Obedience and the Rise of Authoritarianism

Video from Academy of Ideas

“Authoritarianism in religion and science, let alone politics, is becoming increasingly accepted, not particularly because so many people explicitly believe in it but because they feel themselves individually powerless and anxious. So what else can one do…except follow the mass political leader…or follow the authority of customs, public opinion, and social expectations?” Rollo May, Man’s Search for Himself

The American psychologist Rollo May wrote these words in 1953, and in the decades that followed the West tiptoed into tyranny. A mass surveillance state was established, free speech gave way to increasing levels of censorship, statist bureaucracy and stifling regulations invaded ever more areas of life, and tax rates reached levels that in the past would have caused a revolution. However, in recent years this tiptoe into tyranny has turned into a sprint, as some Western countries are flirting with full-blown totalitarian rule. But the existence of power hungry and psychologically disturbed politicians who desire total control is not what makes our situation particularly precarious, for such individuals exist in all ages. Rather, our troubles lie with the fact that very few people posses the one virtue that can turn the tide back in the direction of freedom, that being, the virtue of courage. And as A.S. warned in 1978:.." from the Transcript.

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