It's Not My Fault: The Reality of Group Evil
To create Edgar Prince, the villain in eHuman Dawn, I had to dive deep into the shadows of the mind and psyche and do some serious research on phenomena called evil. As I began work on the sequel, it became clear that to understand him better, and the world he has created, I needed to go further, and face that shadow directly within my own life and the world around me. As I surface from this journey, I've discovered something very important: One evil man does not make an evil world. We may follow him and make him our leader, (see my blog on psychopaths) but he can't be effective unless his orders are carried out by many individuals, and rarely do the orders seem purposefully evil. Instead, they often make sense from a group perspective, even if they actually cause great harm to others.
I believe in humanity and the future. I believe that our science can and will unlock secrets needed for long life and a cleaner planet. But there's also this part of me that cautions, reminding me to look at who's offering the technology before "Jumping" into it, as the process for uploading the consciousness into an eHuman body is called in my novel. In the short term, it solves the problem of death, but who will make sure the mechanized body lives forever? Who guarantees the quality of life in a programmable world?
To give our lives to technology is to give them to those who own the technology.
I cannot escape this basic truth. Do I trust those who run our corporations and governments? For those who've read eHuman Dawn, the answer is clear: No I don't. I can't because at every turn I see evidence of evil enacted on this planet in the name of the corporate profits and government sovereignty: Wars funded to protect corporate mining interests, children forced to work for no money to make cheap clothing, rain forests destroyed to raise the beef that fuels our fast food industry, ecosystems obliterated for profits and stock markets manipulated for billion dollar bonuses. This is just a small list of the ways our businesses and governments harm humanity everyday. The tendency towards group evil is far greater than the percentage of individual psychopaths in the world.
Why is this? Why are evil policies easily enacted on behalf of the group? In his profound book, "The People of The Lie," author Scott Peck, MD, makes the following observation:
"For many years it has seemed to me that human groups tend to behave in much the same ways as human individuals - except at a level that is much more primitive and immature than one might expect...Of one thing I am certain, however: that there is more than one right answer…this is to say that it is the result of multiple causes. One of those causes is the problem of specialization."
Dr. Peck goes on to explain that while specialization is the reason for groups to even exist, we can get more done together than we can alone, it is also a main reason groups are capable of evil. This is because of what Dr. Peck calls, "fragmentation of consciousness."
"Whenever the roles of individuals within groups become specialized, it becomes both possible and easy for the individual to pass the moral buck to some other part of the group…we will see this fragmentation time and time again…The plain fact of the matter is that any group will remain inevitably potentially conscienceless and evil until such a time as each and every individual holds himself or herself directly responsible for the behavior of the whole group - the organism - of which he or she is a part. We have not begun to arrive at that point."
Thus, when asked why annual inspections were not done on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, the person in charge of said inspections might say, "I was told to stop doing them by my boss." When the boss is asked, he may answer, "Corporate put a hold on all inspections until further notice." Keep going up the ladder and you find yourself in the CEO's office, the one who should be responsible. But what will he say? Dr. Peck imagines an answer something like, "My actions may not seem entirely ethical, but I had to cut expenses. After all, I must be responsible to the stockholders you know. On their account I must be directed to the profit motive."
Who then decides what actions any group will take? The small investor who has no clue how the operation even works? The mutual fund owners? If so, which mutual fund? Which broker?
Who is ultimately responsible for the actions of the group?
In this light, it becomes clear that groups are immature, and in great danger of being morally bankrupt. Since over 90% of people work for an organization, most of us are in danger of passing the moral buck when it comes to our work. Add to this the fact that the majority of people would rather follow than lead, thus allowing a power vacuum that psychopaths can and often do fill, and we have an environment ripe for manipulation and exploitation. We are all part of the problem, whether we like it or not.
It worries me how easy it would be for the world of eHuman Dawn to become a reality. I don't trust the Edgar Princes, nor the Guardian Enterprises of this world, to enable technological immortality for the love of humanity. Yet, I don't believe that halting progress is the solution. There's so much yet to discover about our humanity, and the connections between our bodies, minds and the planet.
Instead of fearing technological innovation, we each need to become responsible, right here and now, for the organizations in which we live and work. Each and every one of us must stop passing the moral buck and become worthy of the technology we're creating. This is the great work that the future requires from us, if we're going to live in a world of personal liberty and freedom for all.
Whether or not your job produces technology doesn't matter. Every organization runs the risk of passing the moral buck in some way, thus creating a mentality that the evil that surrounds us isn't our fault. Each of us has the opportunity to change that group dynamic, and create mature work places and organizations that honor humanity as a whole.
The alternative could be nothing less than the complete technocratic rule of the few over the many. I think we can do better than that.