The Dynamics of Mob Mentality…and Going Along

“In mob dynamics one might distinguish five roles. First there are the instigators, loudly pointing at the victim, egging on the rest of the crowd, and defining who shall be the sacrificial victim. Second are the enthusiastic accomplices, who happily act on the instigators’ accusations. Third, there are the people who just go along with it, assuming that what everyone seems to be doing must be right. Fourth are those who are skeptical, but seeing that no one speaks up think that either they themselves are mistaken, or that it is futile or dangerous to do anything. Fifth are those who do speak up or otherwise oppose the will of the mob. If they are few, they become the next victims, confirming the fears of the fourth group.”

“This is the social pattern that fascists and despots ride to power. It can be broken only when enough people are brave enough to defy the mob.”

Charles Eisenstein

Or perhaps, as in the case of Nazi Germany, when enough forceful, violent power is brought to bear from the outside so as to completely destroy the society.

Eisenstein has laid this out fairly well, but I take issue with point #3.

There are those who do go along with the crowd, but the assumption that they do so because they think that the mob mentality is right is, in my opinion, a faulty argument. They may, probably do, understand that the narrative is wrong, but because they have no moral strength in themselves to resist, they simply cooperate. It is easier to drift with the current than it is to swim against it. Even if they know that a catastrophe awaits ahead, they will do nothing at all to avert it. This group makes up the greatest part of any society and it is this group which the Instigators must capture to win their own battle. The deed is done by striking fear into them via the use of Enthusiastic Accomplices, those who will gladly do anything they are told (or allowed) to, no matter how vile it is.

The only thing which will (might) bring these people out of their self-imposed torpor is the smash-up at the end of the run. I am not even sure, however, that this is the case. It is entirely possible that they will only shift their support from one narrative, one Dear Leader, one Messiah, to another in the hope that they can continue to survive without developing any strong character or resolve. They are, after all, only faces within a mob, terrified to be seen as different.

It takes an incredibly strong person to stand against the tide of public opinion. Most people never achieve such power, but will take the easy way out by blending in with the crowd. It is easy to “do the right thing” when you are in agreement with the people you associate with. When you advocate for something which goes against the grain of the society or culture, though, it is much more difficult. If you do, the crowd will turn on you. Cancel culture is nothing new. It has been this way throughout the ages.

“Few men are willing to brave the disapproval of their peers, the censure of their colleagues, the wrath of their society. Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence. Yet it is the one essential, vital quality for those who seek to change a world that yields most painfully to change.”

–Robert F. Kennedy

Perhaps Jesus Christ was referring to this aspect of society when He spoke these words, only paraphrased slightly,

“…Broad is the super-highway that leads to destruction and many there be who travel on it.”

–Matthew 7:13

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