Memorial Day 2014: Just Following Orders
by Charles Hugh-Smith
Large-scale evil requires surrender of autonomy, coercion by a central authority and a willingness to follow orders.
There is evil, and then there’s organized evil. This is a memorial outside the village where my brother lives in the south of France. It is a typical village, quite small, perhaps a few hundred residents. The memorial commemorates three young French civilians who were taken out and shot by Nazi soldiers, either for “crimes” of resistance or perhaps as a “lesson” to the restive civilian populace.
The German soldiers who pulled the triggers were of course “just following orders.”
Evil must be resisted, corralled, vanquished. Interestingly, people don’t need to be forced by a central authority to resist evil, though their efforts will prove more successful if they band together and submit to a competent authority of their own choosing. This is the basis of the “good war” or “just war.”
But to be part of large-scale organized evil, people need to surrender their autonomy under threat, and be ordered by a central authority.
This is the origin of the Nuremberg Defense: I was only following lawful, Superior Orders when I murdered those French civilians. The soldiers who followed the orders would have been punished had they refused; coercion is always the backbone of central authority.