The Fallacy of Tyranny: Playing a Lottery Where Everyone Loses

A new study blandly argues that attraction to tyranny is tied to a belief, usually misplaced, in direct personal benefit.

…society’s portrayal of strong leaders as tough, often masculine, figures willing to do the dirty work of protecting the group…

Portrayal is right.

This is like saying society portrays toddler rants as dirty work of protecting its family. A portrayal doesn’t automatically make something true or accurate.

For some people, due to their upbringing, life experiences and beliefs, following a tyrannical leader is a sincere and sensible choice for themselves and the group they belong to, especially if they view the world as a dangerous place.

Masculinity may translate into suicide very far away from protection, as I’ve written about here before in terms of Russian military failures.

Taking excessive casualties was not a consideration, he said. “We see how the Russians treat their mobilized men — they are not people,” said [Oleksiy Melnyk, a former Ukrainian Air Force lieutenant colonel].

That’s the hard reality of tyranny, regardless of society’s portrayals.

I get the report saying there are people sincere in dehumanization of themselves and others, but sensible? Was it sensible being a Nazi because false benefits were promised based on lies? Was it sensible murdering neighbors to move into their homes and wear their clothes, while falsely calling them the aggressor? Are we supposed to think of the upside to mob violence or even war crimes?

Raised for generations with the (legitimate) belief that theirs was a martyred nation, many Poles found it increasingly hard to accept that their victimhood did not automatically grant them the moral high ground when it came to their behavior…

These are dangerous games where everyone loses — society regresses into self-harm — fighting under a false belief that parts of itself are an “other”.

A raging toddler is neither capable of nor intending family protection, any more than a broken clock can tell time. To imply that relativity somehow makes it right, is dead wrong — a form of science denial.

The study and its recommendations could benefit from advising that people really should think about whether things happen to them, or they make things happen. I’m reminded of a post I wrote in 2006 on WWII Kamikaze logic and motivations.

Invariably groups focused more on “things happen to them” (and associated fears) want solutions that are easy, routine and minimal judgement. This predisposes them to the false attraction of tyranny, especially during times of disruption (e.g. industrialization) where fraud is harder to detect. The broken clock is broken, no matter what society portrays it as. And it certainly isn’t sensible to say a broken clock can tell time.

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