Well Ryoushi, I just whipped out 40 crunches followed by 40 pushups (after a short rest) and I must confess that I *do* feel like going out and killing a commie for mommy.
Until I find one, I believe that I'll contact my congresscritters about the current "comprehensive" immigration bill being debated as we speak, so to speak;)

edit: I ain't runnin' nowhere, that's why I have a Harley and a gun.

Biker

longeyes
July 18, 2006, 12:52 PM
Finally, a thread that makes us all go work out.:D

Biker
July 18, 2006, 01:04 PM
Hey, I'm not done yet! I'm about to do some 12 oz. curls...;)

Biker

Barbara
July 18, 2006, 01:35 PM
I want to join your workout club!

longeyes
July 18, 2006, 01:37 PM
Those would be the longneck set...?

DRZinn
July 19, 2006, 11:49 PM
I know a Solzhenitsyn quote that's appropriate....

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