Tuesday, July 16, 2013

WWII : excessive group-love led to excessive groupthink

In my previous postings over the past few years, I have tried - separately - to indicate that the horrors of WWII were caused by excessive group-love and by excessive groupthink : I now realize both are bound intimately together.

The Age of Modernity (1870s to 1960s) was exemplified above all by a lack of charity and a lack of clarity.

By excessive group-love, I mean an inability to regard others others outside your nationality, ethnicity, race , class or religion as worthy of concern and compassion.

It is why most nations and most people choose to remain neutral in WWII, even as the greatest evil ever known gobbled up small nation after small nation, unless they themselves were directly attacked.

But the Allied willingness - even eagerness - to bomb and bombard a hundred thousand civilians to death in occupied Europe and Asia - people supposedly on the Allied side, does not just stem just from a group-love disregard for others.

It also stems from the Allies' prewar groupthink that touted strategic aerial bombing and naval blockading as the fastest, cheapest way to defeat Hitler, Tojo and Mussolini.

It hadn't worked in WWI - the evidence was already there if you were willing to look - and it prolonged rather than hastened the end to the misery of WWII.

But groupthink cherry-picks from a mass of conflicting evidence only that which fits their rhetorical-cum-scientific thesis.

WWII still holds powerful lessons for all of us - particularly for new emerging giants like Brazil and India where the powerful middle class still disdains their own poorer citizens as less than human.

Other people may appear simple-minded, small, weak, ill, dark, dirty, and poor but they are actually are as fully complex and interesting as we are.

In addition they hold useful gene combinations we don't have and would do well to preserve.

They definitely have different viewpoints we would do well to consider.

An unwillingness to open our hearts to other people goes hand in glove with an unwillingness to open our minds to other ideas.

Reality out there has always been and always will be highly dynamic and uncertain : a diversity of peoples and a diversity of ideas is the best way that humanity can survive life's challenges.

At least I think that is what Henry Dawson thought when he embarked upon his project to de-weaponize penicillin and other so called "war-medicines"....

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